The Origin Of Pineapple On Pizza

Leave Hawaii and Italy alone

There's no pizza topping quite as polarizing as pineapple. While some pizza lovers might crave that sweet, sour and salty combination of fruit combined with melted cheese, others loudly deride it as inauthentic.

The haters have a point. Hawaiian pizza, which usually comes topped with canned pineapple and ham (but can also include peppers, bacon or mushrooms), doesn't come from Italy, the birthplace of pizza, nor does it come from Hawaii, a pineapple paradise. Rather surprisingly, the country to blame for the odd combination of ingredients is Canada.

According to legend, Sam Panopoulos, a Greek immigrant who moved to Canada in 1954, created the first Hawaiian pizza just over the Michigan border in Chatham, Ontario. His restaurant, Satellite, focused mostly on traditional American fare like burgers and fries, but he eventually started experimenting with trendier foods like Chinese American dishes and pizza (remember: This was 1962). The cuisine's sweet-and-sour flavors inspired the pizza we know—and maybe love—today. As for the "Hawaiian" moniker: That was simply appropriated from the pineapple can.

In February, 55 years after its invention, Hawaiian pizza landed in the news again. The controversy reached a fever pitch when Icelandic president Guðni Th. Jóhannesson told a group of high school students that he wanted to ban it as a pizza topping.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay tried to end the debate once and for all by taking to Twitter to declare, "Pineapple does not go on top of pizza." In response, frozen pizza brand DiGiorno rushed to play defense by posting a picture of its Hawaiian-style pie.

Whatever your opinion, one thing is practically guaranteed: Pineapple pizza isn't going away anytime soon, especially when you can easily buy it in the freezer section.

Meredith Bethune is a food and travel writer based in Belgium. See how many different beers she can possibly try while living abroad at @meredithbethune.