Did you ever wonder who came up with the idea of putting pineapple slices on a pizza? It was actually a Greek immigrant named Sam Panopoulos who moved to Canada in 1954.
The origins of the modern pizza we know today can be traced back to Naples, Italy in the 18th and 19th centuries, where its creation was taken seriously by the locals. However, the popular topping of ham and pineapple, commonly known as Hawaiian pizza, was not of Italian origin. Surprisingly, it was not even created in Hawaii, as the name suggests. The credit for inventing this pizza actually goes to Sam Panopoulos, a Greek immigrant who developed the recipe in Canada in 1962.
In 1962, at the Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario, Canada, Sam Panopoulos, a Greek immigrant to Canada, came up with the idea of Hawaiian pizza. Drawing from his experience of cooking Chinese cuisine which often blends sweet and savory flavors, Panopoulos decided to experiment with adding toppings such as pineapple, ham, and bacon to the pizza. However, these toppings were not initially well-received by the customers.
The combination of pineapple with the classic blend of tomato sauce and cheese, accompanied by either ham or bacon, gained popularity in its local region and eventually became a ubiquitous item on the menus of pizzerias worldwide. It’s worth noting that the name “Hawaiian” for this dish was not directly inspired by the U.S. state of Hawaii, but rather came from the brand of canned pineapple that was being used by its creator, Panopoulos, at the time.
In 2014, Time magazine ranked Hawaiian pizza as the “most influential pizza of all time among a list of 13”. This pizza variety is known to divide opinions, with some finding the combination of sweet pineapple and savory pizza toppings appealing while others strongly disliking it. The contrasting flavors might be the reason for this polarization.