Creator of the Hotly Debated Pineapple-Topped Hawaiian Pizza Dies

Does pineapple belong on a pizza? It’s a question that’s long been fiercely debated by chefs, philosophers, scientists, and celebrities alike. Iceland’s President, Gudni Thorlacius Johannesson, insists pineapple should be banned from pizza, while Canadian President Justin Trudeau stands proudly behind the topping. Jimmy Kimmel announced on his talk show, Live!, “I don’t care where you’re from. Any pizza that tastes better with pineapple wasn’t a good pizza. It’s not even a pizza it’s like a pizza colada.”

Justin Beiber disagrees, saying, “Pineapple pizza is good, you guys don’t like that?” on the Jay Leno Show (Jay Leno didn’t share his sentiments). Chef Gordon Ramsay announced on Hell’s Kitchen, “You don’t put f–ing pineapple on pizza”. Chef Alton Brown,  however, takes a neutral stance, noting, “I don’t want people saying what should or should not be on a pizza. You put anything on a pizza you damn well feel like.”

So who is the man behind the notoriously divisive pineapple-topped, or “Hawaiian” pizza? The honor is largely attributed to Sam Panopoulos, a Canadian pizzamaker who died earlier this month at the age of 83, per the Indian Express.

The oft-misunderstood culinary visionary emigrated to Canada from Greece in 1954, where he reportedly first scattered pineapple across a pizza at the Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario.

According to one of his sons, Panopoulos “wasn’t looking to get famous”. He had simply been pondering a can of pineapple and was struck by the revolutionary idea that it just might make a good pizza topping. Thus, the Hawaiin pizza was born. 

Regardless of where you stand on the pineapple pizza debate, fans and opponents alike can agree that Sam Panopoulus was a pioneer in pizza-making, paving the way for other inspired toppings like goat cheese, avocado, taco meat, cajun shrimp, bacon and eggs, grilled peach with prosciutto, rustic fig, and… then some not so inspired toppings, like peas and mayo.

Goodnight, sweet pineapple pizza prince. May flights of pizza delivery boys sing thee to thy rest!