The father of the Hawaiian pizza, Sam Panopoulos, has passed away at age 83. Panopoulos, whose name sounds similar to the signature ingredient of his invention, was a Greek man who immigrated to Canada in ’54 at age 20. Panopoulos owned and operated several Ontario eateries and came up with the idea of topping pizza pies with canned pineapple chunks some 55 years ago at his Chatham-based “Satellite Restaurant.”
Panopoulos commented in a 2015 interview that pizza sold poorly in the region. He considered the addition of pineapple just to see if it would catch on; after the initial reaction of disdain, something “happened” and everyone was on board with mixing sweet and sour tastes. Some cultural analysts believe that Panopoulos’ unique pizza offering gained a surge in interest due to the boom in interest in Hawaiian aesthetics that originated in the 1950s, resulting in heavy sales of tikis, coconuts and miniature hula dancers intended for auto dashboards.
Disdain for Panopoulos’ culinary curiosity earned him a recent amount of social presence after Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, the president of Iceland, joked that he would do everything in his power to ban pineapples from being added on top of pizza. Panopoulos replied to Jóhannesson’s disgust with indifference, saying that Jóhannesson could do whatever he wanted and adding that Panopoulos felt the addition of pineapples added a refreshing tweak to the taste of pizza.
Some interesting facts surrounding Panopoulos’s contribution to debates regarding culinary tastes include:
- The “Hawaiian” aspect of the pizza’s name specifically came from the brand of canned pineapples Panopoulos initially topped his pizzas with.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Pierre James Trudeau is a huge fan of pineapples on pizza.
- Some older Germans feel that the Hawaiian pizza rubs closely against a sandwich, popular in the ‘50s, which consisted of pineapples, ham and cheese.
- Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has nothing but contempt for the idea of adding pineapples to pizza.