Who Invented Pineapple on Pizza, and Does It Belong?

Pineapple pizza is a highly contested topic that leaves us brimming with questions. Who invented pineapple pizza? When was pineapple pizza invented? And, most importantly, is pineapple on pizza just plain wrong? With pizza lovers sitting solidly on both sides of the debate, it’s impossible to deliver a concrete answer to this last question, but we can take a deep dive into just how pineapple pizza came to be.

Where Did Pineapple Pizza Originate?

Pineapple pizza originated as a specific recipe known somewhat misleadingly as “Hawaiian pizza.” So, where did Hawaiian pizza originate? We can reliably trace Hawaiian pizza back to a man named Sam Panopoulos. Sam was born in Greece in 1934 and immigrated to Canada at the age of 20, where he operated several restaurants with his brothers Nikitas and Elias.

Sam was at the Satellite Family Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario, when inspiration struck, and he grabbed a can of pineapple for a culinary experiment. Sam had been fascinated with pizza since stopping in Naples years before to sample a true taste of this Italian favorite. In an interview with Atlas Obscura, Sam explained that “pizza wasn’t known at all, actually. Even Toronto didn’t know anything about pizza in those days.”

Because Sam was frustrated with the mundane options of pepperoni, bacon, and mushrooms, which predominated local pizza menus at the time, he decided it was time to try something new. What happened next earned the number one spot on Time Magazine’s list of the most influential pizzas of all time. Sam put ham and pineapple on a pizza in the hopes that the sweetness of the pineapple would balance the salty, savory flavor of the meat. He dubbed the creation “Hawaiian pizza,” taking inspiration from the brand on the pineapple can. Thus, in 1962, pineapple pizza was born.

Why Pineapple Belongs on Pizza

At the time of its invention, pineapple pizza was perfectly poised to ride on the tails of the tiki craze of the 1950s and 1960s. Tiki totems, rattan furniture, and rum-splashed drinks were all the rage through this period. Walt Disney’s Adventureland opened in 1955 as an immersive embodiment of the trend, and tiki bars began springing up in backyards and home basements en masse. The timing was perfect for a salty-sweet and distinctly tropical creation like the Hawaiian pizza.

Pineapple and pork are hardly strangers. Tacos al pastor traditionally features pork and pineapple along with cilantro, onions, and spices on a flour tortilla. A printed recipe for ham and pineapple showed up in America in 1925 in a recipe booklet from the Hawaiian Pineapple Packers’ Association, and the two have lived happily together on many a festive table since.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Justin Bieber, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau all back up the pairing, happily enjoying pineapple on their pizzas. A Cinch Home Services survey found that 57% of Americans agree that pineapple belongs on pizza. In a YouGov survey, 22% of American adults said they love pineapple on pizza, and another 37% said they like it. In many cases, it seems the majority does indeed call for this juicy fruit on their pie.

Why Pineapple Doesn’t Belong on Pizza

Various flatbreads seasoned with herbs, garlic, and eventually cheese, have existed since the 1600s, but it wasn’t until 1858 that tomato sauce entered the picture, which is a fairly essential element on anything one might consider a “traditional” pizza. The most traditional version of pizza is widely considered to be the Margherita pizza, which originated in Naples featuring mozzarella and basil. Adhering to traditional values, pineapple may have no place on a pizza, but then neither would toppings such as pepperoni and sausage.

Pineapple haters often cite the fact that pineapple is a fruit as their argument against the topping. This puts us in tricky territory yet again because tomatoes, sweet peppers, and olives are technically fruits as well. Perhaps the debate simply comes down to flavor then. Pineapple is just too sweet for many people to abide by on a savory slice of pizza. An Adobe survey found that 54% of adults dislike warm pineapple while 42% of millennials and 51% of Gen Zers dislike the texture of the fruit.

Regardless of the reason, many people simply can’t stand pineapple on pizza, including famed chef Gordon Ramsay and Iceland president Guðni Jóhannesson.

Is Pineapple on Pizza Illegal in Italy?

Contrary to some rumors, pineapple is not illegal on pizza in Italy. While some Italian establishments do not offer pineapple on their pizzas, others willingly do so despite the debates. In fact, renowned pizza maestro Gino Sorbillo now serves a pineapple pizza right on the world’s most famous street for pizza — Via dei Tribunali in Naples. The pizza features three types of cheese, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, and twice-baked pineapple to give the fruit a caramelized flavor. In an interview with CNN, Sorbillo said that he created the pie to “combat food prejudice.”

Try Pineapple Pizza for Yourself in Chicago

If you’re interested in getting a pineapple pizza yourself, you’ll find plenty of restaurants that are happy to serve you, despite the divisiveness of the ingredients. A classic Hawaiian pizza, as it’s still served at the Satellite Family Restaurant, has ham (also known as Canadian bacon) and pineapple. However, there are plenty of ways to tailor this pizza pie. Some add green peppers and onions for added crunch, while others spice things up with jalapeño peppers. These ingredients and more are all available in our kitchen at Pequod’s Pizza.

The Pequod’s Pizza Difference

If you order your pineapple pizza from Pequod’s, you can enjoy all the savory sweetness of this iconic pie along with our famous caramelized cheese crust. Get the perfect pairing of famous features on your pie with this option. Our pan pizzas come in personal, small, medium, and large sizes. Place your order online, or come enjoy a pizza with us in person at our Morton Grove restaurant or Chicago location.

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