Hawaiian Pizza Has Literally Nothing To Do With Hawaii

Whether you like to nosh on crispy, thin-crusted pizza or a deep dish pizza, there is a pizza for everybody. According to History, pizza is believed to have originated in Naples, Italy during the 17th century. Today, pizza is beloved throughout America. In fact, 350 slices of pizza are gobbled down per second in the United States (via National Today).

While the original pizza was simply topped with cheese, tomatoes, and basil, per History, there is now a plethora of topping options. But, no other pizza is arguably as controversial as Hawaiian pizza. Topped with canned pineapple and ham, the pizza is as equally hated as it is adored. Whether pineapple is an acceptable topping on pizza is an age-old question that can lead to a fiery debate.

You would think Hawaiian pizza would have originated on the island of Hawaii — it's in the name. However, the pizza creation wasn't invented in Hawaii or even within the United States, but in an arguably unlikely location.

Hawaiian pizza hails from Canada

Hawaiian pizza was created by a Greek immigrant named Sam Panopoulos in Canada. According to Time, Panopoulos created the pizza in 1962 in order to gain more traffic to his restaurant in Ontario. His restaurant typically served diner fare, such as pancakes and burgers (via BBC Bitesize). It wasn't until a trip to Naples, Italy — the homeland of the pizza — that Panopoulos decided to add pizza to his menu, which was a relatively new dish in North America at the time.

In addition to pizza offerings with its typical toppings, such as pepperoni and mushrooms, Panopoulos decided to go the extra mile. He added canned pineapple and ham bits to a pizza, and customers loved its sweet and savory flavors. BBC Bitesize reports the fruit topping may have been a huge hit due to a "fascination" with Polynesian-inspired Tiki culture at the time.

In an interview with the BBC, Panopoulos said he decided to add pineapple to his pizzas for fun. "We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments," he said. That one fatal decision has led to heated discourse from pizza lovers all around the world.

Hawaiian pizza remains polarizing

More than 60 years later, Sam Panopolous' choice to add pineapple to pizza has polarized the world, resulting in fiery debates among pineapple defenders and haters. According to a 2017 survey by Public Policy Polling, a majority of Americans are pineapple lovers, with 47% of Americans surveyed approving pineapple as a topping on pizza. 32% surveyed disapproved, while 20% were unsure.

The pineapple topping controversy even reached world leaders. In 2017, Iceland's President Guðni Jóhannesson jokingly said he would ban the fruit topping on pizza when asked by a student (via BBC Bitesize). Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that he was "team pineapple" in response to Jóhannesson's comments and that he stands "behind this delicious Southwestern Ontario creation."

Even chef and TV personality Gordon Ramsay tried to put the debate to bed once and for all. In 2017, he tweeted that the fruit doesn't belong on pizza. Despite the pineapple hate, the Hawaiian pizza remains a favorite among many people, including chef Alton Brown who voiced his support of the topping in a tweet.