Only a small percentage of people leave behind a legacy as polarizing as that of Sam Panopoulous, the man credited with making pineapple into a pizza topping, who passed away on Thursday, June 8, at the age of 83.
According to Panopoulous’ obituary, he was born in Greece, and when he was 20 years old he and his brothers moved to Canada and opened several successful restaurants. In 1962 at the Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario, Panopoulous first had the idea of putting pineapple on a pizza. He said that at the time pizza was still new, and most toppings were just cheese, pepperoni, and mushrooms. Putting fruit on a pizza was an unconventional idea, but Panopoulous said he and his brothers were trying to be creative and try all kinds of outside-the-box experiments to make their restaurant stand out. It worked, too. Panopoulous told the BBC that he started handing out the pineapple pizzas to guests as an experiment. When people started coming back and raving about it, they put it on the menu for real.
Now Panopoulous’ legacy is enshrined on the menus of pizzerias all over the world. Most pizza places have pineapple on hand, but it’s as divisive a topping as there has ever been. Some people love it, and some people hate it, but it seems like everyone has a strong opinion.
The prime minister of New Zealand reportedly loves pineapple on his pizza, for example, while Iceland’s president said that if he had the power to ban people from doing things he didn’t like, putting pineapple on pizza would be the first thing to go.
Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau broke the tie by declaring himself to be Team Pineapple, Tweeting in February: “I have a pineapple. I have a pizza. And I stand behind this delicious Southwestern Ontario creation. #TeamPineapple @Canada”
People will probably be arguing about pineapple on pizza for the next 50 years. Members of Team Pineapple should check out some of our best Hawaiian pizza recipes for more ways to celebrate Panopoulous’ legacy.