RIP, Maverick Who Invented the Pineapple Pizza

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Pizza would never be the same. Photo: Elsie Hui/CC/flickr

Sam Panopoulos, considered to be the creator of the Hawaiian pizza, died on Thursday at the age of 83. A Greek immigrant to Canada, Panopoulos and his two brothers ran a number of restaurants in Ontario. Satellite Restaurant, where Panopoulos started serving pizzas in the 1960s, is the spot where he came up with the controversial assemblage of toppings. Depending on whom you talk you, it was either in a moment of divine inspiration or devilish blasphemy that Panopoulos first put pineapple on pizza, telling the BBC just this year that the crew did it “just for the fun of it.”

Pizza is one of those foods that’s good even when it’s bad, but it’s a true understatement to say that the Hawaiian pizza — the star ingredients of which are some kind of hamlike pork product and pineapple — has been uniquely controversial. All these years later, it can still stir a good debate: When Iceland’s president Guðni Jóhannesson announced his policy position on it earlier this year (“fundamentally opposed”), he started an international incident. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau came to the defense of his country’s culinary creation, and Panopoulos refused to back down in an interview with the BBC, where he called Jóhannesson “crazy.”

The Maverick Who Invented Pineapple Pizza Has Died