Sam Panopoulos of Chatham, ON in 1962
There aren’t many people that are indifferent to pineapple as a pizza topping. You probably either love it or hate it.
It’s not really an obvious topping choice. Nearly all other standard toppings are either a meat or a vegetable. Pineapple is a fruit. You wouldn’t put cherries on a pizza would you? Watermelon? No. So why pineapple?
The first step in getting a sense of that the first person was thinking, we’d have to figure out who that person is. A simple Google search leads us quickly to the answer. The inventor of the pineapple pizza was none other than Greek-Canadian Sam Panopoulos.
In 1962 Sam operated a restaurant in Chatham Ontario (a little west of Toronto) with his two brothers and came up with the idea to put canned pineapple and ham on a pizza and call it “hawaiian pizza”.
“We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste,” Panopoulos told the BBC. “We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments.”BBC News – June 9, 2017 (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40230407)
Apparently, he had experience with making Chinese dishes which commonly feature a mix of sweet and savoury flavours, and thought it was worth a try.
They named it Hawaiian pizza after the brand of canned pineapple used on the pie.Time Magazine, June 11, 2017 (https://time.com/4814056/hawaiian-pizza-pineapple-sam-panopoulos-death/)
The residents of Chatham seemingly didn’t have the aversion to pineapple on their pizza that many do today and the idea took off. Hawaiian pizza is now a staple at pizza restaurants throughout Canada.
Sam Panopoulos passed away in June of 2017.