The Surprising Story Behind Hawaiian Pizza

The Hawaiian pizza has nothing to do with Hawaii.

It's the food debate that can divide families and turned friends against each other -- does pineapple belong on pizza?

But the globetrotting history of the much-argued Hawaiian is much crazier than the idea of fruit on pizza.

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Sotirios 'Sam' Panopoulos, a Greek immigrant to Canada, claimed to have invented the Hawaiian in 1962 as a novelty to attract patrons to the restaurant, Satellite, he and his two brothers ran in Ontario.

On his journey to Canada in 1954, Panopoulos tried pizza for the first time, courtesy of other travelers from Naples, Italy.

According to Atlas Obscura, the influence of soldiers returning from the South Pacific after World War 2 on the tiki culture at the time, and the rising popularity of American Chinese food led Panopoulos to get creative.

Sam Panopolous.

The idea was one of a number of pizza topping experiments the brothers tried for their young business, he told the BBC in 2017.

"We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste," Panopoulos said.

The pizza's weren't popular at first -- the mix of sweet and savoury was lost on many who were used to plain food, but eventually it took off around the world.

Image: Hawaiian Pizza

Panopoulos died in June last year, and an obituary described his as a an "unforgettable personality" with a "candid and frank sense of humour".

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And as for why it's called a Hawaiian Pizza -- it was the brand name of the canned pineapples originally used.

So the Greek-Canadian, influenced by American Chinese food created the concoction using pineapples from Hawaii. Now that my friends is one diverse dish.

Featured Image: Getty Images