You may have wondered how Hawaiian pizza got its name. The popular yet controversial pie is the creation of Sam Panopoulos. In 1962 at Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Canada, Panopoulos was struck by genius and made the polarizing decision to put pineapple and ham or bacon atop the traditional cheesy, melty pizza we all know and love. Little did he know that he was making pizza history! It took customers some time to warm up to the unique flavor profile, but they came around eventually. The pizza's popularity grew, and it started showing up on menus across the globe.
The Origin of "Hawaiian" Pizza
Hawaiian pizza is truly an international creation. Panopoulos, a Greek immigrant to Canada when he was 20, had worked as a chef in Chinese restaurants. He was inspired by Chinese cuisine and its combination of sweet and salty flavors. He wondered if he could translate Chinese flavor profiles to pizza, a staple of Italian cuisine. He settled on the pineapple, a fruit that likely originated in South America, because he felt it paired perfectly with the saltiness of the ham. A cosmopolitan pizza pie was born!
When Panopoulos developed the controversial pie, Hawaii was a major producer of the world's pineapples, and the state had a reputation for producing the best, most flavorful fruit. Panopoulos named the pizza after the brand of canned pineapple he used: Hawaiian. And that is the story of how Hawaiian pizza got its name.
Hawaii may no longer dominate the pineapple trade, but regardless of where the pineapple on your pizza comes from, you can still call your favorite pie "Hawaiian."
Hawaiian Pizza Is More Popular Than You Think
Love it or hate it, Panopoulos's creation has impacted the pizza game worldwide, and in recent years, the pie's popularity has soared around the globe.
In the United States, Hawaiian pizza is hugely popular. During 2020, GrubHub reported a 689% spike in Hawaiian pizza orders. The Hawaiian pizza was the third most popular pizza order in Australia for 2019, and in southern Australia, it accounts for more than 15% of pizza orders. And in the United Kingdom, Hawaiian pizza is the most commonly available pizza at takeout restaurants.
Panopoulos passed away in 2017, but his memory lives on in the hearts of Hawaiian pizza lovers everywhere.
Does Pineapple Belong on Pizza?
Pinpointing the reason behind Hawaiian pizza's surge in popularity is challenging, but it may be on people's minds because it is so fun to debate pineapple as a pizza topping online. People are evenly divided on whether pineapple is delicious or downright offensive on a pizza and love to give their hot takes on the controversial toppings online. It is all in good fun, though.
Celebrities and world leaders have weighed in on this important question. Jimmy Kimmel and Gordon Ramsay want nothing to do with pineapple on their pizza, but Paris Hilton, Justin Bieber, and Alton Brown are #TeamPineapple.
In 2017 the debate really got going after Iceland's president Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson jokingly said he would ban pineapple as a pizza topping. Fans of the Hawaiian pizza rushed to defend it online. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, eager to defend the Canadian culinary masterpiece, tweeted in response to Johannesson's comments, "I have a pineapple. I have a pizza. And I stand behind this delicious Southwestern Ontario creation." Iceland's president went on to walk back his comments, stating that no pizza topping should be banned. Now that's a policy position everyone can get behind!
Poll the pizza enthusiasts in your life and get them to sound off on this polarizing topping choice. You may discover some shocking points of view among your friends, but hopefully, your debate will not result in an international diplomatic crisis.
Where Can I Find Hawaiian Pizza Near Me?
Are you looking for a delicious Hawaiian pizza near you? Hungry Howie's can help with that! A pie that would make Panopoulos proud, our sweet and salty Howie Maui pizza comes with ham, bacon, pineapple, and mozzarella cheese. Whether you want to eat it or debate it, order it today, and let your friends and family try a slice and weigh in on the great Hawaiian pizza debate!