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Man Who Invented The Iconic Hawaiian Pizza Has Passed Away

Photo: Janine (Wikimedia Commons)

We’ve lost a true legend in the world of pizza.

Sam Panopoulos, a Canadian immigrant from Greece who has been widely credited with inventing the controversial, pineapple-topped Hawaiian pizza, passed away last week at the age of 83, according to the Washington Post. An obituary posted by his family confirms Panopoulos’s death at a hospital in London, Ontario, but does not reveal a cause.

Panopoulos is known for his tropical creation, which, contrary to what you would think from its name, was invented in 1962 at Satellite, the restaurant he opened in 1962. While looking for new topping ideas for his pizzas, Panopoulos reached for a can of pineapple and added some bits of ham to throw on his pizza, creating a combination that has revolutionized and bitterly divided the pizza world. It was later dubbed the “Hawaiian pizza” for the brand of canned pineapple used.

Today, the pizza has become a staple of most pizza chains’ menus, and while many consumers have grown to love the sweet-and-sour combination, massive groups of people exist that despise the pizza because they believe that pineapple doesn’t belong on top of a pizza. That conversation has even turned political recently, with the leaders of Iceland and Canada pitting themselves on either side of the debate after Iceland’s president suggested that he would ban the fruit topping. While that controversy has sorted itself out and pineapple pizzas are still legal in Iceland, the dispute rages on.

Despite how all of us may feel about the Hawaiian pizza, there’s one thing we can all agree on: if it weren’t for Panopoulos and his creativity, this pie and its unique yet legendary flavor would likely not exist today.

Thank you for gracing the world with a truly innovative gift, Mr. Panopoulos. You will be missed.

By Constantine Spyrou

Constantine's life revolves around eating, studying, and talking about food. He's obsessed with eggs, gyros, and the future of food.