Pineapple pizza was always controversial, but thanks to Twitter and the President of Iceland, the dish has received a lot more publicity in recent months. That's why, no matter how you feel about the dish, it's extra sad that Sam Panopoulus, the man responsible for introducing the world to pineapple pizza, has passed away.
According to Mashable, Panopoulus died last Thursday at the age of 83. He leaves behind quite a legacy. Though he is said to have been the inventor of Hawaiian pizza, Panopoulus was not himself Hawaiian, nor did he invent to food while in America's 50th state. In fact, he wasn't even American.
Panopoulus was born in Greece and immigrated to Canada in 1954 when he was 20 years old. He lived in Ontario, where he ran a few diners with help from his family. It was during this time that he came up with the dish that would change the world forever (or at least have world leaders and Food Network stars squabbling on the internet some 50 years later). Time reports that in 1962, Panopoulos was looking for a way to bring in more customers to one of his restaurants, so he and his brother decided to experiment with wacky pizza toppings. They somehow landed on pineapple.
After pineapple pizza started getting the extra dose of attention online earlier this year, Sam Panopoulos spoke to the BBC about his inventions: "We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste. We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments." As the BBC points out, along with customers being attracted to the novelty and the sweet-savory flavor combination, the concept also "capitalized on the mid-century tiki trend, which popularized Polynesian culture in North America."
So, even if the mere thought of pineapple on pizza upsets and offends you, you have to admit that Panopoulos' fruity pizza pie encouraged experimentation that continues today. It seems that everybody is trying out new, outrageous pizzas toppings — peas and mayonnaise, marshmallow Peeps, avocado, cotton candy — for the sake of sales (or maybe just to piss people off on Twitter). Even if you forget the pineapple, that in itself is a pretty huge legacy.