Pineapple on pizza. You either love it, or you hate it.
But either way you have the Greeks to thank for this world-famous pizza topping that quickly became a world-wide craze whilst at the same time earning the disdain of pizza puritans everywhere.
This decades-long, global controversy is currently at the centre of a plan by England fans, to put Italy off their game in the lead up to Sunday’s UEFA European Championship final by pigging out on most Italians’ pet hate – pineapple-topped pizza.
A pizza that was created by man named Sotirios Panopoulos.
Pineapple on Pizza: How it All Began
Sotirios Panopoulos was the man behind one of the world’s most loved – and hated – pizzas, ‘The Hawaiian,’ a pizza topped with ham and, dare we say it, pineapple.
Born in Vourvoura, Greece, on 20 August 1934, Panopoulos emigrated to Canada aged 20, arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Panopoulos owned the Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario, with his brothers Elias and Nikitas.
Their menu initially featured typical American items such as burgers and fries as well as some American-Chinese dishes, such as Sweet and Sour Pork which mixes sweet and savoury flavours.
When pizzas started becoming popular in the US and Canada in the early 1960s, Panapoulos introduced pizzas to the menu after sampling one on a trip to Naples, the Italian pizza-making capital of the world.
In 1962, Panapoulos came up with the idea of adding canned pineapple to pizza.
His creation quickly became so very popular with his customers, yet so very offensive to a large portion of the world who will never understand what on earth a piece of fruit is doing on the top of a pizza.
In the face of criticism by many, Panopoulos told American media, “those days when I first came up with it, there was nothing to it… it was just another piece of bread cooking in the oven.”
“Nobody liked it at first, but after that, they went crazy about it, because (in) those days nobody was mixing sweet and sour and all that. It was plain, plain food,” he said.
Panapoulos sadly passed away in 2017 aged 83, yet the debate about whether or not pineapple belongs, or should even be allowed, on pizza is an argument that rages on and is weighed into by many, including world leaders.
When Iceland’s President Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson said in 2017 that pineapple should be banned from pizza, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau famously tweeted: “I have a pineapple. I have a pizza. And I stand behind this delicious Southwestern Ontario creation.”
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 24, 2017
Many around the world consider it a grave offence to put pineapple on top of a pizza, but none more so than the creators of the original dish, the Italians.
This ongoing, global debate makes the basis for a great ‘wind up’ for England fans, who in the lead up to Sunday’s Euro 2020 final against Italy, plan to tell their Roman rivals to ‘get stuffed’ by pigging out on most Italians’ pet hate – pineapple-topped pizza.
England fans believe that Italians find pineapple toppings on their national dish so vile that it ‘makes them crazy’; thus are hoping even just reading about such an abomination will be enough to put the Azzuris off their game.
A spokesman for Deliveroo said: “It’s no surprise pizza orders have skyrocketed by 1,680% as it’s a match day must-have.
“It’s great to see that no matter if we’re loyal to our national team, we’ll happily tuck into great food from around the world while we cheer on our England team.
“Whether you want crustless, cheese-less (who would do such a thing?) or opt for a divisive Hawaiian pizza, we have something for everyone.”
Fans have taken to social media, vowing to eat their way into giving England an extra slice of luck for the big match.
Celebrities are also rallying their followers for the cause, including comedian Kae Kurd who tweeted: “Pineapple on Pizza every day till Sunday guys. Let the mind games begin.”
Let the mind games begin
— Kae Kurd (@KaeKurd) July 8, 2021
As the debate surrounding Greek-created ham and pineapple pizza rages on, some may expect an apology for the level of controversy it has caused on a global scale. However, Greeks can’t apologise for being behind yet another invention that is also enjoyed by millions over the world.