World Pizza Day: A Greek Canadian, Sam Panopoulos, "invented" Hawaiian pizza in 1962

By 1 month ago

Happy World Pizza Day!

Some love it, and others hate it. But very few people know that the man who decided back in the 1960s to add pineapple to pizza was a Greek immigrant from Canada.

A century later, a 20-year-old Greek named Sam Panopoulos was similarly disappointed. Stopping in Naples during a 1954 voyage to Canada, he found his first taste of “pizza” — a bun topped with sauce and spaghetti — uninspiring.

Yet Mr Panopoulos, who opened a restaurant in Chatham, Ontario, called Satellite, eventually warmed to the yeasted flatbread that Neapolitan bakers had popularized in the 1700s and that Greek chefs had whipped up for sailors more than a thousand years before.

Searching for new pizza flavours in 1962, he reached for a can of fruit and launched a culinary revolution, topping his restaurant’s standard cheese pizza with bits of ham and pineapple. The result was sweet, sour and savoury — a flavour combination hailed ever since as both revelatory and repugnant, a Canadian treasure and a “Polynesian perversion.”

Mr Panopoulos had run a string of successful restaurants with his brothers Elias and Nikitas, after migrating to Canada from Greece.

Whipped initially up as a novelty, the so-called Hawaiian Pizza soon became a worldwide craze.

Many criticised the topping and defending his creation, Mr 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, simple food," he said.

Sam Panopoulos

Mr Panopoulos said he wished he had filed for a trademark or patent on his pizza, but at the time, believed “it was just another piece of bread cooking in the oven.”

He remained fiercely protective of his creation through the years, insisting that he was the first to use pineapple and meat together on a pizza.

Sotirios Panopoulos was born in Vourvoura, Greece, in 1934. Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Christina Panopoulos; two children, Margie and Bill; a sister; and four grandchildren.

Copyright GreekCityTimes 2022
Copyright GreekCityTimes 2022