The strange-but-true story of how Hawaiian pizza was created

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Ah, Hawaiian pizza—the most divisive and controversial pie of them all.

Just one bite transports you to a tropical island, and you can almost hear the ukulele’s dulcet tones, smell coconut on the wind, and you are  instantly in the land where this pineapple-and-ham delicacy was first lovingly crafted — Ontario. Canada. At a Greek restaurant.

No, really.

It all began in 1954 when 20-year-old Sotirios “Sam” Panopoulos immigrated from Greece to Canada.

Sam co-owned a restaurant with his brothers called “The Satellite Diner” on King Street in the province of Ontario. Even though he was surrounded by some of the finest diner food, Sam loved experimenting with new tastes and flavor combinations.

During a business trip to Naples the food-loving young man tasted his first pizza and it was love at first bite.

But it wasn’t until 1962 that pineapple made its way onto one of Sam’s pizzas. After his trip to Naples, Sam had introduced pizza on the diner’s menu. One day as he was putting a pie together he saw a can of pineapple on a shelf and thought, “Why not?”

Personally, I am very much in agreement with Sam. Why not, indeed?

“We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste,” Sam Panopoulos told the BBC in a 2017 interview.

And because pizza was only just being introduced around Canada, most locals had never eaten the most perfect food ever made, so they were pretty accepting of weird combinations, even pineapple and ham.

As for the name? Well, it turns out Sam simply used the brand of canned pineapple used at the diner: Hawaiian.

Was Sam a genius, or was he simply a man whose tastes were far ahead of his time?

Love it or hate it, Hawaiian pizza is available almost everywhere nowadays.