Despite its tropical name, Hawaiian pizza is a Canadian creation. The pineapple-laden pie is the brainchild of retired cook, Sam Panopoulos, who first served pineapple on pizza at Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ont., in 1962.
At the time, pizza was uncommon in Canada. “People only put on mushroom, bacon and pepperoni, that’s all,” says Panopoulos. “I had pineapple in the restaurant and I put some on, and I shared with some customers and they liked it. And we started serving it that way. For a long time, we were the only ones serving it.”
As we know it today, Hawaiian pizza is a classic American-style cheese pizza topped with ham and pineapple. Variations may include bacon in place of or in addition to the ham, but Panopoulos says that his major contribution was simply adding the pineapple. In the early 60s, says Panopoulos, pizza was considered ethnic food, an Italian-American curiosity that adventurous Canadians would try when they crossed the border. Back then, Panopoulos would drive to Detroit for a taste of the cheese-topped pie. “[Then] we bought a little oven and learned how to make pizza,” he says.