Aloha, Sam Panopolous: Inventor of Hawaiian Pizza Dies at 83
Panopolous and his brothers were experimenting with pizza toppings when they hit upon the idea of tossing in some canned pineapples.
Sam Panopolous believed he started the trend of diverse toppings on pizza.
Pizza lovers said “aloha” to Sam Panopolous, credited as the man who invented the Hawaiian Pizza, when he died last week at 83.
Although its name implies American origins, the Hawaiian Pizza is actually a Canadian innovation. Panapolous dreamed up the signature pie—topped with ham and pineapple—with his brothers when they owned the Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario. At the time, the restaurant served all manner of diner fare, including pancakes and burgers, before adding American-style Chinese food and, eventually, pizza to the menu.
They used pineapples straight from a can to deliver an unexpectedly sweet bite, but the brothers had no idea at the time that their invention would spread around the world. “Nobody liked it at first,” Panapolous said, in a scrappy, late-in-life interview with CBC Radio earlier this year. “But after that, they went crazy about it. Because (in) those days, nobody was mixing sweets and sours and all that. It was plain, plain food.”
Panapolous believed he started the trend of diverse toppings on pizza. “[In] those days, the main thing was mushrooms, bacon and pepperoni,” he said. “After that, everybody started putting everything on it. You can put sardines on it. You can put salmon on it. You can put green peppers, onions, whatever you want you can put today—and everybody eats it.”
According to an obituary released by Panopolous’ family, the Greek-born restaurateur, who emigrated to Canada in 1954, died suddenly while in the hospital in London, Ontario. Earlier this year, the crusty Panopolous gained new media fame after the president of Iceland joked that he’d ban pineapples as a pizza topping if he could.