(Canada) – Sam Panopoulos, a Greek-Canadian who invented the Hawaiian Pizza, has passed away at the age of 83. He invented the creation in 1962 when he decided to experiment with serving pizzas with different toppings in the restaurant that he owned with his brothers.
In an interview he gave, he reflected on that time period. He said, “We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste. We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments.”
The Hawaiian Pizza, a topping that involves pineapple and ham, is something that is well known throughout the world. It is also one of those dishes that people either seem to love or hate. The President of Iceland has said that he, “likes pineapples, just not on pizza.” Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, has said that he likes the dish and is proud of its Canadian roots.
At the time, Mr. Panopoulos said that he was inspired by the flavors in Chinese food and also in the Tiki bar culture that was starting to spring up. In their restaurant, the brothers did serve Chinese food, too. The salt/sweet combination of the Hawaiian pizza was born out of these ideas. He also explained that the name for the pizza came from the brand of canned pineapples that he used at the time.
Sam Panopoulos originally came from Vourvoura, Greece and he ended up in Ontario, Canada in 1934 when he was only twenty years old. His brothers came with him. Soon after they arrived, they began opening restaurants.
They began testing this new combination to their customers. He said in an interview with the BBC, “We tried it first, passed it to some customers. And a couple of months later, they’re going crazy about it. So we put it on the menu.” He never did patent the combination, but he was always happy his idea had such an impact.