How Hawaiian pizza was born (and why it's so controversial)

Is there a ham and pineapple one? Discover the history of this controversial stuffing

Pepperoni, chicken with creamy cheese, mozzarella, margherita and Portuguese are the favorite flavors of those who order a pizza on iFood. In-app There are those who go for pizza hot dogs and chicken hearts, but the controversial Hawaiian, with its mix of pineapple and ham, seems to be far from Brazilians' preference.

It's like that in the rest of the world too. Recently, Hawaiian pizza caused an international controversy. The then president of Iceland, Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, said that if he could, he would ban the dish in the country. In response, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to social media to defend the delicacy. In the end, the Icelander admitted that he exaggerated a little.

But where did the idea of putting pineapple and ham side by side on a pizza come from? In Trudeau's land, Canada. It all started in 1962, when young Greek Sam Panopoulos, then 20 years old, took a trip to Naples, Italy, where pizza was invented. 

Upon returning to Canada, where he had a restaurant, he decided to put round on the menu and wanted to innovate, reports a BBC article. So he added pineapple to the pizza, “just for fun, to see how it would taste,” reveals to Time. “We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experimentation,” Panopoulos said.

The inspiration for the filling came from the sweet and sour flavors of Chinese cuisine, which has popular dishes that mix pork and pineapple. Panopoulos and his brothers liked the contrast between the sweetness of the pineapple and the salty flavor of the ham, and decided to call the pizza Hawaiian in honor of the brand of canned pineapple used.

According to the BBC, the book “Tropical Recipe Book” was published by the Australian company Golden Circle, a producer of pineapple in syrup, at the same time — and its cover had pineapple rings decorating a cooked ham.

Does this mixture work? 

Before Hawaiian pizza was created in Canada, Hawaiian toast already existed in Germany: it was filled with a pineapple ring, cooked ham and slices of cheese, all prepared on the grill. According to the BBC, this may have been a reinterpretation of the spamwich, a grilled ham and pineapple sandwich brought by United States soldiers who served in West Germany when World War II ended.

Perhaps it became popular with people because mixing sweet and salty makes the brain react positively when detecting the combination of sugar (a fuel for our body) and salt (vital for body functions), says the BBC.

But not everyone has the same experience with Hawaiian pizza. Genetic factors influence how much we like sour and sweet flavors, like pineapple. And they can be decisive in making a person not like this stuffing.

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