The Canadian man who is widely credited with inventing Hawaiian pizza, setting of the world-wide debate over whether the fruit has the right to top a pie, died last week at the age of 83.
Sam Panopoulos was born in Greece and emigrated to Canada in 1954 at the age of 20.
He told BBC that he made the first “Hawaiian” pizza in 1962 at the Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario, as a fun experiment.
“We just put it on, just for the fun of it, see how it was going to taste,” Panopoulos told the BBC. “We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments.”
Panopoulos said he and his brothers liked the sweet and savory contrast between the ham and the pineapple, and that they named it “Hawaiian” after the brand of canned pineapple they used.
Pineapple on pizza became a trending debate earlier this year when the Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson joked that the pizza topping should be illegal sparking backlash from Hawaiian pizza lovers.
Even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in, tweeting in February, “I have a pineapple. I have a pizza. And I stand behind this delicious Southwestern Ontario creation.#TeamPineapple.”
An obituary for Panopoulos noted the Hawaiian pizza inventor’s “unforgettable personality,” loyalty and sense of humor. His funeral is set for today.