Sam Panopoulos, the Greek immigrant who invented the canned-pineapple-topped Hawaiian pizza, has died at the age of 83. Panopoulos, a Greek immigrant to Canada, owned several restaurants in Ontario and is credited with introducing the much-loved, much-maligned pizza topping to diners back in 1962.
At the time, as Panopoulos said during a 2015 interview, pizza was not a well-known dish in the region, and it proved a difficult sell at first. “Along the way, we threw some pineapples on it and nobody liked it at first,” Panopoulos told a CBC interviewer in February of this year. “But after that, they went crazy about it. Because those days nobody was mixing sweets and sours and all that.”
Panopoulos re-entered the spotlight earlier this year after the president of Iceland expressed his disdain for Hawaiian pizza, joking that he would ban the dish from the nation if he could. (Panopoulos’ response to the controversy expressed the “blunt honesty” extolled in his obituary: “Listen, I don’t get nothing out of it,” Panopoulus said. “He can do whatever he wants as far as I’m concerned.”)