close up hawaiian pizza rustic table background. Photo: GANCINO (Getty).
Who would have thought the death of Adam West over the weekend wasn’t as bad as it gets? We’re not at all trying to belittle such a major loss, but when you’re as passionate about pizza as we are– and we know we aren’t the only ones — it’s easy to get a little worked up. That’s especially the case when the inventor of the Hawaiian pizza, possibly the greatest topping combination in the history of pizza, dies at the tender age of 83. Sam Panopoulos, you will be missed.
Inventor Of Hawaiian Pizza Passes Away At 83
Sam is said to have brought pineapple pizza in the the mainstream all the way back in 1962, when he ran the restaurant Satellite in Chatham, Ontario (an hour from the border with Michigan). He and his two brothers operated a number of restaurants after emigrating from Greece in 1954. So interestingly enough, Hawaiian pizza isn’t “Hawaiian” at all. Hell, it’s not even American. To this day, it’s universally praised (by those with taste buds) and reviled (by those who just want to watch the world burn). But, we’d expect such controversy from a breed of pie with such a rich history. In fact, when asked about how he came up with a combination, his reasoning was that “Pizza wasn’t known at all [at the time]. Even Toronto didn’t know anything about pizza in those days. The only place you could have pizza was in Detroit.”
Photo: Derek Ruttan/Postmedia Network File Photo
Now, some would argue that due to their hatred of all things both sweet and salty, maybe Panopoulos doesn’t “know anything about pizza” either. In fact, back in February Iceland president Guoni Johannesson jokingly suggested the topping combination be banned. Panopoulos’ response: “I don’t care what he does. He can say whatever he wants. He sells the fish over there, you know, that’s all he does. So he has to put the fish on the pizza.”
Sam Panopoulos died suddenly in the hospital last Thursday at age 83. But if you’re expecting a bunch of mushy tributes from his kids, think again. Son Bill Panopoulos says that his dad “wasn’t looking to get famous” and that “the Hawaiian pizza story and his immigrant story were his to tell.” Not a bad way to think of it. Actually, it’s a great way to seal the legacy he left behind. Not to mention a great excuse to eat pizza every night this week.
h/t The A.V. Club