Getting Heated About Hawaiian: Calgary’s Great Pizza Debate

There are two kinds of pizza connoisseurs we’ve come across in Calgary: those who adore Hawaiian pizza and will go to their graves singing the praises of pineapple and ham on a deep dish pie, and those who vehemently despise it and consider it an affront to true pizza aficionados everywhere. But both detractors and fans alike have one man to thank for their obsession—Sam Panopoulos.

A brief history of the Hawaiian pizza

In 1962 in the small town of Chatham, Ontario an innovative restaurateur was busily experimenting with new flavour combinations for his menu. Sam Panopoulos was a Greek immigrant who’d arrived in Canada eight years earlier and opened an eatery called the Satellite Restaurant. He’d first come across pizza during a brief stay in Naples and later became a fan of the dish on his frequent trips to Detroit. Sam decided to introduce pizza at his own restaurant and began experimenting with a number of different flavour combinations. One day he opened a tin of pineapple and tossed the tangy fruit on the pie already topped with its traditional tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. He knew almost instantly that he was on to something great. It didn’t take long for him to add smoked ham to the dish and a name for this quirky creation quickly followed: the Hawaiian pizza.

But is it pizza?
Detractors of the Hawaiian pizza are quite vocal about their abhorrence of the dish and one of their most common arguments is that Hawaiian pizza isn’t even really pizza at all. This then begs the question, what exactly is pizza? While there’s evidence that cheese combined with other ingredients atop a yeasted flatbread was served as early as the days of the Holy Roman Empire, tomatoes aren’t native to Europe and didn’t become a common ingredient outside of the Americas until the 16th century. While many folks denounced the arrival of the tomato, Naples embraced it and began concocting sauces. Soon Neapolitans garnered a reputation for their flatbread topped with tomato sauce and fresh cheese and tourists from far and wide came to sample the peasant fare concocted by men called pizzaioli. It’s this minimally topped pie from Naples that many deem to be the standard for authentic pizza.

A heated debate
Fans and decriers alike hold tightly onto their stance either in favour of or against Hawaiian pizza. In addition to the question of legitimacy, abhorrers often cite a clashing of flavours as reason for their position. However, those who love pineapple and ham on their pies often say that its precisely the unique combination of flavours—sweet, tangy and salty all at once—that make the Hawaiian pizza so delicious.

Choose your pie
No matter which camp you fall in, at Chicago Deep Dish Pizza we have the pizza that will most please your palate. Our eight locations provide complete pickup, delivery and catering services in Calgary and a delicious pizza made only with the freshest ingredients is always only a phone call away. Contact us to order your delicious deep dish pizza today.