The debate over whether or not pineapple belongs on pizza is one that generates strong opinions in both directions, but this piece is not a balanced account of both sides of the story. Rather, these seven reasons are presented to convince you, once and for all, that slapping a sickly-sweet fruit on top of an otherwise perfect pizza is a huge mistake. Read on, be convinced, and banish pineapple from your pizzas for ever!
In 1963 Sam Panopolous, a Greek immigrant to Canada, became the first person to put pineapple on pizza. Panopolous ran a US-Style Diner that also served Chinese dishes, and named his creation after the brand of tinned pineapple he used, which all in all makes for the least auspicious origin story of any culinary trend, ever. Despite these humble beginnings, the now-infamous ‘Hawaiian’ still managed to become a global success. Although, as Ed Sheeran has proved, success alone does not prove something is good.
Made well, the pizza is not only a taste marvel, but a textural one as well. For a delicious, crispy crust, it is essential that there isn’t too much moisture on top. This truth holds for every ingredient: the ideal pizza will be topped with a well-reduced, thick tomato sauce and an expensive buffalo mozzarella that is less wet to the touch than its budget cousins. Add to this any number of drier pizza stalwarts: pepperoni, anchovies, olives, artichokes or sun-dried tomato (the list of course goes on). Pineapple fails this simple test as a pizza topping: its high moisture content makes it a serious no-no.
My main complaint with the addition of pineapple to pizza is that it simply doesn’t go. I can’t name another dish that successfully combines pineapple and tomato, or even pineapple and bread. And cheese and pineapple has not been ‘a thing’ since they featured together on cocktail sticks at dire 1970s dinner parties. Given that this era also churned out the Prawn Cocktail and the undesirable Duck a l’Orange, I’m not sure it’s a period we should be referencing too often in today’s cuisine.
Ok, maybe I’m on to a loser here as pineapples have been knocking about in Italy longer than pepperoni has, but every Italian who opines on the subject says much the same thing: “you don’t get that in Italy.” And not only did the Italians invent pizza, but we have them to thank for pasta, panna cotta, risotto and tiramisu. In other words, they know a lot about food. Whilst we’re speaking of culinary experts, multi-Michelin starred chef Gordon Ramsay has also decried pineapple’s addition to pizza. And you wouldn’t want to disagree with him…
Hundreds of years of good sense have gone into making the pizza one of the world’s most finely-tuned culinary creations. Everything exists in perfect harmony: soft, melted cheese contrasting with a crispy crust; salty pepperoni balanced by neutralising dough, and sharpness from the tomato sauce juxtaposing with milky mozzarella. It is precisely here that pineapple commits its worst crime of tipping the pH scales too far towards the acid. Neither citrus nor vinegar are ever seen on a self-respecting pizza, so why should the acidic pineapple be there?
The President of Iceland
Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, president of Iceland (the world’s third happiest country, no less) has said that, if he had the power to make such a law, he would actually ban pineapple on pizza. I’m not one to put too much culinary trust in politicians usually, but Guðni is Iceland’s youngest ever president, and has a PhD to add to two master’s degrees. If it’s good enough for Guðni, it’s good enough for me.
I get that not everyone wants to be seen as a food snob, but do you really want to be clocked in public ordering pineapple on pizza? Who wants to be that person? It’d be like asking for a Babybel with your cheese board, or ordering gin and lemonade at a fancy cocktail bar. Do yourself and your mates a favour and help us all avoid a collective facepalm: stay away from the pineapple.