Ottawa, June 10: An Ontario man who invented the Hawaiian pizza, a style of pizza known for its inclusion of pineapple and ham, has died at the age of 83, leaving a legacy that has delighted, confused and appalled diners worldwide, the media reported.
Sotirios "Sam" Panopoulos, 83, died suddenly on Thursday at University Hospital in London, Ont., an obituary posted online on Friday said.
Panopoulos was born in Greece in 1934 and immigrated to Canada in 1954, reports Global News Canada. He settled in Ontario and operated a number of restaurants alongside his two brothers, Elias and Nikitas.
"An unforgettable personality, Sam was respected by many for providing strong and dependable advice, and for his exceedingly generous nature," the obituary said.
Far from the tropical paradise that bears its namesake, the Hawaiian pizza was in fact invented in Ontario in 1962.
With canned pineapples and a handful of ham shards, Panopoulos invented the contentious fare at his restaurant, The Satellite, in Chatham.
In February, Panopoulos recounted to the BBC how he and his brothers came up with the idea for the pizza, topped with pineapple and ham.
"We just put it on, just for the fun of it...We were young in the business and we were doing a lot of experiments." Whether or not pineapple belongs on a pizza remains a divisive culinary choice.
Pineapple as a pizza topping can spark sharp debate, even Icelandic President Gudni Johannesson weighed in on the idea in February, lambasting the topping in a Facebook post and stoking a decades-old debate.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, threw his support behind the beleaguered fruit with the hashtag #teampineapple.