While not everyone will see eye to eye all of the time, pizza is one of those foods that usually sparks very little debate. Sure, people can prefer Pizza Hut over Papa John’s, thin crust over stuffed, but rather than arguing about it, most pizza lovers can acknowledge and accept their differences, pledging devotion to the cheesy goddess. Time spent arguing, after all, is time wasted not eating pizza. It’s kind of beautiful, isn’t it?
There is one debate, however, that passionately pits pizza lovers against one another, splitting the community down the middle like one of those 50-50 pizzas with mixed toppings. We are, of course, talking about the Hawaiian, an innocuous-sounding pie with a very contentious topping.
Created in 1962 by Greek-Canadian Sam Panopoulos, most people can accept the ham, but pineapple on pizza remains one of the biggest food debates out there today. Even Gordon Ramsay has waded into the debate, quite emphatically saying: “you don’t pineapple on a f***ing pizza! […] What the f*** are you doing?”
So fervent was the arguing on both sides, so damaging was the debate for the overall wellbeing of pizza lovers everywhere, that science has had to intervene to tell us unequivocally whether or not pineapple belongs on a pizza. They ruled in favor of the controversial Hawaiian, and it’s simple biology more than anything.
Let’s put our slices down for a second, and reach deep into our mind and recall some school biology, if we can. When it comes to our sense of taste, our tongues categorize flavor in one of five ways: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami (meaty, brothy or savory flavor). Even better, the tongue is a pretty complex and wonderful organ, and if you gave it the right combination of flavor, you could experience some pretty fantastic taste sensations.
Thousands of years back, our ancestors used to seek out sweet fruits like pineapples for a much-needed burst of energy and as a result, the modern human body will naturally crave sugar. Combined with a salty flavor such as, say, the sodium found all over your typical pizza, you’re in for some pretty wonderful foodgasms. Barb Stackley put it best in her book, entitled TASTE: Surprising Stories and Science About Why Food Tastes Good.
“We like sweet because it signals calories, or energy, to us. And we like salt because we need it for normal bodily function. We have no sodium storage system, as we do with other minerals (i.e. we store calcium in our bones), so Mother Nature’s solution is a built-in craving for it. The combination of these two positive biological responses is VERY pleasurable.”
Not only is there inherent pleasure in pizza with pineapple, it’s also pretty healthy too, as far as pizzas go; pineapples contain both Vitamin C and manganese, which help to boost your immune system and give you more energy for the day ahead.
There you have it, pizza lovers, the Hawaiian pizza deserves to be here just as much as the others do. Can we stop the squabbling now? We’ve let this debate divide us for too long. Pizza lovers, let’s practise love and acceptance, and get back to what’s really important in life: pizza.