Hawaiian pizza: Love it or leave it?

May 3rd, 2010

The Hawaiian pizza: Who loves ya, baby? Not I.

Sarah DiGregorio was apologetic when she called me last week, explaining in advance that her question might sound weird or crazy.

I said, bring it. There really are no strange questions in newsrooms. We hear them all. It seems to have tapered off somewhat with the answers to just about every question now searchable by Internet, but in the past, we were called on to answer anything from bar-bet questions, to whether potatoes with green spots are still edible, or whether various foods kept in refrigerators or freezers might be safe to eat in anywhere from two days to six months.

So Sarah, a reporter from The Village Voice in New York, wanted to know, “Do people in Hawaii eat Hawaiian pizza and do they like it?”Her instincts told her no.

I gave her a quick anecdotal response and love that she also followed up in trying to trace the origins of the “Hawaiian” pizza topped with pineapple and ham. Actually, I think a truer Hawaii pizza would be a modified version of the laulau, one topped with kalua pig and luau leaves with some chunks of taro as a poi substitute. I’d eat that!

You can read her entertaining piece here. She traced the pizza’s origin to 76-year-old Sam Panopoulos of London, who recalled coming up in 1962 at Satellite Restaurant in downtown Chatham in southern Ontario.

If anyone else knows more about the Hawaiian pizza origin story or has intelligence to counter Panopoulos’ claim—for instance there are competing claims to the mai tai’s invention—I’d love to hear it. In the meantime, here are the various incarnations of the “Hawaiian” pizza available to us:

The pizzas:

California Pizza Kitchen: Hawaiian BBQ Chicken
Fresh pineapple, BBQ chicken, smoked gouda and mozzarella cheeses, barbecue sauce, sliced red onions and cilantro.

Domino’s: Honolulu Hawaiian Pizza
Sliced ham, bacon, pineapple, roasted red peppers and provolone cheese on a parmesan crust.

Little Caesar’s: Hula Hawaiian Pizza
Topped with ham and pineapple.

Papa John’s: Hawaiian BBQ Chicken pizza
Barbeque sauce, grilled all-white chicken, hickory-smoked bacon, fresh-sliced onions, sweet pineapple.

Shakey’s: Hawaiian Delight
Sweet pineapple over ham.

5 Responses to “Hawaiian pizza: Love it or leave it?”

  1. Kimo:

    I find it reprehensible the american system allows some foreign company to appropriate Hawaiian culture at every turn:
    Goods and Services IC 030. US 046. G & S: PIZZA. FIRST USE: 20070430. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20070430
    Standard Characters Claimed
    Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
    Serial Number 76676376
    Filing Date May 1, 2007
    Current Filing Basis 1A
    Original Filing Basis 1A
    Published for Opposition October 30, 2007
    Registration Number 3367524
    Registration Date January 15, 2008
    Owner (REGISTRANT) LC TRADEMARKS, INC. CORPORATION MICHIGAN c/o Fox Office Centre 2211 Woodward Avenue Detroit MICHIGAN 482013400
    Attorney of Record Martin I. Caruso
    Type of Mark TRADEMARK

  2. MichiganWarrior:

    Interesting read, Nadine. But I can’t believe you left out the best pizza I’ve ever had the pleasure of indulging in…
    Big Kahuna Pizza! I first had some of their awesome creations while a Buyer for Eagle Hardware & Garden at Waikele, back in the mid-90′s. Since then, we moved to Michigan so my wife could be near her relatives.
    Over the years, I’ve had pizza from the East Coast, the West Coast, and many many points in between. But nothing I’ve ever had come even close to Big Kahuna’s pizzas that are topped with some kalua pig!
    Friends have told me they moved from their Sand Island Access Road location to a new place slightly northeast of the Airport.
    If writing about Hawaiian pizza, you owe it to those folks at Big Kahuna to sample their stuff! I, for one, can’t wait to get back home to once again indulge myself in their menu!
    Aloha from Michigan!

  3. Wayne:

    I am a local and I personally hate it. What makes me laugh is most of my friends tend to call it Pineapple and Ham pizza an not Hawaiian pizza.

  4. Nadine Kam:

    Ooh, haven’t been there for a long time. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Kimo:

    another thing gets me, mainlanders assuming everyone who lives here, all residents of Hawai’i, are called “Hawaiian”.

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