I’ll be totally honest with you: spoiler alert—I love Hawaiian pizza. Love it! In fact, I had it for lunch yesterday (and the funny thing is, I usually hate pineapples). But the forbidden love between a person and a pizza with pineapples is somewhat a controversial topic these days. Far from everyone agrees that it’s the best type of pizza around. But what do real Hawaiians think about it?
That’s what one redditor wanted to find out! So they asked their fellow Reddit users from Hawaii to share their thoughts. And, boy, were some of them angry! Some of them said that this is nowhere near ‘real’ Hawaiian pizza (the natives are huge fans of spam, Kalua pig, Maui onions, and eggs). Check out what else people had to say below and read on for our exclusive interview with the author of the thread.
Some of you Pandas will probably already know that Hawaiian pizza isn’t really Hawaiian at all! It has its doughy roots in the Land of Syrup, Moose, and Friendship—Canada.
We also reached out to Hawaiian redditor Coberst. They told Bored Panda all about cooking, flavor combinations, and ‘real’ Hawaiian food and cuisine culture. “The concept of combining sweet and savory is quite popular around the world. Think about the exploding popularity of chamoy and tajin on fruit coming from Mexico, the classic charcuterie boards that feature different meats, cheese, and jams from France, and from China the ever so popular BBQ pork (or cha shu). It is no wonder the combination of the sweet pineapple with the salty ham would be a hit,” Coberst explained the rise of Hawaiian pizza worldwide. Read on for their brilliant insights below, dear Pandas!
When you live in Hawaii, all pizza is Hawaiian pizza… even without the ham and pineapple.
Real Hawaiian pizza is maui onion + shredded kalua pork -Hawaii
It’s so dumb that the rest of the English speaking world dumps pineapple on something and it’s instantly ‘Hawaiian.’ (Including Canada, where ham+pineapple pizza was invented.)
The original author of the thread told Bored Panda that they were talking to a friend who lives in Hawaii via Zoom and eating pizza at the same time. That’s when the idea for the thread popped into their head. “I asked her and she was very adamant that pineapple should not go on pizza. Also, turns out pineapple isn’t even native to Hawaii, even though it grows there. I had no idea!”
“I personally love all kinds of pizza. I’ve ordered Hawaiian pizza before and I’ll definitely eat it if it’s available, but it’s not my first choice, typically. I think that’s why I find the question so interesting because so many people are passionate about the topic. I’m one of, what seems like, a very small minority of people who are moderate on the topic,” the original poster said. “I think pizza in general is popular around the world. People love pizza, people love pineapple, why not mix those two things to make a delicious pizza!?”
Meanwhile, redditor Coberst told us a bit about the link between pizza and Hawaii as well. “We know the pizza did not originate in Hawaii but rather from the cold northeastern province of Ontario, Canada. During the ’60s, the Number 1 producer and exporter of pineapples across the world was the state of Hawaii.”
My wife is native Hawaiian and is ok with pineapple on pizza. However she is not ok with calling it Hawaiian pizza. Pineapple isn’t native to Hawaii, and putting pineapple on sh*t doesn’t make it Hawaiian.
Native Hawaiian here! The pizza is in no way Hawaiian… but I love pineapples on pizza lol. Would also replace the ham with spam.
Coberst continued: “While the pineapple is not endemic to Hawaii, the fact that it was grown and exported from the then Republic of Hawaii since 1901 cemented the association of pineapples and Hawaii forever and always… Thanks, Dole. In the ’60s, you even had Ray Croc of McDonald’s trying to introduce the Hula burger which was simply a grilled slice of pineapple.”
Coberst pointed out that air travel in the ’60s was very different from what we’re used to today. It wasn’t as accessible to people as it is now. So far fewer people flew to Hawaii for a vacation. “So to name a dish to be able to evoke the mysterious tropical islands only seen in pictures or films (Elvis’ ‘Blue Hawaii’) would be a smart marketing ploy,” Coberst explained why the name ‘Hawaiian pizza’ caught on.
Am a fan although I get sh*t on for it. Hawaiian pizza is not at all Hawaiian but I don’t really care cause it’s tasty.
According to Coberst, ‘real’ Hawaiian food is difficult to define. “There is more traditional pre-contact (1777) foods and then the style of food from Hawaii that is a blend of all the different immigrant influences and cultures. This blend of influences would be similar to Cajun cooking,” they explained.
“Some of the more traditional Hawaiian meals and cooking was done in an imu (cooking pit). There, cooking is done with heated rocks covered with leaves then covered to produce an environment that is high in moisture but low in heat, requiring long cooking times,” the redditor went into detail. Coberst said that this style of cooking had been used by different cultures and in countries around the world, from “cochinita pibil (recently learned from the Netflix show Chef’s Table: BBQ) to Morocco where lamb is cooked in an earthen pit low and slow.”
Kalua pig (aka Kalua pork) is the most popular traditional and keto-friendly Hawaiian dish that’s still cooked this way. “I grew up helping make it many times for luau celebrations where whole pigs are cooked. Other traditional foods still popular in Hawaii is laulau and poi. Both of these dishes’ main ingredient is from different parts of the Kalo (or taro plant)—laulau uses the leaves while poi uses the roots. Then you have the simple dish of poke that has now evolved from humble beginnings of cubed salted fish to all the different variations across the globe today.”
90% of people who ‘hate’ pineapple pizza have just been peer-pressured by society into thinking that way. The other 10% though, they mean business. They’re not messing around.
Bacon and pineapple is fire on pizza and whoever has a big issue with pineapple on pizza needs to find something more important to put their energy into and stop worrying about what other people like lol
Coberst stressed that modern Hawaiian cuisine borrows from lots of different cultures and still uses the “old words” to describe the dishes that have already been replaced in their country of origin. “For example, the spam musubi is quintessentially Hawaiian but is simply adding fried spam to a Japanese (now called) onigiri or rice ball wrapped in nori (seaweed). There are many other such dishes that have become celebrated in Hawaii but are by no means traditional such as chicken long rice, Lomi salmon, malasadas, and loco moco,” they said.
“Hawaii has had wave after wave of immigration from American, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Puerto Rican, to Filipino all adding their own elements to what has become Hawaiian cooking today. In all of this, pineapple was not one of them. It has become introduced into some dishes but should not be synonymous to Hawaii anymore,” Coberst said.
And if you haven’t guessed already, Coberst made it clear that they absolutely hate Hawaiian pizza.
Live on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Typically I am not a crazy fan of Hawaiian pizza, but if you add some peppers, it completely changes the whole pizza.” Also, Kona Brewing Company’s Hawaiian pizza is out of this goddamn world. They have a porter BBQ sauce that they use instead of tomato sauce, and they add BBQ pulled pork to their Hawaiian pizza. It’s probably my favorite pizzas on the island.
As someone who lives in Hawaii, and travels a lot, I am far more offended by the crap they are calling poke bowls. Put whatever you want on your pizza. I don’t care. If you use anything other than fish for your poke bowl, it ain’t poke!
Born and raised, live on the mainland now. Simultaneously don’t care at all and am deeply offended by it. Will eat it any day of the week, but I prefer a Pepperoni/pineapple.
Wind the clock back to 1962. Sam Panopoulous claims that he invented the first Hawaiian pizza at the Satellite Restaurant, in Chatham, Ontario. It was a cuisine experiment. While initially it didn’t wow too many people, eventually it became popular among the locals.
It spread from there and now we’re (un)lucky (depending on your personal taste) that pizza places around the world serve this staple. “Along the way we threw some pineapples on it and nobody liked it at first. But after that, they went crazy about it. Because those days nobody was mixing sweets and sours and all that. It was plain, plain food,” Panopoulos said.
As for the name, Hawaiian, Panopoulous named the type of pizza after the brand of canned pineapple that he used.
It’s fine, but I don’t like that it’s called Hawaiian pizza, just because of the pineapples. It’s just annoying considering pineapples are more common in Australia, and that it was made in Canada.
Hawaiian here, it’s f***ing disgusting and a crime against humanity but like French fries aren’t from France Hawaiian pizza isn’t from Hawaii.
The original poster’s thread got over 16.1k upvotes. That’s quite a bit, considering how focused and niche the question was. So well done on getting an interesting discussion started and for helping us learn more about real Hawaiian gastronomy.
Hawaiian pizza also made Time’s list of the top 13 most influential pizza of all time. Unfortunately, it’s at the very bottom (don’t cry, fellow canned pineapple-lovers). While the top spot went to Margherita pizza. And you know what? Margheritas are great. But they lack some pineapples and ham!
I think its insulting that everything Hawaiian is pineapple related. 🙁 We are more than just pineapples. Its like saying everything with rice is Asian
I come from a heavily anti-hawaiian pizza family, except I really like hawaiian pizza because goddamn is it good, but whenever I mention that I want hawaiian pizza I’m treated like the anti-christ and ignored. Why is hawaiian pizza so discriminated? It’s good pizza! Why would people eat white cheese and broccoli pizza and say it was good but then act like hawaiian pizza is made of trash straight from a garbage can? Anyways that was my pizza rant, if you like white cheese broccoli pizza, nothing against you I just don’t personally like it.
Born and raised on the big island, I actually really like it but too much pineapple is a massive no.
My Hawaiian wife finds it revolting – it’s banned in our house. Canadian bacon and pineapples from Mexico have nothing to do with Hawaii.
The Hawaiian word for pineapple is “hua kahiki” meaning foreign fruit. It became a major crop in Hawaii in the early 1900s following the decline of sugar cane.
In all that time, It hasn’t been incorporated into any dishes that would be considered traditional Hawaiian food.
It tastes delicious on pizza. Eat whatever you want. No one’s forcing you.
I like it, not my favorite but I dont get the hate it gets. Most people I know who hates it hasn’t even tried it.
I’m from Hawaii but not ethnically Hawaiian. Pineapple is hands down my favorite topping. Ham? Don’t like it in general.
Not Hawaiian, but live on/ from Hawaii. I think the pineapple just adds a little sweetness. It’s not my favorite but it’s tastes pretty good.
Raised on Oahu. Just because it has pineapple doesn’t make it Hawaiian. I don’t prefer it but will eat it if only choice because I love pizza
I actually used to own a pizza parlor in Hawaii – user name checks out. Even though I was ‘haole’ my clientele was mostly local.
Ham and pineapple was a very popular combination – whether it went on pizza or not. (The use of Canadian bacon was an extravagance most locals could not afford, and didn’t make the pizza any better in our opinion.) Any kind of meat/fruit dish was a winner.
We even made a “Barbecue Hawaiian” pizza that used sweet barbecue sauce as a base instead of tomato sauce, mozz, ham, bacon, pineapple, and caramelized onions. It was one of our most popular combos.
You’re going to have to be a little more specific or you may get mail. I was born, raised and still live in Hawaii, but I’m not Hawaiian. I’m a Hawaii resident who absolutely loves ham and pineapple with barbecue sauce on pizza.
It’s the ham that I don’t really care for. If I’m going to have pineapple on pizza, I prefer it with pepperoni and jalapeños
Didn’t like it before I moved to Maui, started craving it one day and never looked back.
If you ever on Maui, go to Flatbread Pizza in Pa’ia!
tastes ok, but it does highlight the consumerism of Hawaii and Hawaiians them/ourselves. It was just capitalism thinking of a way to sell more pizzas. I don’t mind it, the acid and sweet of the pineapple almost cancels the different type of acid in tomatoes and makes it pleasant for me, but I’d enjoy it more if it were renamed.
As a hawaiian who lives in the UK and has never lived in hawaii or never known a soul who is hawaiian. I love hawaiian pizza
I really like getting half meat lovers half Hawaiian. Gives a little bit of sweetness on half of it.
Hawaiians would probably call it imperialist pizza. For the rest of us residents of Hawai’i I like it, but the only place to get a decent slice is JJ Dolans.
Never understood it. Give me one with spam and egg and I’d be happy. Maybe some kalua pork too.
pacific islander here. it’s not really hawaiian it’s just pineapple and boom it’s called hawaiian. nothing special about it.
I don’t want to blow anyone’s mind here but I’m pretty sure it’s called Hawaiian pizza because there’s pineapple on it. Just speculation of course but it’s speculation based on the fact it’s just because of the pineapple.
I’m not against it but I don’t think it’s necessary. The pineapple should be really understated (very thinly sliced)
It’s rarely done correctly in my experience
Call it a damn Canadian pizza, they’re the ones who made it anyway. Pineapple isn’t even from Hawaiʻi it’s a fruit brought here as a cash crop by the people who overthrew our government and stole our damn country. There are actual Hawaiian things we can put our name on, stop putting it on s**t that seems “tropical”
Also Hawaiians refers to the Native people of Hawaiʻi not just people who live in Hawaiʻi. Those are residents, Hawaiian is a race. Just a note about all those people chiming in who merely “live in Hawaiʻi” because that means they don’t have a connection to Hawaiian culture or heritage
I like how pineapples aren’t even from here. But even though I live in Hawaii I still don’t like pizza with pineapples on top of it. There are way better foods then that EVEN NORMAL PIZZA
Born and raised and most of adulthood in Hawaii and the only person I met who’s into Hawaiian pizza was a military guy from Atlanta.
Lived on Big Island for a year, they know how to do pizza there. If you ever go to Kona, check out Get Sum Pizza. They do it right. If you get there in the spring you can get white pineapple on your slice.
We do not recognize it as “Hawaiian pizza,” and we laugh at the haoles who call it that. Although some people do think it tastes good and that’s fine. I like pineapple on pizza since it adds sweetness but throwing pineapple on pizza is not Hawaiian pizza. Pro tip: do not bring up pineapple on pizza with a local unless you want to get into a heated argument.
Why is everything with pineapple called Hawaiian anyways? I hate Hawaiian pizza or Hawaiian sandwich!