Editor’s Desk: Pineapple pizza potential
By Colleen Cross
As editor of Canadian Pizza, I must address the pineapple-on-pizza debate – not to take sides but to consider what it says about this remarkable product our industry purveys.
For those unfamiliar with the light-hearted controversy, in February, Iceland’s president, Gudni Johannesson, told an audience of high school students he was opposed to putting pineapple on top of a pizza, going so far as to say he would ban pineapple as a pizza topping if he had the power to pass laws on his own. He later softened his stance (he is a politician after all) by invoking freedom of choice and revealing his preference of fish on pizza.
Sam Panopoulos, now 83, who made pizza at his Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ont., in the late 1950s and early 1960s, is widely credited as the inventor of Hawaiian pizza. In an interview with CBC Radio, Panopoulos – amused by the pineapple furor – said of the pineapple-hating politician, “He should know better.”
The Internet fell in love with this debate, with many people weighing in, joking or creating Internet memes on the topic. Whether you and your customers are for or against the tropical fruit as a topping, our industry shouldn’t simply dismiss the debate as silly. The strong reactions it evokes remind us what a perfect, polarizing and personal dish pizza is: it is a food with built-in and seemingly endless marketability.
There is so much potential here to engage the public and gain customers. Some pizzerias used the occasion to poll their customers, voice their opinion, rail against the fruit. Last year, Brooklyn Pizzeria in Toronto brilliantly showed how to take advantage of a moment when it asked customers to weigh in on the heated U.S. election by choosing between Clinton and Trump pizzas. We need to seize such opportunities – not to mention special occasions like July 1 – to promote and draw attention to pizza a fun, shareable, discussable meal or snack option.
When searching for information on holiday pizzas, I noticed several people polling cyberspace on where they could find a Christmas or Halloween pizza. It’s low-hanging fruit (pun intended) for pizzeria marketers to grab.
Canada loves pizza and Hawaiian pizza is one of this country’s gifts to the world. Our 150th birthday year seems a good time to reflect on this country’s spirit of innovation and diversity. (Check out Restaurants Canada’s “Making Moments” campaign to celebrate Canada 150.)
At the Canadian Pizza Show on Oct. 16 we will follow the Chef of the Year competition with a relaxed session on regional pizzas where pizza makers can share their techniques and their customers’ preferences, be they classic, Napoletana, thin-crust, Chicago-style, Detroit-style, Windsor-style, Western Greek, donair or Hawaiian.
Where do you and your customers stand on pineapple? Do you enjoy the sweet contrast of ham and pineapple? Do you think pineapple is too heavy and wet to go on a pizza?
The recent fracas has got us wondering, if Canada had an official pizza what would it be? Is Hawaiian pizza Canada’s perfect representative pie in the Olympics of pizza?
Let the debate begin!
Does your pizzeria have a perfect Canadian pie featuring poutine, maple syrup, back bacon or moose? Why not enter our Seasonal Pizza Challenge, designed to showcase holiday pizzas of all sortst? See the April/May news and double-page spread and watch our Canadian Pizza Show website for details.