Pineapple on Pizza: What’s That All About? (The Scientific Perspective)

The debate over whether pineapple belongs on pizza has clearly been an ongoing topic of discussion among pizza lovers forever. It’s a controversial subject that divides people into two camps: those who think the sweet and tangy addition of pineapple to pizza is just groovy, and those who are wrong (according to science).

Here, we explore the origins of pineapple on pizza, its reception in Italy, its legality, and the arguments for and against its inclusion on pizza. We’ll then really push pineapple and shake the tree by covering the scientifics of the subject.

The Origins of Pineapple on Pizza

The creation of the Hawaiian pizza, which famously includes pineapple as a topping, is credited to Sam Panopoulos, a Greek immigrant to Canada. In 1962, Panopoulos and his brothers decided to experiment with unconventional pizza toppings at their restaurant in Chatham, Ontario. They added pineapple to their pizzas along with the traditional ingredients of ham and cheese. The sweet and savory combination was apparently an instant hit and gained popularity across Canada and eventually around the world.

Do Italians Put Pineapple on Pizza?

Italy, the birthplace of pizza, is often cited as the ultimate authority on what should and should not be included as toppings. Traditional Italian pizzas tend to focus on simple and fresh ingredients, with a strong emphasis on regional flavors. The inclusion of pineapple on pizza is not a part of traditional Italian cuisine. To put it mildly, many Italians view the combination as strange or even sacrilegious to the integrity of the pizza.

Is Pineapple Pizza Illegal?

Contrary to popular belief, pineapple on pizza is not illegal anywhere in the world. While some pizzerias in Italy may refuse to serve pineapple as a topping, there’s no laws as such that explicitly prohibit its use (although there is such a thing as ‘pizza regulations’ in Italy). The debate surrounding pineapple on pizza is really just a matter of personal preference and cultural tradition.

Hawaiian Pizza – The Argument For…

Proponents of pineapple on pizza argue that the combination of sweet pineapple, savory ham, and tangy tomato sauce creates a unique and balanced flavour profile (this is the basics of the scientific perspective). They enjoy the contrast between the sweetness of the fruit and the saltiness of the other ingredients, i.e. on what we all know as Hawaiian pizza.

Pineapple’s ability to caramelize when cooked adds an additional layer of complexity to the overall taste experience. Supporters of Hawaiian pizza appreciate the diversity and experimentation that the culinary world offers, allowing for creative combinations that challenge traditional norms. At least, that’s one side of the argument. 

Why Pineapple Shouldn’t Be on Pizza? – The Argument Against…

Those who oppose pineapple on pizza would probably argue that its sweetness and juiciness clash with the savoury and umami flavors typically associated with pizza. They tend to believe that the texture and taste of pineapple disrupt the harmonious balance of traditional pizza ingredients and that the inclusion of pineapple on pizza is a departure from authentic Italian culinary tradition.

Does Pineapple Belong on Pizza (Scientifically)?

The debate as to whether pineapple belongs on pizza has raged on for decades, sparking passionate arguments among pizza enthusiasts. While personal preferences certainly play a significant role in the discussion, is there any scientific basis to determine whether pineapple is a suitable pizza topping?

To understand the scientific perspective on pineapple as a pizza topping, we need to explore the factors that influence our taste perception and flavour pairings. Our taste buds detect five primary tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. Flavour perception, on the other hand, is a complex interplay between those different tastes, plus aroma, texture, and temperature.

One important scientific principle related to flavour is that of complementarity and contrast. Complementary flavours are those that enhance and reinforce each other, creating a harmonious taste experience. Contrasting flavours, on the other hand, offer a striking and often unexpected combination that can create unique and exciting sensations.

Pineapple on pizza introduces a sweet component to the traditionally savory and umami-rich flavors of pizza. From a scientific standpoint, the combination of sweet and savory is not inherently wrong or contradictory (quite the opposite). Many classic dishes, such as teriyaki chicken or sweet and sour pork, successfully incorporate this flavour profile.

In terms of taste perception, the sweetness of pineapple can balance out the salty and savory flavors of ingredients like cheese and cured meats. The tanginess of tomato sauce also provides a contrasting element that complements the sweetness of the pineapple. This mix of contrasting and complementary flavors can create a multidimensional taste experience.

Scientifically analysing flavour extends beyond taste alone. Aromas also play a crucial role in our perception of food. Pineapple contains a compound called ethyl butanoate, which gives it its distinct aroma. This compound has been shown to have a complementary relationship with certain savoury ingredients, including ham and bacon.

Additionally, cooking pineapple can release other aroma compounds, leading to caramelization and creating a rich and fragrant flavor profile. The chemical reactions that occur during cooking can alter the taste and aroma of ingredients, adding complexity to the overall pizza experience.

While science can provide insights into taste perception and flavor interactions, the question of whether pineapple belongs on pizza ultimately comes down to cultural and individual preferences. Pizza is a culinary canvas that allows for endless creativity and customization. Different cultures and regions have their own traditional toppings, and personal tastes vary widely.

So Does Pineapple Belong on Pizza? 

Even from a scientific standpoint, there is no definitive answer to the question of whether pineapple belongs on pizza. Taste perception is highly subjective, influenced by individual preferences, cultural traditions, and personal experiences. The interplay of sweet and savory flavors, chemical interactions, and aroma compounds in pineapple can contribute to a complex and enjoyable pizza experience for those who appreciate the combination.

Some people will obviously always argue that the inclusion of pineapple on pizza is a departure from the authenticity of traditional Italian cuisine. Others embrace the diversity and experimentation that the culinary world allows, celebrating the freedom to create unique flavor combinations. Ultimately, the decision of whether to include pineapple on pizza rests with you. 

Whether you embrace the boldness of the sweet and savoury fusion or prefer to stick to more traditional combinations, the beauty of pizza lies in its versatility and ability to cater to diverse tastes (no matter what the pizza police say). So, next time you find yourself considering whether to invite pineapple to the pizza party, remember there is no right or wrong answer, even from a scientific point of view.