June 9, 2017 10:29 pm
Updated: June 10, 2017 4:02 pm

Ontario inventor of the Hawaiian pizza dead at 83

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The Ontario man who invented the Hawaiian pizza, a style of pizza known for its inclusion of pineapple and ham, has died.

Sotirios “Sam” Panopoulos, 83, died suddenly on Thursday at University Hospital in London, Ont., an obituary posted online said.

Panopoulos was born in Greece in 1934 and immigrated to Canada in 1954. He settled in Ontario and operated a number of restaurants alongside his two brothers, Elias and Nikitas.

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“An unforgettable personality, Sam was respected by many for providing strong and dependable advice, and for his exceedingly generous nature,” the obituary said.

“Fiercely loyal and protective, his candid and frank sense of humour, his booming laugh and blunt honesty will be missed by his family, friends, former employees and customers.”

Far from the tropical paradise that bears its namesake, the Hawaiian pizza was in fact invented in Ontario in 1962. With canned pineapples and a handful of ham shards, Panopoulos invented the contentious fare at his restaurant, The Satellite, in Chatham.

Whether or not pineapple belongs on a pizza remains a divisive culinary choice. Pineapple as a pizza topping can spark sharp debate – even Icelandic President Gudni Johannesson weighed in on the idea in February, lambasting the topping in a Facebook post and stoking a decades-old debate.

READ MORE: Iceland president forced to Facebook in attempt to end pineapple pizza controversy

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on the other hand, threw his support behind the beleaguered fruit just a week later with the hashtag #teampineapple.

“I have a pineapple. I have a pizza. And I stand behind this delicious southwestern Ontario creation,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

A visitation for Panopoulos is scheduled for Sunday evening at the Logan Funeral Home in London. The funeral will take place at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Monday.

Panopoulos is survived by his wife Christina, children Margie and Bill and four grandchildren.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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