At some point in the never-ending debate over whether pineapple belongs on pizza, the haters, maybe with tongues pressed against cheek, invoked Godwin’s Law. Yep, they compared those who like the tropical fruit on pies to Hitler. One said they were worse than Hitler. The comparison would become a common insult, occasionally even flung back at the snobs who turn their nose up at a pineapple-topped pizza.
Many foods have taken their lumps over the years. Avocado toast, cake pops and kale Caesar salads come to mind. But nothing has sustained the hate like Hawaiian pizza, the most recognizable pie that features chunks of the divisive fruit. According to recent data from YouGov Omnibus, nearly a quarter of Americans say pineapple is one of their least favorite pizza toppings. Those who live in the Northeast or are older than 55 hate pineapple toppings even more. Only two ingredients generate more loathing among American pie eaters: oily anchovies and slimy eggplant.
Celebrities, politicians, chefs and even minimum-wage pizzamakers count themselves as members of this pineapple hate group. Gordon Ramsay, a chef never at a loss for words, once opined, “You don’t put . . . pineapple on pizza.” He used a colorful adjective before “pineapple,” to emphasize his disdain. The president of Iceland said he would outlaw pineapple on pizza if he could, a statement that made him an instant hero in some circles. A couple of years ago, a University of Arizona undergraduate tried to add pineapple to her barbecue chicken pizza, but the pie arrived sans fruit, with a note from the campus restaurant: “Couldn’t bring myself to put pineapple on it. Thats gross. Sorry.” A $5 bill was taped to the pizza box.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s behind the animosity toward pineapple on pizza. Pineapple itself was No. 10 on a list of the most-popular fruits purchased in America last year, behind bananas and oranges but ahead of pears, cherries and avocados (!!). It probably goes without saying that none of the top 20 fruits in America is a common pizza topping, though some, such as pears and apples, make an occasional cameo. Jonathan Allen, co-owner of the superb Pizza CS in Rockville, Md., told me that he ate Hawaiian pizza as an undiscriminating kid but now frowns on pineapple on any kind of pie, especially on the Neapolitan rounds served at his restaurant. He doesn’t like the texture. A sign over the counter at Pizza CS reinforces Allen’s stance: “No slices. No pineapple. No ranch.”