But are a few chunks of tangy pineapple on a pizza really so bad? It doesn’t seem possible considering pineapple made it to the list of 10 most popular pizza toppings. (Although it only makes the ninth spot, just ahead of spinach.)
To get to the bottom of this debate and decide on a winning side once and for all, we reached out to pizza chefs across the US for their opinions on the appropriateness of pineapple. As the gatekeepers to pizza, we felt they must have a good grasp of what constitutes an acceptable pizza topping.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, it seems that many pizza chefs, even the old-school Italian ones, have given in to the requests of the masses.
As it turns out, the customer is always right, as the saying goes, even when it comes irreverent requests such as pineapple on traditional pizza.
Chef Anthony Carron of 800 Degrees Pizzeria is one chef who has had to put his own beliefs aside in order to make his customers happy. Carron, who is adamant that he personally would never eat pineapple on a pizza, nor would any self-respecting Italian, has had to change his stubborn attitude towards pineapple on pizza. When he first opened 800 Degrees, he “refused to carry it on principle, but it was literally the number one requested topping that we did not carry.”
Finally relenting after a few years on behalf of their great customers, Carron now allows pineapple in his pizzeria, under one condition. Refusing “to just serve garbage canned pineapple tidbits” he instead buys whole, fresh Hawaiian gold pineapples, which are then peeled and diced by hand, tossed with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and roasted in their wood-burning ovens until they are caramelized, which actually sounds incredibly delicious.
Chef Emily, of EMILY and Emmy Squared, is also a believer in giving the people what they want. According to Emily, “People who live in hard absolutes with pizza have no fun in their lives” and everything, even pineapple, “is an acceptable pizza topping as long as it is balanced and not overpowering.”
She even indulges in the topping herself, usually with a meat or something spicy and “loves pineapple kimchi with pepperoni.”
Louis, a veteran pizza chef and NYC pizza consultant, agrees. “Pineapple is acceptable when thoughtfully applied.”
While it may seem like it is looking up for pineapple pizza lovers, there are still quite a few pizza purists who firmly refuse to offer pineapple in their pizzerias on the basis of authenticity, including the chefs at Lombardi’s NYC, the first pizza place in the United States.
So, who is right?
In a final effort to come to a conclusion, we went to Scott Weiner of Scott’s Pizza Tours, an expert on the topic of pizza, who left us with these words of pizza wisdom.
“To those who say pineapple isn’t an acceptable pizza topping because it’s not Italian … it existed in Italian food culture long before pepperoni ever did, but nobody complains about that. So many of the popular toppings we argue about are not Italian. Corn on pizza? Buffalo chicken on pizza? Ranch dressing on pizza? Not nearly as much noise about those, but they’re absolutely not Italian items and when they’re treated right, they taste great.
"To those who say pineapple isn’t an acceptable pizza topping because it doesn’t taste good, they probably haven’t had it done right. Raw chunks of pineapple thrown around a pizza? No way. Roasted and pulled pineapple with a honey glaze paired with a fatty pork is delicious. No need for tomato on that pineapple pizza, there’s enough acid to go around.
"I am absolutely pro-pineapple and I think about it the same way I think about most food arguments. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it.”
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This article was originally published in November 2017
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