Original inventor of controversial pizza topping dies at 83

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Sam Panopoulos, the Greek-born Canadian man who introduced pineapple-topped pizza to the world, has died at age 83.

According to his obituary, Panopoulos had already been hospitalized in London, Ontario, when he suddenly died Thursday.

He told reporters that he created the first “Hawaiian” pizza in 1962 while working at the Satellite Restaurant in Chatham, Ontario, after wondering if canned pineapple might taste yummy on pizza.

The idea obviously took off, but just the notion of pineapple on pizza sparked world-wide controversy during the past year after Iceland’s President Gudni Johannesson said in a speech that he would “issue a ban on pineapple as a pizza topping if he had the authority to pass his own laws.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau quickly defended the odd combination, tweeting, “I stand behind this delicious Southwestern Ontario creation.” And the debate took off from there, with everyone from Jimmy Kimmel (mortally opposed to it) to doctors on the tv show “The Doctors” weighing in.

According to one of his sons, Bill Panopoulos, his father was a dedicated family man who “wasn’t looking to get famous.” Unwilling to say anymore about the man, he added, “The Hawaiian pizza story and his immigrant story were his to tell,”

Panopoulos’ funeral will be held on Monday.

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