A People’s History of Pineapple on Pizza


(This post was originally published on the Fry Havoc medium page.)

No class of epicurean persona non grata is more denigrated and abused than the pineapple-on-pizza-eater. Peas in guacomole and orange juice in cerealare passing animosities, flashes in the pan of the court of public opinion. Those pitchforks are left to rust — the ones meant for us pineapple eaters are regularly polished, and sharpened.

We get compared to Hitler. We get compared to Hitler a lot. We are accused of sabotaging, not just pizza as a medium, but the longevity of bloodlines.Outlets like Buzzfeed will post a pro-pineapple article on month and an anti-pineapple article the next to rile and revive debate on whether we’re assholes or just sons o’ bitches.

Pineapple on pizza is like socialized medicine; all the other countries we’re supposedly better than get it while we’re stuck at the “are people really people?” step of the argument.

The hatred for pineapple on pizza is a shorthand for a shapeless, formless abstract concept of a person that makes you grit your very real teeth and walk on the other side of the road.

People hate pineapple on pizza because they hate each other. It has nothing to do with the flavor of pineapple itself; Scandinavian politicians don’t get a write-up in Foreign Policy for speaking out against anchovies or mushrooms, which are, along with pineapple, the three least popular pizza toppings in the U.S. People who don’t like anchovies or mushrooms on pizza probably don’t like them at all — the same isn’t necessarily true for pineapple. Putting it on pizza is a bridge too far. It’s the “I don’t mind gays but why do they have to kiss on the TV?” argument for American comfort food.

And it has nothing to do with whether pineapple “belongs” on pizza, either — pizza isn’t indigenous to the US, pineapples aren’t indigenous to Hawaii, and anyway, Hawaiian pizza, first made in Canada by a Greek immigrant, is preceded by Toast Hawaii, a German snack food of ham, cheese, and pineapple on toast, which itself is likely based on the grilled spamwich that Allied troops ate while stationed in Germany. Imagine being called Hitler for enjoying a food tied to the fight against Nazism.

Pizza is a means of communion in America. We share it with friends, co-workers, fellow volunteers and loved ones. Ordering one for yourself can be an act of self-care and even self-forgiveness. When you are expecting pizza, and find the pizza to have a topping you can’t eat, it’s an unspoken “you can’t sit with us, and fuck you for wanting to sit anywhere at all”, intentional or not.

When we deem some pizza toppings as heresy, and the people who enjoy them as weak, ruiners, and Hitlers, we are making a statement of wanting to deny communion to those people.

And who are “those people?” That’s ambiguous. Almost too ambiguous. The trap is already set in your mind. If you close your eyes, and you remove all thought-debris and try to conjure who you think enjoys pineapple on pizza, you are likely to get someone who embodies what you resent in others.

(Calling men who fall outside of typical masculinity or assertive women “Hitler” has its own connotations of what it is about those people you actually don’t like.)

My earliest memories of eating pizza are at a restaurant at the Geilenkirchen AFB in Germany. A lot of that pizza had pineapple and ham on it. Oh, and when you ordered a bacon and cheese sandwich, you got thick back bacon — some parts would be so hard to chew my Dad would just tell us it was bone and to eat around it.I don’t remember eating pepperoni and Italian sausage on pizza until I came to the US. I’ve never been “in” and then pushed “out”. I’ve always been “out”, looking “in”.

People who complain about the proper ways to prepare/eat food are often also invested in the proper ways to present gender — I have to assume that when people compare pineapple on pizza to the scum of the earth, they mean people like me.

They may have sublimated their outward discomfort at my tangible existence into an abstract threat I pose to an otherwise superficial facet of life. In layman’s terms: you’re uncomfortable with me being gay and having weird hair and liking “strange” cuisines, but you justify this discomfort by saying you accept me as a person and putting all those traits towards a straw person who is ruining an important part of American social life.

We take umbrage with people putting peas in guacamole because it whitewashes a staple of Mexican cuisine with the most plain, unexciting and homogeneous vegetable imaginable.

We make a fuss about the President of the United States eating a steak well done because part of the reason you eat steak is because you can eat it slightly uncooked and eating it well done ignores all of the effort and mastery it takes to identify and prepare a good cut of beef. It’s using your class privilege to ignore the fruits of that privilege available to you.

These are sentences that have a period. You make them and move on (though before I do, I want to say that if it was Hillary eating a steak well done, we’d have anti-Leftist progressive pundits like Joy Ann Reid and Matt Yglesias praising her for knowing what she wants and being mindful of her limits).

But the simmering hatred for pineapple on pizza has no thesis; it is a sentence that defies having a point. It’s a catch-all for an unspoken animosity America has towards its increasing heterogeneity.

Beneath a crust of pizza purity is the belief that pizza belongs to a certain class of people who enforce its norms and shame and punish those who violate those norms.

Your entitlement is the real source of your own disgust, not pineapples — whose tartness complements the savory and sweet elements of a traditional pizza, and aids in the digestion of meats, AND contains magnanese for our bones and potassium for our blood pressure AND CARRIES US THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF OUR OWN DECADENCE WITH ETERNAL PIQUANCY.




Author: Jetta Rae

Founder of Fry Havoc. Can be found on twitter at @jetta_rae

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