Do Hawaiians Eat Hawaiian Pizza? Plus, a Little History

Chatham is a municipality of just over 100,000 people in southern Ontario, about 50 miles northeast of Detroit.

I called the Chatham Chamber of Commerce, but no one there had heard this Hawaiian pizza origin story, although they did give me the phone number of the guy who owns the space where Family Circle used to be. Unfortunately, he does not answer his phone.

Over at the Chatham Daily News, Ellwood Shreve, a reporter who covers human interest stories about the people of the area, was positively tickled. "I was born and raised in Chatham, and I almost forgot about that place," he said of the Family Circle Restaurant. But he had not heard the invention claim.

"Try Bob Boughner," he said. "If anyone will know, it's him. He started here around 1960."

Boughner said he remembered the restaurant and the guy, but that he didn't recall the Hawaiian pizza connection.

But Boughner is not one to let a story go cold. He called a few other Panopoulos listings in the phone book, and eventually tracked down Sam himself, now retired and living in London, Ontario, a nearby city. It turns out that Wikipedia nearly got the facts right: Panopoulos does claim he was the first to come up with Hawaiian pizza. But it was at an earlier place, called the Satellite Restaurant. Today, Boughner wrote a story about the creation of the pizza for the Chatham Daily News.

"Chatham-Kent can claim many firsts -- the latest is the creation of Hawaiian pizza.

The originator, 76-year-old Sam Panopoulos of London, recalls coming up
with the dish in 1962 when he opened the Satellite Restaurant on King
Street in downtown Chatham.

'No one made pizza in Chatham prior to that,'' he said, in a telephone
interview Friday. "We would drive to Windsor to order pizza.'"

And later:

Sarah DiGregorio, a staff writer with the Village Voice, a newspaper in New York, called The Chatham Daily News this week as part of her investigation into the origin of Hawaiian pizza.

She said an article on Wikipedia credits Panopoulos with inventing the
idea of putting pineapples and ham on pizza in 1960.
"I'm wondering if this is true,'' she said.

"It's true that I came up with the idea for Hawaiian pizza but it was
at the Satellite and not at the Family Circle,'' said Panopoulos.

And there you have it, folks. This concludes our Hawaiian pizza coverage for the day.

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