What's wrong with pineapple on pizza

In addition to kebab and gyros, the Hawaiian pizza was the decisive factor for survival in the German provinces for the young people of the 1980s. Yes, beyond the local border there had to be something else than bratwurst and cheese bread, they thought. Spinning lumps of meat that could only be tackled with a machete. Or a global dough from the wood oven that connected the central Pacific with the Mediterranean. So that was it, the big wide world. Back then you would never have guessed how polarizing pizza can be.

The Hawaiian pizza was invented in 1962. By a Greek who emigrated to Canada. A good 60 years later, Sam Panopoulos' idea of ​​mixing pineapple on yeast dough with mozzarella and tomato sauce divides the digital world in particular. Iron supporters encounter tough opponents on social networks. Is this really all about pizza?

Like so many things where the fronts seem quite hardened these days, the thing with the Hawaiian pizza actually started quite relaxed. From the 1950s onwards, North Americans devoted themselves to all kinds of culinary experiments with great enthusiasm. Canned pineapple from Hawaii and Italian frozen pizza dough? Sure, something could be made of it.

"Pizza with pineapple? That's a cake!"

Until the "Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana" was founded in 1984 and declared that it was fighting against the "cultural and commercial deformation" of its traditional food. Here and there newspapers now dealt with the subject. The New York Times for example, asked a Neapolitan pizza maker for his opinion ("A pizza with pineapple? It's a cake!"). At the tables of most pizzerias, however, the argument did not play a major role. One of them just liked pineapple on the pizza, the other didn't.

And then came the internet.

In December 2009, Facebook launched a very successful page called "Pineapple DOESN'T belong in the PIZZA", followed in 2015 by a Reddit group in which tens of thousands of "knights of pineapple" fought for "deliciousness". The topic polarized, including politics. While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came out as a friend of Hawaii, Icelandic President Gudni Th. Jóhannesson wanted to ban the combination in 2017. At some point the debate was no longer about food, he recently observed wisely Economist. It was only about a "performance of polarization". Pollsters also pounced on the topic, perhaps to distract from their weaknesses in predicting the Brexit vote or the US election in 2016.

The pizza debate shows how easily people can be influenced

Finally, US authorities such as the "Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency" used the example of the pizza debate to show how easily any community can be influenced, even incited and divided, through posts or memes. Hello trolls! Hello Donald Trump.

In order to be prepared for further propaganda and diversionary maneuvers, psychologists from Cambridge University finally developed an online game in which the aim was to let residents of a fictional place get into an argument with one another by influencing them. Occasion: The annual "Pineapple Pizza Festival" on the village square. "Did you know? Pineapple is un-Italian?" "But not doing it is un-American!" "And the baby boomers are to blame for everything." Pretty much.

Well, of course the Hawaiian pizza is just a symbol. For how easily a person can get into an argument with other people. Especially his digital little hat heats up very quickly. However, the dispute over the pineapple pizza also shows how a large part of the public attention can be absorbed from now on with deliberately scattered, completely succinct pseudo-topics. One should keep thinking about this again and again. Soon there will be elections again.