Hawaiian Pizza’s Surprising Connection to China

Surprise! Hawaiian pizza was inspired by the sweet-and-sour flavors of Chinese cuisine — not the tropical islands. After tying a Cantonese dish called gulaorou, a Canadian named Sam Panopoulos decided to experiment with ham and pineapple as pizza toppings.

In the dish gulaorou, battered pork, pineapple chunks, and chopped bell peppers are tossed in a sweet sauce. Fun fact: More than half of China’s pineapples are grown in Guangdong province, where gulaorou was invented.

The dish’s creation can be traced to the Qing Dynasty, when foreigners first began to travel to Guangdong for business.

Local chefs noticed that foreigners had an affinity for sweet-and-sour flavors and boneless meat and created the dish accordingly.

Panopoulos named his dish Hawaiian pizza after the brand of pineapples he used. Since its creation, the controversial pizza has gained international prominence, thanks partly to gulaorou.

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