The History Behind Two Controversial Pizza Toppings

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The History Behind Two Controversial Pizza Toppings

8 March 2018
 Categories: , Blog

Almost everybody likes pizza. Chances are that even your pickiest friend can name a type of pizza that they like. However, not everyone likes the same pizza, which can make things a little complicated when ordering for a group. There are some safe options – for example, ordering one pizza with pepperoni and one with just cheese will generally satisfy a group that includes both vegetarians and meat-eaters. These two options may not be everyone's favorite, but most people will eat them.

When you try to get more creative with your toppings, though, you may find that people have very strong feelings about certain options. Take a look at two of the most controversial pizza topping choices.


Anchovies aren't the most popular pizza topping, but they remain on pizza menus anyway, and the people that do like them feel strongly about them. You may wonder where the idea of putting little salty fish on top of a pizza came from, anyway.

As it turns out, anchovies are a traditional topping. When pizza was first hitting the cuisine scene in Naples, Italy, one of the popular varieties of pizza was pizza marinara, a pie topped with tomatoes and anchovies (but without cheese). In fact, anchovies were possibly one of the first meat toppings used on pizza – other popular toppings at the time included olive oil and salt, preserved tomatoes, and sliced tomatoes.

When Italian immigrants started arriving in the US, they brought their pizza recipes with them, but eventually began adding items that appealed more to American tastes, like various types of sausage. These quickly became more popular than the old-style Italian toppings, but anchovies remained on the menu out of tradition.

Your friend who insists on adding anchovies to the group pizza order may just be a traditionalist. Or they may just enjoy salty tastes – while the addition of the super-salty anchovy may be too much for many people, some really do enjoy the extra salt.


Pineapple on pizza may be an even more divisive pizza topping than anchovies. There are regular internet debates and thinkpieces about the advisability of putting fruit on top of a pizza. As with anchovies, there are strong feelings on either side – you either love it or you hate it.

Unlike anchovies, pineapple pieces on pizza are anything but a traditional Italian topping. And contrary to popular belief, they aren't a Hawaiian invention, either. This pizza variation got its start in Ontario, Canada in the 1960s courtesy of a Greek restaurateur.

How you feel about pineapple pizza depends largely depends on how you feel about mixing sweet and savory flavors. If you'd rather keep these flavors separated from each other, then you probably groan when someone suggests adding pineapple to a pizza ordered for the group. But if you eat your apple pie with a slice of cheese or enjoy dipping fries into milkshakes, then pineapple pizza may be right up your alley.

The great thing about pizza is that it's so easily customizable. Most pizza restaurants like Original Italian Pizza PA are happy to put a topping on only half the pizza, so it's possible to include a more controversial topping in your order for the people who want it, without forcing everyone else to eat it too. It can be fun to debate about which toppings really belong on a pizza, but in the end, everyone should be able to get a slice with the toppings they enjoy the most.