Last week, while Icelandic president Guðni Th. Jóhannesson was visiting a high school in northern Iceland, one brazen student asked him whether he liked pineapples on his pizza. (I have no idea why this student asked him this question.) He responded passionately and quickly, saying he’d ban it if he could. If he had the power, he’d ban it throughout the whole country, he told the student.
Scary! As the internet got wind of this yesterday, a mildly amusing debate pivoting around this divisive question blossomed on Twitter: Does pineapple belong on pizza? It's a question as old as Hawaiian pizza itself, its advent stretching back to 1960s-era Canada. The dispute inspired its very own hashtag, #pineappleonpizza.
Pineapple occupies the same ghetto as the anchovy when it comes to pizza additions, its slime seen as ruinous. For most people, this dish's particular interaction of flavors—the mix of pizza’s inherent richness with the acidic, tart juices of the pineapple—is anathema to their gastrointestinal linings. But there’s a small, mighty cult—some may even call it a resistance—who believe that Hawaiian pizza provides an experience so pleasurable that it's unlike any other pizza offering. Call me a rebel, but I belong to the latter group.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Jóhannesson, a man with enormously high approval ratings, backed down and saved face, softening his language. He clarified that he liked pineapples just fine, just not on pizza; he limits his pizza toppings to seafood. "Presidents should not have unlimited power. I would not want to hold this position if I could pass laws forbidding what I don't like,” he wrote in both Icelandic and English. “I would not want to live in such a country." Agreed, Mr. President. I wouldn’t want to live there, either.
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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.