Fruit or Vegetable?

Pineapple on Pizza

Hawaiian pizza
Photo by Ruth Hartnup under CC BY 2.0

If there's one thing the internet has no shortage of, it's angry people looking to viciously debate the most pointless things. Still, it may come as somewhat of a surprise, one of the biggest and most heated Internet debates is whether or not pineapple is an acceptable pizza topping.

Hawaiian pizza, a globally-popular Canadian dish, is a pizza with ham (often called "Canadian bacon") and pineapple as its toppings. Since its invention in Ontario in the 1960s, it has earned both the love and the hate of millions. Its possession of both sweet and savory flavors is a welcome change for many pizza-lovers, while others see such sweetness on pizza as malum prohibitum.

One common criticism lobbed at pizza with pineapple is saying that fruit does not belong on pizza. Indeed, pineapple is the only fruit commonly eaten on savory pizzas in the US. (Novelty dessert pizzas being the exception that arguably proves the rule.)

One common retort to this is that tomatoes, peppers, and olives are all fruits too. While they are all botanically the fruits of their respective plants, this response misses the mark. First, all three are culinarily vegetables, not fruits. Normal people don't refer to botany when they talk about their food. Then because of this, it doesn't rebut the claim that fruit doesn't belong on pizza.

Many people say fruit doesn't belong on pizza because fruit is sweet and pizza is savory. While some misguided defenders again try to claim that fruit doesn't have to be sweet, that is actually the core characteristic of its usage. Hawaiian haters are just claiming sweet things can't go on pizza because sweet and savory things can't mix.

This is obviously false. Plenty of delicious foods use both sweet and savory flavors to compliment each other. Some of the many examples include Szechuan chicken, glazed ham, Kansas City barbecue, apricot chicken, and chicken and waffles. In addition, there's nothing inherent to pizza to prohibit it there either:

piz·za (pēt′sə)

n. A baked pie of Italian origin consisting of a shallow breadlike crust covered with toppings such as seasoned tomato sauce, cheese, or sausage.

Indeed many new styles of pizza have emerged over the years. Pizzas originally had no tomatoes before the discovery of the Americas. Instead they had olive oil as a "sauce" at most. Many odd pizzas exist such as mac & cheese pizza, taco pizza, and the aforementioned dessert pizzas. Some pizzas use ranch as a base sauce. The heathens in Europe put corn on their pizzas even. Yet few would say those are falsely named. They still comprise a crust with stuff on it. They're pizza.

Drawing the line at fruit on pizzas is quite arbitrary and baseless. They already have many different toppings and flavors, and there's nothing inconsistent with adding pineapple to the list. While it's fine for your preference to be against pineapples, trying to gate keep other people from enjoying them is illogical and unloving. People should be free to enjoy the food that they enjoy. While light-hearting ribbing about one's tastes is typically fine and fun, seriously trying to prohibit others from eating things you don't personally like is neither.