News – “Iceland’s president admits he went ‘too far’ with threat to ban pineapple pizza”

cbc.caGudni Johannesson reflects on 2017 topping scandal that divided the internet and drew a rebuke from Canada

Nearly two years after the president of Iceland drew Canada’s ire with his disparaging comments about pineapple pizza, Gudni Johannesson says he regrets his off-the-cuff remarks. 

During a visit to a local high school in February 2017, Johannesson responded to a student’s question about pizza by saying he was fundamentally opposed to the fruit topping and that he would like to ban it

The comment sparked international debate about the so-called Hawaiian pizza, the invention of southern Ontario restaurateur Sam Panopoulos, who died in June 2017 at the age of 82.

“That’s where the influence of this office sort of, yeah, got the better of me,” Johannesson told As It Happens host Carol Off during an interview for the show’s 50th anniversary, in which he reflected on the divisive saga. “I went a step too far.”


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau weighed in at the time, issuing a tweet in which he declared himself a member “#TeamPineapple” and stated his support for “this delicious Southwestern Ontario creation.”

Even Panopoulos himself entered the fray.

In a February 2017 interview with As It Happens, the famed pizzamaker said of the president: “He should know better. I’m sure he is a lot younger than I am and I was doing pizza when I was a young guy, you know what I mean?”

The debate became so widespread and intense that Johannesson had to issue a statementexplaining that he had neither the will nor the power to ban the sweet and savoury creation.

“I had to think it through and sort of calm these stormy waters and I issued a statement, a presidential statement, on pineapples on pizza,” Johannesson said.

“As much as I do not like pineapple on pizza, the individual freedom of having the topping of your choice overrides that.”

However, he maintains to this day that the topping is no good.

“I have nothing against pineapples, but when they’re put on pizza they get all sort of mushy,” he said. 

I mean what’s the point of having any power if you can’t ban the things you don’t like?? I’m a pretty open book when it comes to food because of the whole foodie thing but I can probably think of some things I would ban if you gave me the time to think about it.

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