The newest season of Stranger Things is packed with spot-on ’80s style, music, and trivia, but there’s one slice of nostalgia in the show that’s just a bit off.
Argyle, one of the fourth season’s new and beloved characters, works at a pizza chain called Surfer Boy Pizza, where the product we know as Hawaiian-style pizza is the crowning glory. He encourages everyone to try some fruit on their pie, including both Eleven and Mike, each of whom is astounded by the concept of pineapple pizza, having never heard of or tried it before. Mike even calls fruit on pizza “blasphemous.”
This is where the Stranger Things version of 1980s life might be just a touch inaccurate. The history of Hawaiian pizza is quite a bit older than any of the kids in Hawkins.
Maybe if you’ve ever looked into the history of popular dishes this won’t come as a surprise to you—but the origin of Hawaiian pizza isn’t very Hawaiian at all.
This controversial pizza style, featuring chunks of pineapple and ham on top, was created in Canada in 1962 by Greek restaurateur Sam Panopoulos, explains BBC. Although not Italian, Panopoulos was inspired by a recent trip to Italy, so he decided to add pizza to his menu. At the time, pizza was rather new to Canada, and Panopoulos felt that what was available was subpar, writes Atlas Obscura; toppings options were limited to mushrooms, bacon, and pepperoni. He began experimenting, and before long he was topping pizzas with canned fruit and meat.
Hawaii, having only become a US state in 1959, was fresh in everyone’s mind—Americans in the early 1960s were obsessed with that island lifestyle. This led to canned pineapple becoming a regular import to all of North America, Canada included. Panopoulos capitalized on this newfound popularity and named his creation Hawaiian Pizza.
Sure, sometimes food trends take a while to rise to the level of being a household name. But pineapple pizza had already gained traction by the 1980s; in fact, the Hawaiian culture boom had edged more toward bust by that point. So, it’s likely that Mike would already be well aware of pineapple pizza by the time he enters high school, though it is funny to see him horrified by the idea of eating it. (Eleven probably wouldn’t have known about it at all, but given the way she spent the first decade of her life, that’s to be expected.)
Nevertheless, I respect Argyle’s passion. We should all take a leaf out of his book and encourage each other to open up our taste buds a bit more to new experiences.
And that’s exactly what Stranger Things fans appear to be doing. Not only were viewers encouraged by Argyle to taste pineapple pizza for themselves (just like Eleven), but Walmart has provided an easy opportunity to do so, with a line of Surfer Boy Pizzas. According to pop culture site We Got This Covered, the funny scene is creating converts who might otherwise have stayed far away from this pizza topping forever.
In the simple but wise words of a dedicated Surfer Boy employee and staunch pineapple advocate, “try before you deny.”