In part three of our three part series, we’re diving into the most bizarre and controversial pizza toppings we could find. Whether it’s pineapple or anchovies – or even eggs, we’re here to raise the debate.
You finally all agree on pizza instead of Chinese, burgers or sushi. Now comes the great topping debate. If you’re like most groups trying to order pizza together, some weird pizza toppings are likely to come up — and those are promptly followed with debating or all out refusal.
Perhaps you’re the one who suggests the bizarre pizza toppings. Whether you want to try something new and controversial or you’re just looking for a fun topic to debate, these controversial and sometimes very bizarre pizza toppings give you plenty to discuss.
Something Smells Fishy: The Anchovy Controversy
Have you ever noticed how almost every pizzeria includes anchovies on the menu? Have you ever wondered how many anchovy pizzas they actually serve in a week? The debate over anchovies on pizza is not a new one. The tradition started back in Italy on some of the original pizza creations when pizzas consisted of simple tomato sauce and anchovies with no cheese. While anchovy fans in America seem to be few and far between, the people who do order this fishy topping typically go against tradition and pair the fish with lots of cheese.
Why do tiny little fish stir up such big controversy? Some people simply don’t like the idea of fish on pizza, or they think the anchovies look gross. Others don’t like the saltiness of the anchovies, especially with all of the other potential saltiness on a pizza. For people who have never tried them, anchovies just sound strange.
Anchovies aren’t the only fishy controversy when it comes to pizza toppings, though. Pizzerias and home chefs alike experiment with many seafood toppings, including shrimp, scallops and crabmeat. Some people enjoy the creativity, while others prefer more traditional toppings. Unless all of your friends are seafood lovers, you’re likely to get some resistance if you suggest any of these toppings on your next pizza night.
The Great Pineapple Debate
Pineapple in and of itself is not a controversial fruit. The sweet, tangy, golden fruit delights the taste buds. It has even recently become the go to icon for cups, t-shirts, and decorations. It would appear people love this golden delight. Put it on a pizza, though, and suddenly everyone has a strong opinion. Pineapple on pizza is the great divider. You either love it or you hate it.
Why does pineapple cause such a stir in the pizza world? It’s not just the flavor for some people. Here is a list of reasons some people think pineapple should stay off of pizza:
- Sweetness: For some people, the sweet blast of pineapple just doesn’t belong on pizza. These people prefer a strictly savory ingredient list.
- Moisture: Compared to most other pizza toppings, pineapple contains a lot more moisture than usual. In some dishes, moisture is a good thing. On pizza, all that extra moisture can infiltrate the other toppings and seep down into the crust, making it soggy.
- Cheese conflict: Pineapple and traditional mozzarella cheese don’t work well together. The pineapple is very sweet, so it doesn’t balance out well with the mild flavor of mozzarella.
- Break from tradition: Pizza purists believe pizza should stick to its roots: simple tomato base with cheese. All the trendy and excessive toppings take away from the simple, traditional flavors of pizza the way it was meant to be.
Whether you’re for or against pineapple on pizza, it’s almost guaranteed you have at least one friend who holds the opposite opinion. Suggest pineapple, and you’re likely in for a spirited debate.
Don’t Mess With My Crust
Many a debate starts over the crust. The usual debate is over thin crust versus deep dish, but the current pizza crust debate brings in some new players. Many pizzerias serve up some strange crust options, and one stand-out is the pretzel crust.
In theory, it sounds great. You get the pizza flavor you love with the bonus of a soft pretzel crust. It’s like taking a trip to your favorite mall pretzel place, but you get it for free with your pizza. Plus, the crust is perfect for dipping into cheese sauce — however, not everyone is a fan.
Those who say nay to the pretzel crust may give a number of reasons:
- It isn’t the traditional crust they know and love.
- It’s too salty.
- The crust tends to be thicker, throwing off the delicate toppings-to-crust ratio.
- Pretzel crust is denser and chewier than traditional pizza dough.
- It just doesn’t taste right with pizza toppings.
The stuffed crust pizza is another twist on the traditional pizza. Instead of ending the slice with a thick chunk of dough, these pizzas cram all sorts of fillings inside the edge pieces. Cheese is a popular option, but pizza makers in the U.S. and abroad have stuffed some interesting ingredients in the crust. Hot dogs, mini hamburgers, shrimp and boneless chicken wings are a few examples. Some people love the extra flavor and surprise mini meal at the end. Others find the stuffing disturbing or unnecessary.
You always run the risk of meeting resistance when you try to shake things up with the crust. It may seem like just a vessel for getting the yummy toppings in your mouth, but the crust has a big influence on the overall pizza experience. Our suggestion: Choose your crust wisely when serving pizza purists.
Getting Sassy Over Sauce
Tradition dictates that a rich tomato-based sauce covers the crust on any pizza, but that’s not the only option these days. As pizza toppings get crazier, so do the sauces that accompany them. For some people, straying from the traditional tomato sauce is just too much to handle.
What kinds of sauces do people use? Here are just a few options, some more bizarre and controversial than others:
- Alfredo sauce
- Pesto sauce
- Barbecue sauce
- Olive oil
- Ranch dressing
- Thai peanut sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Garlic aioli
- Hot wing sauce
- Enchilada sauce
The controversy often stems from the wide departure from traditional pizza sauce flavor. Thai peanut sauce tastes nothing like tomato-based sauce. Many of the alternative sauces also have a very distinct and very strong flavor, and they best go with a certain style of toppings — which tend to stray from the traditional. For example, using a barbecue sauce likely means you’ll top the pizza in barbecued chicken, beef or pork to make the flavors blend well. That works for some, but others, not so much.
The Issue With Caviar and Other Fancy Toppings
Pizza has a reputation as a casual food — one you eat on the sofa while you watch football or grab with friends before a Cubs game. Sure, pizza is very approachable, and you eat it with your hands, but some people are determined to offer a more refined approach to the doughy delight.
Caviar is one way pizza connoisseurs up the elegance of the traditional pie. It’s also a great way to turn an affordable meal into a budget buster. Since it’s not a traditional pizza topping, you’re sure to have friends who object just on a matter of principle. Others aren’t caviar fans at all, so they won’t want it anywhere near their slices. Still others think a pile of fish eggs is an unappetizing addition to anything, especially an otherwise delicious pizza.
Another fancy — and often expensive — topping is the truffle. You might find a pizza recipe calls for truffle oil or truffle paste.
It’s usually easy to tell if your friends fit into the gourmet pizza topping category or if they prefer the more casual traditional toppings. If they are in the latter category, just be prepared for some resistance if you decide you want to suggest upping the pizza gourmet-ante.
A Meaty Debate: Reindeer, Crocodile and More
Okay, you won’t likely find reindeer or roadkill on pizzas around here, but in some parts of the world, the meat that goes on pizza is very bizarre. Try to serve up one of these options, and you’ll definitely get some resistance from your dinner guests.
Here are some of the most bizarre meat options and where you can find them:
- Reindeer: Can you guess which country made smoked reindeer a popular pizza topping? That would be Finland. The reindeer pizza even won best pizza in an international contest, beating out the Italians. You likely won’t find reindeer on restaurant menus in the United States, which makes this topping seem all the more bizarre.
- Emu, crocodile and kangaroo: The Australian Heritage Hotel in Sydney serves up all sorts of bizarre — at least to Americans — pizza toppings. Some of the highlights that are sure to cause a stir are emu, crocodile and kangaroo.
- Frog, gator and python: You don’t need a passport to find pizza with these controversial toppings. You just need to travel to Florida, where one pizzeria serves up a pie with meat from assorted swamp animals. We have a feeling many of your friends would have strong opinions on this particular pizza meat combination.
A little closer to home, more common pizza meats still stir up debates between friends. Chicken is a highly debated pizza topping. Some people love a good chicken pizza, usually with an alternative sauce, such as pesto or teriyaki. Others feel it lacks flavor when compared to the more powerful and classic pepperoni or sausage.
Some Veggies Just Aren’t Meant for Pizza
It turns out, three-year-olds aren’t the only ones who are picky about veggies. If you start a discussion on which veggies belong on a pizza, you’ll likely get answers ranging from, “None,” to “Add them all!” Some people might like a few veggies but not others. As pizzas get crazier and more inventive, the vegetable toppings continue expanding from the traditional onions, black olives and green peppers.
What are some of these newer, more controversial veggies? Some options you might see include:
- Artichoke hearts
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Brussels sprouts
- Swiss chard
Some of the controversy may stem from all those veggies your mom made you eat when you were a kid. Everyone remembers staring down a bowl of Brussels sprouts or spinach. Other feel that certain veggies just don’t belong on a pizza.
Even some of the classic pizza vegetables stir up heated debate between the best of friends. Black olives tend to polarize people. Green bell peppers also come up for debate quite frequently. Some people feel they don’t add any beneficial flavor and just create a weird texture on the pizza.
Yet another veggie controversy in today’s pizza scene is the veggie crust. In these healthier versions of the classics, vegetable slabs form the foundation of the pizza. Mushroom caps, eggplant slices, zucchini boats and mashed cauliflower crusts are all options. Your healthier friends may love the idea of cutting carbs and upping their veggie intake, but we have a feeling at least some of your friends will fight for a traditional dough crust.
Next time you make homemade pizza for a crowd, squash the veggie controversy by letting each person make an individual pizza. You’ll quickly see where the lines are drawn when it comes to veggie opinions.
The Breakfast Pizza
Pizza has long been a staple for a quick breakfast — often after a night of partying when anything sounds good. Instead of munching on cold pepperoni pizza, some people choose to bake a fresh, hot breakfast pizza in the morning. While some people feel it is a great way to put all the classic breakfast flavors — eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. — into pizza form, others prefer their eggs separate.
Eggs also make appearances on pizzas not meant for breakfast time. Many people put a whole egg right on top — imagine a fried egg sitting on top of your pizza. Go with a sunny-side-up egg if the idea of yolk dripping on your pizza appeals to you. Eggs go with a variety of toppings, like spinach, cheese and prosciutto.
But just like eggs on a burger, many people will politely decline if you present them with eggs on their pizza. It’s always good to know your audience before you decide to make a sunny-side-up addition to your pizza.
Flavor Cross-Overs: Pizzas That Mimic Other Dishes
It’s the classic friends’ night out dilemma: What to eat for dinner? Some people want Chinese. Others want Mexican. At least one person always wants pizza (that’s our kind of person). Who says you can’t satisfy everyone? Pizza cross-overs combine the flavors and ingredients of one dish with the crust and structure of a pizza.
Some people love the idea of trying their favorite meals in pizza form. Others feel the toppings are out of place and don’t do either the pizza or the inspiration dish justice. Some meals definitely work better than others when it comes to pizza flavors.
Looking for inspiration for your own cross-over pizza flavor? Here are some pizza flavors to consider:
- Barbecued meat
- Tikka masala
- Chicken wing
- Jalapeno popper
- Bacon cheeseburger
- Macaroni and cheese
- Crab Rangoon
- Thai chicken
- Loaded baked potato
- Chicken alfredo
These options definitely shake up your dinner menu — or they make your traditional pizza friends squirm when you serve them at your next dinner party.
What are your favorite crazy pizza toppings? Are you the one in the group always trying something new, or are you the pizza purist who enforces the basic dough, tomato sauce and cheese tradition? Whatever your style, head to Giordano’s, and let us craft you the perfect pizza — controversial or not. Choose from an assortment of toppings to fit your appetite. We even offer the much debated pineapple and anchovy options. What will you try next?