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Guðni Jóhanssen’s proposed pineapple pizza ban won’t materialize, but should it?

Tim Nelson
November 16, 2018

Pineapple on pizza: acceptable, or an abomination? It’s the kind of debate that can tear families apart and make friends want to never dine out with each other again. It would seem that those who view the pineapple’s presence on pizza as pernicious had an ally in the holder of Iceland’s highest political office—or so they thought.

That’s because President Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson once floated the idea of banning pineapple on pizza, but has since proven to be a colossal coward who doesn’t stand by his principles, much to the disappointment of anyone with rational ideas about what should or shouldn’t appear on a pizza.

The story starts in February of 2017, but there have been many twists and turns since. During a visit to an Icelandic high school, a brave Icelandic youth had the conviction to confront his country’s president about the greatest issue facing his Scandinavian island nation: does pineapple belong on pizza?

At the time, Jóhannesson bravely and unequivocally stated that he was “fundamentally opposed” to the very idea of it. His opposition to pineapple as a topping didn’t stop at a verbal condemnation, either. If given the option, he said, he would unilaterally ban pineapple from ever appearing on Icelandic pizza again.

The bold declaration set off a worldwide firestorm of commentary. The Washington Post applauded his brave stance. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a break from picking out goofy socks to voice his support for pineapple pizza, whose origins can be traced back to Ontario in the 1960’s. Much proverbial ink was spilled on the subject.

Clearly spooked by the widespread circulation of his proposed ban, Jóhannesson took to Facebook to clear the air and issue a mini treatise on the limits of executive power in a modern democracy. “I like pineapples, just not on pizza. I do not have the power to make laws which forbid people to put pineapples on their pizza,” the (thankfully) bilingual post reads. “I am glad that I do not hold such power. Presidents should not have unlimited power.”

You’d think that would be the end of it, but a recent conversation between Jóhannesson and the CBC (who clearly don’t hold a grudge against this guy at all) reopened the wound. In it, Jóhanesson expressed remorse for misusing his platform to pontificate on pineapple pizza.

"That's where the influence of this office sort of, yeah, got the better of me," he told As It Happens host Caroll Off. "I went a step too far."

Hopefully that act of contrition can put the pineapple on pizza debate to rest once and for all. In these divisive times, the only meaningful way forward is to live and let live. After all, a lot of pizza places will let you go half and half on toppings anyway.

And if this is the kind of thing that passes for a major political controversy in Iceland, it’s starting to look like a pretty attractive place to live.

 

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