Toast Hawaii

Toast Hawaii or Hawaiian Toast is an open sandwich consisting of a slice of toast with ham and cheese, and a maraschino cherry in the middle of a pineapple slice, broiled, so that the cheese starts to melt.[1] It was invented, or at least made popular, by the German TV cook Clemens Wilmenrod and became popular in West Germany in the 1950s. It is likely that it was adapted from the "Grilled Spamwich", a recipe published in a Spam cookbook by Hormel in 1939[2] and brought to West Germany by American G.I.s. Spam was not available in Germany's grocery stores so Wilmenrod replaced it with a slice of cooked ham.[3]

Toast Hawaii
Alternative namesHawaiian Toast
TypeOpen sandwich
CourseBreakfast or Lunch
Place of originGermany
Created byClemens Wilmenrod
Main ingredientsToast, ham, pineapple, maraschino cherry, cheese


Steak Hawaiian

Lightly toasted bread is buttered, covered with a slice of cooked or raw ham, pineapple, and cheese (usually processed cheese), then baked. It is also common to place a cocktail cherry, cranberries, or other similar fruit on the finished toast, or to season it with sweet paprika powder. Similarly, other "Hawaiian-style" dishes are prepared with pineapple and cheese, such as Hawaiian pizza or Hawaiian steak.


The invention of toast Hawaii is generally credited to TV chef Clemens Wilmenrod, who first introduced it in Germany in 1955. Presumably, however, Wilmenrod took over the recipe from his competitor and teacher Hans Karl Adam.[4]

According to historian Petra Foede, it may be a variant of the "Grilled Spamwich" common in the United States, slightly adapted to German conditions. The original recipe uses Spam instead of boiled ham and grated cheese instead of a slice; otherwise, there is no difference between recipes.[2] The "Grilled Spamwich" recipe was first published in 1939 in a cookbook by Spam manufacturer Hormel. Unlike boiled ham, however, Spam was unavailable in German grocery stores.[5] Publicist Jürgen Ahrens sees the French croque monsieur as a precursor to Toast Hawaii.[6]

A large number of variations later emerged; the TV chef Tim Mälzer presented a "modern" variant in the 2010s featuring brown bread, Serrano ham, and Manchego cheese.[7]

Cancer risk

Because of the combination of ingredients, there is the concern that toast Hawaii and similarly composed dishes have the potential to form carcinogenic nitrosamines due to the combination of nitrates in the ham curing salt and the amino acids in the cheese in the acidic environment of the pineapple.[8] However, investigations by the Food Technology department at the Berliner Hochschule für Technik did not reveal any increased levels of nitrosamines.[9]


Toast Hawaii was a typical meal for German families up until the 1970s and was a popular dish in pubs, party rooms, and bowling alleys in the 1980s.[7] However, in 2015, the more commonly thought of pineapple-centric dish in Germany was Hawaiian pizza;[10] unlike Hawaiian pizza, which is distributed globally, Hawaiian toast has remained a purely German phenomenon. About ten years after its introduction, Hawaiian toast also found its way into the Küche der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, but was limited to being served in restaurants. In home kitchens, versions of Carlsbad cut were more popular, using the more commonly available Jagdwurst or meatloaf and omitting the pineapple.

In Austria, Toast Hawaii was seen as one of the markers of Americanization in the 1950s, but the Hawaii schnitzel even more so. The dish has also been available in Switzerland since the 1950s; the Zurich-Kloten Airport restaurant was one of the first to serve Hawaiian toast in Switzerland around 1960[11] and was one of the top ten most Googled recipes in 2013.[12]


Toast Hawaii is considered a piece of German cultural history. On the 60th anniversary of its creation, the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote that few other subjects had been discussed as passionately as the polarizing opinions on Toast Hawaii. Hawaiian toast brought a touch of the exotic into everyday life and was thus part of the conspicuous consumption of the post-war period in Germany. According to the journalist Gudrun Rothaug, the dish bundled the desires of an entire generation onto a few square centimeters of wheat bread, and according to historian Petra Foede, the dish also represents moving away from traditional meals primarily intended to be stomach-fillers (such as stew or dumplings). Ulrich Herbert points out the eating habits of the 1950s were not shaped by "modern" dishes like this one, but rather by bread, sausage, potatoes, and meat.

Media scientist Gerd Hallenberger pointed out that the exotic fruit involved in the dish could also be interpreted as compensation for the continuing food shortage in the post-war kitchen and inability to afford vacations to distant countries. Toast Hawaii brought the initially internationally isolated German citizens a piece of new normality and connection to the culinary world culture.

According to Josef Joffe, the dish is often associated with philistinism, but stands for a milestone towards modernity. Hawaiian toast also found its way into popular culture; Loriot satirically alluded to it with his "Kalbshaxe Florida", as did Gerhard Polt with his "Leberkäs Hawaii" (both fictional). There is a musical that shares its name, and the 2009 NDR television film Es liegt mir auf der Zunge about its creator also covered its creation. Music producer Alexander Marcus created the Hawaii Toast song, in which he sings about the food; this attracted media attention in 2014 and the song was viewed over seven million times on Youtube.

See also


  1. Helge Denker (3 April 2009). "Deutschlands erster TV-Koch erfindet den Toast Hawaii" (in German). BILD. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  2. "Grilled Spamwich. Cover slices of buttered toast with sliced Spam. Top with sections of canned pineapple; sprinkle with grated cheese. Place under broiler until cheese melts." Hormel invites you to dine. Hormel Foods Corporation, Austin, Minnesota, 1939.
  3. Dann Woeller (23 June 2019). "Toast Hawaii – The German Equivalent to American Grilled Cheese".
  4. Foede, Petra (February 4, 2011). "Kampf der Köche: Es gibt keinen Toast auf Hawaii". Frankfurter Rundschau. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved February 4, 2011.
  5. Foede, Petra (January 23, 2010). "Entdeckt: Spamwich – das Vorbild für Toast Hawaii?". Kulinarische Zeitreise. Archived from the original on March 11, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2022.
  6. Ahrens, Jürgen (September 9, 2013). Wie deutsch ist das denn?: Die populärsten Irrtümer über Deutschland und die Deutschen. Heyne. ISBN 9783641084011.
  7. Neudecker, Michael (December 13, 2015). "60 Jahre Toast Hawaii: Urlaub auf Brot". Süddeutsche Zeitung. Retrieved August 13, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. Wiechoczek, Dagmar (April 14, 2009). "Giftige Stickstoffverbindungen in Lebensmitteln". Prof. Blumes Bildungsserver für Chemie. Retrieved August 13, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. Pollmer, Udo; Warmuth, Susanne (2000). Lexikon der populären Ernährungsirrtümer. Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn. ISBN 9783821816159.
  10. Trenk, Marin (2015). Döner Hawaii: Unser globalisiertes Essen. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta. p. 78. ISBN 9783608107944.
  11. Wirthlin, Annette (January 27, 2015). "Ein Toast auf den Proletentoast". Retrieved August 13, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. "Was kocht die Schweiz?". Migros-Magazin. December 23, 2013. Archived from the original on March 16, 2018. Retrieved August 13, 2022.
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