The Pizza Berlusconi battle: How Finland beat Italy at pizza
When Kotipizza Took Revenge on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
The Finnish people have thick skin and don’t mind ribbing from the international community. However, in 2005, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi took it too far. He suggested that he charmed Finland’s president at the time Tarja Halonen with his “playboy skills” into basing the EU’s food standards agency in Italy, while also making sexist remarks and joking about Finnish food.
The Pizza Berlusconi
Kotipizza, the largest pizza restaurant chain in the Nordic countries, didn’t take kindly to Berlusconi’s insults, so they created the Pizza Berlusconi in 2008. The pizza includes famous Finnish food such as smoked reindeer, tomato, cheese, Finnish chanterelle mushrooms, and red onion.
The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, called the pizza a "blood revenge" by the Finns. They praised it as innovative and delicious but speculated that it may not sit well with Berlusconi. The newspaper reported that Kotipizza was advertising its Berlusconi pizzas with headlines that read: "97-year-old grandmother bites into Berlusconi" and "Minister stabs Berlusconi with a fork."
The newspaper admitted that the Finns' anger was justified, especially since Berlusconi's gaffes reveal his cultural ignorance. According to the article, Berlusconi compared Italy's fine prosciutto to Finnish "marinated reindeer" in his speeches, even though this type of reindeer is only eaten in Alaska and Norwegian Lapland.
Finnish as winners
In the same year, the Pizza Berlusconi won an international pizza contest in New York, beating Italian Americans. Italian officials demanded that Kotipizza remove the Pizza Berlusconi from its menu as it was advertising with the prime minister’s name, but the CEO refused and instead invited Berlusconi to Finland to talk about it. He never showed up.
Berlusconi Comes Around to Finnish Food
Despite his initial negative comments, Berlusconi enjoyed a Finnish dinner in Helsinki in 2011, where he reportedly ate a reindeer fillet, salmon sandwiches, and a warm chocolate tart. He even praised the food’s high quality. Whether he's ever tried Pizza Berlusconi has never been established. But one thing is for sure, if he did he'd likely love as much as he does partying with young ladies.