The ALDI emblazoned in big, block letters on signs around the world has come to stand for stress-free, affordable grocery shopping—but what does it literally stand for?
Considering it’s almost always spelled in all-caps, ALDI gives off a decidedly acronymic vibe; perhaps you thought it abbreviated “Awesome Lunch and Dinner Items,” or “Always Loving Discounts, Inc.” In reality, the name is a truncated version of just two words: Albrecht-Diskont, or, in English, Albrecht’s Discount. (So if you assumed the word discount was part of the equation, give yourself a well-earned pat on the back.)
As Reader’s Digest reports, Albrecht’s Discount began as a single grocery store founded by Anna Albrecht in 1913 in Essen, Germany. Ownership passed to her sons, Karl and Theo, in 1948, and they soon developed it into a large, family-run franchise. By 1952, there were more than 100 locations in operation, and the first U.S. store opened in Iowa in 1976.
By that time, Albrecht-Diskont had been shortened to Aldi, keeping only the first two letters of each word. We don’t exactly know how that decision was made, but we do know when it happened—in 1961, when the brothers argued over the sale of cigarettes in their stores. According to The New York Times, they split the company into Aldi Süd, which Karl ran in southern Germany, and Aldi Nord, which Theo ran in the northern part of the country. As their business grew, Karl’s jurisdiction included Britain, Australia, and the U.S., while Theo covered all of Europe. Sometime during that expansion, stores came to be known simply as “ALDI.”
If you’re looking to call up your local ALDI and ask for more details, however, you probably won’t be able to find a phone number—here’s why.
[h/t Reader’s Digest]