10 Thrifty Facts About Aldi

Aldi looms large over the competition.
Aldi looms large over the competition.
Matt Cardy, Getty Images

With over 1900 stores in 35 states, popular food retailer Aldi (sometimes stylized as ALDI) has evolved from a curiosity in the supermarket industry to a heavy hitter. By 2022, it could become the third-largest grocery store behind Walmart and Kroger. Walmart keeps an eye out for new Aldi locations opening nearby; new stores can see lines formed around the block. Even though the chain famously charges a deposit for the use of shopping carts and more for bags, it’s still engendered loyalty from consumers who appreciate the no-frills approach and favorable pricing. Take a look at some things you might not know about this German giant.

1. Aldi led to a sibling rivalry.

The story of Aldi dates back to Essen, Germany, in the 1940s, when brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht returned from prisoner-of-war camps in World War II and began operating their mother’s food store. The business, which was named Aldi for “Albrecht Discount,” grew to over 300 stores in Germany by 1960. The following year, Karl and Theo had a disagreement over whether or not to stock cigarettes, and Aldi was split into two factions—Karl’s Aldi Süd and Theo’s Aldi Nord. Karl expanded into the United States in 1976 as well as other countries, while Theo stuck with Europe before buying the Trader Joe’s franchise in 1979.

2. One of the Aldi owners was kidnapped.

In 1971, Theo Albrecht was kidnapped for ransom and held captive for 17 days. The criminals, Paul Kron and Heinz Joachim Ollenberg, abducted Theo and kept him in a wardrobe in Duesseldorf, demanding 7 million deutschmarks for his safe return. When the ransom was paid, Theo was set free. The two men were later arrested and spent over eight years in prison for the crime. Most of the money went unrecovered. The incident caused both brothers to step out of the public eye. Theo died in 2010 at age 88. Karl passed in 2014 at age 94.

3. Aldi puts customers to work.

Aldi’s approach to rock-bottom pricing is simple. They keep overhead to a bare minimum, reducing the number of employees needed to 15 to 20 per store. Instead of cart runners looking to retrieve carts, the store keeps them locked and charges a 25-cent deposit which is returned only if the customer brings it back. Other grocery chains have tried a similar method, but only Aldi has managed to succeed without annoying patrons.

4. Aldi doesn’t stock many items.

Forget about getting lost in a cavernous warehouse club. At Aldi, each store typically stocks only 1400 items. That’s a fraction of the inventory kept by other major supermarket chains, which can have as many as 40,000 products on shelves. At a Walmart supercenter, that number can climb to 100,000. Fewer selections mean less browsing time, allowing customers to get in and out more quickly. And of those products, most are private label. You won’t find Honey Nut Cheerios, but you will find Honey Nut Crispy Oats. Close enough.

5. Not everything at Aldi is cheaper.

While most food products at Aldi are priced below the competition, there is one aisle that doesn't offer the same type of savings: the toiletry section. Aldi doesn’t stock private-label personal products and therefore can’t acquire them at reduced cost, so you’re likely to pay about as much for deodorant there as anyplace else.

6. Aldi has bigger barcodes.

When you pick up a product sold at Aldi, you might notice that the barcode on the package seems bigger than normal. That’s deliberate. Aldi prints the codes larger or on multiple sides of the product so the cashier can scan it in one pass, speeding up checkout lines.

7. Aldi’s dairy delivery system is incredibly efficient.

Aldi looks to cut costs anywhere it can. Case in point: The retailer spent two years developing a milk bottle and transporting system that uses polystyrene crates instead of metal. Because the delivery trucks weigh less, more milk can be placed on the vehicles at once.

8. Aldi carries a world-renowned wine that’s won an award.

Just because you’re in Aldi doesn’t mean you can’t stock up on some award-winning wine. In 2016, an $8 Aldi rosé was named the Great Value Rosé under 8 pounds, or about $10.33, at the International Wine Challenge in the UK. The Exquisite Collection Côtes de Provence Rosé also won a silver medal in the main competition. The wine is available at select Aldi stores in the United States.

9. Aldi has a system for making sure you have a quarter handy.

You don’t always need to go digging in your pocket or purse to find a quarter to insert into the shopping cart system. In 2018, Aldi offered a keychain quarter holder for 99 cents that kept your change easily accessible. You can still find third-party customized keychain quarter holders on retail sites like Amazon.

10. You might be pronouncing Aldi wrong.

As we previously mentioned, Aldi is short for Albrecht Discount in honor of the Albrecht brothers. You may, however, be confused as to how to pronounce it. According to the company, it’s not “All-di” but “Al-di.”

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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6 Too-Cool Facts About Henry Winkler for His 75th Birthday

Getty Images
Getty Images

Henry Winkler thumbs-upped his way into America’s hearts as the Fonz in Happy Days more than 40 years ago, and he hasn’t been out of the spotlight since—whether it’s playing himself in an Adam Sandler movie, a hospital administrator with a weird obsession with butterflies in Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital, the world's worst lawyer in Arrested Development, a pantomiming Captain Hook on the London stage, or the world's most lovable acting coach to a contract killer in Barry

1. Henry Winkler made up a Shakespeare monologue to get into the Yale School of Drama.

After graduating from Emerson College, Winkler applied to Yale University’s drama program. In his audition, he had to do two scenes, a modern and a classic comedy. However, when he arrived at his audition, he forgot the Shakespeare monologue he had planned to recite. So he made something up on the spot. He was still selected for one of 25 spots in the program. 

2. HENRY WINKLER’S FATHER INSPIRED “JUMPING THE SHARK.”

CBS

In the fifth season of Happy Days, the Fonz grabbed a pair of water skis and jumped over a shark. The phrase “jumping the shark” would become pop culture shorthand for the desperate gimmicks employed by TV writers to keep viewers hooked into a show that’s running out of storylines. But Winkler’s water skiing adventure was partially inspired by his father, who begged his son to tell his co-workers about his past as a water ski instructor. When he did, the writers wrote his skills into the show. Winkler would later reference the moment in his role as lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn on Arrested Development, hopping over a dead shark lying on a pier.  

3. Henry Winkler is an advocate for dyslexia awareness. 

Winkler struggled throughout high school due to undiagnosed dyslexia. “I didn't read a book until I was 31 years old when I was diagnosed with dyslexia,” he told The Guardian in 2014. He has co-written several chapter books for kids featuring Hank Zipper, a character who has dyslexia. In 2015, a Hank Zipper book is printed in Dyslexie, a special font designed to be easier for kids with dyslexia to read. 

4. Henry Winkler didn't get to ride Fonzie's motorcycle.

On one of his first days on the set of Happy Days, producers told Winkler that he just had to ride the Fonz’s motorcycle a few feet. Because of his dyslexia, he couldn’t figure out the vehicle’s controls, he told an interviewer with the Archive of American Television. “I gunned it and rammed into the sound truck, nearly killed the director of photography, put the bike down, and slid under the truck,” he recalled. For the next 10 years, whenever he appeared on the motorcycle, the bike was actually sitting on top of a wheeled platform. 

5. Henry Winkler has performed with MGMT. 

In addition to his roles on BarryArrested Development, Royal Pains, Parks and Recreation, and more, Winkler has popped up in a few unexpected places in recent years. He appeared for a brief second in the music video for MGMT’s “Your Life Is a Lie” in 2013. He later showed up at a Los Angeles music festival to play the cowbell with the band, too.

6. Henry Winkler won his first Emmy at the age of 72.

The seventh time was a charm for Henry Winkler. In 2018, at the age of 72—though just shy of his 73rd birthday—Winkler won an Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as acting teacher Gene Cousineau on Barry. It was the seventh time Winkler had been nominated for an Emmy. His first nomination came in 1976 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Happy Days (he earned an Emmy nod in the same category for Happy Days in 1977 and 1978 as well.

This story has been updated for 2020.