The Real Reason Albertsons Has No Apostrophe

As times change and language evolves, grammar rules tend to become a lot more flexible. Conventions that would be shunned in previous years are now considered acceptable thanks to texting and direct messages. This is especially true of punctuation, which is no longer governed by hard and fast rules. As illustrated by NPR, just using a period in a text message can now appear rude or passive-aggressive. Yikes.

You may have noticed that some of your favorite businesses are known to play it fast and loose when it comes to punctuation. According to its website, Albertsons is a thriving grocery store chain that currently has 2,200 locations throughout 34 states. While it's best known for its quality products and service, Albertsons is also notorious for its lack of the apostrophe. The Our History page of the site specifies that the store is named for Joe Albertson, who opened the first branch in 1939. Despite being named after a person, apostrophes are conspicuously absent from Albertsons' signage and branding materials.

Grammar and branding

Branding is crucial for companies, as it ensures timely recognition of a business and what it offers the public. Companies want their brands to be easily memorable, which entails creating a short and snappy name. As illustrated by Marketplace, this is why many businesses struggle with whether to add an "s" to the end of their names to make them possessive, as it can make the name seem clunky and hard to recall accurately by customers. In the past, when it was common to name a business after the person who founded it, using the possessive form was a way to boost customer confidence.

Marketplace also highlights that many businesses fail to follow their own established naming conventions, using Nordstrom as a popular example. While the store is named after co-founder John W. Nordstrom, (per Nordstrom), it's rarely written in possessive form. Except when it occasionally appears that way on storefront signage. 

To put this in perspective, Trader Joe's and Stew Leonard's have kept the apostrophe, while Albertsons dropped it, and it doesn't seem to negatively impact any of these brands as they are among some of the best grocery stores in America

Why Albertsons decided to drop the apostrophe

It's a sad fact of life that many mysteries remain unsolved, and this may be the case with the Albertsons name change. As quoted by the Deseret News, Albertsons spokesperson Ertharin Cousin claimed that the chain hasn't "used the apostrophe for a number of years in our signs," and that "losing the apostrophe does nothing to diminish the heritage of the company." However, not everyone is as forgiving as Cousin when it comes to the missing apostrophe.

Upon noticing the punctuation gaffe while enjoying coffee at an adjacent McDonald's, two retirees formed the American Apostrophe Association and began a letter-writing campaign aimed at Albertsons. The effort evolved into a larger attempt to honor the apostrophe and uphold the tenets of proper grammar, as stated by CNN. After 18 long years of fighting the good fight, the Association was disbanded. According to founder John Richards, "We, and our many supporters worldwide, have done our best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times have won!"