If you haven’t heard of the German supermarket chain Aldi, you probably will soon. This massive discount chain has more than 10,000 locations in 18 countries, including 1,659 in the U.S., and it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
Aldi was founded in 1946, when two brothers, Karl and Theo Albrecht (who were 26 and 24 years old, respectively) took over a small grocery store run by their mother in a suburb of the German city of Essen. In 1960, after a huge expansion, the company split in two, with each brother taking half: Karl took Aldi Süd (South), and Theo took Aldi Nord (North); the name Aldi itself is short for “Albrecht Diskont.” Both companies are represented in the U.S.; Aldi Süd operates under the Aldi name, while Aldi Nord exists as another chain that we bet you’ve heard of (more on that later).
As opposed to most supermarket chains, Aldi primarily sells its own brands, with only a handful of other branded products. This helps them to keep prices down, which originally led to the chain having a reputation for selling low-quality products; thankfully that’s gone by the wayside. Aldi shops also tend to be smaller than those of the competition because they usually only offer one or two varieties of each product. In the U.S., you’ll also find plenty of imported gourmet foods from Germany, a nice perk.
Aldi isn’t really like any other supermarket out there, and it’s well on its way toward staking a major claim for itself in the crowded competitive landscape of American supermarkets. You can find 12 things we bet you didn’t know about it here.