Surprise! Trader Joe's Owned by German Mega-Retailer Aldi

Photograph by Aaron Q

Stephen J. Dubner writes on the Freakonomics blog that the world is divided into three types of people:

1. Those who have never been to a Trader Joe’s, and perhaps have never heard of it.

2. Those who love Trader Joe’s more than they love their own families.

3. Those who love Trader Joe’s more than they love their own families and are incensed that there isn’t one nearby.

If you fall into one of the latter two categories, Dubner has a subquestion: Do you know who owns Trader Joe's? Turns out it's not, as we might have personally suspected, a guy named Joe. It's mega-grocer Aldi — they acquired the cult-following grocery chain all the way back in 1979.

Aldi is such a formidable retailing force that, in their native Germany, they outsell Wal-Mart. Kind of undercuts the ol' TJ's hometown feeling, sure. But doesn't make those chocolate-and-toffee-covered pistachios any less an essential part of full spectrum of food addictions.

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