Martha Stewart used to say that “American made is not just an event. It’s a movement to spotlight and support the next generation of creative entrepreneurs who are turning their passion for making into thriving small businesses”. Well, times change. There was nothing like eating a Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter flavored ice cream while sipping from a Budweiser dose.
I guess that some things are not meant to be forever, and that’s why some of the most known American companies had fallen into foreign hands.
If you didn’t know that, I’m about to give you all the information.
Then let’s begin.
1. Ben & Jerry’s
In 1978, two guys, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, purchased an old gas station in Burlington, Vermont. They invested $12,000 (a third of them were borrowed) and turned their gas station into an ice cream shop.
According to their official website, on August 3rd, 2000, Ben & Jerry’s became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever – a multinational company.
In order to keep preserving and expanding Ben & Jerry’s social mission, brand integrity and also the product quality, the two firms have a unique acquisition agreement and an independent Board of Directors.
Unilever paid $326 million for the sweet brand.
2. Burger King
In 1954, James McLamore and David Edgerton opened a hamburger shop in Miami. They called it “Insta Burger King” and for 18 cents, you could’ve bought a delicious burger or a sweet and creamy milkshake.
After three years, they decided to spice things up a little and dropped the word “Insta” from the local’s name. Also, the partners added a gas grill and developed their signature burger, the “Whopper”.
Burger King became the second largest burger chain restaurants in the United States of America – after McDonald’s. This happened after the two men sold the business to Pillsbury Company in 1967.
A few years later, in 2010, the chain of restaurants was sold to 3G Capital, which is a private-equity company.
Today, Burger King is part of the Restaurant Brands International – a Canadian fast food firm which was formed when Burger King connected to the Canadian coffee and doughnuts chain Tim Horton’s. Also, they are still being endorsed by 3G Capital.
3. Trader Joe’s
In 1967, Joe Coulombe decided to start stocking some unknown foods, in order to let himself get an edge over threatening competition from 7-Eleven.
The first shop was opened in Pasadena, California and now it has over 530 shops in the whole United States.
The idea for the name “Trader Joe’s” came to Coulombe when he was traveling in the Caribbean. He noticed that Americans were going on vacations more and more and they were acquiring tastes they couldn’t find in stores back home.
The store’s name came into his mind when he was thinking of Trader Vic’s, a famous tiki-themed restaurant that had opened its first spot in 1955, in Beverly Hills. This location was really expensive, but Joe Coulombe wished that his store would have affordable offerings of drinks and foods.
In 1979, the supermarket chain was bought by Theo Albrecht, who is the owner of the German supermarket chain called Aldi Nord.
In 1857, a German named Adolphus Busch moved to St. Louis and married the daughter of Eberhard Anheuser, who was a local brewer. After Busch fought for the Union during the Civil War, he joined his father-in-law’s business, where he brought many brilliant ideas.
In 1879, they changed the company’s name to Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association and a year later, when his wife’s father passed away, the son-in-law became the president of the firm.
Before Adolphus Busch introduced Budweiser, a lot of Americans were drinking some sort of heavy and dark beverage. He created a light and crisp lager that we still have today. Budweiser became wildly popular extremely quick, not only in St. Louis, but in all states. His brewery turned into the nation’s largest beer producer.
The company was sold to Belgium beer conglomerate InBev in 2008, for the price of $52 billion.
In 1927, Jefferson Green was an employee at Southland Ice Company. He began to sell bread, milk and eggs from the ice shop on Sundays and holidays, when everything else was closed.
He renamed his store “7-Eleven”, to highlight the fact that it is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. We have to admit that this is really clever, especially giving the fact that he laid the foundations of every all-hours stores that exist today.
7-Eleven had a financial crash in 1987 and the company was bought by Ito-Yokado, which is a part of Seven & I Holdings. This can be considered as the “Japanese parent company” of the store nowadays.
I guess now we can all come to a conclusion and say that it doesn’t matter if they are not American owned companies now.
What matters is that some great people with American souls visualized and created these amazing things that us, the American people from today, can benefit from.
After all this talk about food and beverages, I think I might crave a Whopper and maybe a peanut butter Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
What about you?
In the end, it all started from the United States of America.
P.S.: Happy shopping from all the American Companies that are no longer American, but still have their American Souls!