11 Shocking Facts About Aldi (Did You Know the Part About Trader Joe's?)

Like its aisles, Aldi's history is full of surprises.

Aldi supermarket food store
Updated May 28, 2024
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Many people love shopping at Aldi to cut the cost of groceries. But are you sure you know everything about the iconic grocery chain?

The truth is that Aldi’s history is full of surprises. The following fun facts about the retailer might startle you.

The store wasn’t founded in the U.S.

filmbildfabrik/Adobe branch from Aldi supermarket chain

Aldi has more than 2,000 locations in the U.S., which might make you think the grocery chain has American origins. But it doesn’t.

The Albrecht family founded Aldi in Germany in 1961. The first U.S. Aldi store opened in Iowa in 1976. That state now has 37 Aldi stores; states such as Florida and Illinois each have more than 200 stores.

The company is actually two separate groups

Wayhome Studio/Adobe brothers keep arms folded don`t look at each other

While the first Aldi store opened in 1961, Aldi’s origins go back further than that.

The original Albrecht family grocery store started in 1914 in Germany, and two brothers – Theo and Karl Albrecht — eventually took over operations. But in 1961, the brothers disagreed about carrying cigarettes in the store.

That disagreement led to a division of the stores in Germany. Theo got Aldi Nord in the north and Karl got Aldi Süd in the southwest.

Aldi Nord’s founder was kidnapped

Jeff Bergen/peopleimages.com/Adobe bound and blindfolded businessman lying in the trunk of a car

Two kidnappers grabbed Theo Albrecht in 1971 and held him for ransom for 17 days before letting him go.

Both kidnappers were caught and ended up spending time in prison, but there’s still a mystery about what happened to all the money they were paid as part of the ransom. 

The men both died in 2017 and took that secret with them.

Aldi Süd runs the U.S. stores

Ming/Adobe entrance and exit of a branch of Aldi grocery supermarket

Since they split into two companies, the retailers have avoided competing against each other in different markets under the Aldi name.

If you’re shopping in an Aldi in the U.S., you’re actually shopping in an Aldi Süd store. Aldi Süd also operates stores in places like the UK and Australia.

Aldi Nord has markets in France and Denmark, among other countries. Operations in Germany are still split in two; hence the continued use of Aldi Nord for northern Germany and Aldi Süd for southern Germany.

Aldi Nord owns Trader Joe's

wolterke/Adobe trader joe's exterior

Aldi Süd does run the Aldi stores in the U.S., but Aldi Nord also has a stake in American markets as the owner of Trader Joe’s.

Aldi Nord bought the discount retailer in the late 1970s. Trader Joe’s currently has more than 500 locations for shoppers to visit in the U.S. while carrying out Aldi’s commitment to affordable food and products.

Aldi is the fastest-growing grocery chain in the U.S.

Andreas Prott/Adobe logos of the German discount supermarket chains Aldi

Depending on where you live, you might be familiar with grocery store chains such as Kroger, Piggly Wiggly, or Publix.

But the fastest-growing grocery store chain in the U.S. is actually Aldi. And the retailer continues to expand across the country with new stores in different states.

California leads the way with six new Aldis, followed by five new stores in Missouri. Both Michigan and Pennsylvania have four new stores.

An Aldi widow isn’t living frugally

PinkCoffee Studio/Adobe woman with shopping bags is using a smartphone

The Albrecht descendants who still work with the Aldi companies pride themselves on their own frugality, but one heir isn’t following that philosophy.

Following the death of Berthold Albrecht (Theo’s son) in 2012, his widow was accused of going on a lavish spending spree. Babette Albrecht’s behavior has led to issues with board members. One of her own sons has accused her of embezzling funds.

The store is laid out a certain way on purpose

Mara Louvain/Adobe Products on the shelves at Aldi

You may have noticed that Aldi’s stores are laid out a little differently than typical grocery stores, and there’s a reason for that.

Aldi purposely makes stores smaller so it’s easier for shoppers to find things and get through the store quickly.

You also may notice that some products are added to shelves in their original shipping boxes. That saves the store money on restocking, which makes it more affordable for you to shop there.

Pro tip: Aldi is known for its lower prices. That makes it a great place to shop for groceries and eliminate some money stress from your life.

Illinois has the most Aldis

Katherine Welles/Adobe Welcome to Illinois

If you want to find an Aldi, your best chance is in Illinois. The state has 211 Aldi stores, which is the most in the U.S. Florida is second, with 209.

So why does Illinois get so many Aldis? One reason may be that the company’s American headquarters are located in the Chicago suburb of Batavia.

Aldi still celebrates its German roots

karepa/Adobe friends in Bavarian costume celebrate on the river

German food lovers should keep an eye out for German Week, which happens twice a year — once in the spring and once in the fall.

German Week features plenty of amazing German food that you can use to stock your freezer or pantry. Check out foods such as schnitzel, soft pretzels, bratwurst, and more to satisfy your love for German food.

Aldi doesn’t have extra services

monticellllo/Adobe original Aldi plastic shopping bag and products

You may go to your local grocery store to fill prescriptions at its pharmacy, deposit checks at your local bank branch in the store, or get something to drink at the coffee shop inside.

But have you ever noticed that Aldi has none of these things? Instead, the retailer sticks to its philosophy of maintaining a small space and keeping costs low.

Bottom line

ViDi Studio/Adobe woman giving credit card to the cashier to pay

If you’re struggling financially, Aldi can be a great option to help you save money on groceries.

And remember to check your wallet for the best rewards credit cards so you can earn cash back or other perks when shopping at Aldi.

Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.