There are a number of companies that I’ve known my entire life, without realizing that it started here and not in the US. I knew that BMW, Mercedes, and Audi were all German companies. I was clear that Bayer (the pharmaceutical company) was from Germany. But there are a bunch of European names that surprised me.
Red Bull is an Austrian company. The tiny Smart car was a joint venture between Swatch and Mercedes. There are two that really surprised me, though.
Adidas and Puma: Adolph “Adi” Dassler and his brother, Rudolf “Rudi” Dassler founded Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik (the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) in the 1920s. They split in 1947, and Rudolf created a competing shoe company, called Ruda at first, and later renamed to Puma. In 1949, Adi renamed his company to Adidas.
I spent my high school years thinking that the name Adidas was an acronym for “All day I dream about sports,” but it’s really named for the founder. Adi Dassler. As a result, I’ve always mispronounced the name. I was pronouncing this ah-deed-ahs, but that’s wrong. The emphasis is on the first and third syllables, not the middle syllable: Ah-dee-das.
Haribo, the company that made the first Gummibärchen, or Gummy Bears, is from Bonn, Germany. I thought Haribo was a Japanese company, but it was founded in 1920 by Hans Riegel, Sr. The name of the company is a portmanteau: Hans Riegel, Bonn.
Are there any companies with origins that have surprised you?