I didn’t know that was German!

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?

13 thoughts on “I didn’t know that was German!

  1. The Dassler story definitely surprised me too. Even more so when I learned that both companies are still based in little Herzogenaurach to this day. I have visions of the brothers spying on each other around town in the 1950s, standing at windows with binoculars, wearing funny mustaches/trench coats, etc.

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    1. Speaking of childhood foods, I just learned that Capri-Sun is actually from a German company! Wild (Rudolf Wild GmbH & Co. KG) introduced Capri Sonne in Germany in 1969, and they were introduced to the US as Capri-Sun in 1981!

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    1. I always research the hell out of the things that I post, and then promptly forget all of it. When I get back to the States, I’m totally gonna re-read everything to see where I’ve been. 😀

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  2. I guess the Smart cars make sense – they kinda look like Swatch watches! And your Adidas ‘meaning’ is much more pure than our one over the pond!

    I had a Japanese boyfriend once who phoned me at (I kid you not) 2am or something because he’d found that 7/11 wasn’t, as he thought, Japanese, but American. He wasn’t happy when I replied “well, duhhh”

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