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10 Secrets You Never Knew About ALDI

There’s plenty to love about ALDI and a few things to question.

Whether you shop at the discount supermarket ALDI or not, you've probably wondered where it came from, what the name means and the secrets that make millions want to shop there. While formally you can trace the founding of the beloved ALDI grocery chain back to the year 1946, ALDI traces its roots back much farther than that. ALDI founders, brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht, were born in the early 1920s, but their life's work had been established for them in 1913, the year their mother opened a small shop in the German city of Essen.

The brothers entered the grocery business of the Albrecht family early on, and by the 1950s, Theo and Karl, still in their early 30s, were in the leadership position of a rapidly expanding company. ALDI's success in the middle of the 20th century came thanks to the same model it uses today: low prices, a tightly controlled inventory, minimal advertising or in-store decorations, and rapid response to customer demand. Here are some other secrets you may not have known about ALDI.

It had a much different name originally.

George Sheldon / Shutterstock

Once called Albrecht Diskont (the AL comes from the first letters of the family name, the DI from the German word for "discount"). The chain is spread across four continents and with thousands of stores worldwide.

There are two grocery chains called ALDI

Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud

Founded as a single discount grocery chain in Germany in 1946 as noted, in 1960 ALDI was split into two separate companies, Aldi Nord and Aldi Sud, meaning Aldi North and Aldi South, respectively. While both companies offer the same basic products, use similar logos and design schemes, and are almost indistinguishable from one another, they are separate entities. At present, anyway: according to the USDA, there are plans to re-merge the chains together.

ALDI owns Trader Joe's


To be more specific, Aldi Nord owns Trader Joe's, and it has since Theo Albrecht bought the California-founded grocery chain way back in 1979, which was a mere dozen years after the first TJ's had opened in Pasadena, CA, per Reader's Digest. So while Traders Joe's may seem to be a quintessentially American brand and while most stores have a local feel, its owners are far afield.

The best deals come on Wednesdays

aldi deli

According to Taste of Home, ALDI stores usually stock new products on Wednesdays, which means older products, especially those nearing expiration, are usually marked down by midweek. Produce also usually goes on sale at ALDI on Wednesdays.

Yes, there was horsemeat in many ALDI products


About a decade before the time of this writing, a scandal shook ALDI that might sound like something so farfetched as to be made up, but it wasn't. According to The Guardian, ALDI stores in the UK were found to be selling products that used meat that contained horsemeat in place of beef, and in some cases the meat was not a blend of the two but was 100% equine. The meat came from a French supplier that in turn blamed Eastern European producers, and numerous recalls were required, costing the chain millions.

"D" is for "Discontinued"

aldi price tag hints
matthewlesky / TikTok

If you see an ALDI product sign with a little letter "D" written on it, that product is soon going to disappear from ALDI shelves, per Honey Kitchen. So if you ever see a "D" added to the tag of a product you love, stock up.

Bread is marked down 5 days before expiration

bread section of grocery store
John Arehart / Shutterstock

According to Best Life, ALDI stores mark their bread (and some other baked goods) down a full five days before its expiration date. And usually, that discount is an entire 50% off. You can score great deals on this marked-down bread, which can be briefly baked for a fresh taste or can be frozen for many weeks, too.

There is a so-called "Aisle of Shame"

aldi aisle

Boasting Facebook communities, Instagram hashtags, Reddit threads, and more, the ALDI Aisle of Shame is actually a few dozen feet of shelf space, usually at the center of the store, dedicated to temporary and rotating inventory, much of it seasonal in nature, per Atlas Obscura. And yes, according to Mashed, aficionados of the Aisle of Shame (AKA the Aisle of Dreams) really do caw at each other like crows.

 The Most Popular Grocery Store Aisle Isn't What You Think, Says New Report

Returns are replaced AND refunded

grocery store register

If you didn't know about ALDI's "Twice as Nice Guarantee," you may be missing out big time. ALDI will not only accept a return of almost any item (alcohol and a few other products excepted) for up to 90 days, but they will both replace the unsatisfactory item and will refund your money. So yes, it's yours for free. (And please, let's not take advantage of the chain's goodwill!)

The quarter loan for the shopping cart is not about theft prevention

aldi cart

Many people think ALDI "charges" a quarter per shopping cart used to prevent people from stealing them, but really it's to encourage shoppers to return their carts, at which point the quarter is refunded. This policy saves the company money because it reduces the need for employees to spend their time corralling loose carts from the parking lot.

Steven John
Steven John is a freelancer writer for Eat This, Not That! based just outside New York City. Read more about Steven