05/08/2014 11:41 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

14 Things You Didn't Know About Trader Joe's

Flickr/Mike Mozart

Trader Joe's is known for their huge selection of frozen food you can't find anywhere else, delicious snacks, and their willingness to hand out a sh*t-ton of free samples, even if you've already had 12 mini cups of coffee and are shaking from so much caffeine. But what do you actually know about this mysterious, seafaring, culinary, world explorer?

We're here to shed a little light on that Tiki-themed hero that is Trader Joe.


CREDIT: Wikipedia/Bobak Ha'eri

1. They weren't even called "Trader Joe's" at first

Joe Coulombe, a graduate of the Stanford Business School, founded the chain in 1958, when he decided to buy out a chain of Pronto Markets that he had helped to open. It took him until 1967 to rename them "Trader Joe's", and the first one was opened in Pasadena, CA.


CREDIT: Wikipedia

2. It's owned by a German supermarket conglomerate -- that also operates in the U.S.!

Aldi, which is short for Albrecht Discount, after its founders, Karl and Theo Albrecht, split in 1960 after a brotherly dispute. Aldi Nord, Theo's half, purchased Trader Joe's in 1979, but decided to keep on the old management, name, and mission statement. Karl's half also crossed the Atlantic, though, with Aldi stores in 32 U.S. states.

More: We made a sommelier taste all the Trader Joe's two-buck chuck


CREDIT: Flickr/Vera & Jean-Christophe

3. They were inspired by the same culture that created the Tiki bar

The first Trader Joe's Hawaiian shirt was donned in 1969, as a tribute to the burgeoning Tiki culture of that time period, which also brought about cocktails in coconuts and the credo of "leaving your problems at the door."


CREDIT: David Shankbone

4. That mysterious bell you hear? It's their version of a PA system.

The famous bell that employees use to get each other's attention was first used back in 1975, considered the heyday of bell-based communication. One ring means another register needs to be opened, two rings mean there are questions to be answered at the checkout, and three peals calls over a manager.

There's still 10 other things you didn't know about Trader Joe's on, including how their name is a guarantee, why beer geeks love them, and their incredible charitable streak!

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