Haagen-Dazs Insists It Owns All Fake Scandinavian Words
It's a well-known fact that imported stuff is always better than domestic. With that in mind, is it any surprise that Haagen-Dazs ice cream remains one of the most successful brands in your grocer's frozen department? With its Danish sophistication, European subtlety, and totally-badass-metal umlaut, it runs caramel swirls around domestic swill like Ben & Jerry's. Wait, no, never mind. Not only has Haagen-Dazs always been an American brand, but it turns out that "Haagen" and "Dazs" aren't even real Danish words (or real words in any language).
"Holbaek" and "Koge," however, are real Danish cities and are delicious.
In fact, it's so not-Scandinavian that the company was founded in the Bronx in 1959 by Polish immigrants Reuben and Rose Mattus when they put some random letters together to make a name that sounded vaguely Scandinavian to their ears. That no one lodged any complaints about their deliberate deception is amazing; that they tried to sue someone else for doing the exact same thing is mind-blowing.
It happened in 1980, when Richard Smith had the same idea they did and began selling his own domestic ice cream under the name "Frusen Gladje" -- which, shockingly enough, are real words ("frusen gladje" means "frozen joy" in Swedish). Haagen-Dazs, no doubt filled with rage that someone had had the presence of mind to pick up an English-Swedish dictionary, took them to court over the right to pretend to be Scandinavian.
Ah yes, the 34th Amendment.
No, really. The lawsuit alleged that Frusen Gladje had stolen several of their ideas, including (a) pretending to be European, (b) using a map of Scandinavia in their advertising, and (c) including serving directions on the package (seriously).