Aldi is a recognisable brand in countries all around the world. The discount supermarket chain operates stores throughout Europe, the United States, China and Australia.
We love Aldi for its special buy sales, which bring us affordable housework minions and very important furniture for our dogs. But when we’re browsing the wine aisle for that $6.99 award-winning shiraz, take a moment to reflect on the supermarket’s utterly fascinating back-story that includes a brazen 1971 kidnapping labelled one of the most spectacular crimes of post-war Germany.
The discount supermarket brand was founded by German brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946 when they took over their mother’s small grocery shop in Essen.
In 1960 the brothers split the company in two – reportedly over an argument about whether to sell cigarettes or not – and agreed not to encroach on each other’s turf.
The supermarket divided into two legally separate operating units - Aldi Nord and Aldi Süd. Theo ran the Aldi Nord stores in Germany's north, and Karl the Aldi Süd stores in the south. Between the brother's home town of Essen is what's known as the "Aldi equator", separating the brothers territory.
And the divide has extended beyond just Germany: Aldi Nord operates in much of Europe, while Aldi Süd Ireland and the UK, China and Australia.
There are more than 11,000 Aldi stores worldwide and Karl and Theo were the two of the richest men in the world before their deaths - though they certainly didn't flash their cash.
In fact, to this day, the families of the Albrecht brothers try to avoid publicity and showing off their wealth.
It's not just to keep up an appearance: The family made a decision to never seek the limelight after Theo was kidnapped in 1971 and held for ransom for 17 days inside a wardrobe in Düsseldorf.
He was held at gunpoint by Heinz-Joachim Ollenburg, a lawyer, and his accomplice Paul Kron - then already a convicted burglar nicknamed Diamond Paul.