30 Companies We All Thought Were American But Aren’t

By Carole 8 months ago

1. 7 - Eleven

Image source: Sorbis
7-Eleven is all-American and famous for its Big Gulp drinks and its Slurpees.  Wrong - it's actually Japanese!  This chain of convenience stores was founded in Texas back in 1927.  It was purchased in 1991 by Tokyo based company Seven & I Holdings for the sum of $1 billion.

2. G E Appliances

Image source: Scott Olson
Surely G E Appliances must be American through and through. It is one of America's most recognised makers of refrigerators, dishwashers and other household electrical items. Well, it was snapped up for the tidy sum of $5.4 billion by the Chinese white goods organisation Haier in 2016.

3. Burger King

Image source: Scott Olson
Burger King was founded in 1953 and the first fast food store was in Florida. It was one of the best things to come out of America if you were a lover of burgers!  It was acquired by a British company in 1989 and then changed hands again.  It is currently owned by Canada's Restaurant Brands International.

4. Trader Joe's

Image source: Richard B Levine
Joe Coulombe was at the helm of this chain of eco-friendly supermarkets. He established the business in 1967 in Pasedena, California. You will be surprised to learn that the family of Aldi's German owner, Theo Albrecht, are in possession of it now. They purchased it in 1979. Well, who would have thought!

5. American Apparel

Image source: Mark Ralston
American Apparel - maybe it should change its name bearing in mind the current owner.  The Californian hip clothing company used to manufacture its stock in its American factories but went bankrupt in 2015.  That's where Canadian Gildan stepped up and bought it.  Production is now mainly outsourced to Honduras.

6. Smithfield

Image source: Reuters
I used to love Smithfield's products when I was younger.  They are, or should I say they were, America's best known pork producer, boasting brands such as Cook.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out that the world's leading pork producer, based in China, namely the Shuanghui Group, added it to their assets in 2013.  They paid $4.7 billion for it!

7. Sunglass Hut

Image source: Porto
By the 1980s, Sunglass Hut was established as America's leading sunglasses store.  It has come a long way from when it was founded by optometrist Sanford L Ziff in 1971.  The first store was in Miami.  Fast forward to 2001 when it was brought up by the Italian Luxottica Group with its headquarters in Milan.  It cost them $653 million to obtain ownership.

8. Ben & Jerry's

Image source: Lev Radin
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield invented the much loved ice cream company in Vermont in 1978. It became a household name and the multitude of flavors had something for everyone. Shock, horror - Ben & Jerry's passed to Unilever (British/Dutch) in 2000 for $326 million.

9. Holiday Inn

Image source: Leisureway
Holiday Inn started out as a budget hotel chain established in 1952. It was so called after the Christmas movie of the same name.  It was American owned for 36 years and then acquired by the British brewery Bass. The name was changed to the Intercontinental Hotels Group.

10. Hoover Us

Image source: Lev Radin
Hoover is as American as you can get, the same as apple pie! Every home had a hoover back in the day. Few people are aware that the U.S. division was sold in 2007 to the Hong Kong based investment company Techtronic Industries for the sum of $108 million.  Bargain!

11. Motorola Mobility

Image source: Paul Zimmerman
Motorola has a proud history. It dates back to 1928 when brothers Joseph and Paul Galvin introduced the world to the first car radio. Their company then invented the walkie talkie and mobile phone. The organisation was split into two separate divisions in 2011, the Mobility arm being sold to China's Lenovo in 2014 for $2.9 billion.

12. AMC Theaters

Image source: Miosotis Jade
AMC Theaters started out as a North American organisation but decided to sell out in 2012.  Their best offer came from Dalian Wanda, the Chinese conglomerate run by the country's richest man Wang Jianlin, this Chinese group paid $2.6 billion in 2012 and to date controls 5,048 cinema screens in the U.S. and Canada.

13. Ironman

Image source: Adam Hodges
Dalian Wanda was at it again in 2015!  The organisation purchased the World Triathlon Corporation from American owned Providence Equity Partners LLC.  The cost was a cool $900 and they now own the brand plus the licences to events throughout the world.  They are certainly taking over!

14. Legendary Entertainment Group

Image source: Robert Beck
Continuing with the shopping spree and with loads more money to splash out, Dalian Wanda added an American movie studio to its impressive portfolio in 2016. The Chinese conglomerate parted with a mere $3.5 billion to complete take over of the Legendary Entertainment Group.

15. Forbes Magazine

Image source: Dennisz
Forbes Magazine screams out "America."  There's no doubt about its heritage.  Don't put a bet on it or you'll lose! The US business publisher went under the hammer in 2014 and the lucky winner went to Hong Kong's Integrated Whale Media Investments, the amount not being disclosed.

16. Budweiser

Image source: OneInchPunch
In 1879 Eberhard Anheuser and his son-in-law Adolphus Busch founded a company in St Louis that made Budweiser. There was no way it was going to leave American hands.  That was until 2008 when it merged with Belgium brewing giant InBev. The deal was worth a nifty $52 billion.

17. Dirt Devil

Image source: Dirt Devil
Dirt Devils are a brand you can trust!  This U.S. manufacturer of vacuums started in 1905 and appeared to be as American as they come!  The parent company Royal Appliances Manufacturing Company was bought in 2002 by Hong Kong's Techtronic Industries at a cost of $105.5 million.

18. Good Humor

Image source: Leonard Zuck
In the early 1920s, Harry Burt of Ohio came up with a chocolate coated ice cream bar on a stick.  He named it the Good Humor bar and it was sold on ice cream trucks.  At one time in the 1950s there were over 2000 trucks in operation.  Lipton in the UK purchased the company in 1961 and it was then acquired by Unilever, the British/Dutch organisation.

19. Popsicle

Image source: Reddit
In Oakland, California in 1905, 11 year old Frank Epperson mixed a powdered flavoring with water to create a soft drink. He left the mixing stick in it by mistake when he put it in his porch overnight. As the temperature dropped, the liquid froze and Popsicle began its life. Unilever took ownership for an undisclosed sum.

20. IBM PC Division

Image source: STR
Trailblazing IBM totally revolutionised the home computer market in America, following the launch in 1981 of its first model. When the company's PC operation starting dipping drastically, Beijing based Lenovo put in a successful bid of $1,25 billion and they turned the brand around.

21. Purina

Image source: Reddit
This well known pet food firm which included Felix started out in the late 1800s when it made feed for livestock.  It was founded by American William H Danforth and was then sold to British Petroleum. Swiss giant Nestle then purchased it, adding more items to the brand.

22. Citgo

Image source: Jonathan Weiss
Citgo was founded by Ohio oilman Henry Latham Doherty in the early 20th century.  It became one of America's most successful oil companies. In 1990 the company was sold to the Venezuelan state oil and gas corporation in 1990. Crisis hit Venezuela put up Citgo as collateral for a debit it had with Russia and it then became Russian owned.

23. Firestone

Image source: Hickmann
This American tyre company, established in 1901, was the brainchild of Harvey Firestone.  He pioneered mass production of car tyres and this was a massive step forward during these times. Firestone was a close friend of Henry Ford and supplied tyres for Ford vehicles. The firm was sold to Tokyo's Bridgestone Corporation in 1988.  The amount paid is not known.

24. Gerber

Image source: Mario Tama
Daniel Frank Gerber founded the baby food brand in 1927 and named it after himself. It really took off as one of the first tinned toddler foods of its time. The company merged with Sandoz Laboratories in 1994 and, like Purina, was later acquired by Nestlé of Switzerland.

25. Frigidaire

Image source: Scott Olson
Frigidaire developed the world's very first self contained refrigerator in 1918 at its factory in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was certainly the big player in the upcoming air conditioning market. Owned for many years by General Motors, it landed in the hands of Sweden's Electrolux in 1986.

26. Waldorf Astoria

Image source: Tupungato
The Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City is synonymous with Big Apple glamor and glitz. It was acquired for the huge sum of $1.95 billion in 2014 by Angbang Insurance Group of China.  It was renovated to convert some of the hotel rooms into luxurious condos.

27. Strategic Hotels & Resorts

Image source: Lev Radin
Angbang increased its American presence by acquiring the stunning U.S. Strategic Hotels & Resorts for the huge price tag of $6 billion. The American company, sold by investment company Blackstone, boasts a great portfolio with the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons hotels.

28. Ingram Micro

Image source: Jonathan Weiss
Ingram Micro is the biggest technology product wholesaler in the world and the top player in the global IT industry.  It was founded in 1978 in Nashville, Tennessee and the firm was actually still American owned until a few years ago when it was finally passed on to China's HNA Group, acquired for $6 billion.

29. John Hancock Life Insurance

Image source: New York Times
The oldest firm on our American list has to be the John Hancock Life Insurance Company which was established by its namesake back in 1862.  It remained wholly American controlled but that changed in 2004 when it was purchased by Canadian insurer Manulife Financial Corporation.

30. Hellman's

Image source: Paul Zimmerman
Unilever gathers companies like candy and it set its sights on Hellman's.  The mayo brand originated when German immigrant Richard Hellman introduced America to the condiment which was his wife's recipe.  That was in 1913.  Best Foods took ownership in 1932 and Unilever snapped up Best Foods in 2000.

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