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Häagen-Dazs Sounds Fancy, But What Does It Really Mean?

With premium flavors like White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle and Vanilla Swiss Almond, not to mention a brand logo that looks like a royal crest and a name that practically melts in your mouth, Häagen-Dazs has all the qualities of a storied European company. Perhaps it began in a quaint Danish village, from a recipe passed down through the Häagen family. Or perhaps Häagen-Dazs translates to something decadent, like “Delicious Memory” or “Pint of Happiness.” Maybe it’s Danish for “Screw Your Diet.”

Nope, nope, nope, and nope.

Turns out, the official ice cream of binge-watching Netflix on the couch began not in an Alpine village but in the Bronx. And that fancy name with the umlaut dangling over it? Completely meaningless.

The real story behind Häagen-Dazs is about good old-fashioned American determination and marketing. The founder, Reuben Mattus, immigrated to the U.S. from Belarus as a child in 1921 along with his mother, Lea, and sister. After settling in Brooklyn, Reuben and Lea went to work for her brother, who owned an Italian ice company. Each day, the two would squeeze lemons to make the ices, then peddle them around the neighborhood using a horse-pulled wagon. This was back in the days before refrigeration, so the ice had to be shaved by hand from huge blocks that had been shipped in during the wintertime from Lake Michigan. Despite the labor-intensive process, mother and son prospered, and by 1929 Lea had saved up enough money to open her own company, Senator Frozen Products. Reuben went to work for Senator in the Bronx, selling ice pops, ice cream bars, and ice cream sandwiches, and for more than two decades, he helped the company turn a tidy profit year after year. In 1936, he got married and bought into the family business.

Following World War II, more people began shopping at grocery stores, where large ice cream makers dominated the freezer cases. This didn’t bode well for small outfits like Senator. Mattus knew that the company, which primarily sold to candy stores and luncheonettes, couldn’t compete with the big guys on price, and he wasn’t confident it could compete on quality, either. For years, he’d been pushing his mother to upgrade Senator’s ice cream to a more premium formula—one that had less air and more butterfat. And for years, Lea had turned him down, arguing that the family needed to stick to what it did best.

Frustrated, Mattus—whose expertise was more on the sales and marketing side of the business—began researching ice cream making on his own.

“The first thing I told my mother was to fire our ice cream maker,” Mattus told writer Joan Nathan.

By the 1950s, Senator had taken enough of a beating in the marketplace that Lea relented, allowing Mattus to develop a premium brand he called Ciro’s. It was the first Senator product to enter the supermarket arena, and for two years it sold quite well—so well, in fact, that it got the attention of the big manufacturers, who attempted to squeeze it off the shelves.

“When the large companies found out I was infringing on them, they almost put me out of business,” Mattus told The New York Times in 1983. “It was a question of my finding some niche in the business and not getting in any conflicts with them.”

That niche, Mattus felt, was a super-premium ice cream that would offer more flavor for more money. Where other manufacturers were focused on cheapness and efficiency, he would go upscale. It was a risky idea, but Mattus was confident that people would pay more for a better-tasting treat. For a while, Mattus worked on his recipe, honing the texture and the flavor until he got it just right. He bought all new equipment and prepared to start his own company with his wife, Rose, who worked as a bookkeeper for Senator, as his business partner.

As a marketing man, though, Mattus knew that success would take more than just hard work and great tasting ice cream. His new brand needed to have cachet—that air of exclusivity that would elevate it above its roots as a small, striving company from the Bronx.

Or, to put it another way: “The number one thing was to get a foreign sounding name,” Mattus told Nathan.

In a PBS documentary from 1999, Mattus’s daughter Doris recalled her father sitting at the kitchen table late one night pronouncing various made-up names, trying to come up with one that sounded right. Mattus himself would say he wanted the name to sound Danish, since it seemed fancy, and because he wanted to acknowledge Denmark for its kindness toward the Jews during World War II. The title he eventually settled on, Häagen-Dazs, was essentially gibberish—the Danish language doesn’t even use an umlaut over the letter a. But what did that matter to the American ice cream consumer? Mattus forged ahead with the idea, even printing maps of Scandinavia on the first tubs. In 1959 he and Rose established their company, and in 1961, Häagen-Dazs hit stores with three flavors: chocolate, vanilla and coffee. Mattus’s premium ingredients were key: the chocolate came from Belgium, the vanilla from Madagascar, and the coffee from Colombia. Where other brands typically sold for around 50 cents a pint, Häagen-Dazs sold for 75.

The gamble paid off. By the 1970s, pints of Häagen-Dazs were in supermarkets and convenience stores across the country. In 1976, Doris took charge of the first branded ice cream shop, starting a chain of openings that has led to more than 900 stores in 50 different countries. The little company from the Bronx had entered the big, complex world of global food: In 1983, Pillsbury bought Häagen-Dazs, and in 2001 General Mills absorbed Pillsbury, then sold North American licensing rights for the ice cream brand to Nestlé. Today, it’s one of the best-selling ice cream brands in the world.

Interestingly, Häagen-Dazs’s success has spawned other fancy-sounding brands over the years. There was Alpen Zauber (“Alpine Magic,” in German), which touted a “Swiss commitment to excellence” despite being made in Brooklyn, and Früsen Gladjé (Swedish for “Frozen Delight”), which cultivated an over-the-top luxury image, with marketing materials calling it “the ice cream that appeals to the sybaritic buyer with a taste for the very finest” (it was manufactured in Utica, New York).

What’s in a name, after all? Not much, judging by the fact that nonsensical Häagen-Dazs is still on shelves while its imitators have been relegated to old news stories and Wikipedia. Rather, the success of the company Reuben Mattus started more than 50 years ago seems to stem from a continued focus on sourcing premium ingredients and leaving out all the fake stuff. Even though it's owned by the same company that makes Trix cereal and Totino’s pizza rolls, Häagen-Dazs still abstains from using artificial flavors, preservatives, or stabilizers.

So while the name might not technically mean anything, it's certainly recognizable. And as Mattus (who passed away in 1994) so correctly predicted, that's really all that matters.

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30 Memorable Quotes from Carrie Fisher
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Just days after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight en route to Los Angeles, beloved actress, author, and screenwriter Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60 on December 27, 2016. Though she’ll always be most closely associated with her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, Fisher’s life was like something out of its own Hollywood movie. Born in Beverly Hills on this day in 1956, Fisher was born into show business royalty as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds.

In addition to her work in front of the camera, Fisher built up an impressive resume behind the scenes, too, most notably as a writer; in addition to several memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels, including Wishful Drinking, Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful, Postcards from the Edge, and The Princess Diarist (which was released last month), she was also an in-demand script doctor who counted Sister Act, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer among her credits.

Though she struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness, Fisher always maintained a sense of humor—as evidenced by the 30 memorable quotes below.

ON GROWING UP IN HOLLYWOOD

“I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.”

“I was born into big celebrity. It could only diminish.”

“At a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

“I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive.”

“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That's my word for it.”

ON AGING

“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don't.”

ON INSTANT GRATIFICATION

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

ON THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS

“People are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big of a hit. Yes, we all knew. The only one who didn't know was George.”

“Leia follows me like a vague smell.”

“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to send Lucas a couple of bucks.”

“People see me and they squeal like tropical birds or seals stranded on the beach.”

“You're not really famous until you’re a Pez dispenser.”

ON THE FLEETING NATURE OF SUCCESS

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

ON DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

“I'm very sane about how crazy I am.”

ON RESENTMENT

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

ON LOVE

“Someone has to stand still for you to love them. My choices are always on the run.”

“I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience, and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.”

“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed or it should have a capital and its own currency.”

ON EMOTIONS

“The only thing worse than being hurt is everyone knowing that you're hurt.”

ON RELATIONSHIPS

“I envy people who have the capacity to sit with another human being and find them endlessly interesting, I would rather watch TV. Of course this becomes eventually known to the other person.”

ON HOLLYWOOD

“Acting engenders and harbors qualities that are best left way behind in adolescence.”

“You can't find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.”

“It's a man's world and show business is a man's meal, with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.”

ON FEAR

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

ON LIFE

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”

“No motive is pure. No one is good or bad-but a hearty mix of both. And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away.”

“If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”

“I shot through my twenties like a luminous thread through a dark needle, blazing toward my destination: Nowhere.”

“My life is like a lone, forgotten Q-Tip in the second-to-last drawer.”

ON DEATH

“You know what's funny about death? I mean other than absolutely nothing at all? You'd think we could remember finding out we weren't immortal. Sometimes I see children sobbing at airports and I think, 'Aww. They've just been told.'”

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Get This Weekend's Best Amazon Deals Now
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As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, October 21.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

GADGETS, TOYS, AND MEDIA

LBell Wireless Headphones V4.1 Wireless Stereo earbuds Built-in CVC6.0 Noise Cancellation Stereo Bluetooth Headphones with Mic and Apt-x for iPhone and Android Phones (White) for $22.99 (list price $76.99)

Cord Organizer, Earbud Holder, Leather Cord Organizer, Leather Cable Holder, Earphone Holder, Cable Organizer, Genuine Leather Cord Organizer (3 in 1 Packaging) SPECIAL OFFER for $6.99 (list price $19.99)

VicTsing Bluetooth FM Transmitter, Wireless In-Car Radio Transmitter Adapter /w USB Car Charger AUX Input 1.44 Inch Display TF Card Slot - Black for $18.99 (list price $39.99)

[Upgraded to 6700mAh] Anker Astro E1 Candy-Bar Sized Ultra Compact Portable Charger, External Battery Power Bank, with High-Speed Charging PowerIQ Technology (Black) for $16.99 (list price $59.99)

iphone Cable, Pecosso Lightning Cable : 3 Pack (10ft/6ft/3ft) Lightning to USB Fast Charging Cable, Nylon Braided Sync Cord Combination for iPhone 7/7plus/6s/6s plus/6/5s/iPad/iPod/Beats Pill - Black for $6.49 (list price $11.10)

iClever Quiet 7 Color Backlit Rechargeable Portable Bluetooth Keyboard for PCs, Tablets, Smartphones for $21.99 (list price $39.99)

Walcase Apple Watch Band 42mm, Fully Magnetic Closure Clasp Mesh Loop Milanese Stainless Steel iWatch Band for Apple Watch Series 3 Series 2 Series 1 Sport and Edition - Black for $11.99 (list price $32.99)

Jackery Giant+ Premium 12000mAh Dual USB Portable Battery Charger & External Battery Pack, Power Bank (Total 3.1A Output) for iPhone (e.g. iPhone 8 / 7 / 6), Samsung, and Other Smart Devices (Black) for $26.99 (list price $69.99)

iPhone 8, 7, 6S, 6 Screen Protector Glass, amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector for Apple iPhone 8, 7, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6 [4.7"inch] 2017 2016, 2015 (2-Pack) for $6.99 (list price $29.99)

Energizer AA Batteries, Double A Battery Max Alkaline (24 Count) E91BP-24 for $13.99 (list price $28.61)

KITCHEN

ThermoPro TP03A Digital Food Cooking Thermometer Instant Read Meat Thermometer for Kitchen BBQ Grill Smoker for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

Miusco 5 Piece Silicone Cooking Utensil Set with Natural Acacia Hard Wood Handle for $20.99 (list price $49.99)

Utopia Kitchen Premium Class Stainless-Steel 12 Knife Set with Acrylic Stand for $35.69 (list price $299.99)

[20 Pack] 3 Compartment Meal Prep Containers BPA Free Portion Control Bento Boxes (39 Oz.) for $17.99 (list price $39.99)

Rubbermaid LunchBox Sandwich Kit, Food Storage Container, Green for $6.79 (list price $39.00)

Spiral Slicer Spiralizer Complete Bundle - Vegetable Spiralizer and Cutter - Zucchini Pasta Noodle Spaghetti Maker for $14.84 (list price $39.99)

Pre Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet (12.5 inch) by Utopia Kitchen for $30.99 (list price $99.99)

Cuisinart CTG-00-3MS Set of 3 Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainers for $19.90 (list price $22.00)

Vremi 5 Piece Cheese Grater Set with Container - Microplane Zester Parmesan Cheese Shredder Vegetable Slicer Cheese Graters - Fine and Coarse Metal Hand Cheese Grater Adjustable Hard Cheese Slicer for $8.99 (list price $34.99)

ROCKSHEAT Pizza Stone Made of Cordierite for Pizza & Bread Baking Grilling. Perfect for Oven or Grill. Innovative Unique Double - faced Built - in 4 Handles Design (Rectangular 12"x15"x0.63") for $23.99 (list price $60.00)

Home-it Stainless Steel Bread Box for kitchen, bread bin, bread storage Bread holder 16.5x10x8 for $19.99 (list price $49.99)

Set of 9 Grey Beverage Chilling Stones [Chill Rocks] Whiskey Stones for Whiskey and other Beverages - in Gift Box with Velvet Carrying Pouch - Made of 100% Pure Soapstone - by Quiseen for $7.95 (list price $18.99)

HOME

TasteLife 105 GSM Deep Pocket Bed Sheet Set Brushed Hypoallergenic Microfiber 1800 Bedding Sheets Wrinkle, Fade, Stain Resistant - 4 Piece(White,Queen) for $14.90 (list price $119.90)

Zober Premium Quality Space Saving Velvet Hangers Strong and Durable Hold Up To 10 Lbs - 360 Degree Chrome Swivel Hook - Ultra Thin Non Slip Suit Hangers, Black - 50 pack for $22.95 (list price $39.99)

Cr Sleep Ventilated Memory Foam Bed Pillow with AirCell Technology, Standard, 1-Pack for $25.49 (list price $89.99)

StorageManiac Foldable Pop-Up Mesh Laundry Hamper with Reinforced Carry Handles, 2-Pack for $16.99 (list price $39.99)

Monkey Hook Picture Hanger Home and Office Pack, 30 pc set for $11.24 (list price $19.75)

Syntus Himalayan Salt Lamp Natural Crystal Salt Light Glow Hand Carved Night Lights Wall light with UL Listed Plug for Lighting, Decoration and Air Purifying for $12.99 (list price $21.99)

LED String Lights 33 ft with 100 LEDs, TaoTronics Waterproof Decorative Lights for Bedroom, Patio, Parties ( Copper Wire Lights, Warm White ) for $14.49 (list price $29.99)

Whitmor Supreme Wide Stacking Shelf, Chrome for $15.35 (list price $32.02)

Hoover FH50251PC Power Scrub Elite Pet Carpet Cleaner for $169.99 (list price $189.00)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Activated Charcoal Natural Teeth Whitening Powder by Pro Teeth Whitening Co® | High Quality Grey Charcoal (non abrasive and proven safe for enamel) From Coconut Shells | Manufactured in England for $12.99 (list price $29.99)

TheraFlow Dual Foot Massager Roller (Large) - Relieve Plantar Fasciitis, Heel, Foot Arch Pain & Stress - Foot Chart & Instructions Included - Acupressure/ Reflexology Tool - Perfect Gift for $16.95 (list price $49.99)

Apple Cider Vinegar - Pills for Weight Loss - Includes: Vitamin B6, Spirulina, Lecithin & Kelp - Helps Support Detox, Digestion & Circulation, 350 mg, 90 Capsules for $18.92 (list price $28.59)

B.I.G. Natural Pre Shave Oil, 60 ml for $12.95 (list price $25.00)

Pure Body Naturals Essential Oils Gift Set, Lavender/Tea Tree/Eucalyptus/Lemongrass/Orange/Peppermint, 6 count - 10 ml for $14.95 (list price $17.95)

Colgate Max Fresh Wisp Disposable Travel Toothbrush, Peppermint - 24 Count for $4.99 (list price $7.99)

Nano Towel Makeup Remover Face Cloth. Remove Cosmetics FAST and Chemical Free. Wipes Away Facial Dirt and Oil Like An Eraser. Great for Sensitive Skin, Acne, Exfoliating, Mascara, etc. 7 x 16" for $14.97 (list price $29.99)

CCS Blackhead Remover Pimple Extractor with Instructions for Acne Comedone Whitehead Blemish Zit Removal Tool Kit for $6.97 (list price $49.97)

Oneleaf 2PCS Professional Pedicure Rasp Foot File Cracked Skin Corns Callus Remover for Extra Smooth and Beauty Foot for $9.99 (list price $19.99)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Wilson Championship Extra Duty Tennis Ball (4-Pack), Yellow for $15.16 (list price $20.18)

Anker Ultra-Bright Tactical Flashlight with 1300 Lumens, Rechargeable(26650 Battery Included), IP67 Water-Resistant, Bolder LC130 LED with 5 Light Modes For Camping, Security, Emergency Use for $45.99 (list price $112.00)

Enkeeo Foldable Fishing Net Triangular Landing Net with Aluminum Pole and Nylon Mesh, 14.6" Wide for $19.99 (list price $39.99)

G4Free 12x25 Compact Binoculars(BAK4,Green Lens),Large Eyepiece Super High-Powered Field Surveillance Binoculars for $24.99 (list price $39.99)

Stansport Canteen, 4-Quart for $7.97 (list price $10.49)

HEIMDALL Safety Whistle with lanyard (2 pack) for Boating Camping Hiking Hunting Emergency Survival Rescue Signaling for $8.95 (list price $10.99)

Veegul Stylish Doctor Style Canvas School Backpack Functional Travel Bag for Men Women Semizipper Pocket x Black VG for $39.99 (list price $74.50)

Enkeeo Foam Roller 13” × 6” EVA with Grid Design Muscle Rollers for Deep Tissue Myofascial Release, Sports Massage and Recovery, Trigger Point Therapy, Pilates & Yoga, Black for $16.99 (list price $29.99)

TOOLS

Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover #TBR-6 for $9.15 (list price $14.33)

Gorilla 7700104 Super Glue Gel, 20g for $5.97 (list price $14.89)

Worthington 336737 WT2301 Trigger Start Propane Torch for $16.97 (list price $19.99)

Bosch T4021 Screwdriver Bit Set, Blue, 21-Piece for $8.17 (list price $14.99)

DEWALT DW1361 Titanium Pilot Point Drill Bit Set, 21-Piece for $19.99 (list price $25.99)

Tire Inflator, 3-in-1 Inflation Gun, with Gun, Locking Chuck and 2-inch Gauge, ¼” NPT and Flexible Hose (Campbell Hausfeld MP600000AV) for $9.94 (list price $13.49)

Stanley 84-056 3-Piece Bi-Material Pliers Set for $13.18 (list price $18.29)

Stanley 55-525 15-inch Super Wonder Bar Pry Bar for $9.89 (list price $13.29)

Picture Hanging Kit Asst for $9.99 (list price $12.99)

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