The untold truth of Häagen-Dazs ice cream

Häagen-Dazs, the premium ice cream with the hard-to-spell name, was actually invented by a Polish immigrant. Why, then, does the name sound Danish, and what's up with the umlaut? According to the The New York Times, company founder Reuben Mattus got his start in the ice cream business with his widowed mother when the two would deliver their wares to neighborhood stores throughout the South Bronx by way of a horse-drawn cart. Well, this was the 1920s, after all, so this was more of a low-income necessity than a gimmick (though the return of horse-delivered ice cream might make a cute idea for today's market).

As for the pseudo-Danish name, Mattus was Jewish. When the time came for him to incorporate his ice cream company, it was after World War II, and he chose the name to honor the one European nation that really stood by its Jewish citizens (via Tablet). In fact, the earliest cartons also depicted a map of the Scandinavian nation, not only as an homage to the Danes, but also to give the impression that the product was European in origin rather than Bronx-based. As for the umlaut (a character unknown in the Danish language)? Now that was all about marketing, since Mattus thought it would make his product stand out in the market, which it did (as well as lending unanticipated metal cred when Häagen-Dazs was later joined by such superfluous umlaut users as Motörhead, Mötley Crüe, and Queensrÿche).

Häagen-Dazs is pretty punk rock

Not only does Häagen-Dazs have metal cred, but they're also the most punk rock of ice cream chains, all due to one shop in Washington, D.C. 's Georgetown neighborhood (which is still standing, if you're in the mood for a punk pilgrimage with tasty refreshments). As Far Out reports, Henry Rollins, later to be the frontman of Black Flag, not only scooped the rum raisin at this store back in the early '80s, but was even promoted to manager. Still, Rollins wasn't too thrilled with what he described as '"a little tiny life" that involved "a lot of standing on my feet... taking it from other people," so when the opportunity to ditch work for the day and audition for a lead singer gig with his favorite band came along... well, he couldn't put down that scoop fast enough, and the rest is punk rock history.

Rollins isn't the only punk icon to come out of that same Häagen-Dazs shop, however. One of his coworkers was Ian MacKaye, who'd go on to make DC hardcore history with the bands Minor Threat and Fugazi (both favorites of the teenaged Dave Grohl). As MacKaye later told radio station WAMU, when Rollins bailed on his fast food career in favor of musical fame, he didn't even give his former supervisor a heads up. While MacKaye undoubtedly had to put up with a less-cool boss for the remainder of his Häagen-Dazs tenure, he and Rollins have nonetheless remained friends for 40+ years.

Häagen-Dazs has a few famous (cheapskate) fans

While Häagen-Dazs may not have too many other celebrity ex-employees, they do have a few high-profile fans in rapper-turned-mogul Kanye West and his wife, the famous-for-being famous Kim Kardashian (her favorite flavor is Dulce de Leche). People gushed over a romantic pre-wedding visit Kimye paid to a Paris Häagen-Dazs, while Elle reveals that Kanye took Kim to a London Häagen-Dazs for ice cream to calm her down when she was overwrought by the news of her first pregnancy (the one with North).

A less charming side of the latter anecdote was brought to light by CafeMom: On that special occasion, Kim and Kanye basically did a dine and dash. Yes, that's right, they left without paying for their ice cream, despite being asked by the cashier to do so. According to a now-deleted tweet, the cashier explained: "I told Kayne to come to pay at the till and he told me 'we'll get these for free' I told him 'what? No' and they just left ..." Which, come on. Yes, those cones can be kind of pricey, but you'd think a couple of mega-millionaires could have at least have covered the cost, and maybe put a few bucks in the tip jar, too.

Häagen-Dazs brought boozy ice cream to the mainstream

Alcoholic ice cream isn't really all that new. A number of regional ice cream shops like Wisconsin's Purple Door and DC's Ice Cream Jubilee offer booze-infused creations, and New York's Tipsy Scoop spikes every single flavor they sell (via Thrillist). Even Ben & Jerry's had a flavor called Urban Bourbon, although CNBC notes that the alcohol in the bourbon was all cooked out of it, leaving the ice cream merely bourbon-flavored rather than truly infused.

Häagen Dazs' new(ish) Spirits line, introduced in 2019, brought boozy ice cream straight to the supermarket shelves. It's available in seven different flavors: Bourbon Praline Pecan, Bourbon Vanilla Bean Truffle, Irish Cream Brownie, Rose and Cream, Rum Tres Leches, Whiskey Hazelnut Latte, and a non-dairy Amaretto Black Cherry Almond Toffee, as well as a super-indulgent ice cream sandwich called the Irish Cream Cookie Square. While all of these ice creams do contain the spirits for which they were named, each pint has less than 0.5 percent alcohol per volume so you probably won't need to produce proof of age before you buy them.

Häagen-Dazs is helping save endangered bees

A number of years ago a film came out called Bee Movie which brought a bizarre, apocalyptic message about the End of (Plant) Life As We Know It without the labor of the humble bee. Since this movie was pretty much panned, nobody really paid attention, plus who expects to get important environmental messages from Jerry Seinfeld? Greta Thunberg, he ain't. It seems as if somebody at Häagen-Dazs must have been moved by the plight of the honey bee, though, since the company has launched its own Save the Bee campaign. Over the past decade, they've donated over a million bucks to bee-related education and research, and they've also installed the nation's largest (at 6-1/2 miles) year-round pollinator habitat on the farm of their almond supplier.

So why all the love for bees? It seems as if the endangered honeybee species is responsible for pollinating over one-third of all crops grown worldwide. Not only that, but more than one-third of Häagen-Dazs' flavors are fruit- or honey-based and thus bee-dependent, so yes, thank you, bees.