Häagen-Dazs /ˌhɑːɡənˈdɑːs/ is an ice cream brand, established by Reuben and Rose Mattus in the Bronx, New York, in 1961. Starting with only three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and coffee, the company opened its first retail store in Brooklyn, New York, on November 15, 1976. The business now has franchises throughout the United States and many other countries around the world including the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, China and Brazil.
Häagen-Dazs ice cream holds the distinction of being a commercial ice cream brands not to use stabilizers such as guar gum, xanthan gum, or carrageenan. The company does however use corn syrup in many flavors, such as the Vanilla Swiss Almond. The company also produces ice cream bars, ice cream cakes, sorbet, frozen yogurt, and gelato.
Reuben Mattus invented the "Danish-sounding" "Häagen-Dazs" as a tribute to Denmark's exemplary treatment of its Jews during the Second World War, and included an outline map of Denmark on early labels. The name is not Danish, which has neither an umlaut ä (rather, the ligature æ is the corresponding counterpart) nor a digraph zs, nor did the name have any meaning in any language before its creation. Mattus felt that Denmark was known for its dairy products and had a positive image in the United States. His daughter Doris Hurley reported in the 1999 PBS documentary An Ice Cream Show that her father sat at the kitchen table for hours saying nonsensical words until he came up with a combination he liked. The reason he chose this method was so that the name would be unique and original.
In 1980, Häagen-Dazs unsuccessfully sued Frusen Glädjé, an American ice cream maker founded that year, for using similar foreign branding strategies. The phrase frusen glädje—without the acute accent—is Swedish for "frozen delight". In 1985, Frusen Glädjé was sold to Kraft General Foods. A Kraft spokeswoman stated that Kraft sold its Frusen Glädjé license to the Unilever corporation in 1993, but a spokesman for Unilever claimed that Frusen Glädjé was not part of the deal. The brand has since disappeared.
Häagen-Dazs ice cream comes in several traditional flavors as well as several esoteric flavors that are specific to the brand, such as Vanilla Swiss Almond and Bananas Foster. It is marketed as a "super-premium" brand: it is quite dense (very little air is mixed in during manufacture), uses no emulsifiers or stabilizers other than egg yolks, and has a high butterfat content. It is sold both in grocery stores and in dedicated retail outlets serving ice cream cones, sundaes, and so on.
Since 1992, most of the world's Häagen-Dazs products have been manufactured at a plant in Tilloy-lès-Mofflaines, France that is now controlled by General Mills. In the United States and Canada, Häagen-Dazs is licensed to and produced by Nestlé subsidiary Dreyer's. Häagen-Dazs entered the Japanese market in 1984 by forming a joint venture with Suntory and Takanashi Milk, which has produced their products there ever since.
To offset increasing costs of their ingredients and the delivery of the product, Häagen-Dazs announced that, in January 2009, it would be reducing the size of their ice cream cartons in the US from 16 US fl oz (470 ml) to 14 US fl oz (410 ml). In March 2009, they announced that they would be shrinking the 32 US fl oz (950 ml) container to 28 US fl oz (830 ml). In response, Ben & Jerry's said that they would not be changing the sizes of their cartons.
Häagen-Dazs's founder Reuben Mattus was born in Poland in 1912 to Jewish parents. His father died during the First World War, and his widowed mother emigrated to New York City with her two children in 1921. They joined an uncle who was in the Italian lemon-ice business in Brooklyn. By the late 1920s, the family began making ice pops, and by 1929, chocolate-covered ice cream bars and sandwiches under the name Senator Frozen Products on Southern Boulevard in the South Bronx, delivering them with a horse-drawn wagon to neighborhood stores in the Bronx.
The Senator Frozen Products company was profitable, but by the 1950s the large mass-producers of ice cream started a price, leading to his decision to make a heavy kind of high-end ice cream. In 1959, he decided to form a new ice cream company with what he thought to be a Danish-sounding name, Häagen-Dazs, a move known in the marketing industry as foreign branding.
The Pillsbury Company bought Häagen-Dazs in 1983. In 1999, Pillsbury and Nestlé merged their U.S. and Canada ice cream operations into a joint venture called Ice Cream Partners. General Mills, in turn, bought Pillsbury in 2001 and succeeded to its interest in the joint venture. That same year, Nestlé exercised its contractual right to buy out General Mills' interest in Ice Cream Partners, which included the right to a 99-year license for the Häagen-Dazs brand. Since then, pursuant to that license, the Dreyer's subsidiary of Nestlé has produced and marketed Häagen-Dazs products in the United States and Canada.