Supermarket Smackdown – Aldi America vs. Aldi Germany

Thrifty Travel Mama | How Does Aldi USA Compare to Aldi Germany?I’m sure you’ve already gathered from my posts through the years that grocery shopping in Germany is not at all what it is in America. But, the two places do have one thing in common – they both have Aldi!

Which Aldi is better, east or west of the Atlantic? Could I get the same products on both continents?

And, if I could indulge in my favorite German treats every now and again, would this reverse culture shock beast be just a bit more manageable?

German Aldi

Do you have a default grocery store where you can be found nearly every week?

While living in Freiburg, Aldi was my jam. I couldn’t stay away. Their prices were just amazing, and we eventually came to love many of the off-brand products sold at ALDI SÜD.

When we returned to the US in 2014, I wondered what American Aldi would be like. Would they stock the best-tasting pretzel sticks, delicious organic yogurt, and balsamic vinegar from Italy?

Now, I did shop at Aldi a little bit in 2010 when the chain first came to Orlando. Confession: I didn’t like it one bit. In fact, I kind of hated it.

The store seemed a bit trashy, dirty, and the products of low quality. Truthfully, it was this first impression that made me hesitant to shop at German Aldi when we moved to Deutschland.

I soon came around though – German Aldi is awesome!

Thrifty Travel Mama | How Does Aldi USA Compare to Aldi Germany?

An Aldi store in Freiburg – no American Aldi is this cute.

American Aldi

Fast forward to the fall of 2014 when we arrived back in Orlando. Nerdy as we are – and more than slightly terrified of Walmart, we rounded the kids up and drove down to the neighborhood Aldi to check out the scene.

In the car, everyone shared their hopes of what might be on offer – chocolate, muesli, flips, pretzel sticks, flavored peanuts. We all had the jitters. A certain someone even dressed up for the occasion (search the photos for a clue..).

I’m certain we are the only people to have ever darkened Aldi’s door with that much excitement.

Stepping out of the car, we first noticed that the lack of carts in the parking lot. Yes! Grab your quarters boys and girls, because otherwise you’ll find yourself without a shopping cart. Since this is standard in German supermarketsno free carts there and no exhausted teenage employees corralling them – we felt instantly at home (seriously, nerds).

Quarters in our fists, we raced to the entrance. First shock: the tiled floor had to have been bought by the truckful at rock bottom prices because it was just. that. ugly. The décor didn’t invite me to relax and part with my entire paycheck (apparently Aldi needs to take a cue from her cousin Trader Joe’s). The store seemed almost deserted save one or two uniformed employees.

Things were not looking good.

I prepared myself for disappointment, but then a mere three feet later I spotted it… Moser Roth chocolate! Could it be? The very same bars I used to buy in Germany? No way – impossible! But yes, the brown bar had indeed crossed the ocean just to be gobbled up yours truly.

Thrifty Travel Mama | How Does Aldi USA Compare to Aldi Germany?

 

Further on down the aisle, our kids found their favorite muesli – made in Germany! – that just so happened to be about the same price as it was at “home.”

Ohhh, things were certainly looking up. Dare I hope for even more delights?

Every few meters, we found treasures. Mustard made in Germany. Peanut butter flips – those crunchy puffs of nutty goodness that are like Cheetos but with savory peanut butter instead of cheese.Thrifty Travel Mama | How Does Aldi USA Compare to Aldi Germany?

But there, in the middle of the store, lay the most thrilling find of all… Weihnachten (Christmas) treats! Nearly every standard sugary German Christmas delight waited patiently, calling my name, begging to be bought.

At the end of the display, I spotted our family’s absolute favorite – Spekulatius cookies. Though the ingredient list appeared identical to the German version, I remained skeptical. They couldn’t really be the same, could they?

In the interest of blog research (naturally), I put the American version to the test. Oh, how glorious to discover that these sweet gems look and taste the same as the biscuits sold in our old Aldi in Freiburg. Hallelujah – thank you, Jesus! Christmas cookie time cannot come soon enough…Thrifty Travel Mama | How Does Aldi USA Compare to Aldi Germany?

At this point, we couldn’t be much higher on joy. The only thing that might have nudged us to the very top of the scale would have been authentic German bread and fresh-baked pretzels.

Nice try, but no.

Unfortunately, American Aldi does not carry any German bread besides Fitness Brot (like this). The rest of the bread selection disappointed, only squishy American carbs full of additives and preservatives.

No German pretzels, and no fresh bakery. I might have shed a tear or two.

For my curious German readers, we didn’t see a tub of Quark anywhere, but I recently spotted a promising product at SuperTarget with the words “Creamy German Style” on the label.

The Verdict

So, which one is better?! It’s a tough call, but one that someone’s going to have to make. If I didn’t already love German Aldi, I don’t think I’d give a hoot about Aldi in the US. And, while American Aldi scores massive points for carrying many of our favorite munchies, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original. We love you ALDI SÜD!!

Sadly, no Aldi stores exist in Arizona, so I won’t be looking to Aldi to cure my reverse culture shock any time soon. The nearest one is in Texas, but I read recently that Aldi plans to give the southern California area a run for its (grocery) money. One can only pray and hope.

Until Aldi moves in next door, would I drive four hundred miles for muesli and cookies? You betcha!

What’s one of your favorite treats from a place you used to live? Would you drive four hundred miles to stock up on precious ingredients or products you love?

Signature Thrifty Travel Mama Image Credit

 

 

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Supermarket Smackdown – Aldi America vs. Aldi Germany

  1. I also love Speculoos cookies and am missing them dearly in Canada – haven’t found one kind that is as good as what I used to get in France. I even tried to find a recipe to make them at home; the results was good but it wasn’t Speculoos…(Suzanne)

    • Agreed – the products here are close, but not quite the same. And if you also love Specaloos spread (which I absolutely do – crunchy is the best!), I find that only the Lotus brand tastes like it should. Trader Joe’s comes close but not exact. I have seen some jars of Lotus Specaloos here in various grocery stores, so when we run out of our stash, I can see if the American version is different. I hope it’s not like Nutella which does not taste the same in every country…

  2. Oh, proper California Taqueria Mexican food would be something I would probably drive 1000 miles for! Besides that, most of the things I can get here… but at a higher cost. Good thing the rent is so cheap here so I can afford those things I miss from the West. 🙂

  3. Oh the thrills of Spekulatius! I have such fond memories of you mailing me some every Christmas! I was grieving the fact that I might not get any more, but one glorious day I did go to my local grocery store, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a box of Spekulatius all the way from Germany. I can buy them here now! I sure did a happy dance and got all the boxes on the shelf!

  4. A proper cappuchino! Starbucks is entirely too hot and the milk tastes funny. Peetes coffee is a little closer to what we had in Italy, but I’m still struggling with the taste of milk! Also, I miss cornetti and Italian cookies! We try to recreate it at home, but I find flour is a bit different here and I’m not a wizard in the kitchen.

    • You are right – the flour is totally different. You probably know more about that than me, but when we spent a few weeks in Italy I was amazed at all the different kinds of flour. In Germany, I think we had 3 plus whole grain types. We love Italian cookies and cappuccino! It’s sad how living overseas ruins you in some ways – like not being able to settle for mediocre coffee!

  5. A proper cappuccino and cornetto! I’m finding milk and flour products are very different here. Starbucks makes their coffee way to hot. And used to like Starbucks! Darn you Italy and your glorious coffee tradition! I’m also missing Italian cookies. Luckily, I can find one brand at world market.

  6. We have Aldi in Australia too, but it doesn’t stock all the same things. There is that chocolate though! One of favourite things on our European roadtrip was to check out the local supermarkets. We loved how many places used the same self-checkout software as Aussie shops so we could easily work out how to use it no matter what the language. (;

    • Hi there, I love that you enjoy checking out supermarkets in foreign countries – we do, too! I had no idea Aldi was in Australia. Really cool that many use the same systems as in Australia. Have you seen Spekulatius cookies at Aldi in Australia near Christmas time?

  7. I so miss the quark streudel, I live in Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast. We have Many Aldi stores in our area and they all say the same thing, NO MORE QUARK STRUDEL, the packaging is TOO large for the freezers, poor excuse, as I’m not the only client trying to buy it at one of the stores, I search every time we are near an Aldi, I’m driving my husband insane. Your’s Vera Langridge.
    tonyandvera@bigpond.com
    Waiting in anticipitation for a reply and good news of Quark Streudel in your stores again.

We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s