I've grown up always thinking that the ice cream Häagen-Dazs is imported from Germany or some Scandinavian country. Nope! The company was created in the Bronx by Reuben and Rose Mattus, two Polish immigrants. Well, I thought, when I learned that, at least the name means something tasty in some European language, right? Nope! To put it lightly, the name Häagen-Dazs is a linguistic abomination. When Rose suggested it in 1959, it was meant to sound Danish, to entice the customer with what Reuben called an "aura of the old-world traditions and craftsmanship". Except it's just... wrong: There is no umlaut in Danish (rendering the ä meaningless), and the zs letter combination is nonexistent outside of Hungarian! Gosh flippity darn it. What we have here is a classic advertising technique: the Mattuses made the name sound exotic and foreign, which you cannot deny worked seamlessly. This makes me sad; one of the ice creams I grew up with is a lie.
Adam Aleksic, a freshman studying linguistics at Harvard University, has been described as the internet's sixth most famous etymologist. He has disturbing interests in words, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law, and he loves writing about himself in the third person.
The Etymology Nerd