favorite brands

The 5 Huge Corporations That Own Your Favorite Brands

Your favorite brands are often owned by a small group of huge corporations that rule supermarket shelves.

1. Oreos

huge corporations

Public domain photo courtesy of Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons.

The famous chocolate sandwich cookie has been America’s number-one selling cookie since its creation in 1912, and sells for $1.5 billion in revenue each year. There’s no “Oreo Company,” however: It’s owned by Mondelez International, which was the snack food division of Kraft Foods until October 2012 when the corporation split into two.

Mondelez is now a huge corporation worth about $36 billion, and in addition to Oreos they also own, among other brands, Chips A’hoy, LU, Fig Newtons, Nutter Butter, Honey Maid, Ritz, Wheat Thins, Triscuit, Toblerone, Planters, and Jello-O.

2. Lay’s

huge corporations

Public domain photo courtesy of Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons.

By far the top-selling brand of chips in the U.S., Lay’s chips sold for more than $1.5 billion in 2012, and can be found everywhere. The company that makes the chips, however – Texas-based Frito-Lay – is actually a wholly owned subsidiary of PepsiCo, the $66 billion corporation most often associated with beverages.

In addition to Lay’s, PepsiCo also owns many more more favorite brands, including Ruffles, Fritos, Cheetos, SunChips, Tostitos, Doritos, CrackerJack, Quaker cereal, Aunt Jemima, Aquafina, Tropicana, Ocean Spray, Gatorade, and Dole juices.

3. Ben & Jerry’s


Photo courtesy of Don.chulio at the German language Wikipedia, under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Created by school buddies Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield in 1978, the Ben & Jerry’s brand has always maintained a DIY, underdog-vibe (despite sales of over $300 million.)

However, since 2000, this favorite brand has been owned by Unilever, a $67 billion Anglo-Dutch conglomerate that also ownsKlondike, Magnum ice cream, Breyers, Knorr, Hellmann’s, Skippy, Dove, Axe, Suave, St. Ives, VO5, Sunsilk, Q-tips, and Vaseline.

4. Uncle Ben’s


Photo courtesy of cookbookman17 via Flickr.

The trusty brand of rice, which has used the same logo for over 50 years, is actually owned by Mars, the privately held manufacturing conglomerate most known for the Mars chocolate bar.

Mars, which has a revenue of more than $50 billion annually, also own Snickers, M&M, Twix, Milky Way, Maltesers, Bounty, LifeSavers, Starburst, Skittles, Altoids, Wrigleys, Doublemint, Big Red, Hubba Bubba, 5 Gum, Juicy Fruit, Extra, Orbit, and pet foods Whiskas, Pedigree and Royal Canin. Mars has been creating favorite brands since the 1930s.

5. Poland Spring 


Photo courtesy of Robert H. Goun via Flickr.

This mainstay water bottle brand is actually owned by Nestlé, the world’s largest food company by revenue. Based out of Switzerland, the multi-national conglomerate had a global revenue of $94 billion in 2012.

Poland Spring is only one of a host of brands, including S. Pellegrino, Perrier, Nestea, Nescafe, Coffeenate, Nesquick, Nerds, Laffy Taffy, KitKat, Smarties, Crunch bars, Butterfinger, Gerber, Chefmate, and pet foods Friskies, Purina, and Felix.

Nestlé also owns a 30% stake in L’Oreal, which owns the Body Shop, Maybelinne, Garnier, Vichy, Olay, and perfumes produced for Ralph Lauren, YvesSaintLaurent, Giorgio Armani, Diesel, Lacoste, and Hugo Boss.

Cover image: A larger version of the map, which was compiled by a master’s student at the University of Montreal, can be found here.


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