There are plenty of famous companies that we know as being classically American. These brands have offered some of the best services and products that the world has ever seen and put the USA on the map. But the world is full of surprises - and it turns out these all-American businesses aren't so American anymore. Keep scrolling to see which of your go-to favorites are now owned and run somewhere else.
Everyone loves Vaseline, right? This petroleum jelly has so many uses, from curbing your cracked lips to greasing the hinges on your doors. And while many people have been proud to call this company all-American, it seems as though times have changed over the years. Sure, it was founded by American Robert Augustus Chesebrough in 1859, but the company is no longer in American hands at all. Instead, it belongs to the British.
The company was bought by British multinational consumer goods company Unilever for a whopping $3.1 billion. Because of this, the headquarters for Vaseline can now be found in London, England.
As Americans, we love a company with a backstory. And Gerber certainly had a story to tell. This company was founded by Daniel Frank Gerber in 1927 when he saw how his wife prepared baby food for their daughter. At the time, he owned a company that sold canned fruit and vegetables - but he saw an opportunity in the baby food market. After that, Gerber's baby food took off and became an American institution.
The company has been sold a few times over the years, but Gerber is now owned by Nestle. They were so eager to get into the baby food business that they bought the company for $5.5 billion back in 2007.
Tiffany & Co.
You probably don't need us to tell you that Tiffany & Co. has a strong American history. This company was formed in 1837 when Charles Lewis Tiffany and J.b Young decided to open a "stationery and fancy goods" store in New York. But when Young left the business in 1853, Tiffany decided to pivot and focus primarily on jewelry. Since then, it's become a classic American fine (and expensive) jewelry store.
Although the company stayed in American hands for almost 200 years, French-owned LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton decided to buy the company in 2020. It was originally agreed that they would pay $16.2 billion, but when the deal eventually closed a year later, it was sold for $15.8 billion.
Nowadays, there's no need to leave your house to eat delicious food. Companies such as Uber Eats and GrubHub have got that covered! But while you'd be forgiven for thinking that GrubHub is still American-owned, considering it's still a relatively new company, you might be surprised to know that it was actually sold to foreign hands. This all happened when the company went public in 2014 and saw multiple offers on the table.
In 2020, GrubHub was bought by Dutch multinational online food ordering and delivery company, Just Eat Takeaway.com. Amazingly, this company was formed during the mergers of two London-based and Amsterdam-based takeaway companies.
No American mall or airport would be complete without a Sunglass Hut, right? And while this company can also be found across the globe, the origins of this classic American company can be traced back to Miami, Florida. That's because this store was first opened in 1986 by Sanford Ziff, an optometrist who decided to open a one-stop store for sunglasses. Five years later, there were 100 Sunglass Hut stores in the U.S. - and Ziff decided to sell up.
The company has been sold a few times since then, but the all-American brand is currently in the hands of the Italian eyewear conglomerate Luxottica Group. They bought Sunglass Hut for $653 million back in 2001.
The Cleveland Cavaliers
When it comes to American basketball teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the most well-known teams in the U.S. This team has seen players like LeBron James, Mark Price, and Brad Daugherty. So, you'd assume that this American team would be owned by Americans, right? Well, not quite. Although the team is now owned by all-American people - including the famous singer Usher - this wasn't always the case.
In 2009, the Chinese investor Jianhua Huang bought a 15% stake in the team. Apparently, LeBron James had become hugely famous in China, and Jianhua wanted a piece of the LeBron James pie.
The one thing Americans love about Trader Joe's convenience store is, well, the convenience! You can guarantee that Trader Joe's has everything you could possibly need, and we've been able to enjoy the products found in these stores since its inception in 1967. We have Joe Coulumbe to thank for bringing this store to life, and his first store in Monrovia, California, paved the way for the subsequent stores across the country. However, the company ceased being American in 1979.
Although Trader Joe's can be found across America, it's now owned by the Aldi Nord group - a German multinational family-owned company, which has the Albrecht family at the helm.
There's a reason why you see so many Chryslers in the United States. This car company was founded in 1925 in America, which is why today it's considered to be one of the most classic American cars out there. However, financial troubles have meant that Chrysler has had to stray from its American roots over the years. In fact, it's been sold countless times over the years to many foreign companies.
In 1998, it was bought out by Daimler-Benz of Germany. But since then, it's changed hands, and it's now a part of Stellantis N.V., which is a multinational automotive manufacturing corporation that is headquartered in Amsterdam.
Like other all-American companies, Citgo was created by an American businessperson. Henry L. Doherty formed the company back in 1910, but back then, it was called Cities Service Co. Since then, it's not only changed its name, but it's also changed ownership countless times. However, since 1986 it has been owned by Petróleos de Venezuela, which is a Venezuelan state-owned oil and natural gas company. They didn't buy it all at once, though.
The company first acquired 50% of Citgo back in 1986, but when business started to boom during the late 1980s, they decided to put some more money into the classic American business. Now, they own all of it.
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and Warner Music Group. These guys are considered to be the three big dogs in the music world, and so it should come as no surprise to learn that some of the biggest artists in the music industry are signed to Universal Music Group. This means that it's worth a huge amount of money, but it seems as though this pie has been split over the years. That's because it's now a public company.
Under Dutch law, Universal Music Group is a Dutch-American group, but the shareholders are from around the world. Chinese company Tencent owns 20% of the company, while British investment trust Pershing Square Holdings has also purchased 10%.
If you're looking for a budget hotel during your travel across the United States - or even across the globe - you can always count on Holiday Inn. This company has been in our lives since 1952, when there was just a single Holiday Inn motel situation in between Nashville and Memphis. The next year, the company expanded to build even more locations, and now it's considered an all-American institution. But it's not American any longer.
Although Holiday Inn was previously owned by founder Kemmons Wilson and his business partner Wallace E. Johnson, the Holiday Inn company was bought by the Intercontinental Hotels Group in the 1980s. And they're English!
Hellmann's will forever be associated with mayonnaise, right? And while the company was founded by the one and only Richard Hellmann, it's important to note that he didn't invent the condiment himself. Instead, he found the perfect way to market and sell jars of this stuff in his New York delicatessen, and it's now become one of the most popular condiments across the world. But did you know that Hellmann's is no longer American owned?
During a deal that incorporated a few different brands, Hellmann's was actually bought by British multinational consumer goods company Unilever. This company also owns companies such as Dove and Ben & Jerry's.
If you're someone who loves cross-country travel, there's a high chance that you've sat on one of these things more times than you could count. Greyhound buses are perfect for traveling around the U.S., and there's no doubt about the fact that these buses are classic American. In fact, these bus lines serve an incredible 2,400 destinations across North America - which is pretty impressive. But just because the buses serve America doesn't mean the company is American.
Due to financial struggles during the early 2000s, Greyhound Lines have gone through some changes. And in 2007, British bus company FirstGroup Plc decided to buy Laidlaw International Inc., which just so happened to own Greyhound Lines. So, it's a British company now.
There's nothing quite like heading to a 7-Eleven in the middle of the night when you crave a Mountain Dew or just really want a bag of Cheetos. This all-American company can be found all across the country, but there's no doubt about the fact that this company has succeeded in its expansion. It's now found in 19 countries across the globe - and it's come a long way since its founder Jefferson Green started selling ice in 1927. But did you know that 7-Eleven isn't American anymore?
Although 7-Eleven started off with its headquarters in Dallas, Texas, times have changed, and the company was bought out in 1987. Now, it's actually a Japanese company and is owned by Seven & I Holdings.
Today, the Hilton Hotels chain is just as famous as it once was. And while it's no longer associated with the same Hilton family that has dominated the world of popular culture, its name is still legendary. There are hotels across the globe, which is why many people were so proud to call it a classic American company. However, that's no longer the case. Instead, a portion of the hotel empire is Chinese.
In 2016, 25% of the company was sold to the Chinese investment company HNA Group, which made them the majority shareholder. With that in mind, you could say that it's no longer an all-American company.
Ben & Jerry's
When it comes to ice cream, there's no doubt about the fact that Ben & Jerry's reigns supreme. This all-American ice cream brand is a staple in classic American movies and television shows, and you can find these products anywhere in America. And while Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield created their company in America in 1978, they never expected to see their business grow from strength to strength. And they never expected it to sell for so much.
In 2000, Ben & Jerry's switched from being an American company to an English company when Unilever bought the ice cream giant for a whopping $326 million. But despite this, the company's HQ is in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Hands up if you've ever owned a Dirt Devil. We wouldn't be surprised if you have, as this brand of vacuum cleaner is super popular in the United States and has been since the company was founded by Philip Geier in Ohio in 1905. And while its roots in Cleveland suggest to many that this is an all-American company, it might surprise you to learn that Dirt Devil hasn't been an American company since 2003.
Although the Dirt Devil headquarters are still in the U.S. (in North Carolina, to be exact), this company is now owned by Chinese company Techtronic Industries. Interestingly, this company also owns Vax and Hoover.
Does it get any more American than a cold Bud on a hot summer's day? We think not. Budweiser can be traced back to St. Louis in the mid-1800s, which makes this beer an impressive part of classic American history. And while the beer is super popular in the United States, there's no doubt about the fact that it's also become hugely popular across the pond. But did you know it's now a Belgian company?
Belgium has long been associated with beer, so it came as no surprise to some when Belgian multinational drink and brewing company AB InBev decided to buy Budweiser in 2008. Apparently, the company sold for a huge $52 billion.
When you think of Tesla, you immediately think of Elon Musk, right? And while many people associate this automotive company with America thanks to its headquarters in Palo Alto, there's no doubt about the fact that this company is international. In fact, Elon Musk himself is South African with Canadian citizenship. So, it's not equally the classic American company we all thought it was. However, it does have some American ties.
Although Musk is the majority shareholder of Tesla, the second-largest holder of Tesla is Vanguard Group - which is an American company. Because of this, it's fair to say that Tesla is multi-national.
You can't walk down the street in America without smelling the flame-grilled burgers of Burger King. And while many people associate it with other quintessential American fast food joints like McDonald's and Wendy's, it seems as though Burger King is no longer American. In fact, James McLamore and David Egerton, who founded the company in 1954, sold the classic American company just ten years after they brought it into existence.
Over the years, Burger King has changed hands five times and largely stayed in the United States during this time. However, it's now owned by Restaurant Brands International, a Canadian company that also owns Tim Hortons and Popeyes.
Although you might not know the history of General Electric, you've probably heard of the name. You might have even bought some appliances from them! But what's impressive about this popular all-American company is the fact that this company is over 130 years old, as it was founded in 1882. And since then, it's become a titan of the electronics industry. But while a lot of the appliances bought here will have "Made in America" stamps on them, this company is no longer American.
Although the appliances may be made in America, all of the decisions about General Electric are made by the Chinese company Haier. They bought General Electric back in 2016 for an incredible $5.4 billion.
Hands up if you love Popeyes. We're going to assume that you all have your hands up, as this fast food chain is considered to be a fan favorite among Americans. The first Popeyes store opened up in New Orleans in 1972, and since then, it's become a classic American institution - and now there are thousands of locations across the country. And while the majority of Popeyes locations are in the U.S., it's no longer an American company.
In fact, Popeyes is owned by the Canadian company Restaurant Brands International. The Toronto-based company bought the fast food chain back in 2017 for an incredible $1.8 billion and has kept it ever since.
Although there are so many pet food companies on the market, there's no doubt about the fact that Purina is an American institution. This company (which was originally called Purina Mills) was founded in 1894 by William H. Danforth, who decided to bring animal feed to the big market. Since then, the once all-American company has been sold countless times - but its biggest sale came in 2001 when it was sold to Nestle for $10.3 billion.
Of course, the Swiss-owned company is known predominantly for its cereals, but it's fair to say that it's now also made its mark in the pet food world. And while Purina may be popular in America, it's no longer American.
Can you believe that Firestone has been around since 1900? This tire and rubber company was created by Harvey Firestone, and it's amazing to learn that his first location in Akron, Ohio transformed into a countrywide business. But while it seems as though this business was proud of its all-American roots, they decided to go in a different direction and sell in 1988 to become what we know as Bridgestone Firestone.
During this deal, Firestone was acquired by the Bridgestone Tire Company Ltd, which is a Japanese company. It was sold for an incredible $2.6 billion, which means that it's now a Japanese company.
In 2011, the world was introduced to a brand-new social media app. And you probably don't need us to tell you that Snapchat quickly took off and took the app world by storm. We have Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy to thank for bringing this app into our lives, and as they're both American businessmen - and as Snapchat was originally headquartered in Los Angeles - it would be easy to assume that it's an American company. But it's no longer.
In 2017, the Chinese investment company Tencent decided to buy 145.8 million shares in Snapchat, which was reportedly worth around $1.7 billion. So, Snapchat is both American and Chinese now.
Riot Games Inc.
If you're someone who loves video games, there's a high chance that you'll already be familiar with Riot Games. We have this company to thank for bringing games like League of Legends and Valorant into our world, and there's no doubt about the fact that fans across the globe have fallen in love with their creations. And while Americans Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill founded the company, they no longer own it.
In 2011, a 93% stake in the company was sold to Chinese company Tencent Holdings. But a few years later, in 2015, they decided to buy out the last slice of the pie to take on full ownership.
John Hancock Life Insurance
Let's be honest; John Hancock Life Insurance couldn't be more American if it tried. After all, the company was named after one of America's Founding Fathers! The company was formed back in 1862 and was originally approved by John A. Andrew, governor of Massachusetts. But it seems as though this all-American company has changed its ways over the years. Now, it's no longer American and primarily owned by a Canadian corporation.
Yes, when John Hancock Life Insurance was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2000, many buyers came out of the woodwork. But it was Manulife Financial Corporation's $1 billion offer for an all-stock takeover that ultimately won this battle.
Whether you call them Lucky Strikes or whether you're more of a "Luckies" kind of person, there's no doubt about the fact that this cigarette brand is pretty famous. Thanks to its red and white box, these things are noticeable everywhere, and it's amazing to think that this brand has been around since it got its start in 1871 in Virginia. And while they are known as being quintessentially American, they're no longer American.
Although the company was bought by the American Tobacco Company in the early 1900s, there was a slight chance of events in the late 1990s. That's because the British American Tobacco PLC bought the American Tobacco Company in 1994, which meant that Lucky Strike went with it.
From the "30 Under 30" list to the wealthiest billionaire lists, Forbes is most people's go-to when it comes to understanding the rankings of companies and celebrities in terms of their finances and their popularity. And it's hard to believe that this magazine first entered the public domain in 1917, but we have financial columnist B.C Forbes to thank for that! And while Forbes' grandson is now the editor-in-chief of the magazine, it's no longer American-owned.
In 2014, Forbes was bought for $400 million by Hong Kong-based company Whale Media Investments. However, things changed a little in 2023 when American entrepreneur Austin Russell bought 82% of the company.
IBM (PC Division)
When it comes to the world of technology, there are some key players in the game. And IBM is one of them. This company was founded in 1911 and quickly found its feet as one of the forerunners when it came to technology - including in the computer world. However, IBM will be the first to tell you that the company has so many different facets, which is why it sold its PC division in 2004.
In order to focus more of its attention on its other endeavors, IBM sold its PC division to Lenovo for $1.75 billion back in 2004. If you didn't already know, Lenovo is a Chinese company.
There are so many retail stores around the U.S., but a lot of Americans have fond memories of buying their toys, electronics, and lifestyle items from these stores. It was the epitome of classic Americana, and this was largely due to its history. After all, the first Brookstone store opened in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and then they expanded from there. However, financial struggles in 2014 meant that things had to change.
When the company was forced to file for bankruptcy, two Chinese companies called Sanpower and Sailing Capital decided to save the retail stores from extinction. Sadly, they're now facing even more financial trouble.
If you're from Ohio, you might already know your state's association with the Hoover Company! After all, this electronics company was founded by William Henry Hoover in 1908, and it quickly became one of the biggest manufacturers of vacuums in the United States. Because of this, it's long been regarded as an all-American company. However, it's no longer an American company at all since it was sold back in 2007.
Although the headquarters of this company can still be found in North Carolina, the day-to-day running of Hoover US takes place in Hong Kong, where it's owned by the Chinese company Techntronic Industries.
If you're looking for a classic American company that sells kitchen appliances and accessories, then Frigidaire has got your back, right? Everyone in the U.S. should be familiar with this brand, which has been around since 1918, when it was founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Amazingly, this company got off the ground when the founder of General Motors decided to help out the company's founders, Nathaniel B. Wales and Alfred Mellowes, with the financials.
Frigidaire was originally sold in 1979, but it has since been sold to an international company. Yes, Sweden's Electrolux company bought it back in 1986, which means that it's now technically Swedish.
If you've ever competed in the Ironman competition, you'll know that it's no joke. This competition is a test of your endurance and your stamina and is one of the most intense triathlons around the world. But did you know that Ironman was actually formed as part of the Hawaii Triathlon Corporation? And while the Ironman competition is still associated with Hawaii today, an exchange of contracts in 2015 meant that the company behind this event was no longer American.
Ironman was bought by Chinese company Dalian Wanda Group, who bought the company in 2015 for an incredible $650 million. Since then, though, it has been exchanged back to American hands.
There's a high chance that you have a pack (or two) of Alka-Seltzer in your medicine cabinet right now. After all, these antacids are incredibly popular and can be found in any pharmacy across the United States - and did you know that they've been around since 1931? This medicine was released under the Dr. Miles Medicine Company, but the company is no longer under American ownership. Instead, it's German.
Yes, Alka-Seltzer was bought in 1978 by Bayer for an impressive amount of money. It's reported that they bought all 5.4 million shares of the company for a hefty price of $216 million.
Sotheby's is known as one of the most impressive fine art brokerages in the world, and its auctions are famous for selling some of the most famous and most expensive items in existence. But did you know that this company originated in London? However, many people assumed that it was an American company, as it truly rose to fame after it moved to New York City in 1963. But now it's no longer American or British.
In 2019, the majority share of this company was sold to French-Israeli businessman Patrick Drahi. So, its history can be traced around the globe rather than just to the United States.
When it comes to music streaming, Spotify has the market cornered. Billions of people across the globe use Spotify on a daily basis - but many people assume that Spotify is an American company. However, that's not the case at all. The streaming service was founded by Swedish entrepreneurs Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, but it just so happens that its headquarters can be found in the Big Apple, New York.
To make matters even more confusing, Spotify is actually listed on the New York Stock Exchange through their Spotify Technology S.A. company, which is listed as a Luxembourg City-domiciled holding company.