Quiz: Can you guess which company owns these brands?

Written by:
December 10, 2019
Drew Angerer // Getty Images

Quiz: Can you guess which company owns these brands?

Here's an experiment: Type "merger" into a Google News search. Yes, like teenagers at summer camp, businesses seem to seek new partners all the time. Just recently, Fiat Chrysler and French automaker PSA Group began negotiations to combine their assets, as did Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade. Happy with your T-Mobile cellular service, but worried what a merger with Sprint will mean for the market? Switching to another provider could just mean more questions, as merger rumors frequently circulate around most big-name companies.

With so much rapid change going on in the business world, Stacker decided to create a quiz with 50 popular brands and the companies that own them. Using various sources to find background history, financial data, and other similar brands, we put this information into a quiz format, where the "clue" slide is the popular brand and the "answer" slide is the parent company.

Who would have thought that Converse, one of the originators of basketball shoes, would be scooped up by a former rival? Or that a fast-food giant known for its finger-lickin' good meals traces its origins to a soda company? If that doesn't knock your socks off, just wait until you get to the company that used a popular rapper to build its brand name, and then said rapper boasted when that company was sold for billions.

We won't break out the red markers or hand out detention passes if you don't fare well on this quiz—we have to admit, some of the parent companies of popular household name brands are headscratchers. But if you want to learn a little bit of history, gain an understanding of what goes into company takeovers, and what major players you should be on the lookout for soon (hint: think internet and e-commerce), then click through and see how many of these 50 questions you can ace.

Brand #1: Converse

- Sector: Clothing

Parent company #1: Nike

Before the Nike “swoosh” became synonymous with athletic sneakers, Converse’s star logo was king of the court—Larry Bird and Magic Johnson both wore Converses during their NBA careers. But in 2003, Nike, which had long surpassed Converse in sales and popularity, acquired the former supplier for Johnson and Bird for $305 million. Nike, which also owned Cole Haan at the time, added some retro chic to its line, particularly with the iconic Converse Chuck Taylor shoe.

Brand #2: Old Navy

- Sector: Clothing

Parent company #2: Gap Inc.

In the early 1990s, Gap explored creating a chain of retail stores offering more affordable merchandise. In 1994, these “Gap Warehouses” were rechristened Old Navy. For the next 25 years, Old Navy served as a stronghold in the Gap chain, so much so that earlier this year, Gap announced plans to separate Old Navy into a publicly listed company.

Brand #3: Zappos

- Sector: Clothing

Parent company #3: Amazon

During Amazon’s ascent to becoming an online retail giant, the company notably purchased Zappos in 2009 for a whopping total estimated at between $850 million and $928 million. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh said cash-flow problems and a stalemate in growth led to the deal.

Brand #4: Kate Spade

- Sector: Clothing

Parent company #4: Tapestry

In 2017, Tapestry (originally known as Coach), purchased Kate Spade in a deal valued at $2.4 billion. Tapestry, which also operates Stuart Weitzman, has not had the expected success with Kate Spade, though. A lack of “newness” in Kate Spade items and discounts by competing brands have been attributed to stagnancy.

Brand #5: Zara

- Sector: Clothing

Parent company #5: Inditex

Zara’s origin began in Spain in 1975, under the guidance of Amancio Ortega. In 2001, Ortega hit the market with an initial public offering (IPO) for Inditex, with Zara serving as the flagship store. In 2018, Inditex recorded $29 billion in sales, which included merchandise from other stores like Pull&Bear and Bershka.

Brand #6: Blue Moon

- Sector: Beer

Parent company #6: Molson Coors Brewing Co.

Blue Moon founder Keith Villa studied brewing in Belgium. He returned to the United States in 1995 to deploy the tricks of the trade learned abroad at a stand at Coors Field in Denver. Baseball fans became enamored of the beer and, backed by Coors, Villa started a microbrewery to sell what became known as Blue Moon.

Brand #7: Guinness

- Sector: Beer

Parent company #7: Diageo

When companies Guinness and Grand Metropolitan merged in 1997, they christened their new venture “Diageo.” According to AdAge, the name is a portmanteau of the Latin word for “day” and the Greek word for “world.” Today, Diageo also owns whiskeys like Johnnie Walker and rums like Captain Morgan.

Brand #8: Samuel Adams

- Sector: Beer

Parent company #8: Boston Beer Co.

In 1984, Jim Koch started the Boston Beer Co. His first product was Samuel Adams Boston Lager, named after the famous Boston colonial. Earlier this year, Boston Beer Co. merged with Dogfish Head Beer.

Brand #9: Cadillac

- Sector: Cars

Parent company #9: General Motors

General Motors acquired Cadillac for $4.5 million in 1909. Over the next century, Cadillac remained a pillar of GM’s business, becoming a status symbol and iconic piece of Americana.

Brand #10: Lexus

- Sector: Cars

Parent company #10: Toyota

Toyota launched its first cars under its new Lexus line in 1989—the LS 400 and ES 250 sedans. Over the years, according to Sharon R. King of The New York Times, “Toyota kept Lexus dealerships separate” and maintained Lexus’ high-quality aura by not diluting the brand “with low-priced, less luxurious vehicles to attract buyers.” Today, Toyota also holds stakes in Mazda and just renewed a partnership with Subaru.

Brand #11: Lincoln Motors

- Sector: Cars

Parent company #11: Ford

For the costly at the time price of $8 million, Ford purchased Lincoln in 1922, helping Ford enter the luxury automobile market in a big way. Today, Lincoln remains one of Ford’s high-end staples, with an electric SUV planned for future release.

Brand #12: Folgers

- Sector: Coffee

Parent company #12: J.M. Smucker Co.

Two breakfast giants joined in 2008, when J.M. Smucker completed a deal valued at almost $3 billion to buy Folgers. Smucker, known for its jams, already owned Jif peanut butter and Crisco. As Smucker has grown, the company expanded into pet foods, where it has encountered less smooth sailing.

Brand #13: Maxwell House

- Sector: Coffee

Parent company #13: Kraft Heinz

Kraft was sold to Philip Morris for almost $13 billion in 1988, creating one of the biggest mergers in American food history. Maxwell House moved under the Kraft umbrella, but the coffee maker soon may be looking for a new home; earlier this year, reports surfaced that Kraft will look to unload Maxwell House from its portfolio.

Brand #14: Dairy Queen

- Sector: Dining

Parent company #14: Berkshire Hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway, owned by mogul Warren Buffett, purchased Dairy Queen for $585 million in 1997. As 2019 draws to a close, Berkshire Hathaway reports more than $128 billion in cash. Geico and Fruit of the Loom are among Berkshire Hathaway’s other numerous holdings.

Brand #15: KFC

- Sector: Dining

Parent company #15: Yum! Brands

In 1986, PepsiCo purchased KFC, after previously buying Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. In 1997, PepsiCo spun off its fast-food restaurants into a publicly traded company, birthing Yum! Brands.

Brand #16: Michelin Guide

- Sector: Dining

Parent company #16: Michelin

The Michelin brothers founded a tire company in 1889. Eleven years later, in an effort to “encourage more road travel” Michelin published its first guide to restaurants, mechanics, and hotels, and provided other helpful information.

Brand #17: Popeyes

- Sector: Dining

Parent company #17: Restaurant Brands International

Restaurants Brands International (RBI), owner of Burger King, got into the chicken business in 2017, acquiring Popeyes in a deal valued at $1.8 billion. RBI, which also owns Tim Hortons, saw an uptick in popularity this year when Popeyes’ chicken sandwich created a craze.

Brand #18: DC Comics

- Sector: Entertainment

Parent company #18: WarnerMedia (subsidiary of AT&T)

In 2018, AT&T forked out more than $85 billion to acquire Time Warner, the parent company of DC comic books. However, under the WarnerMedia wing, industry watchers reported concerns about Batman and his colleagues’ future. While comic book films have dominated Hollywood in recent years, how DC handles the streaming industry remains to be seen.

Brand #19: Marvel

- Sector: Entertainment

Parent company #19: The Walt Disney Company

In 2009, Disney caught the media world’s attention when it bought Marvel for $4 billion. Ten years later, that investment has raked in $18 billion at the global box office, thanks to moviegoers’ appetites for Iron Man, Spider-Man, and other superheroes.

Brand #20: Safeway

- Sector: Grocery

Parent company #20: Albertsons

Albertsons grocery stores took over Safeway in 2014, to the tune of about $9.4 billion. Albertsons, which also operates ACME, Super Saver, and Vons, had to deal with complaints from Safeway bondholders, but last year was able to buy back the disputed bonds.

Brand #21: Sam's Club

- Sector: Grocery

Parent company #21: Walmart

Walmart founder Sam Walton opened his first Sam’s Club in 1983. Like Costco, Sam’s Club is a membership warehouse store and has locations around the world. But last year, Walmart decided to close 63 Sam’s Club locations.

Brand #22: Whole Foods

- Sector: Grocery

Parent company #22: Amazon

For $13.4 billion, Amazon purchased Whole Foods in 2017. The move likely was intended to make Amazon a major player in the online food shopping market, but Whole Foods sales struggled in the first year of the partnership.

Brand #23: Ben & Jerry’s

- Sector: Ice cream

Parent company #23: Unilever

Unilever made a fortune selling personal care products like Dove soap, but as any kid will tell you, eating a bar of soap isn’t all that appealing. A few scoops of sweet, savory ice cream, that’s another story. In 2001, Unilever bought Ben & Jerry’s, a popular but struggling niche dessert brand at the time, and helped increase profits while keeping Ben & Jerry’s social missions at heart.

Brand #24: Häagen-Dazs

- Sector: Ice cream

Parent company #24: Nestlé (product owner, United States), General Mills (brand owner, international)

In 2001, Nestlé paid General Mills $641 million for the rights to Häagen-Dazs in the United States. (General Mills continued to operate Häagen-Dazs outside the United States). The move was made in part so Nestlé could compete with Unilever, which bought the rights to Ben & Jerry’s in 2001.

Brand #25: Kool-Aid

- Sector: Juice drinks

Parent company #25: Kraft Heinz

Kool-Aid’s history under Kraft Heinz includes more steps than it takes to make Kool-Aid’s sugary drinks. First, Edward Perkins invented Kool-Aid (then called Kool-Ade) in 1927. Decades later, Kool-Aid was sold to General Foods. In 1989, General merged with Kraft. Recently, Kool-Aid has struggled to adapt to a climate that advocates for more healthy drinks for children.

Brand #26: Minute Maid

- Sector: Juice drinks

Parent company #26: The Coca-Cola Co.

In 1960, Coca-Cola acquired Minute Maid, which the company refers to as a “watershed moment” for the business. Soon Coca-Cola, which had relied on one product, began releasing a bevy of new drinks and expanded to markets like Japan.

Brand #27: Hulu

- Sector: Media

Parent company #27: The Walt Disney Company, Comcast

When Hulu emerged as a leader in the streaming industry, it operated as a joint venture among several major media companies. But in May, Disney became the primary owner of Hulu when Comcast agreed to sell its stake in the streaming platform. The sale will not take place for another five years, but is estimated to be worth at least $5.8 billion.

Brand #28: Instagram

- Sector: Media

Parent company #28: Facebook

Facebook began as a way for Harvard students to connect online. By 2012, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion. The deal, which came before Facebook’s IPO, was one of the company’s first forays into gobbling up major online companies.

Brand #29: Twitch

- Sector: Media

Parent company #29: Amazon

In 2014, Amazon promised to pay $970 million for Twitch, the video game streaming site. This deal showed that Amazon, which now streams content through Amazon Prime Video, was ready to make a splash in the streaming industry, and that live video game broadcasts were more than a fad. Today, Twitch streams events outside of video games, and video game competitions include several international leagues that sell out stadiums and arenas.

Brand #30: YouTube

- Sector: Media

Parent company #30: Alphabet (Google)

When Google snatched up YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006, some wondered what copyright concerns the internet titan might encounter in the still nascent world of streaming video. At the time, YouTube was Google’s biggest purchase, and despite concerns about YouTube’s staying power, the acquisition has worked out well. Still, despite YouTube becoming a household name and some YouTube stars making millions of dollars, the company is facing growing questions over content and videos that may cause harm.

Brand #31: CNN

- Sector: News

Parent company #31: WarnerMedia (subsidiary of AT&T)

CNN, founded in 1980 by Ted Turner, was acquired by Time Warner in 1996. Earlier this year, AT&T, despite federal appeals, earned the right to merge with Time Warner, creating WarnerMedia. The new conglomerate media company also holds the rights to stations like TNT and TBS.

Brand #32: USA Today

- Sector: News

Parent company #32: Gannett

Many newspapers are still sorting out ways to survive in the digital age. One outlet that continues to produce in print and online is USA Today, which was first published by Gannett in 1982. Earlier this year, Gannett reached a deal merging with GateHouse Media.

Brand #33: Wall Street Journal

- Sector: News

Parent company #33: Fox Corp.

In 2007, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. purchased Dow Jones & Company, whose assets included the Wall Street Journal. Earlier this year, when Disney bought 21st Century Fox, News Corp. was rebranded Fox Corp. Previously, the Wall Street Journal was owned for more than 100 years by the Bancroft family.

Brand #34: Pepto-Bismol

- Sector: Pharmaceuticals

Parent company #34: Procter & Gamble

Pepto-Bismol was formerly owned by Morton-Norwich Products Inc., of Chicago, but in 1982, Procter & Gamble bought Morton-Norwich for $371 million. The deal also gave Procter & Gamble rights to Chloraseptic, joining household staples like Tide and Downy.

Brand #35: Tylenol

- Sector: Pharmaceuticals

Parent company #35: Johnson & Johnson

Robert McNeil opened a Philadelphia pharmacy in 1879, which grew to become McNeil Laboratories. In 1955, the lab produced Tylenol for children; four years later, Johnson & Johnson purchased McNeil Laboratories, and Tylenol soon became an over-the-counter drug. The drug’s main ingredient, acetaminophen, is advertised as a fever reducer and pain reliever.

Brand #36: Nest

- Sector: Smart home

Parent company #36: Alphabet (Google)

Google purchased Nest, a smart appliance company, for $3.2 billion in 2014. But a year later, when Alphabet was created as an umbrella company for Google properties, Nest became its own company. However, in early 2018, Nest once again was absorbed by Google.

Brand #37: Ring

- Sector: Smart home

Parent company #37: Amazon

Jamie Siminoff thought his Ring Wi-Fi-enabled doorbells would strike it big on the TV show “Shark Tank.” But when the sharks passed on Siminoff’s technology, Amazon came calling and purchased Ring for a reported $1 billion.

Brand #38: Cape Cod Potato Chips

- Sector: Snacks

Parent company #38: Snyder's-Lance (subsidiary of Campbell Soup)

Cape Cod Potato Chips was founded in 1980, and has had several owners. The chip company used to be owned by Anheuser-Busch, but then became a part of the Lance company brand in 1999. Lance merged with Snyder’s of Hanover in 2010, and the Snyder’s-Lance corporation was purchased by Campbell Soup in 2017.

Brand #39: Flamin' Hot Cheetos

- Sector: Snacks

Parent company #39: Frito-Lay (subsidiary of PepsiCo)

Charles Elmer Doolin created the Frito chip and the Cheeto, which both fell under the Frito-Lay brand when Frito merged with H.W. Lay & Co. in 1961. However, it was a janitor who created the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto, which made its debut in the early 1990s.

Brand #40: Teddy Grahams

- Sector: Snacks

Parent company #40: Nabisco (subsidiary of Mondelēz International)

In the late 1980s, Nabisco introduced Teddy Grahams, and sold $150 million worth of the bite-size treats in their first year on the market. Kraft and Nabisco reached a partnership in 2000, and in 2012, Kraft christened its new snack foods arm Mondelēz International.

Brand #41: Gatorade

- Sector: Sports drinks

Parent company #41: PepsiCo

By merging with Quaker Oats in 2001, PepsiCo acquired the coveted Gatorade brand in a deal worth about $13.8 billion. Pepsi outbid rival Coca-Cola for Quaker Oats, which also produced Aunt Jemima products and Cap’n Crunch cereal.

Brand #42: Vitamin Water

- Sector: Sports drinks

Parent company #42: The Coca-Cola Co.

Rapper 50 Cent, an early endorser of Vitamin Water, once bragged on the song “I Get Money” that he helped the sports drink sell to Coca-Cola for billions. The exact amount Coca-Cola paid to acquire Glaceau, Vitamin Water’s parent company, was $4.2 billion. How much 50 Cent earned off the deal is unknown, but he later filed for bankruptcy.

Brand #43: ESPN

- Sector: Sports media

Parent company #43: The Walt Disney Co.

In 1995, Disney decided to spend $19 billion to acquire ABC, a deal that included the cable sports behemoth ESPN. The marriage took ESPN to new heights, as it has broadcast all four major U.S. sports leagues since Disney entered the fold, as well as a plethora of major golf, tennis, soccer, and college sports events. Earlier this year, Disney made another huge splash when it acquired Fox.

Brand #44: Sports Illustrated

- Sector: Sports media

Parent company #44: Authentic Brands Group

In May 2019, Sports Illustrated was sold to Authentic Brands Group for $110 million. Authentic Brands managed companies like Nautica, and the licensing and trademark rights for several deceased celebrities, but had not made many notable splashes in the publishing field. Four months after acquiring the heralded sports magazine, Authentic Brands announced massive staff cuts at the magazine.

Brand #45: Beats

- Sector: Technology

Parent company #45: Apple

Music producer Dr. Dre is known for his high-profile collaborations, but his duet with Apple may have been the most profitable. Dre, who with Jimmy Iovine made Beats headphones popular, sold Beats to Apple for $3 billion in 2014. Previously, Beats was associated with Monster, a relationship that did not end as positively.

Brand #46: Oculus

- Sector: Technology

Parent company #46: Facebook

Facebook ponied up $2 billion in 2014 to purchase Oculus, a virtual reality company with deep seeds in the gaming world, with plans to expand VR capabilities to everyday life. Despite a slow start, Facebook seems intent on pushing VR, as it recently bought Beat Games, a VR game studio.

Brand #47: Xbox

- Sector: Technology

Parent company #47: Microsoft

After delays, Microsoft released its Xbox gaming system in the fall of 2001. It was Microsoft’s first game console, and subsequent versions like the Xbox 360 and Xbox One have been top sellers in the video game world. As of 2018, Xbox also owned more than a dozen gaming studios, making them a notable force in the industry.

Brand #48: Dollar Shave Club

- Sector: Toiletries

Parent company #48: Unilever

In the summer of 2016, Unilever purchased the direct-to-consumer Dollar Shave Club razor business. Unilever shelled out a reported $1 billion for the company, which was founded in 2012. With various skin-care and hair-styling products in Dollar Shave Club’s line, Unilever said the company brought “a unique male grooming perspective” to a growing market.

Brand #49: Old Spice

- Sector: Toiletries

Parent company #49: Procter & Gamble

When Procter & Gamble purchased Old Spice for $300 million in 1990, a P&G executive told reporters, “This gives us a strong foothold in the male toiletries business worldwide.” Fast forward almost 30 years later, and Old Spice commercials are some of the most recognizable on television, injecting a vintage brand with some new wave appeal.

Brand #50: Tom's of Maine

- Sector: Toiletries

Parent company #50: Colgate-Palmolive

Back in 2006, when the natural oral and personal care product market was valued at $3 billion, Colgate-Palmolive jumped at the chance to acquire a market leader, Tom’s of Maine. Already the home of Mennen, Irish Spring, and other household brand names, Colgate-Palmolive paid $100 million for Tom’s, which was known for its natural toothpastes. Tom’s later admitted its products were not entirely natural.

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