Raising a scoop to Rose Mattus, the unsung co-founder of Häagen-Dazs

This International Women’s Day, Häagen-Dazs is proud to celebrate and honor the legacy of its pioneering female co-founder, Rose Mattus.
Rose Mattus holding an ice cream cone

The story of Rose Mattus

Born to Polish-Jewish parents in Manchester, England, Rose’s story begins across the ocean in Brooklyn, NY where she married her high school sweetheart, Reuben Mattus, and joined his family ice cream business in the South Bronx. 

On a mission to make extraordinary ice cream, the couple established the Häagen-Dazs brand in New York in 1960. 

They launched with three original flavors: chocolate, coffee and vanilla, which was Rose’s personal favorite and one of the brand’s iconic best-sellers to date.

While Reuben focused on making the ice cream, Rose ran the business and was the brains behind its trailblazing marketing strategy. 

From pioneering sampling in high-end establishments in Manhattan to building cachet with university students in Greenwich Village, Rose drove unprecedented word-of-mouth and brand loyalty with consumers. Because of her marketing strategies, Häagen-Dazs quickly became a national sensation in the late 60s and early 70s. 

In 1976, Rose, along with her daughter Doris, brought Häagen-Dazs to new heights with the opening of the brand’s first retail Shop in Brooklyn, NY. Over the next few years, Doris, with her mother’s support, developed a Shops franchising network coast-to-coast, expanding the business nationally and eventually internationally. 

Rose and Doris were eventually recognized with an award for ‘Outstanding Entrepreneur’ by the National Association of Women Business Owners. 

While Reuben is widely acknowledged and celebrated for the creation of Häagen-Dazs, it was Rose’s sales and marketing genius that shaped the brand into what it is today. 

Reuben made the ice cream, but Rose truly made Häagen-Dazs. 

And that’s why this International Women’s Day, Häagen-Dazs is honoring Rose’s legacy by launching The Rose Project in the ethos of its motto ‘Don’t Hold Back’.  

The Rose Project  

The Rose Project is a global purpose-driven initiative, which pledges $100,000 in scholarships to support trailblazing ‘Women Who Don’t Hold Back’ around the world. 

Nominations are now open for you to nominate a talented unsung woman (including yourself) that you believe deserves recognition for her efforts, achievements and societal contributions.  

From these nominations, a shortlist of 50 women will be selected for their commendable efforts and put forward for the opportunity to win 1 of 5 monetary grants of $20,000.  

The Rose Project fund of $100,000 will enable the 5 winning honorees to continue their exceptional work and unleash their potential (or even give to a cause they’re passionate about). 

“The launch of The Rose Project squarely puts our purpose to action with the long-term commitment to supporting women and gender equity well beyond International Women’s Day,” says Clare Brosnan, global brand experience director for Häagen-Dazs. 

Nominations can be submitted here.

A global rebrand and giveaway 

As part of the celebration, a limited-edition run of 1960 Häagen-Dazs ‘Founder’s Favorite’ vanilla ice cream pints have been created to pay tribute to Rose. 

The pints will be available in select Shops around the world throughout the month of March. Consumers will also have the opportunity to win or redeem them by scanning an in-store QR code and nominating someone for The Rose Project. 

Vanilla will also be offered as a free scoop to consumers on March 8 (International Women’s Day) in over 100 Häagen-Dazs Shops across Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East in the brand’s biggest international giveaway to mark Rose’s life-long love of this classic flavor. 

*Note: General Mills does not produce Häagen-Dazs sold in the U.S.