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Our Blog: Word on the Sidewalk
We’re so excited to celebrate 101 years of Radio Flyer! It all started with humble beginnings, when 16-year-old Antonio Pasin came to America in 1914 from a small town near Venice, Italy.
He eventually saved enough money to rent a one-room workshop on Chicago’s west side, where he built phonograph cabinets for his hometown-inspired Venetian Furniture Company. On the side, he tinkered with other creations, one of which was — you guessed it — a coaster wagon, which he sold to local hardware stores. In 1917, Radio Flyer was born.
To celebrate our founding, last year’s Time Flies, Enjoy the Ride campaign featured a whimsical mock Kid’s Travel Agency. We also rolled the World’s Largest Wagon to Michigan Avenue in Chicago during a smile-worthy celebration.
With those fond memories in mind — and another year under our belt! — we wanted to share a few fun facts about the history of Radio Flyer.
- Antonio Pasin, founder of Radio Flyer, started as a cabinetmaker. He created wooden wagons to haul items around in his shop. Before he knew it, he was selling more wagons than cabinets! Like any good entrepreneur, he chased what worked.
- Radio Flyer was formerly known as the Liberty Coaster Company. This is also the name of the company’s first wagon. Its name was inspired by the iconic Statue of Liberty, which welcomed Antonio Pasin to America.
- In the 1920s, the automotive industry inspired Radio Flyer’s steel wagons, earning Founder Antonio Pasin the nickname “Little Ford.”
- Chicago hosted the World’s Fair in 1933. Radio Flyer exhibited a 45-foot-tall Coaster Boy and sold miniature wagons for $0.25.
- Radio Flyer’s original steel wagons sold for $3 in the 1930s.
- The combination of “radio” and “flyer” reflects the founder’s fascination with the two inventions: the airplane and the radio, the latter created by fellow Italian Guglielmo Marcon.
- Founder Antonio Pasin was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2003.
- Radio Flyer’s first short-film, Taking Flight, received an Emmy Award in 2017.
- Through a partnership with Tesla, Radio Flyer launched the Tesla Model S for Kids in 2016. This vehicle is the first and only ride-on for kids to use Flight Speed™ Lithium Ion Batteries and is the only customizable kid’s car on the market.
- After 101 years of innovation and creativity, Radio Flyer now invites customers to create their own customized wagons, trikes and scooters!
We would like to extend a huge thank you to our supporters for these past 101 years. We invite you to learn more about Radio Flyer and continue our heritage celebration with us!