CHICAGO -- Radio Flyer was created in Chicago by Italian immigrant Antonio Pasin. His grandson, Robert Pasin, now serves as the company's chief wagon officer, and shared the history of the iconic little red wagon.
"My grandpa's story is just one of these quintessential American immigrant success stories," Pasin said. "My grandpa's name was Antonio, and he was from a small town in northern Italy, and his dad and grandpa were carpenters. When he was just 16 years old, he decided to come to America in search of a better life. He landed in Chicago. He started making furniture and those old phonograph cabinets, and he also made a wooden wagon."
In the late 1920s, he switched from wood to steel, so that he could mass-produce his wagons, Pasin said.
And he chose the words "radio" and "flyer" because they were the two coolest high-tech inventions of the day, he said. So, if he were naming it today, it might have been something like "quantum A.I. dronester," Pasin said.
"In 1933, the Chicago World's Fair was this huge event, and my grandpa decided that it would be the perfect place for him to introduce his new invention, the Radio Flyer Wagon, to the world. And underneath this giant exhibit, there was a little shop where miniature wagons were made and sold for $0.25, and those were souvenirs from the fair and that's really the birth of the Radio Flyer brand," Pasin said.
The Radio Flyer headquarters, located in Chicago, displays the evolution of the wagon, beginning in the 1930s, into the 70s and up to today.
But one of the most noticeable toys is the large red wagon outside the building.
The Guinness book of World Records has officially named it the largest wagon in the world.
Besides creating wagons, Radio Flyer has also created long-lasting childhood memories for many.
"I think the reason why the Radio Flyer wagon has become so beloved is because that it represents childhood, and it represents the best parts of childhood. So, the stories that people tell us are that when they were playing with their little red wagon, they were imagining that it was a racecar or a spaceship or a time machine, so it really takes them back to those cherished memories from their childhood," Pasin said. "For me, this has always been an incredibly magical place. There's a lot in the world that's sad and scary and hard, and the fact that we can be a bright spot in families' lives is something that is what it's all about for us. It's why we do what we do," he said.
Radio Flyer has opened its first retail store inside Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Illinois.
Visit the store at 5 Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, IL 60173.
For more on Radio Flyer, visit: www.radioflyer.com.