Carl H. Hedstrom, E. Gustaf Hedstrom, Knute W. Hedstrom, Wilfred P. Shuffleton, and Walter Beaman founded the Hedstrom Company, Gardner, Massachusets in 1915. The company moved several times in its early years, finally locating on Main Street in 1925. It specialized in the manufacturer of clothes dryers’ hardware and wheels for cribs and bassinets.
In 1919 Hedstrom bought an interest in the Union Manufacturing Company, established two years earlier by William Carlson, Oscar E. Fowelin and Ernest Johnson, at 74 Sherman Street, Gardner, Ma. The company made reed-bodied baby carriages and hoods. Hedstrom and Union merged in 1922 to become Hedstrom Union Company. In 1928 Children’s Vehicle Company of Templeton was acquired. Hedstrom Union Company leased a plant in Fitchburg in 1936. Labor difficulties in 1950 resulted in the closing of the Gardner and Fitchburg facilities. The company moved its manufacturing and business offices to Dotham, Alabama and Bedford, Pennsylvania.
The Hedstrom Corporation still exists. Its Bedford plant produces outdoor gym sets, play balls, toys, etc. The Dotham operation is toy focused.
In the mid-thirties, ‘streamlining’ became the latest fashion in bicycle design. Manufacturers employed top designers for their bicycles, and makers of riding toys followed suit. The bicycles produced as a result became American icons, but the increased production costs pushed them into an exclusive price bracket that meant they were not big sellers. Increased publicity for the companies would have had a spin-off effect on their cheaper lines but, in terms of dollars earned as a result of outlay, its doubtful that they would have been considered a marketing success at the time.
But, even with new pressings, the streamlined children’s tricycles produced at the same time were nowhere near as expensive to make as adult bicycles, and the new styles revolutionised this part of the industry, creating much more interest among customers. For the first time, children could actually own a streamlined ‘vehicle’ rather than just seeing them in shop windows and catalogues.
The three key aspects that changed tricycle design were full fenders, ‘batwing’ handlebars and pressed-steel shaped bodies that enclosed the backbone tubing. The Hedstrom Minuteman Streamline Velocipede particularly epitomised this new ‘flowing’ look, as its body flows superbly into the rear step. This was not just a children’s tricycle, but a classic exercise in design. A family might not be able to afford a new Chrsyler Airflow, but they could afford to own a tricycle for their children featuring identical streamline styling.
1937 Hedstrom Minuteman Tricycle
Model H-6-1 Streamline Velocipede
Front Wheel: 16″
Rear Wheels: 10″
1951 HEDSTROM COWBOY BICYCLE
CARL OSCAR HEDSTROM
Not to be confused with Carl H Hedstrom, Carl Oscar Hedstrom, patentee of the 1905 motorcycle tricar below, was the co-founder of Indian Motorcycles.
Hedstrom history with thanks to – http://www.harryrinker.com/col-1163.html