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How the Big Wheel Started

History of the Big Wheel
1978 Marx Original Big Wheel Tricycle Ride-On Toy

For generations the Big Wheel® has been a family favorite in providing children's fun play and development of early learning motor skills.  Today's parents have special childhood memories that include endless hours of joy on their original Big Wheel®.  

The Big Wheel® was first developed by Louis Marx and Company in 1969.  The Big Wheel® was a very popular toy in the 1970s in the United States, partly because of its low cost and partly because consumer groups said it was a safer alternative to the traditional tricycle or bicycle.

The design was quickly imitated, under a variety of brand names. Although Big Wheel® was a registered trademark, it was frequently used as a  generic name for any toy whose design resembled that of Marx. 

In 1972, Carolina Enterprises introduced a Big Wheel® style tricycle called the Hot Cycle®.  By the late seventies, Marx sold the Big Wheel® brand name and molds to Carolina Enterprises, to become known as Empire Industries, makers of the Power Cycle brand, which was Marx's biggest competitor.  Big Wheel® by then had grown to become a household name.

An additional boost to the success of the Big Wheel® was a report released on toy safety spawned by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. The report stated that of many bicycle and tricycle related injuries, the "low slung" Big Wheel® was far and away safer than traditional bicycles.

Marketing survey's of the 70's, 80's, and 90's constantly place Big Wheel® near the top of the list as one of the most recognizable household brand names of all time. Over the years, countless Fortune 500 companies have used the Big Wheel® in promotional campaigns by associating their product with that of the Big Wheel®. Late in 2003, a major Florida theme park opened a new nostalgic-themed hotel property with a three-story replica of the Big Wheel® as one of its main centerpieces.

Big Wheel® continued to be a leader in the cycle category until Empire industries was forced to close its doors in 2001.  The Big Wheel® brand was reintroduced under new ownership in 2003 by Alpha International, Inc. of Cedar Rapids, Iowa under the Empire Toys brand and is more colorful and safer than ever.  Alpha's engineer's have been able to re-develop the look of the original 1969 Big Wheel® with the safety and appeal of our modern generation. Alpha International closed its doors in early July 2007.  Gamma2 is now the manufacturer of the Big Wheel®.

Pedal Car Planet carries the Original Big Wheel®, Pink Princess Big Wheel®, and Big Wheel Trainer Trike ride-on toys.

UPDATE: THE ORIGINAL BIG WHEEL & PRINCESS BIG WHEEL ARE NOW SOLD EXCLUSIVELY AT TARGET.COM: