South Bend Toy Company

South Bend Toy Company

South Bend Toy Company, Second Location. Left: Picture of the South Bend Toy Company before the railroad tracks were elevated. This plant was located on High Street between the railroad tracks and Sample Street and opened in 1888. Right: Another view of the plant around the time of the building of the elevated railroad through South Bend. Above images courtesy of The South Bend Tribune and St. Joseph County Library. Below: Left: October 1978, Demolition of the old South Bend Toy Company plant on High Street. Right: October 2003. High Street looking north towards Sample. The former South Bend Toy Works is today a vacant lot.

Another industry important to the growth of South Bend was South Bend Toys. Toys played an important role in South Bend's formative years. South Bend Toy employed hundreds of people for more than 100 years. The line of toys expanded from croquet sets to doll carriages and wagons. John W. Teel, a woodworker, and Frederick Badet, a grocery clerk, began to make croquet sets in a small woodworking shop along the river race in 1874. The men fashioned the sets in their spare time out of locally grown hardwood. the company expanded and eventually added to its line rocking horses, doll carriages and child-size Studebaker farm wagons. The Studebaker wagons were at first used as advertising replicas in showrooms. They quickly became popular toys. In 1897, Sears and Roebuck sold South Bend Toy rocking horses called "Shoo Fly Rockers." The line quickly expanded, and by 1911 a 90-page catalog detailed the toys that were available through the South Bend company.

NEW 12-07-03 Left: Signature product. An original South Bend Toy Compnay Croquet Set, on display at the Studebaker National Museum. Right: A Studebaker Junior in Denver, Colorado 1926. Although it proudly displayed the Studebaker logo the Junior was made by the South Bend Toy Mfg Co through 1941.

Christmas morning at Copshaholm. Pictured are original toys produced by the South Bend Toy Company. To the left of the Christmas tree a "Shoo Fly Rocker" and to the right a Studebaker Junior wagon.

At its peak in the 1970s, there were 400 to 430 employees. The familiar red-white-and-blue logo was famous nationally for the craftsmanship it symbolized. In 1960, it merged with Playskool, and then later Playskool became a subsidiary of Milton Bradley. Eventually, Milton Bradley became a subsidiary of Hasbro. The plant on Sample Street closed in 1985. The factory building later housed the South Bend License Branch and today it houses the South Bend Chocolate Company.

 

 

Former South Bend Toy Comapny building, now home to the South Bend Chocolate Company.

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