Hasbro, Inc. is a diversified American multinational corporation headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Originally founded as Hassenfeld Bros in late 1923 by three Polish-Jewish brothers, Herman, Hillel, and Henry Hassenfeld, the company initially focused on selling textile remnants. Over the subsequent two decades, it expanded into the manufacturing of pencil cases and school supplies.
In 1961, Hassenfeld Brothers extended its operations into Canada, establishing Hassenfeld Brothers (Canada) Ltd. The year 1963 saw the introduction of a product called Flubber. The Food and Drug Administration investigated the product and its imitations due to reported health concerns and Hassenfeld Brothers recalled it..
In the same year, the company was presented with an opportunity to license a toy based on The Lieutenant, a TV series, but they declined, preferring not to be tied to a potentially short-lived television series. Instead, in 1964, Hassenfeld Brothers created the G.I. Joe toy, which they branded as an “action figure” to appeal to boys who might not be inclined to play with dolls. This decision proved highly successful, as G.I. Joe accounted for two-thirds of Hassenfeld’s sales in 1964 and 1965.
The company officially adopted the name Hasbro Industries on July 12, 1968, having previously marketed toys under the Hasbro trade name. In 1969, in response to the Vietnam War, Hasbro redesigned the G.I. Joe toy line to adopt a more adventure-themed and less militaristic approach.
By 1974, sales for the G.I. Joe toy line had started to decline, prompting Hasbro to expand their range of toys to compensate. Unfortunately, most of these new ventures were unsuccessful, and combined with some product recalls due to injuries, profits declined. Consequently, Hasbro discontinued the G.I. Joe toy line in 1975, citing the escalating costs of plastic and crude oil, rendering its production unsustainable.
Less than a decade later, in 1982, Hasbro relaunched the G.I. Joe line in collaboration with Marvel Comics. The reimagined G.I. Joe was introduced in a 3 3/4″ scale, now portrayed as an elite military unit with a resolute mission to safeguard freedom from the malevolent Cobra organization. Simultaneously, Hasbro introduced the highly successful My Little Pony toy franchise. This was followed by the introduction of the Transformers toy line, accompanied by a children’s animated TV series, just two years later. The combined success of these toys and TV series led Stephen Hassenfeld to feature alongside the toys on the cover of People magazine.
In the 80s, Hasbro introduced other popular toys like Jem, a fashion doll, Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, and Cabbage Patch Kids.. In 1995, Mattel proposed a merger, but it was rejected by the Hasbro board in 1996 due to antitrust concerns. Hasbro became the toy manufacturer for Star Wars, Pokemon, and Jurassic Park franchises in the 1990s.
Hasbro teamed up with Paramount Pictures in 2007 to make the Transformers movie franchise, earning more than $5 billion globally.. The company also launched a G.I. Joe live-action film series, which received mixed reviews from audiences.
Today, Hasbro is renowned for a diverse range of popular products including Transformers, G.I. Joe, Power Rangers, Mr. Potato Head, Monopoly, Furby, Nerf, Ouija boards, Play-Doh, Twister, My Little Pony, Peppa Pig, and PJ Masks.
Matt Lambros RI Pawtucket Sep 14, 2023 Fun History Nostalgia