Driving Down Memory Lane
July 13, 2016
The amazing journey of the Hess toys all started with a 19-year-old, the Great Depression, a truck and a lot of determination.
Leon Hess, who we’ve come to know as the founder of one of the world’s biggest petroleum companies and creator of the Hess Toy Truck, was just a 19-year-old working for his father’s fuel-oil business in 1933. He was driving a single, small, 1926 B-Mack 615-gallon truck that he purchased second-hand, delivering home heating oil in the beach town of Asbury Park, NJ. Little did he know that this would be the start of a legacy.
Leon took over his father’s business and recognized the potential for growth. He reorganized the business and drove his small Hess oil tanker truck seven days a week, delivering heating oil and winning coveted contracts. Following World War II, where Leon had served in the U.S. Army as a petroleum supply company, he used his newfound knowledge of the industry to expand his company’s distribution and storage capacities. He acquired a 10,000-ton tanker, built a refinery and opened his first Hess gas station in his home state in 1960.
Even as the Hess oil company grew into one of the world’s largest energy companies, Leon never forgot how it all started. Eventually after retiring the 1926 B-Mack truck from active service, Leon had it transported to St. Lucia, restored, transported to the Port Reading, N.J., refinery and then put on display. It later was moved to the lobby of the Hess Corporation building in Woodbridge, NJ, until 2015 when it moved to its current location in the lobby of Hess Tower in downtown Houston, TX, where it remains proudly on display.
In 1964, the Hess Toy Truck started and quickly became a holiday toy phenomenon and family tradition. For the 1982 toy truck, Hess went down memory lane with the aptly named First Hess Truck, which was released on Nov. 25, 1982, and reissued on Nov. 24, 1983. Ranked among the most finely detailed toy trucks in the series, it is a replica of the 1926 B-Mack 615-gallon truck, painted with the original Hess green, white, yellow and red, with doors that open to reveal the cab interior, working lights, rubber foot treads at the door, and a rubber oil-delivery hose that spools and unspools.
The First Hess Truck was brought back in 1985 with a twist: The First Hess Truck Bank was released on Nov. 28 of that year with a coin slot at the top of the truck’s center tank.
While the amazing journey of the Hess Toy Truck may have started with a determined 19-year-old, the journey continues as fans of all ages bring out their collections – including the 1982 First Hess Truck and 1985 First Hess Truck Bank – to play, reminisce and carry on the legacy.
So what do you think of this history and how Hess Corporation decided to honor it in the toy truck fleet? Be sure to share your reactions, favorite Hess Toy Truck memories, Hess history and more on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages. We love reading your stories and seeing your pictures about how the Hess Toy Truck has been a part of your family over the years. Tag @hesstoytruck so your story can be featured!