The Teddy Bear

The Teddy Bear, Inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt

The Teddy Bear, a beloved stuffed toy and a childhood staple, has a fascinating history rooted in American politics. Inspired by President Theodore Roosevelt, the Teddy Bear became an enduring symbol of kindness and compassion.

  • In November 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt went on a bear-hunting trip in Mississippi. After an unsuccessful hunt, his assistants captured and tied a black bear to a tree, urging the President to shoot it. Roosevelt refused, deeming it unsportsmanlike.

  • The incident was widely reported, and political cartoonist Clifford Berryman drew a cartoon titled “Drawing the Line in Mississippi,” published in The Washington Post on November 16, 1902. The cartoon featured Roosevelt and the spared bear cub, capturing the public’s imagination.

  • Inspired by the cartoon, Brooklyn-based candy shop owner Morris Michtom and his wife Rose created a plush toy named “Teddy’s Bear.” Michtom sent one to Roosevelt and received permission to use his name. The Teddy Bear was born.

  • At the same time, German toy manufacturer Steiff independently designed a bear toy. It debuted at the 1903 Leipzig Toy Fair, where it caught the attention of an American buyer who placed a large order, helping to popularize the toy in the United States.

  • Teddy Bears quickly became a cultural phenomenon, with songs, books, and cartoons featuring the cuddly toys. The 1907 song “Teddy Bears’ Picnic,” composed by John Walter Bratton with lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy, remains a well-known children’s tune.

Trivial facts:

  1. Teddy Bears are now produced in various sizes, materials, and colors, with some being collector’s items and fetching high prices at auctions.
  2. The world’s first Teddy Bear museum was established in Petersfield, Hampshire, England 1984.
  3. Every year on September 9, the United States celebrates National Teddy Bear Day.
  4. The largest Teddy Bear was 65 feet tall and weighed nearly 4 tons.
  5. The term “Teddy Bear” has been used to describe gentle, nurturing people, like pediatricians or caregivers.

The Teddy Bear’s origin story, with its connection to President Theodore Roosevelt, highlights the importance of compassion and sportsmanship. Over the years, the toy has evolved into a symbol of comfort and companionship, making it a cherished part of popular culture worldwide.