Teddy Bears

Teddy Bears

Synopsis of Toy

Few toys have as much as sentimental value as teddy bears. These cuddly, furry little creatures have provided comfort and protection for countless generations of children looking for someone to protect them from the things that go bump in the night. As time has revealed, the teddy bears' combination of cuteness and strength is one of lasting popularity.

The creation of the teddy bear was inspired by the 26th President of the United States, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. The "teddy bear" story began in November 1902 when Roosevelt visited the southern United States to help settle a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana. During the trip, Roosevelt went bear hunting. The other men in his party cornered a bear near a water hole and offered Roosevelt a shot at it. They were surprised when Roosevelt declined the opportunity, saying it was un-sportsmanlike to shoot a trapped animal.

Clifford Berryman, a newspaper cartoonist for the Washington Post, witnessed this incident and it inspired him to draw a cartoon called "Drawing the Line in Mississippi." It depicted Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot the bear, but Berryman changed one detail of the incident: he altered the bear from a full-sized adult to a tiny, adorable cub. To Berryman's surprise, the cartoon was published in newspapers across the country. This led to the story behind the incident being altered to Roosevelt having refused to shoot an innocent cub. The revised tale caught on with the American public and led Berryman to do several more cartoons featuring his new trademark, “Teddy’s bear.” The enduring popularity of these creatures led author Seymour Eaton to pen a series of children's books under the name Paul Piper. They became a big hit and further helped the teddy bear become a part of popular culture.

The popularity of the fictional cub sparked the imagination of Morris Michtom, the owner of a small novelty store in Brooklyn, New York. Michtom's wife stitched several plush toy replicas of the bear for sale in the family store. When they sold quickly, Michtom sent Roosevelt one of the toy bears and asked permission to use the President's name on the bears. Roosevelt responded positively and Michtom, along with large wholesaling company Butler Brothers, began to mass-produce the toy bears. Thanks to the success of the teddy bear, Michtom was able to found the Ideal Toy Company, which would go on to become one of the biggest toy and doll manufacturers in the U.S.

Around that time, teddy bears also began to appear in Europe. Margaret Steiff, a German dressmaker, was designing stuffed toys around this time and created some bears at the suggestion of one of her nephews. She debuted these creations at Germany's Leipzig Toy Fair and attracted the attention of a visiting American toy buyer known as George Borgfeldt and Co. They ordered several thousand of these bears, which led Steiff to form her own successful company to handle the demand.

Since then, the teddy bear has outgrown its original inspiration to include several other cuddly types of bears, including those with names like Yogi, Paddington and even a red-shirted fellow known as Winnie the Pooh. No matter what guise he takes, the teddy bear remains a fixture in every young kid’s bedroom. In fact, he frequently pops up on the couches and beds of many adults (after all, you can never have enough protection against the boogey man). In short, the teddy bear is and always will be the king of stuffed animals.

Release History of Toy

1903 - Teddy Bears

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