Toy story

Find out how the teddy bear got its name

How It Works - - HISTORY -

Once upon a time in 1902, the Pres­i­dent of the United States was hunt­ing for bears in the woods. He had not seen a sin­gle one and the other hun­ters be­gan to feel sorry for him, so they cor­nered and chained an old black bear to a tree. But the Pres­i­dent re­fused to shoot the an­i­mal, say­ing it was un­sports­man­like. The news made the front page – it wasn’t just any pres­i­dent, it was Theodore Roo­sevelt, the big game hunter!

Po­lit­i­cal car­toon­ist Clif­ford Ber­ry­man satirised the event, draw­ing the old bear as an adorable cub. See­ing the il­lus­tra­tion, sweet shop own­ers Rose and Mor­ris Mich­tom were in­spired to make a stuffed toy bear and called it ‘Teddy’s Bear’. They made soft toys as a side-line busi­ness, but soon re­quests for Teddy Bears were com­ing in thick and fast. Af­ter gain­ing Roo­sevelt’s per­mis­sion to use his name, the cou­ple started mass-pro­duc­ing them.

Mean­while, in Germany, the Steiff fam­ily of toy mak­ers had pro­duced a mo­hair bear with mov­able limbs af­ter a trip to the zoo. They ex­hib­ited their cre­ation at a toy fair, where an Amer­i­can busi­ness­man or­dered 3,000. Soon, other bears were flooding the mar­ket, cap­i­tal­is­ing on their pop­u­lar­ity. More than a cen­tury later, the teddy bear still lives hap­pily ever af­ter.

Clif­ford Ber­ry­man’s fa­mous cartoon of Roo­sevelt re­fus­ing to kill a black bear

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