American Culture: Teddy Bears

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A teddy bear is a soft, plush bear toy that is named after our 26th President, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. (Teddy is short for Theodore.)

The teddy bear was created after an encounter between Roosevelt, a hunting enthusiast, and a black bear in Mississippi in 1902. Everyone in the hunting party had successfully hunted a bear, except Roosevelt. His assistants didn’t want Roosevelt’s hunting trip to be a failure so they captured and tied a black bear to a tree, making an easy target for Roosevelt to shoot. Regarding this as unsportsmanlike (unfair), Roosevelt refused to shoot the bear, and news of the event spread throughout the country. 

After seeing a political cartoon that gently mocked the president’s refusal to shoot the bear, a candy shop owner in Brooklyn named Morris Michtom created the stuffed toy. He dedicated it to the president, who gave permission to use his name. Thus, the teddy bear was born. 

Teddy bears look like cute, gentle little bear cubs, which is how the political cartoon represented the black bear. Even now the teddy bear has worldwide popularity. Do you have one?

This is the official cartoon drawn by Clifford Berryman in1902 that satirized Teddy Roosevelt's bear hunt.

(The above photo shows one of the original American teddy bears. made in 1907.)

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