Oleg Zabluda's blog
Monday, August 01, 2005
Teddy Bear

In 1902 U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt had an incident on a bear-hunting trip in Mississippi, when he refused to shoot a bear cub. "Teddy's Bear" was immediately publicized by political cartoonists.

On February 15, 1903, Morris Michtom and his wife Rose made and displayed two stuffed bears in the window of their Brooklyn candy store shortly thereafter, and said they had received President Roosevelt's written permission to call them "Teddy's bears". The Bears sold like wildfire, and within a year, Michtom closed his candy store, and founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co. - still one of the biggest toy firms in the world over ninety years later.

German toy maker Margarete Steiff had started to produce stuffed toy animals in 1880; the first one was a little elephant. Her nephew Richard Steiff convinced her to produce a toy bear cub in 1902. They were completely unaware of what was going on in New York. The bear first appeared in public at the 1903 Spring Toy Fair at Leipzig, but - to Richard's disappointment, nobody seemed interested. Legend has it that it was only as Richard was packing away the stand at the end of the fair, that an American toy buyer came up to him, seized the bear, and ordered 3000 on the spot.

Michtom's bear had a more endearing, baby-faced appearance, while Steiff's more closely resembled a real bear cub. Within a few years of their invention, Teddy Bear-mania had swept the world. Roosevelt adopted the bear cub as his mascot for a successful re-election campaign, and Steiff redesigned their bears to create a more appealing face.

A.A. Milne created a fictional bear called Winnie-the-Pooh, named after a stuffed bear owned by Milne's son, Christopher Robin Milne. He first appeared appears in the book published October 14, 1926.

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