Short History of the Teddy Bear

Who is Teddy? And where can you and I meet this most famous bear? Bears everywhere, even the reclusive panda, all pay homage to a bear named Teddy. The true story of the Teddy Bear is the stuff - or should we say "stuffed" - legends are made of.

The most common explanation for the wholesale use of the term of the "teddy bear" begins in November 1902, when President Roosevelt went out west to help settle a border dispute between two southern states. While on the trip, Roosevelt went hunting, but had little luck. His friends trapped a bear, which had fought with and killed one of the group's dogs. When Roosevelt saw what had happened, he ordered his men to humanely put the bear down.

The cartoon that started it all.

He redrew the cartoon, changing the angry bear to a small, frightened-looking cub. The story changed too. The newly minted legend said that, after hunting all day and not finding a thing, Roosevelt was given the opportunity to shoot a cub that his friends had captured. Naturally, Roosevelt refused. This account of Roosevelt's trip caught on at a wholesale level and soon the cub was appearing everywhere in cartoons.

A turn of the century antique teddy bear.

The small cub cartoons caught the interest of Morris Michtom, the owner of gift shop in Brooklyn, New York. Michtom's wife stuffed herself some bears with a little sewing and imagination. When they sold out in a few hours, Michtom decided to send Roosevelt a bear and get his endorsement. Roosevelt agreed and Michtom, along with a large wholesale company, Butler Brothers, began to created stuffed teddy bears and sell them everywhere. Michtom probably didn't know it, but he had created a new piece of American heritage. Now teddy bears are sold in gift shops, flower shops, used in gift baskets, and just about everywhere.

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