Teddy Bears are the most adorable toys that ever “walked” on Earth. They are furry, fuzzy little creatures that are usually filled with cotton, soft filling or even small grains of safe material for babies, toddlers and children.
The history and origins of the Teddy Bear are very mixed, because it has two different possible creations in very different parts of the world.
In spite of this, there is one very clear origin and it’s safe to say that the cutest toy in the world was named after a very important and famous person. Keep reading to find out the history of the Teddy Bear and why is it named this way.
History of the Teddy Bear
The most known theory is that the name of Teddy Bears comes from the 26th president of the United States of America.
This man was commonly known as Teddy by friends and family (even though he really disliked the nickname).
But this name wasn’t given by mere coincidence. The name of the fuzziest creature in the toy world comes from a very specific incident in which Theodore Roosevelt was invited by Governon Andew Longino to the Mississippi lands for a hunting trip in November of 1902.
The place was filled with hunters who had experience killing animals, so they cornered and tied up an American black bear to a willow tree; and they brought Roosevelt to the site and suggested that he shoot the bear.
The then president refused to shoot the bear by himself because he considered he wasn’t ideal for the task, but he demanded that the bear be killed to put it out of its misery.
This even became the main theme of a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman, in the Washington Post edition on November 16, 1902.
The original cartoon depicted an adult black bear with a wild appearance, but in later issues of the Berryman cartoonist, the bear was drawn cutter and smaller in size.
Toy maker Morris Michtom saw the drawing of Roosevelt and felt inspired to create a cute Teddy Bear.
He built a tiny bear cub with soft filling and placed it in the shop window with a sign that read “Teddy’s bear” (not before asking for permission for the president).
These adorable toys soon became a success and led to Michtom founding the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co.
Alternative theory of Teddy Bears
Around the same time from the first event, in Germany a toy firm called Steiff produced a stuffed bear directly from Richard Steiff’s original drawings and designs.
This stuffed bear was exhibited at the Leipzig Toy Fair in March, 1901. At this exhibition, a buyer from George Borgfeldt & Company in New York called Hermann Berg saw the bear and ordered 3,000 units to be sent to the US.
In spite of this order being lifted and there being proof by Steiff’s records, there’s no recollection of the Teddy Bears ever arriving in the United States.
Some people say the bears did arrive but they were so poorly constructed that they wouldn’t have survived until present day.
Although both Steiff and Michtom came up with the idea for the Teddy Bears around the same time, there’s no way one could have known of the other’s plans, so it was mere coincidence.
We should mention that early Teddy Bears were constructed to look like real life bears, with extended snouts and beady, realistic eyes.
With time, though, bears started being modified to have larger eyes, smaller noses and even babylike features to enhance their cuteness. Early Teddy Bears were also covered in mohair fur which had a very realistic appearance.
Is Teddy Bear a trademark?
While this is one of the most known words in the English language, the term “Teddy Bear” was never really registered by its creator, Morris Michtom under the Ideal Novelty & Toy Company.
Nowadays the name is mostly descriptive. In 1950 the first trademark listed for the words “teddy bear” were under the description under Nice class 28, and today; over 50,000 live trademarks list “teddy bear” as a product description.
The terms were described, in order of volume: China (21.8%), South Korea (12.2%) and Russia (11.3%).
So now you know why are Teddy Bears called this way.
The history of this adorable type of toys is a very charming one, one that involves mercy for an animal and a cuteness overload. Next time you go shopping for a Teddy Bear you’ll know the origin of their fluffy face.