How The Teddy Bear Got Its Name

A teddy bear is our closest childhood companion, sharing our secrets, thoughts and dreams but just how did our best friend get his name? Well, it’s all down to a famous U.S. President and a hunting trip that went wrong. 

The story starts in 1902 when one of America’s most famous presidents, Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt was invited to join a bear hunting trip by Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino. After several days, most members of the hunting party had been successful in securing a kill however Roosevelt had not managed to track a single bear. On the fourth day, the guides cornered an old black bear and tied it to a willow tree and suggested that the President shoot it however Roosevelt, being a proud big game hunter refused, calling it unsportsmanlike.

The story of the unsuccessful hunt spread quickly through newspaper articles across the country and on November 16th 1902, a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman appeared in the Washington Post showing Roosevelt refusing to shoot a frightened bear cub.

The cartoon was seen by Morris Michtom who, with his wife Rose, owned a candy and novelty shop in New York.  Inspired by the Clifford Berryman’s cartoon, Michtom had an idea. He put in his shop window two stuffed toy bears made by Rose and, with permission from President Roosevelt, called them “Teddy’s Bears”.  The bears became a hit and by 1906 ‘Teddy’s Bears’ were all the rage.  Soon the Michtoms dropped the apostrophe and in 1907 began mass producing ‘Teddy Bears’ under their new ‘Ideal Novelty and Toy Company’.

So that is how the Teddy Bear got its name—from the 26th President of the United States and a topsy-turvy bear hunt in Mississippi way back in 1902.

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