Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Teddy Bear

        Christmas Eve is once again upon us and in light of the holiday I like to remember a gift that some children don't find as appealing today as they did in the past.  The teddy bear, still popular as a collectable in some circles, was once Christmas's number one gift almost one hundred years ago: but does anyone know where the teddy bear came from and how it received it's name?

        In November of 1902 our 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, was invited on a bear hunting trip in Mississippi.  The trip was a success for everyone on the hunting expedition except for President Roosevelt.  So a man by the name of Holt Collier cornered, clubbed, and tied up a black bear and offered him up to the president.  The president declined killing the animal saying that its unsportsmanlike to take an animals life in that fashion.  Clifford Berryman, a cartoonist for the Washington Post, caught word of what the President did and drew a political cartoon.  The cartoonist drew the bear looking sweet and innocent as the president waved off the animal as if not wanting anything to do with the killing.

        Morris Michtom, a candy salesman and stuffed animal maker, saw this drawing and decided to create a stuffed animal based on the sketch. The bear was made and placed in his store window with a sign reading 'Teddy's Bear;' this was done soon after he sent the bear to the president himself and received permission to use his name.  The stuffed animal was a success and so Michtom founded The Ideal Novelty and Toy Co.

        In 1906 other manufacturers got in on the craze, people began seeing the stuffed animal everywhere.  Children had their picture's taken with them and even Theodore Roosevelt used the bear as his mascot in his re-election campaign.

       When the bear was first made they were created to resemble a bear with small eyes and a long snout.  Today the teddy bear has a shorter snout and larger eyes which makes them more attractive to the buyer, giving them a baby like quality.

       It's not a forgotten toy but the bears popularity isn't as strong as it once was.  So maybe along with giving your kid that ipod or game system he or she has always wanted, why not give them a teddy bear as well?  I am willing to bet fifteen to twenty years from now the bear will still be something they hold onto.

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