HomeFactThe Story Of How Toy Bears Were Named ‘Teddy Bears’ After Theodore Roosevelt
The Story Of How Toy Bears Were Named ‘Teddy Bears’ After Theodore Roosevelt
June 28, 2022
To answer why teddy bears were named after Theodore Roosevelt we’ll have to go back to 1902. You see, in November of that year, Mississippi Governor, Andrew H. Longino, invited President Theodore Roosevelt to a hunting trip. “Teddy” accepted the invitation and went to Mississippi for a three day bear hunting.
But after three days, the President’s trip was turning into a failure. You see, everyone else hunted down bears but Roosevelt, despite his efforts, didn’t. To save the day, the hunt guides found a bear and tied it to a tree so that the President could kill it.
When they called him to shoot it, Roosevelt looked at the bear and refused to do it as he felt that shooting it would be… unsportsmanlike. In just a few days, words of this hit the press across the US, and the famous political cartoonist Clifford Berryman draw this cartoon on the November 16, 1902 issue of the Washington post: (the article continues after the ad)
The “Drawing the line in Mississippi” cartoon was an instant success and soon other cartoonists picked up on the story and started copying the concept. Moreover, Berryman himself used the “Roosevelt-bear” connection in more cartoons during the ex-President’s career. This was enough to connect bears with Theodore Roosevelt.
In the months to come, a Brooklyn, NY candy shop owner named Morris Michtom, had the clever idea of using this as a business model. He asked permission from Roosevelt himself to name the stuffed toy bears his wife was making “Teddy’s bears” and started selling them in hundreds. These toy bears were an instant success and eventually Michtom created the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.
In 1903, the news started spreading around the world and Steiff, a German based company of stuffed toy animals, started calling their stuffed bears “Teddy bears” as well. This led to an international connection and this is why even today, more than a century later, people from all over the globe call toy bears… teddy bears.