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How Teddy Bear Got Its Name - Story, History and Facts

Updated on March 11, 2011

Teddy Bear Statue

Teddy Bear Statue
Teddy Bear Statue

Teddy Bear and Roosevelt

The cute, cuddly and widely collected teddy bears have an interesting history dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. Many people do not know that this teddy bear actually got its popular name from President Theodore Rooselvelt.

On 14 November 1902, Roosevelt was helping settle a border dispute between Missisippi and Louisiana. During his spare time, President Theodore Roosevelt decided to go for a bear hunt. Since he was the United States’ President, thus the people around him wanted to make sure that the hunt is successful.

After 3 days of riding and climbing and walking, there was still no bears to be found. The next day, the hunt guide with his hunting dogs finally found an old bear (in some other version of the stories, it was believed to be a little bear cub instead of an old bear). The guide and dogs then chased the bear for a quite a distance until the old bear was very tired. The hunting dogs attacked and injured the bear and then the guides tied the bear to a tree for the President to shoot.

Surprisingly enough, the President refused to shoot. No one should shoot this old bear (or a cub as in other versions of the story) for sport, this is not right, told by the president to his guide. The president then ordered the guide to release the bear and let it wander off.

On this trip there were newspapermen who then interested to publish this story of the President refusing to kill the helpless cub. There were also editorial cartoons drawn, showing how the president saved the bear. A man named Morris Michtom and his wife made a pair of creative stuffed bears to put in their shop window. They then asked a permission from President Roosevelt so that the bears can be given the name “Teddy’s” Bears.

The Teddy bear was a hit. The toy became the most popular toy in Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency. In 1907, the shop became the Ideal Novelty and Toy company. That in turn became The Ideal Toy Company in 1938. This cuddly toy has taken many shapes and varieties over the years, but it remains a teddy bear named after a kind president who would not kill an old bear (or a bear cub) on a hunting trip.

Some other Facts

President ‘Teddy’ felt that his name would not likely to be worth much in the bear toy business, but he allowed his name to be used and thus teddy bear was born.

40% of all adults are said to have their childhood teddy bear.

Because the President Theodore Roosevelt refused to kill a bear while hunting and since this incident made national news, the bear became a symbol of affection, love and innocence.

Guinness (8.5 mm tall) enters the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest teddy bear made by Lynn Lumb of Halifax, England.
The black teddy bears were created to give as mourning gifts after the tragedy of the Titanic.


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      Bethany 5 years ago

      I love that President.