The lovable teddy bear can be found in various forms all around the world. It shows up primarily in stuffed animal form, but is also found on t-shirts, dresses, posters, lunch boxes, and more. Most people do not know that teddy bears haven't been around that long. In fact, the teddy bear was invented in the U.S. and Germany almost at the same time during the early 20th century.
In November 1902, U.S. President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was involved in a hunting expedition in Mississippi. He was in the area in order to settle a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana. An avid hunter, Roosevelt was disappointed because he couldn't find any big game to shoot during the hunt. In response, his host caught a black bear cub and tied it to a tree so Roosevelt could kill it.
Legend has it that Roosevelt refused to shoot the bear, reasoning that the action would be cruel since the animal was tethered to a tree and defenseless. After hearing about this incident, artist Clifford Berryman drew a cartoon of Roosevelt and the bear. He then had the cartoon published in the Washington Post.
That very same month, Brooklyn store owners Morris and Rose Michtom created a soft bear toy. They dubbed it "Teddy's Bear" and placed it in the shop window along with a copy of Berryman's cartoon. To their surprise, Americans loved the idea and clamored to buy teddy bears. The original Teddy's Bear sported a chubby body, a face shaped like a triangle, and long arms and legs. Soon, the Michtoms grew rich from the proceeds and were able to begin the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company.
During the same time period, a disabled German woman named Margarete Steiff owned a soft toy factory in the city of Giengen. Her company included a soft bear in its toy catalog. Earlier, her nephew Richard had convinced Steiff to add bears to her list of toys. Reportedly, Richard had a fondness for bears and thought they would make a good addition to Steiff's product list.
Steiff began to manufacture soft bears, never realizing how popular they would become. In 1903, she sold 3000 toy bears to people in the United States. Between 1903 and the start of World War I, millions of bears were purchased from the Steiff toy catalog. Each bear had a button sewn in the left ear, the toys' trademark. People in England, the U.S., and Germany all bought toys from Steiff's company.
No one really knows for sure who should be credited with creating the first stuffed teddy bears, but most people would agree that teddy bears have enjoyed a long life. Their beginnings in the early 20th century paved the way for them to become one of the most popular toys to give a young child. Today, people buy teddy bears in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Despite the yearly influx of high-tech toys, the world's love affair with the simple teddy bear continues to endure.