How Did the Teddy Bear Get Its Name?

Quck answer

The teddy bear got its name from an incident involving President Theodore Roosevelt. During a hunting trip in Mississippi in 1902, Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear that had been captured and tied to a tree. A political cartoon depicting this event was published in The Washington Post, and a toy maker named Morris Michtom created a stuffed bear to capitalize on the story. Michtom’s bear was named “Teddy’s Bear” as a tribute to the president. The toy became popular and the name “teddy bear” stuck, becoming synonymous with stuffed bears in general.

The name “teddy bear” was derived from the U.S. President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.

In 1902, President Roosevelt went on a bear-hunting trip in Mississippi. During the hunt, Roosevelt refused to kill a bear that had been captured, considering the behavior of the other hunters as “unsportsmanlike”.

The news of the hunting trip quickly spread, and many newspapers across the country published political cartoons featuring “Teddy” and “the bear”.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, New York, a shop owner named Morris Michtom saw one of these cartoons and came up with an idea. Michtom and his wife created soft, stuffed bears and displayed them in the front window of their shop.

With Roosevelt’s permission, Michtom named these bears “Teddy bears”. They became an instant hit, with women and children carrying them in public. President Roosevelt even used the teddy bear as his mascot during his re-election campaign.

Until 2006, the largest teddy bear collection in the world could be found at The Teddy Bear Museum in England. The museum housed over 2,000 bears. However, in 2006, the museum was put up for auction.

Today, one family claims to own more than 5,000 teddy bears, although they have not officially counted them all. The Volpps’ collection includes a teddy bear that they purchased at an auction for $88,000.

Why would someone be willing to pay such a high price for a teddy bear? It all comes down to love: Mr. Volpps presented it to his wife on their 42nd wedding anniversary.

Try It Out

What can you do with a teddy bear? Come up with your own ideas or use the following suggestions for inspiration!

  • If you have a teddy bear that you think is a great friend, this video will show you how to make a superhero cape for your bear.
  • Use your teddy bears or create puppets based on willowday’s Fairly Leaf Puppets. Write a play and perform it for a friend or family member.
  • Make a toy sailboat and learn more about buoyancy and wind power with Science Buddies’ Make a Toy Sailboat activity on the Scientific American website. Can you find any small toys that can float on the boat? What other materials could you use to build a boat that your teddy bear (or another toy) could float on?

Wonder Sources



1. How did the teddy bear get its name?

The teddy bear got its name from an incident involving former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. In November 1902, Roosevelt went on a hunting trip in Mississippi. After hours of unsuccessful hunting, his companions managed to track down a bear and tied it to a tree for Roosevelt to shoot. However, Roosevelt refused to kill the defenseless bear, as it went against his principles of fair play.

2. What happened after Roosevelt spared the bear?

News of Roosevelt’s kind act spread quickly, and a political cartoonist named Clifford Berryman illustrated the incident in a cartoon titled “Drawing the Line in Mississippi.” The cartoon depicted Roosevelt refusing to shoot the bear. A Brooklyn shop owner, Morris Michtom, saw the cartoon and was inspired to create a stuffed toy bear in honor of the president’s compassionate act.

3. How did the teddy bear become popular?

Morris Michtom’s wife, Rose, sewed a small stuffed bear and placed it in their shop window with a sign that read, “Teddy’s bear.” The toy became an instant hit, with many people wanting to own their own “teddy bear.” The Michtoms founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company to meet the growing demand for teddy bears, and soon, these cuddly creatures became a beloved children’s toy worldwide.

4. Why is it called a teddy bear and not a Roosevelt bear?

The toy bear was named after Theodore Roosevelt because of his involvement in the incident that sparked its creation. The nickname “Teddy” was commonly used for Roosevelt, and the toy became known as the “teddy bear” as a result. The name stuck, and it has since become synonymous with this specific type of stuffed animal.

5. How has the teddy bear evolved over time?

Since its creation, the teddy bear has undergone various changes and adaptations. Different sizes, materials, and designs have been introduced to cater to different preferences and markets. Today, teddy bears come in a wide range of styles, from traditional brown bears to colorful and whimsical characters. They have also been featured in countless books, movies, and advertisements, solidifying their status as an enduring symbol of comfort and companionship.

6. What is the significance of the teddy bear today?

The teddy bear continues to hold a special place in the hearts of both children and adults. It represents comfort, love, and friendship. Many people have fond memories of their childhood teddy bears, and these toys often become cherished keepsakes passed down through generations. Additionally, teddy bears are often used in charitable efforts, such as comforting children in hospitals or being given to those in need during times of crisis. The teddy bear’s enduring popularity is a testament to its timeless appeal and the emotional connection it creates.

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