Feb 162013

On February 15, 1903, an event occurred that forever changed the lives of children in our country and across the globe….The first teddy bear was offered for sale! The bear was the ingenious idea of Morris Michtom.
Michtom saw the political cartoon displayed with this post. The November 16, 1902 cartoon, entitled “Drawing the Line in Mississippi” was created by Washington Post political cartoonist Clifford Berryman. Although Berryman’s drawing portrays a compassionate President Theodore Roosevelt saving the life of the bear, the actual event may have been quite different. Various accounts reported that Roosevelt, an avid hunter, actually ordered a black bear who was either wounded, old, or both to be killed during a 1902 hunting trip in Mississippi. Other accounts of the trip contend that Roosevelt actually released a bear who had been tied up so the President could shoot it. Berryman’s cartoon was an attempt to display a softer side to Roosevelt who was known for phrases such as, “Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far.””
Michtom was a New York store owner who sold candy and other novelties. After seeing Berryman’s cartoon, Michtom and his wife Rose, came up with the idea for the teddy bear. Michtom contacted Roosevelt, and the President agreed to have his nickname, “Teddy”, associated with the stuffed animal. The idea was so successful that Michtom eventually established the Idea Novelty and Toy Company. The company later became known as the Ideal Toy Company.


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