Whether you had one, your kids had one or your grand-kids had one, chances are pretty good you’ve hugged one or two over your lifetime. It’s time to take a stroll down memory lane, folks. Sept. 9 celebrates an American icon. It’s (National) Teddy Bear Day, an annual holiday dedicated to those furry friends we love so much.
Children around the world have been hugging these warm and cuddly companions for over 100 years. In fact, teddy bears have a history that includes an American president! In 1902, United States President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was on a hunting trip in Mississippi. Members of the hunting party eventually captured an injured black bear after chasing it for hours and tying it to a tree. Roosevelt refused to shoot the injured bear unable to defend itself. ( That said, various accounts of the incident state the bear did not have a happy ending.)
Clifford Berryman, a political cartoonist, depicted the incident in The Washington Post which “drew” attention across the land. Store owners, Rose and Morris Michtom (or Mitchum) heard the story and created a soft toy called “Teddy’s Bear” and displayed him in their store window. Teddy’s bear became “wildly” popular and the couple went on to found the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co., which still exists today.
At about the same time, Margarete Steiff and her nephew, Richard, created the first stuffed bears with moveable arms and legs in Germany. 3,000 of the Bear55PB were purchased by an American trader and sold under the name of Teddy Bear. And the rest, as they say, is history.
And speaking of bears… Since its founding in 1997, Build-a-Bear Workshop have been “bringing the joy of creativity and imagination to families around the world.” With stores located in 18 countries, more than 145 million build-your-own interactive bears have been created. The organization has also donated more than $41 million to various charities like Make-A-Wish and Toys for Tots.