One of the most popular toys in history made its first appearance 107 years ago this week. On a hunting trip a few months earlier, then-President Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a bear cub, saying it would be unsportsmanlike.
Toy maker Morris Michtom saw a cartoon of the incident and was inspired to create a stuffed bear cub. He sent the first one to the President with a note asking for permission to call it “Teddy’s bear.” The President agreed. The animal became an immediate success, leading Michtom to found the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co. to keep up with demand.
At the same time, a German company produced a stuffed bear based on a design by Richard Steiff, which also became a hit. Other manufacturers joined in and soon “Roosevelt Bears” were a national craze. Ladies carried them everywhere; children begged for one for Christmas; the President himself even used one as a mascot in his bid for re-election.
Their popularity continues to this day, with millions of Teddy Bears being sold every year. All this because a political cartoonist at The Washington Post tried to make fun of the President.