Who of us does not know the teddy bear? Honestly, I assume none. I even dare say that
99% of us grew up with these teddy toys around. But have you ever wondered how that stuffed
toy got so popular? How does it become so loved by kids and adults? What influence does it
have on culture and popculture? And most importantly – how does it originate? Let all of us at
Get-A-Bear make this clear – The incredible stories behind all these questions are worth every
minute you spend on reading. Well, nothing for us but to tell you about it.
The first teddy bear was created in 1902 by a German toymaker named Richard Steiff,
who was inspired by bears he had seen at the Stuttgart Zoo. Steiff’s teddy bear was made of
mohair plush and had jointed limbs that allowed it to be posed in different positions. The design
was a success and the Steiff company began producing teddy bears in large numbers. They
were initially sold in Germany and quickly became popular throughout Europe. The bears were
also exported to the United States, where they caught the attention of American toy makers.
And that is where our story begin.
The teddy bear as we know it today was created by Morris Michtom, a Russian-Jewish
immigrant who came to the United States in 1887. He and his wife Rose opened a small candy
store in Brooklyn, New York, where they sold various cand and small toys. In 1902, Michtom
was inspired by a political cartoon that depicted President Theodore Roosevelt sparing the life
of a bear during a hunting trip. It happened during Roosevelt’s hunting trip in Mississippi,
which did not really go his way as he was unable to find a bear to shoot. His companions
eventually found a bear cub and tied it to a tree for Roosevelt to shoot, but he refused,
considering it unsportsmanlike. Instead, Roosevelt instructed that the bear be set free, and the
story was picked up by newspapers, making him famous as a humane hunter.
Michtom created a toy bear and placed it in his store window, where it attracted
attention of the pedestrians. As time goes by, it became more and more popular, so the Michtom
took full advantage of his creative peak and founded factory – the Ideal Novelty and Toy
Company – five years after he created the first toy bear. Under Michtom’s leadership, the Ideal
Novelty and Toy Company became known for its high-quality toys and innovative designs.
The company introduced several new types of toys, including the first talking dolls, and
developed a reputation. But the stuffed bears became its most popular product. Around that
time it got its name “Teddy” in honor of president Roosvelt. However, Roosvelt himself did
not publicly comment on the teddy bear, and it is unclear if he had any opinion on it.
But back to the topic, The Ideal Novelty and Toy Company continued to operate
successfully for many years after Morris Michtom’s death in 1938. During the 1950s and
1960s, the company produced a wide variety of popular toys, including the Betsy Wetsy doll,
the Rubik’s Cube, and the Evel Knievel stunt cycle. In the 1980s, however, the company began
to face financial difficulties. It was acquired by the CBS toy group in 1982, but this did not
improve its fortunes. The company eventually filed for bankruptcy in 1984, and its assets were
sold off to various buyers. Since then, the Ideal brand and its intellectual property have changed
hands several times. At present, the rights to the Ideal name and its portfolio of classic toys are
owned by a company called Basic Fun!, which specializes in reviving classic toy brands. Basic
Fun! has released updated versions of several classic Ideal toys, including the Rubik’s Cube,
the Magic 8 Ball, and the Slinky.
With that in mind, let us reflect on the importance of Michtom’s succes. It led to the
creation of many other teddy bear manufacturers, and the teddy bear became a beloved toy
around the world. And this is a pretty good point to read about some marvellous stories about
teddies from different parts of the globe. Let us start with sky and what’s above it. NASA
astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery brought a teddy bear named “Leo” with them on a
mission in 1998. In 2000, a teddy bear named “Barnaby” was sent on a solo flight in a hot air
balloon across the Atlantic Ocean from England to the United States. Quite recently, in 2017,
a teddy bear was sent into space on a high-altitude balloon by students from Earth to Sky
Calculus, a non-profit organization that sends scientific experiments into the stratosphere.
Teddy bears have been also used to break records, promote activisim and to serve as a
symbol of comfort and support or other charity cause. There are many examples, but let us
focus on the most impressive ones. The world’s largest teddy bear? The one from China that
measured 55 feet tall. What about the oldest teddy bear? Meet the “Teddy Girl,” made by the
English company Farnell in 1904 and is still in good condition today. Disneyland-like
amusement park? Of course, check out the city of Teddybärstadt in Germany which was
founded in 2001 as a tourist attraction centered around the teddy bear. The town features a
teddy bear museum, a teddy bear hospital, and even teddy bear-themed hotel rooms.
Speaking of charity, in 2019 an event happened in the UK and set a new world record
with over 35,000 teddy bears gathered in one location. In 2013, a group of volunteers in Russia
organized a teddy bear flash mob, where hundreds of people gathered in a park to hug teddy
bears and spread love and kindness. The “Polar Bear Love” campaign by the World Wildlife
Fund, used teddy bears image to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on polar
And thus we moved on the teddy bear’s impact on culture and popculture. In the United
States, the term “teddy bear” has become a political metaphor. For example, during the 2020
presidential election, some political analysts used the term “teddy bear” to describe a political
candidate who is seen as likable and approachable. In some cultures, teddy bears are given as
gifts to signify love, comfort, and protection. For example, in China, a traditional wedding gift
is a pair of teddy bears to represent the bride and groom. The teddy bear has been the subject
of many songs, including “Teddy Bears’ Picnic,” “The Teddy Bear Song,” and “Teddy Bear’s
Christmas.”. The teddy bear has been also featured in a number of children’s books, including
“Corduroy” by Don Freeman, “Little Bear” by Maurice Sendak, and “The Story of the Teddy
Bear” by David McPhail. Some teddy bears have become famous in their own right, such as
Paddington Bear, Corduroy, and Smokey Bear.
But that is not all. The Bear Wear is a program run by the American black bear
conservation organization – Black Bear Conservation Committee. The program creates and
sells teddy bears that are made from recycled fur coats, with all profits going towards black
bear conservation efforts. The idea behind the program is that if people have a cute, cuddly
teddy bear, they may be less likely to hunt or harm real-life bears. The Teddy Trust in a UK
work in a similiar way. It is a charity that collects and distributes teddy bears to children in
need around the world. In addition to helping children, the charity also works to protect reallife bears by partnering with organizations that work to conserve bear habitats and raise
awareness about bear conservation.
After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a group of teddy bear enthusiasts in
the UK organized a fundraising campaign called “Teddy Bears for Japan.” The campaign raised
money to purchase and donate teddy bears to children affected by the disaster. In addition to
helping children, the campaign also raised awareness about the Asiatic black bear, which is
native to Japan and is threatened by habitat loss and poaching.
An honorable mention goes to teddy bear museum in Jeju island that features over
14,000 teddy bears from around the world, including historic bears, celebrity bears, and
handcrafted bears. Museum is a popular tourist attraction and draws visitors from all over the
world who come to see the extensive collection of teddy bears and learn about the history and
cultural significance of this beloved toy. The museum also has a special section dedicated to
Korean culture and history, with bears dressed in traditional Korean clothing and displays that
highlight Korean customs and traditions.
It is high time to move on to extra yet scary fact about teddy bears. There have been
stories and claims of haunted teddy bears, although there is no scientific evidence to support
such claims. Most of these stories are based on urban legends, folklore, or myths, and many
are likely hoaxes. One famous story involves a teddy bear called “Mr. Ted,” which is said to
be haunted by the ghost of a young boy who died while holding the bear. According to the
story, the bear has caused strange occurrences and even physical harm to people who have
come into contact with it. However, there is no evidence to support the story, and it is widely
believed to be a hoax. In another alleged case, a woman claimed that a teddy bear she
purchased at a thrift store was haunted by the spirit of a young girl. The woman claimed that
the bear would move on its own and emit strange noises.
However, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim, and it is likely that the
woman was experiencing a psychological phenomenon known as pareidolia, where the brain
perceives patterns or sounds as meaningful when they are not. While haunted teddy bears
may make for spooky stories and legends, there is no evidence to support the existence of
actual haunted toys. While there may not be any concrete evidence of haunted teddy bears,
some people believe that objects can retain the energy or spirit of their former owners, which
can lead to paranormal activity. Here are a few more stories and examples related to haunted
The story of Okiku’s Doll: In Japan, there is a legend of a haunted doll named
Okiku’s Doll, which is said to be a possessed Japanese kimono doll. According to the story,
the doll was given to a young girl named Okiku by her brother, who bought it while he was
stationed in Sapporo. After Okiku died, the doll was kept in her family’s home, where it was
believed to be haunted by her spirit. The doll’s hair is said to have grown over the years,
which is considered a sign of its supernatural power.
The Haunted Teddy Bear of Napa Valley: In 2008, a woman in Napa Valley claimed
that a teddy bear she had bought at a thrift store was haunted by the spirit of a deceased child.
The woman reported that the bear would move on its own and make strange noises. After the
story was featured in local news, the woman received numerous offers to buy the bear, and it
eventually sold for over $1,000 on eBay.
And this is the end of our journey through fascinating history of this seemingly
ordinary plush toy. Who knows? Maybe one day you would tell one of these stories to your
friends, relatives or children; expect the ghost stories in the last case. One thing is for sure –
with such a knowledge, no one will ever perceive teddy bear like he used to.
Teddy Bear History
Who of us does not know the teddy bear? Honestly, I assume none. I even dare say that