2.15.1903– The first “teddy” bears were put on display by Morris and Rose Mitchum in their store at 404 Thompkins Avenue in Brooklyn. Named in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt (that much is true), the rest of the story behind the teddy bear is pure fiction.
The tale of Roosevelt refusing to shoot a black bear that had been caught and tied up for him on a Mississippi hunting trip is political mythicalness at its finest and sweetest. An “incident” that was instead the brainchild of cartoonist Clifford K. Berrymann, meant to satirize TR.
The cartoon inspired candy seller and aspiring toymaker Morris Mitchum, a Russian Jewish immigrant, to create a small stuffed bear and put it in his shop window, calling it “Teddy’s bear.” Sales were so brisk that Mr. Mitchum was able to found the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co., which went on the manufacture such hits as the Magic 8 Ball and the Rubik’s cube.
By 1906, Teddy bears were a full-on craze, and not just for children: High society women carried them as accessories, and Roosevelt used one as the mascot for his 1906 reelection campaign.
I think that’s Bully!