When the word toy comes to our mind, the first choice among the huge list of that playful items would always include a teddy bear. Among the various types of cuddly soft toys available in the market, teddy bears are the ones that are the most commonly known, chosen for buying and sold in large numbers across the world on a daily basis. While many kinds of stuffed animal toys other than a teddy bear are gifted to children and are a source of delight for them, the latter has been able to transcend the age barrier and is often symbolized as a precious token of love that has the capability to make a dear person feel joyful when given to him/her. Besides being a perfect thing to calm a baby or a toddler when he / she throws up a worse tantrum, a teddy bear is often considered by the tiny tots as their dear companion in their imaginations with whom they can share their childish worries and they cherish it wholeheartedly. Meanwhile, the sight of a teddy bear can often cheer up an worried adult to some extent. For this reason, teddy bears are often associated in gift hampers along with flowers, chocolates and candles so that these perfect accompaniments can really brighten up the moods of the adults to whom it is being distributed or gifted. The adults who receive teddy bears as gifts often store it as a piece of a treasured showpiece.
The history of the invention of teddy bear is an interesting and famous one due to the association of a global influential personality behind it. The name ‘Teddy Bear’comes from former United States President Theodore Roosevelt, who was often referred to as “Teddy” (though he loathed being referred to as such). The story goes that Roosevelt, who was the US President from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909, had gone on a bear hunting trip to Mississippi in November 1902 on the invitation from the then Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino. While most of the hunters who had gone on the trip had been able to kill a bear, the President hadn’t been able to locate one. However, Roosevelt’s assistants, led by well-known bear hunter Holt Collier cornered and tied a black bear to a willow tree. When they called President Roosevelt to shoot the captured animal, he claimed that it was “extremely unsportsmanlike” and refused to do so. When the news of this extraordinary event became viral across newspapers, Clifford Berryman, a political cartoonist, decided to lightheartedly satirize Roosevelt’s refusal to shoot the bear. Berryman’s creation “Drawing the Line in Mississippi,” which showed Roosevelt showing compassion for a bear cub when it was being lassoed by a hunter, appeared in the American newspaper “The Washington Post” on November 16, 1902. The political cartoon art came to be popular as the “Teddy” and the “Bear.”This cartoon inspired Morris Michtom, a Brooklyn candy shop owner to create a stuffed toy bear along with his wife Rose. They decided to dedicate the stuffed bear toy to Roosevelt’s act of refusing to shoot down a bear. After the couple had shown their invention to the President, they received permission from him to use his name for the toy. Therefore, both of them named their invention as “Teddy’s Bear” and hung it in front of their candy shop window with a placard containing the name. Michtom’s candy shop was located at 404 Tompkins Avenue in Brooklyn. The stuffed toy bear became an instant hit among the people and Michtom earned a fortune with his unique creation which further made him capable to open a toy company Ideal Toy Company in 1907.
Apart from Michtom, one of the famous German men who made the stuffed toy bear a hit among the public eye was Richard Steiff. After Steiff joined his aunt Margarete’s enterprise, he started making unique toy bears which he codenamed as Steiff Bar 55 PB. (The number 55 refers to the bear’s height in centimeters, the letters P and B denotes Plush and Beweglich or Moveable Limbs respectively). Steiff’s toy bear designs were inspired by the ones he had observed and drawn while spending time at the Nill’scher Zoo. To showcase his creations, Steiff took about 100 of his toy bear creations to the Leipzig Toy Fair in 1903. The fair was a turning point of his career as an American buyer Herman Berg ordered the entire bear collection from him and even pre-ordered 3000 just before the exhibition finished. Therefore, the fortune that Steiff made from the fair enabled his aunt to found the Steiff company in 1880. A Steiff teddy bear has recently been sold for 3200 pounds (approx. Rs. 32 lakhs) at an auction in the United Kingdom (UK). The heritage toy bear which was given to one Ileene Ruth Smith on her seventh birthday on October 4, 1908 had been tagged as a special precious item as it had accompanied her on many nights in air raid shelters while she lived in London serving in the War Ministry organising the North Atlantic Convoys during the time of the second World War. However, the name of the buyer of this heritage toy bear at the auction hadn’t been disclosed to the public as per his/ her own wish.
Some of the reasons of the teddy bear being a timeless classic toy due to which it continues to be a source of appeal for people of all ages-
Good Companion for Children
It is not uncommon to see little children owning a collection of teddy bears and their highly cute act of showing these precious possessions proudly to their elders or friends. Besides enabling the children to creatively think of some funny names for each of their teddy bears, it also helps them to observe their activities they are made to follow in their daily routines by their parents so that they can repeat those same actions on their precious toys. Apart from getting a chance to act like a little parent literally, the children also feel that their teddy bears are their most trusted and non-judgemental friends so they even try to sleep with it in their beds if they are permitted by their elders. The best thing about a teddy bear or any kind of stuffed animal toy is that they are widely chosen for gifting to every child without taking their gender into account. Unlike a Barbie doll which is brought only for little girls and toy pistols / guns or some superhero playthings that is given only to boys, stuffed animal toys are probably the only category of toy models that are sold and brought without making any kind of discrimination on whether the child is male or female.
Increases Joy on Gifting
When a person is gifted a teddy bear only on special occasions such as birthdays, he / she will become happy later even if he / she shows an upset mood to the giver first. The soft and cute little plaything has the capacity to melt even a stone-hearted person and bring a smile on his/her face even if it is for a brief moment. Due to its ability of spreading joy, teddy bears are often chose as a gift item in birthday or Valentine gift hampers along with other knick-knacks such as chocolates, flowers, scented candles, aromatic soaps etc. It is a fact that even an adult will also not hesitate in wonderfully decorating his/her collection of teddy bears he/ she buys or gets as gifts on a shelf and look at them to find a ray of happiness in times of gloominess.
Spreads cheer even online
WhatsApp conversations nowadays are often accompanied with varieties of stickers. Among the numerous type of stickers that people make, find or manage to send after a long search through WhatsApp, the teddy bear ones have become quite common as it is widely shared through this messaging platform on a daily basis. Meanwhile, any kind of wishes- be it Good Morning, Good Night ,Happy Birthday- that are done on social media platforms are often accompanied by senders with pictures of the teddy bear with a hope that it provides a moment of cheer to the receiver.