I actually asked myself this question after stumbling upon the movie Ted on the TV during the weekend. Some of the American viewers of this website are probably familiar with the story. However, Teddy bears are popular all over the world and repeating the story of the famous stuffed toy’s name origin is always enjoyable.

The beloved by all children and even grown-ups Teddy bear is based on a real story which includes the former US President Theodore Roosevelt. As is typical for Presidents, he was being invited to many occasions, one of which was a bear hunting trip in Mississippi back in 1902. In contrast to him, most of his companions had killed animals before. A group of them trapped and tied an American Black Bear, and called for Roosevelt to come and kill it. However, the President thought this is not right, but seeing the bear suffering from the hunting and being tied to a tree, he told the bear to be killed in order to be spared the pain.

The story was spread across the country and soon after that a political cartoon was published by Clifford Berryman in The Washington Post. However, in this drawing the bear was represented as a cute bear cub. It was this cartoon that inspired Morris Michtom, a Russian Jewish immigrant, selling candies and making stuffed animals, to start working on Teddy. After asking permission from Roosevelt, he started selling stuffed bear cubs by the name of “Teddy’s bear”. The toys dedicated to the President became huge success and so Mr. Michtom founded The Ideal Novelty and Toy Co.

political cartoon name origin teddy bear

During this time there had been other people working on stuffed bears overseas, but the name Teddy bear stuck to the toy throughout the years :)