July 15, 2010
The name Teddy Bear comes from former United States President Theodore Roosevelt, whose nickname was "Teddy". The name originated from an incident on a bear-hunting trip in Mississippi in November 1902, to which Roosevelt was invited by Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino. There were several other hunters competing, and most of them had already killed an animal. A suite of Roosevelt's attendants, led by Holt Collier, cornered, clubbed, and tied an American Black Bear to a willow tree after a long exhausting chase with hounds. They called Roosevelt to the site and suggested that he should shoot it. He refused to shoot the bear himself, deeming this unsportsmanlike, but instructed that the bear be killed to put it out of its misery, and it became the topic of a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman in The Washington Post on November 16, 1902. While the initial cartoon of an adult black bear lassoed by a white handler and a disgusted Roosevelt had symbolic overtones, later issues of that and other Berryman cartoons made the bear smaller and cuter.
Morris Michtom saw the drawing of Roosevelt and the bear cub and was inspired to create a new toy. He created a little stuffed bear cub and put it in his shop window with a sign that read "Teddy's bear," after sending a bear to Roosevelt and receiving permission to use his name. The toys were an immediate success and Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co.
At the same time, in Germany the Steiff firm, unaware of Michtom's bear, produced a stuffed bear from Richard Steiff's designs. They exhibited the toy at the Leipzig Toy Fair in March 1903 and exported 3000 to the United States.
By 1906 manufacturers other than Michtom and Steiff had joined in and the craze for "Roosevelt Bears" was such that ladies carried them everywhere, children were photographed with them, and Roosevelt used one as a mascot in his bid for re-election.
American educator Seymour Eaton wrote the children's book series The Roosevelt Bears, while composer John Bratton wrote "The Teddy Bear Two Step" which, with the addition of Jimmy Kennedy's lyrics, became the song "The Teddy Bears' Picnic".
If you go down in the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise
If you go down to the woods today
You'd better go in disguise
For ev'ry bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic
Ev'ry teddy bear who's been good
Is sure of a treat today
There's lots of marvelous things to eat
And wonderful games to play
Beneath the trees
, where nobody sees
They'll hide and seek as long as they please
That's the way the teddy bears have their picnic
Picnic time for teddy bears
The little teddy bears are having a lovely time today
Watch then, catch them unaware
And see them picnic on their holiday
See them gaily gad about
They love to play and shout
They never have any cares
At six o' clock
Their mummies and daddies
Will take them home to bed
'Cause they're tired little teddy bears
Henry Hall & His Orchestra - The Teddy Bear's Picnic (1932)
Puppet singing Teddy Bears Picnic
Teddy Bears' Picnic Sing-a-long Karaoke