Tuesday, May 15

The bear necessities

My Big Sister got to take a tour of a local teddy bear factory yesterday with her third grade class and make her own teddy bear to bring home.

Part of the tour explained the history of the teddy bear which I thought I'd share with you.

Back in November 1902, President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was hunting in the vicinity of Smedes, Miss. When tracking and locating a bear seemed likely to be fruitless, his hosts produced what was described as a "small bear” and encouraged Roosevelt to shoot him. Roosevelt refused. He would not shoot such a helpless creature in sport.

The incident became the topic of a political cartoon by Clifford Berryman in The Washington Post on Nov. 16, 1902.

According to the tour guide at Stuffington Bear Factory, candy store owner Morris Michtom saw the drawing of Roosevelt and the bear cub. He had his wife Rose make 10 stuffed bears which he sold for $10 each. He put one in his candy 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 later founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co.

Stuffington Teddy Bear Factory is one of the few stuffed animal manufacturers with production based in the United States. They have been creating stuffed animal gifts since 1959. The facility is 16,000 square feet and is a complete "cut and sew" production environment. They also have a retail store where they sell their teddy bears and stuffed animals.

They also host factory tours, school field trips, birthday parties and special events. During these events, visitors learn all about teddy bears and are able to stuff, comb, bathe and dress up their very own teddy bear.

What a good idea - combining history with toys.

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