The teddy bear's link to Brooklyn and a president
NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - A shop at 404 Tompkins Avenue in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, is home to one of world's cuddliest toys. 114 years ago, after just one day on display in this very storefront window, the first teddy bear was sold.
The iconic bear is known for its soft exterior and lovable nature. But Theodore Roosevelt reprisor Joe Wiegand knows all too well: it wouldn't be the toy as we know it if it weren't for a failed hunting trip by our 26th president.
"[Teddy Roosevelt] refused to shoot a bear that had been wounded and tied to a tree in the Delta region... of Mississippi, and that story spread," Wiegand said.
After Roosevelt pardoned the bear, the Washington Post printed an illustration of the event. The cartoon highlighted the softer side of the huntsman. Rose and Morris Michtom of Brooklyn saw the cartoon and began designing a commemorative toy.
The next year, the Michtoms' velvet bear with shoe-button eyes was ready to go. But first, the couple reached out to Roosevelt himself for permission to use his name. Wiegand said that Roosevelt supposedly wrote back and gave permission but didn't think it would help sales.
The success of the teddy bear was so great, the Michtoms were able to start the Ideal Toy Company, which went on to create some of the baby boomer generations most prized toys, like the Betsy Wetsy and the Magic 8 Ball.
That very first teddy bear can be found on display at the Smithsonian.