The humble teddy bear occupies a unique space in American culture. This soft and cuddly stuffed animal is a popular comfort toy for young children, but one that brings back fond memories for many adults as well.
The teddy bear name is said to have come from former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who adamantly refused to shoot a confined bear during a photo opportunity hunting expedition arranged by his staff. Shortly after the news of Roosevelt’s hunt reached the public, Morris Michtom began marketing his handmade stuffed bears as “Teddy’s bears.” The name, although it was eventually shortened, seemed to be a perfect fit for these lovable toys.
Today, most teddy bears sold in the United States are marketed as toys for children. To comply with governmental regulations, a teddy bear intended for a child must have eyes that are securely fastened and special safety joints used to attach the arms and legs. If the teddy bear is sold wearing an outfit, the garment must follow many of the same safety standards used for children’s clothing. A child’s teddy bear is typically machine washable, but you should always check the care instructions before attempting to clean the toy.
Young teddy bear lovers who wish to have the experience of creating their own stuffed animals can visit the Build-A-Bear Workshop® to create a customized teddy bear. A popular destination for children’s birthday parties, the Build-A-Bear Workshop® features a variety of furry friends. Guests can even choose Disney-inspired clothing and accessories or special sound effects for their teddy bears.
Since the teddy bear is universally associated with happy childhood memories, it should come as no surprise that many adults purchase teddy bears for themselves. Adult collectors of teddy bears are known as arctophiles—a combination of the Greek words “arcto” for bear and “philos” for love. However, adults in search of a collectible teddy bear often gravitate towards custom-made bears that feature hand stitching and other intricate details. Unlike the children’s teddy bears sold at toy stores, collectible bears are typically found at craft shows or in specialty boutiques. The makers of collectible teddy bears are not required to follow toy safety guidelines, so these bears should always be kept away from small children.
One unique type of collectible teddy bear for adults is the soy dipped bear. Enterprising crafters dip teddy bears found at thrift stores and consignment shops into scented candle wax to create a decorative display object. The scent of a soy dipped wax teddy bear lasts for several months, making a beautiful yet highly functional air freshener.