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What is the history behind the teddy bear?

Here’s everything you need to know about the teddy bear and the best ones to gift this year

Each Feb. 14, we shower our partners and family members with gifts as a physical reminder of our love for one another. While Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be the only day we show our appreciation, there’s something special about having a day dedicated to loved ones. 

From flowers to candy to nontraditional Valentine’s Day gifts, there’s no shortage of ideas. However, if your partner has a soft spot for something cuddly and sweet, consider an adorable teddy bear. Here’s everything you need to know about the history of the teddy bear and the best ones to gift this year.

In this article: MaoGoLan 4-foot Giant Teddy Bear, Vermont Teddy Bear Happy Valentine's Day Bear and Aurora World 10.5-inch Coco Bear

The inspiration behind the teddy bear

The history behind the teddy bear is recounted many times over with slightly differing details on many platforms, including the Smithsonian Institution and the History channel. However, the central information remains the same in each iteration.

It all started in 1902 with President Teddy Roosevelt. While on a hunting trip with Mississippi Gov. Andrew Longino, Roosevelt was determined to find a bear. A group of guides, led by Holt Collier, found a 235-pound bear, weakened it and tied it to a tree so the president could take the final shot. However, Roosevelt refused to draw his gun, as he considered it unsportsmanlike. 

Media soon got word of the story, and it spread across the country. According to the Smithsonian Institution, the headline of the Washington Post on Nov. 16, 1902, read, "President Called After The Beast Had Been Lassoed, But He Refused To Make An Unsportsmanlike Shot." Cartoonish Clifford K. Berryman also sketched the incident in the pages of the Washington Post and titled it "Drawing the Line in Mississippi," which many believe is a reference to President Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive views on race relations.

How the teddy bear got its name

Teddy Roosevelt’s name is forever affixed to this beloved American toy, thanks to Morris and Rose Michtom. After seeing the cartoon sketch, the Brooklyn candy shop owners created a stuffed bear and displayed it in their shop window as a dedication to the president. To the surprise of the Michtoms, that toy bear was highly sought after by many customers. Before selling, the husband and wife duo wrote the president for permission to manufacture the classic toy aptly named "Teddy’s Bear."

That small symbol in the window of a candy shop catapulted the Michtoms to success, and they left the candy business to found the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company. In 1963, the family of Teddy Roosevelt donated one of the original teddy bears to the Smithsonian Institution. It’s currently on display in the American Presidency gallery.

Best teddy bears for Valentine’s Day

MaoGoLan 4-foot Giant Teddy Bear

No one can resist a smile when receiving a giant teddy bear. At 4 feet tall, this soft bear makes for an excellent cuddling partner and anxiety relief. Plus, the brand assures that the cover and stuffing are standard 100 by OEKO-TEX and pass all certifications and standards. Sold by Amazon

Vermont Teddy Bear Happy Valentine's Day Bear

Since it comes with a lifetime guarantee, any damage it sustains can be repaired at the teddy bear hospital in Vermont. The brand will send a new teddy bear if it can’t be mended. It’s also stuffed entirely in the USA using recycled stuffing. Sold by Amazon

Bearington Remington Stuffed Animal Teddy Bear

Show your love with this collectible-quality, durable teddy bear and fabric rose. The ultrasoft fur can withstand surface washing to keep it looking brand new forever. Sold by Amazon

Aurora World 10.5-inch Coco Bear

Whether the gift is for adults or children, you don’t have to worry about safety because this teddy bear comes with lock-washer eyes that won’t fall out and double-bagged bean filling. The brand also ensures it’s eco-friendly, only using filling, cloth and shipping products with recycled materials. Sold by Amazon

Kelly Toy Valentine’s Day Gift Basket

Thanks to this gift basket, you don’t have to choose between chocolates and a cuddly bear. Included are a dozen Belgian milk chocolate roses and a 10-inch teddy bear inside a Valentine’s Day-themed gift bag. Sold by Amazon

First & Main 15-inch Tender Teddy

The embroidered patch heart and stitching detail give this teddy bear a classic and nostalgic look that will capture anyone’s heart. It is 15 inches tall while sitting and made of kid-safe fabrics that meet all safety standards. Sold by Kohl’s

HollyHome Plush Teddy Bear

From toes to ears, this bubbly pink teddy bear measures 36 inches. It’s made with high-quality plush fabric, secure plastic eyes and durable stitching. It’s also safe to wash the bear’s surface to remove stray chocolate or candy spills. Sold by Amazon

Vermont Giant Teddy Bear

Make a statement on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year with a giant 4-foot-tall teddy bear. It’s stuffed and backstitched with care in Vermont with recycled stuffing. Plus, the lifetime guarantee means if the brand can’t fix it, it will send you a new one. Sold by Amazon

Meet Novelty Valentine’s Day Gift Basket Set

What more could you want on Valentine’s Day other than a teddy bear, chocolates and caramels all stuffed into a themed gift bag? The lovable 9-inch teddy bear is the perfect way to show your appreciation. Sold by Amazon

Hug-a-BooBoo My Little Bear

This adorable teddy bear proves that great things come in tiny packages. It measures 6 inches while seated and is the right size for a big surprise. Plus, it doesn’t take up much room on trips. Sold by Amazon

Billy’s Baskets Deluxe Happy Valentine’s Day Plush Bear

Personalize this Valentine’s Day gift by adding a picture to the heart-shaped frame the teddy bear is holding. It’s 9 inches tall and comes with chocolates. Sold by Amazon

Gloveleya I Love You Stuffed Teddy Bear

This 6-inch tall teddy bear is filled with eco-friendly soft fabric filler that is nontoxic and passes all certifications. It’s packaged in a Valentine’s Day box with a red heart. Since it’s machine-washable, you won’t have trouble keeping this cuddly gift clean. Sold by Amazon

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Bre Richey writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 

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