The Teddy Bear is the toy of toys, the one that sits under the Christmas Tree and with which children cuddle up for comfort when the lights are switched off. It gets its name, however, from an inveterate hunter: former United States President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt. The story goes that during a hunting trip in 1902, Roosevelt refused to shoot at a bear that had been tied to a tree; it wasn’t an act of pity but, rather, of hunting sportsmanship. The Washington Post published a political cartoon, poking fun at the President’s indecisiveness in the Midwest. A few days later in Brooklyn, a candy manufacturer and his wife created a stuffed bear and (after receiving permission from the President to use his name) called it “Teddy’s Bear”. Roosevelt had agreed, thinking it would be a passing fad. In 1904, however, a teddy bear became the mascot of the President’s election campaign and the candy manufacturers built up an empire churning out stuffed animals.
Roosevelt was the epitome of the horseback rider, the one who goes proudly hunting with his greyhounds, as in the best equestrian portraits. Nowadays, pet-strategy is an essential part of any election campaign, as testified by the myriad kittens on Twitter, or lovingly-held lambs in April. All thanks to a satirical cartoon which lit up someone’s imagination almost a century ago. Who knows what good old Teddy Roosevelt would think of all this.