[Ads-l] Teddy (undergarment), Teddy Bear

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue May 10 12:08:46 UTC 2016

In January, Bill Mullins started a thread on Teddies:

Bill's thread shared evidence that "Teddies" were named  after "Teddy Bears," which were named after President Roosevelt.  I recently ran across a surprising twist in the origin.  Although the name was clearly chosen because of the popularity of "Teddy Bears," the person who manufactured and designed the first "Teddy Bear" lingerie items was apparently named, Theodore Bear - "Teddy" Bear - you can't make this stuff up:

"Teddy Bear Inventor Faces Bankruptcy (By Associated Press) Chicago, March 9. - A petition in involuntary bankruptcy was filed today against Theodore Bear, said to be the inventor of the Teddy Bear, a woman's garment.  His financial difficulties were caused by competition and changes in the styles, it was claimed."

The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Florida), March 10, 1922, page 1.

There were several other similar notices in the press at the time.  I could not find any earlier evidence linking him to the garment, but he was a clothing manufacturer in Chicago from as early as 1908, and had sold children's clothes under the name, "Teddy Bear," before the lingerie, by that name, appeared on the market in about 1912.

When Theodore Bear died in 1940, the New York Times reported that his son claimed that his father had also invented the stuffed Teddy Bear.  That claim seems more unlikely.

I put together a new blog post about Theodore Bear and his possible connections to women's underwear:

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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