Why is the teddy bear such a popular plaything? The teddy bear was inspired by the benevolence President Teddy Roosevelt showed towards a bear cub while on a hunting expedition in 1903, and the toy became a universal icon of childhood in the 20th century.. Youngsters found comfort in the texture of these toys and in their simple faces of shoe-button eyes and embroidered noses and mouths. Cuddled and cherished, these figures inspired children's fantasies of make-believe adventures and often became their constant companions in reality too. Plush toys of nearly every other animal have joined the teddy bear in nurseries, playrooms, and children's bedrooms everywhere. These days, plush figures are as popular as ever; Many children have not just a few plush toys but dozens; Adult collectors, no less than children, find the teddy bear a toy to cherish.