1. The original was made and named by Morris Michton, a Russian immigrant to America, in honor of a turn-of-the-century American president. The president had returned from a bear hunt in the Rockies. One day a bear cub had wandered into the camp. The president, too soft-hearted to shoot it, adopted it as a pet. A cartoonist made a drawing of the incident. Upon seeing the cartoon, Michton cut some brown plush, stuffed it, and then wrote the president for permission to use his name for the new toy, still very popular today.
2. When World War I broke out in 1914, European dollmakers turned to other manufacturing needs. Dollmakers in the United States saw an economic opportunity. In 1915, New York political cartoonist Johnny Gruelle obtained a patent for a cloth doll. The doll and her twin brother became known for their striped legs, button eyes, and red-yarn hair. Gruelle wrote a series of books about their adventures in 1918.
3. Its name means "come back." In its simplest form, it is made from two wooden disks, a short axle, and a length of string. It has enjoyed many revivals. (In fact, it's enjoying one now.) In 18th-century England, a similar toy was known as the quiz, or the Prince of Wales's toy. In France, it was called a "bandalore" or "emigrette," because it was a favorite of the migr nobles driven from Paris during the French Revolution. Among its biggest British fans: the Duke of Wellington.
4. Chemists working with silicone during World War II came across this material. Intended as a synthetic substitute for rubber, it can be kneaded, bounced, and stretched. Unfortunately, it had no industrial advantages over rubber, and was dubbed "nutty." In 1949, Peter Hodgson thought it might make a great toy. He sold it by the ounce in colored plastic eggs.
(1) Teddy bear, named for President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt; (2) Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls; (3) Yo-yo; (4) Silly Putty.