Ask Goldilocks: in Toy Stores This Xmas, It's a Bear Market

updated 12/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

Once upon a playtime, teddies knew their places. When they weren't being dragged about by sticky-fingered toddlers, they could be hibernating in the toy chest, nestling among bed pillows or pouting because their button noses needed to be sewn back on.

But that was before America went bananas over bears. Take a hike, Cabbage Patch. Bears have always been chic. Anthony Andrews had his Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited, and this year just about everyone else is cuddling up to a furry friend. You can take home a mink teddy from Saks in New York City ($175), stuffed versions of the goofy Berenstain Bears (created by cartoonists Jan and Stan Berenstain) or the dapper Bialosky Bears (offspring of The Teddy Bear Catalog authors Alan and Peggy). Traditionalists, of course, still like Winnie-the-Pooh, Paddington and even teddy bears (so named after Theodore Roosevelt refused to shoot a cub on a 1902 hunting trip).

"Bears are very much the trend," says Harold Nizamian, president of the San Francisco-based R. Dakin and Co., a leading manufacturer of stuffed toys. Since last year Dakin has stepped up its teddy turnout by 45 percent, and Nizamian expects plush-toy makers as a whole to sell nearly $100 million worth of bears by year's end.

Why the enduring bear market? Nizamian sees it as "the culmination of a return to nostalgia." Studies show, he says, that teddies have a subliminal appeal because their contours suggest a human's and "it's the first human form that a child controls."

Those who've had savoir bear for years—including Dustin Hoffman, Jonathan Winters, Barbara Stanwyck and Tom Snyder—know that their ursine pals have more practical virtues as well. "The best thing about bears," says Peggy Bialosky, "is that they're always ready to listen." So, it seems, are those poised to make a profit.

From Our Partners