Teddy Roosevelt and The Cracker Jack Bears
"30 Miles to Yellowstone Park"

    
This whimsical postcard was produced in 1907 for Rueckheim Bros. & Eckstein of Chicago, the makers of Cracker Jack, as a promotional advertisement (prizes in every box did not begin until 1912). The card made good use of the era's current postcard craze, the popularity of its President Theodore Roosevelt, and the country's infatuation with the teddy bear. After a famous incident a few years earlier in which Roosevelt refused to shoot a captured bear, the "teddy bear" became a permanent part of American culture.*  "The stuffed bear associated Roosevelt with a lovable and cuddly identity..." (Keith Melder's Hail to the Candidate, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 1992. p. 130).
     This was one of 16 "Cracker Jack Bears" postcards sent "free to anyone who will mail us ten sides from Cracker Jack packages reading 'The more you eat, the more you want.' "
     Only four years earlier, in April 1903, President Roosevelt enjoyed a much-publicized camping trip to Yellowstone (see
Camping with President Roosevelt), which included his dedication of  the stone arch at the north entrance (see photo at bottom of page). Though in this postcard TR appears "ready for bear," in reality he made it clear before his visit in 1903 that he had no intention of hunting while in the park.

  
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OH! Don't shoot Mr. President, we're the Cracker Jack Bears.

Yes we met you at the White House in Washington. Don't you remember?
(Note--another card in this series shows the President greeting these two bears at the front step of the White House.)

30 Miles to Yellowstone Park

"Oh Mr. Teddy drop your gun,
For us such business is no fun,
So please don't keep us on the rack,
Cause we're the bears with Cracker Jack." 
  *The rage for bears during the early 1900s is often attributed to a Nov. 1902 political cartoon that appeared in the Washington Star. Our charismatic 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909),  had refused to shoot in cold blood a sickly old bear that was captured and tied to a tree for him during a hunting excursion in Mississippi. Newspaper cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman lampooned the event he titled "Drawing the line in Mississippi," and inadvertently prompted American toy maker Morris Michtom to write the president requesting permission to create and market the first plush "Teddy's bear." (from Raggtime for the Masses Winter Issue 1997)
NPS Photo
President Theodore Roosevelt with Yellowstone's Acting Superintendent Capt. John Pitcher as the President arrives at Cinnabar, just north of Gardiner, MT, to begin his tour of Yellowstone National Park in April 1903. An account of this trip entitled Camping and Tramping with the President was written by Roosevelt's camping companion at Yellowstone, naturalist John Burroughs.  (photo: from the National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection).
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