Trumpy Bear is 22 inches long. He wears a long, red tie, a shirt collar and cuffs, and nothing else. He has bushy brows, wispy, corn-colored hair, a small, puckered mouth, and in his bowels lives an American flag blanket that you can yank out of his guts through a secret zipper at the back of his neck. He costs $56.85 on Amazon, or you can buy him for two easy payments of $19.95, plus shipping and handling. He is made in China.
The toy first appeared in the summer of 2017, and was widely skewered, with CNN, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel, and Joe Rogan all mocking it. Then, for a moment, Trumpy Bear seemed to have fallen off the public’s radar, but now, like a creature emerging from a long winter of hibernation, it’s back — and so is its campy, absurd commercial.
“The wind whispered … though the forest,” the video begins over stock images of a forest. “A storm is coming … you cannot defeat the storm. From the trees rose a resounding voice. I fear nothing. I come when the Trumpet sounds.” There are shots of Trumpy Bear hanging from a flagpole. A former Marine displays the toy on his motorcycle and says, “I’m proud to have Trumpy Bear by my side. Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
“When America is great, business is great,” says one man. “When business is great, I’m great. I love you, Trumpy Bear.”
So ridiculous is the ad that many people guessed the product was fake, part of some elaborate hoax or late-night sketch intended to underscore the absurdity of our current political climate, i.e., Wow, can you believe people are silly enough to be scammed into buying a dumb bear to own Trump/own the libs?
So far however, the scam appears to be that there is no scam. As Snopes reports, Trumpy Bear is produced by a company called Exceptional Products, and, according to the “vision statement” by the product’s designer, V.L. Lange, it is a “symbol that anyone can run for president of this great country of ours” and it is “not a joke.”
“In 1902 the teddy bear was born and named after President Teddy Roosevelt. When President Donald Trump was elected to office as the first non-politician president, I felt it was time to name an American fearless grizzly bear after our new Commander in Chief. I designed the Trumpy Bear in a recognizable image of our current president,” the statement reads.
Who is actually buying Trumpy Bears? As you might expect, the toys are mostly gag gifts, both for Trump supporters and detractors. “The bear was mainly for giggles for the family,” said Caleb Johnson, whose mom bought a Trumpy Bear on Facebook. “The cats enjoy the silken fuzz on it as well.”
One woman who posted a picture of herself and her friend’s Trumpy Bear on Instagram (and asked not to be named in this story) told the Cut that she thought it was super cute, especially its “little cape.” Though she described herself as a Trump supporter, she acknowledged that “the bear could be both a way of support or a source of ridicule. Just depends on the person buying it.”
Exceptional Products knows they profit from both the support and the ridicule. As Vice-President Elliott Brackett explained on Fox News this summer: “We started selling them back in July of last year , but really it was the Christmas season where it took off. They’re very popular gift items both for people who like and dislike the president, I think.”
So, Trumpy Bear is whatever you want it to be. It’s a gag. It’s ironic, kind of. It’s a wry political statement that says absolutely nothing, except that you were willing to pay $50 for a teddy bear that looks like the president. It’s a way to own whichever side you disagree with, the bloggers who will write about it, the cats who will play with it, and also, mostly, yourself.
I love you, Trumpy Bear.