Life in the USA
The author's beloved Mitsu-Bear, Washington the Pig and Wally the Australian Koala
keep him company on a cross country trip. Photographed in Amarillo, Texas.
Stuffed animals, also known as plush animals, have their place among children in the USA as anywhere else, but the practice of keeping, collecting, naming, nurturing and ascribing personalities to these toys is also widespread among American adults of both genders and of all ages. Teddy bears, large and small, are probably the most popular, but dig into most American homes and you will turn up plush dogs, rabbits, pigs and other stylized cute animals. Antique plush animals are highly sought after, but there is also a collectors market for styles of plush animals that have only recently gone out of production.
In American shopping malls and theme parks, companies offer “build your own bear” services. The customer (not always a child) can have a bear in a chosen style custom-stuffed and custom-dressed, usually accompanied by a birth certificate.
A large market exist for commemorative bears, usually small and floppy, celebrating a state, city, American region, special event or sports team (or simply showing a sentimental phrase like “I Love You” or “I'm Sorry”.) Collectors often insist that the identification tags be left on the ears of these animals to maintain their resale value.
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