“Oh Bother.” Today is Winnie the Pooh day, an opportunity to enjoy the popular bear and all of his friends. While the origination of Winnie the Pooh day is uncertain, it is celebrated on the birthday of creator, Allan Alexander Milne, who was born on January 18, 1882.
Milne, who is also known as A.A. Milne, a British author and playwright best known for his various children’s poems until the huge success of Pooh overshadowed all his previous work. Milne’s Pooh stories chronicle the adventures of a boy named Christopher Robin, named after his son, and various characters inspired by his son’s stuffed animals, including Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl and most notably the bear named Winnie-the-Pooh, which was named after Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
In 1929, Milne sold the Pooh merchandising rights to Stephen Slesinger, an American promoter, who later sold the film and other rights to the character to Walt Disney Productions in 1961, where they created a series of cartoon films about him.
Pooh has taken the world by storm, topping Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Donald Duck and Sleeping Beauty for Hong Kong’s favorite Disney character in 2004, winning number one Disney character honors in the Philippines in 2005, and even having a Warsaw street named after him in Poland.
According to Wikipedia.com, Pooh has become one of the most lucrative literary franchises in history with merchandising generating over $1 billion in annual revenues for Disney €” as much as is earned by Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto combined.
“Classic Pooh comforter sets and apparel has been one of the top selling items for several years,” says Shelia Morrison, Baby Depot department manager at Burlington Coat Factory in Baltimore, Maryland. “But it seems that the manufacturers are now shipping more merchandise featuring Disney’s version of Pooh and less of Classic Pooh.”
Classic Pooh resembles A.A. Milne’s incarnation of the character while Disney Pooh is the one most associate with the name today. Whether classic or not, people love Pooh. "I’m addicted to Winnie the Pooh,” says Christina Terrell, who’s majoring in American Studies at Colby College. “Everything that I do or own reflects my obsession, from my bed sheets to my clocks, cell phone ringer, stuffed animals, screen name and email addresses, clothes, and posters."
"My collection includes small happy meal toys to expensive crystal figurines,” said Terrell. “Some things are handmade, like drawn pictures, others are ridiculous, like my 5 foot tall white Pooh stuffed animal, special edition."
One thing that has remained constant throughout all the artistic changes in the Winnie the Pooh series is the ability to teach life lessons through the smallest and simplest situations. “I like the bear because he’s cute, cuddly and very appealing,” said Melissa Wright of Queens, New York, whose five month old daughter, Jaelynn, has a infatuation with the cartoon.
“Even though she doesn’t understand it now, the show promotes life-like situations that young children face every day and shows them what happens when the right and wrong approach is taken and the result that follows. It’s entertaining as well as informative for the children,”she said.
With a cast of characters ranging from the pessimistic, gloomy, Eeyore, and fearful, anxiety-riddled Piglet to the practical and responsible, Rabbit and the radiant and bouncy, Tigger, the Winnie the Pooh series has something for everyone.
Go grab yourself a jar of “hunny” and celebrate Winnie the Pooh Day by reading some storybooks about the adventures of Winnie and his friends or watching one of his many movies including, The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, The Tigger Movie and Piglet’s Big Movie. Enjoy them with young children because today’s Winnie the Pooh day.