Capitalism, meet socialism. The Vermont Teddy Bear Company has found a way to make money off the long-shot presidential campaign launched last month by the state’s US senator, Bernie Sanders.
Its new Bernie Bear — a stuffed animal in the senator’s likeness — comes with universal health care, a.k.a. a lifetime guarantee. The made-in-Vermont bear sports a gray suit, a pair of spectacles and a mop of flyaway white hair.
“We wanted to make something classical Bernie,” said Jason Baer, the company’s vice president of marketing. “His image is he’s not quite put together. And his hair is flashing all around. The hair is an iconic part of who is he is.”
The price is not.
At $80 a pop, the Bernie Bear is well out of step with Sanders’ Democratic socialist message about improving the lot of the middle and lower classes. And, for context, the price of a Bernie Bear is about twice the average donation to the Sanders campaign.
Nevertheless, sales for the Bernie Bear are going swimmingly, said Baer, with “hundreds” of orders flowing in to the company this month.
Sanders hasn’t had a ton to say about the bear.
“I am glad that it is made in Vermont and hope it creates some good jobs,” he said in an e-mail from his spokesman, Michael Briggs.
The company produces political bears every four years — so more are planned for the 2016 cycle. Eight years ago they manufactured a Hillary Clinton bear that will be updated and reissued. And they could end up with an entire slew of GOP bears.