You may think this post’s title sounds crazy, but read a little closer. Does anything seem strange? Just the slightest bit not-right, grammatically speaking? If so, fear not -- you’re far from alone.
The Berenstein Bears are one of the great institutions in children’s literature. They’re practically foundational texts for most Americans under 50, with hundreds of stories written in the series about a family of bears named Berenstein.
Except that isn’t their name at all. While many people (this writer included) distinctly remember the name spelled Berenstein (pronounced “-steen”), the actual name of both the bears and their authors is Berenstain (pronounced, as it would be, “-stain”).
This controversy has created online factions, with one side assuring the other that it has always been spelled Berenstain, and that this is just a widespread misunderstanding. But some who believe in BerenstEin argue that this controversy is something more – a conspiracy.
The theory has been floating around the blogosphere since at least 2011, but gained significant steam late last year when Stranger Dimensions reported on the issue. To paraphrase some fairly serious quantum physics, the theory posits that sometime between 1986 and 2011, our universe, in which the bears were named BerenstEin, merged with a near-identical parallel universe in which the family is called BerenstAin – which altered our history and left many people perplexed by the change. Further theorists argue that this mess could even have been created by an errant time traveler.
Convinced? Many true believers refuse to accept any evidence of these parallel universes, including the son of Stan and Jan BerenstAin.
While we more than likely didn’t collide with an alternate dimension at some point in the 1990s, this discrepancy in names may be evidence of a real psychological enigma: the Mandela Effect.
The Mandela Effect is based on large groups of people collectively remembering Nelson Mandela dying in a South African jail in the 1990s, which, of course, didn’t happen. But this sort of phenomenon happens more often than one would expect, and this Berenstain conspiracy certainly fits the narrative.
Whether you believe it’s always been spelled Berenstain or think there’s something more cosmically sinister at play, you can check out the many books featuring the family at the Provo City Library.