If there are two things that the internet can’t get enough of, it's nostalgia and conspiracy theories. When the two were recently combined, it led to discussions of parallel universes and alternate realities. All from those furry friends who previously had only been aiding our lives with wisdom about the dangers of junk food and having a messy room.
That’s right: The Berenstain Bears have led to a soul-shattering search for meaning in our childhood memories.
For those who have yet to fall down the rabbit/bear hole, there’s a fierce debate online about the spelling of the books' titular family—is it “BerenstAin” or “BerenstEin?” Thousands of people swear up and down that they grew up with the “BerenstEin Bears” despite all the books and media today specifically pointing to historical evidence that the name always having had been “BerenstAin Bears,” named after the creators Stan and Jan BerenstAin.
While theories of alternate universes and intersecting timelines regarding the BerenstAin vs. BerenstEin controversy can be found online going back to 2012, the year Jan BerenstAin passed on, it wasn’t until the early hours of August 4th, when rapper/producer/Jewel Runner El-P ranted about the BerenstAin/BerenstEin conspiracy on Twitter.
the "Berenstein bears/Berenstain bears" alternate universe conspiracy. you are welcome.— el-p (@therealelp) August 4, 2015
Since then, the theories have been picked up by the "controversy." Nobody can pinpoint exactly why there’s such a rift. There’s even evidence of earlier BerenstAin Bear books from decades ago and their present reissues that show it was always BerenstAin.
So why does everyone think it’s “BerenstEin?” We think we know.
In 1985, Hanna Barbara teamed up with Australia’s Southern Star Productions to produce a Berenstain Bears cartoon show, which aired in America on CBS. Despite the “A” being in the title, the show opts to go with the “BerenstEin” pronunciation:
It’s unclear why the show wound up with an incorrect pronunciation, and it’s even more puzzling how this same error occurred almost two decades later for the Bears’ 2003 cartoon series.
The answer to the conspiracy’s been hidden in plain sight this whole time. And as always, TV's impact is >>> than books'.