Do you remember the Berenstain Bears? I sure do, not that it was a children’s book that I was particularly interested in as a kid, but I was always well aware of the Berenstain Bears well up into adulthood. While that may all seem fine and well, as it turns out the Berenstein Bears no longer exist. The children’s book starring a family of bears is today known as the Berenstain Bears, with an “a” instead of an “e” at the end of the word "Berenstein".
This begs the question- what happened to the Berenstain Bears? I had first noticed this curiosity when googling around the internet checking out the Berenstain Bears Gameboy Color game. I remembered that game, vaguely, and I wanted some more information. I found it strange that all of the game carts had the title “Berenstain Bears” instead of “Berenstein Bears.”
Now I had no interest in this show, or the Berenstain Bears in general, but I had a feeling that something was amiss on a more… quantum level? After browsing some message boards, I found that many other people who grew up around the same time that I did noted that the “e” was replaced with an “a.” Almost nothing else about the show seemed to be different, just that.
It seems weird to think that such a tiny, minute thing could have a ripple effect on multiple peoples’ consciousness. After all, we were all children back then, so it only makes sense that we could mistake the spelling of a name. Well, I was reading at a college level by the fourth grade and I simply knew for a fact that it was the Berenstain Bears. It’s not as though Kermit the Frog was suddenly known as Kormit the Frog. No, something was amiss.
Now it may bother you to think that the fabric of space and time is not static but bends and twists. What I am suggesting is the Mandela paradox - a very large number of people genuinely believe that Nelson Mandela died in prison sometime in the 1980’s. This isn’t a single, obscure incidence. A large number of people genuinely remember this happening even though Nelson Mandela died just recently.
Is it possible that the universe that contained the Berenstain Bears was somehow altered in some way to change very little other than a single letter? Or are many changes taking place through space and time constantly that we don’t notice? Is it possible that we discount the majority of our “brain glitches” as just that- errors in our own recollection? Maybe the changing of an “e” to an “a” is more fundamental than that. Maybe it was just one decision made at one point throughout the timeline in recent history that caused countless printing presses, television broadcasts and video game cartridges to display an “a” instead of an “e.”
Of course I haven’t discounted the fact that maybe we’re all susceptible to perceiving things that don’t actually exist. After all, memories can be implanted into any person’s mind with enough repetition. But this is something that I only had to see once to know that it was a reality. I hadn’t even heard of the Berenstain Bears until a few weeks ago.
There is a possibility that something else is happening. Most physicists believe that time can’t be altered. But it isn’t “time” that exists - humans invented time to count the decay of living organisms. After some extensive research, I found a blog that contained a deep metaphysical theory on how the Berenstain Bears came to exist in our timeline.
There are now a few theories, and neither of them are very mentally settling. The first is the commonly proposed “quantum suicide theory.” It seems like a pretty strong theory on one level. Every time a person, in their life would have died, the timeline shifts just a little bit. Things arrange themselves so that you can now live. Those who have had near-death experiences actually died in the alternative universe. But since the universe operates on such a static functionality, the idea that all of those things could have happened to change that little “e” to an “a” seems ridiculous, insane even.
Well, it was only a few years ago that Jan Berenstain died. Maybe the theory works in reverse? The timeline adjusted to keep Jan Berenstain alive up until the age of 88? No, that doesn’t make sense. I have no relation to the Berenstains, and even so, how would simply wanting them to live force them to live in our timeline? No, I don’t buy that suggestion either.
Keep in mind that if a timeline changed, in the traditional linear time travel sense, the Berenstain Bears would always have been the Berenstain bears. We wouldn’t know the difference.
The other possible suggestion on how the Berenstain Bears became the Berenstain Bears is a little darker. See, there is a more elaborate possibility that time, for the sake of explaining it to the mind, is on kind of a set of quadrants. Each quadrant could represent a piece of a timeline, and the timelines interweave in such a way that our primitive human minds couldn’t interpret the whole transitioning between the timelines. One might even be able to “roll” or change the quadrant to another with slight adjustment, like a watchmaker just barely adjusting the time by a second.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later after studying this theory that I found a blog discussing the whole thing in vivid detail. What surprised me the most was that Mike Berenstain, son of Stan and Jan had posted on it. Evidently the Berenstain’s had migrated to America in the 1800’s and changed their name to Berenstain because it was easier to pronounce. That all seems fine and well, but it doesn’t explain how everyone remembers the Berenstain Bears as being the Berenstein Bears and not Berenstain Bears. Of course there were other posts on this blog. One involved recounting near-death experiences and seeing if everyone who had a near death experience remembers the Berenstein Bears and not the Berenstain Bears. A few people did post, recalling almost ODing to death and nearly being killed on train tracks before surviving somehow.
Then there was the evidence. For all those who discounted the alternate universe theory, there were newspaper articles from 1992 showing that they were, indeed, called the Berenstein Bears. Going back to the Quantum Suicide theory, is it possible that during World War 2, in an alternate timeline, all minorities including Jews were exterminated by Hitler’s fascist regime? Now this seems crazy, but Berenstein is a very Jewish sounding name. They would have HAD to have changed their names to survive. Are we in an alternate timeline of an alternate timeline where the Allies won world war 2 but the Berenstain’s somehow got their name through? What if we can alter time, and that was the alteration made? What if when we alter time we seek to alter it while changing as little else as possible? So are people from the future dictating what happens now?
It’s possible, but I think that the second proposed theory is more logical, the one involving time in quadrants. What if we suddenly found out that there were an infinite number of universes splitting to show every single possible outcome at any given time? No physicists could argue against this because there is no existing evidence against it.
Of course some of the evidence is a little too compelling to discount this. I find it hard to believe that some of the most highly paid proofreaders in the world could let misspellings like this slip. In this image, you can see that the books are titled Berenstein and Berenstain, even on the same book. So are the Berensteins the same as the Berenstains? If they aren’t, who exactly are the Berensteins? Are there any greater differences between the bears other than that name’s spelling? These books are old now, their creators are dead, and the answers are quite literally lost within the pages of time itself.
But if my proposed theory is true- the Berenstein Bears only exist today because the Allies won world war 2, why did this most recent change just occur in the past few years? Is it possible that if world war 2 was won by the Nazis, there would have been a world war 3 around this time? Unless we learn to alter time, no one will ever know. But these slight imperfections and changes in the fabric of time reveal something very unsettling about the nature of time itself. Are you really you? Did you really go to that school you think you did? Is that really your mother? Are these slight imperfections just subtle hints at a larger fracture in the mainframe of perceived history? In a way it’s discomforting.
Many scientists often talk about just how unlikely the occurrence of things occurring are that it seems purely random. It’s entirely possible that we’re living in the best possible occurrence of things that could be occurring, on some level. Maybe it’s good that the little “e” is now an “a.”