This article will certainly catch a few readers off guard and it certainly confused me when I first encountered it. I was a child of the 1980’s and this children’s books series was very well known to most children growing up in North America. As the series grew in popularity it also became a regularly aired television show being watched across North America for years. The mystery behind this very popular 1980’s children’s series is its name… For whatever reason a large portion of society disagree’s on the spelling of the name and I did quite a bit of research into this because I was shocked by how bizarre it was.
The series I am referring to is spelled like this…
That’s right, it is spelled “STAIN“. Some of my readers are going to feel their brain twist a bit because they will swear it was spelled “STEIN” and if you feel this way, I agree with you.
From my experience I will tell you that I was so incredibly shocked that I immediately called my mother who used to read these books to me and asked her to spell the name of the cute little family of bears living inside their cozy tree house. Her response was without hesitation as she knew exactly what I was talking about and my mother was quite proficient spelling words. She replied to my question with B-E-R-E-N-S-T-E-I-N and at that point I felt like we had traveled to a parallel universe.
I was not content with the answer and I was very much in denial that this was a reality. I began calling friends and posing the same question to find that no one who remembered the show recalled the spelling “STAIN“, however, on the internet you could clearly see a mix of both. I was reading through forums observing a great amount of confusion and many people confidently firm in their memory of two different spellings. I observed one comment stating that they had a collection of VHS tapes of cartoons from the 1980’s and they wrote “Berenstein” on masking tape placed on the front of the tape.
I can’t stop here though, so let me show you my line of further question and answer…
Question 1: What does the Wikipedia say?
Wikipedia says “Stain” as well as you can see the books were created by Stan and Jan Berenstain. The books are continued by their son Mike Berenstain. This is not looking very good for those of us who remember the spelling as “Stein“.
One of the reasons I remember the spelling as “Stein” was because I assumed the authors were Jewish. I had seen enough movies by that age to notice that in the closing credits of many shows I watched were names ending in “Stein“. A perfect example of this would be The Simpsons made by Matt Groening where we would have seen the name Josh Weinstein who was a writer for The Simpsons.
Question 2: Were the original books spelled differently than the newer books?
No. This is the Berenstain Bears Nature Guide. This is a physical book for sale that I found and I saw some damage on the spine as well as the artwork style appeared like the original series. This book was published in 1975 and you can check read that in the Wikipedia under the full listing of the Berenstain Bears books. Just in case anyone else did their homework and found the publish date was 1984, you are correct but that was the paperback version. The original was printed in 1975 in hardcover.
With this example we can see from this one older example there are no errors in the spelling of the family name… What about a more modern example?
Here is Berenstain Bears at the Aquarium released in 2012 published by Harper Collins in a series called “I can read”.
Here is Berenstain Bears Me first! Me First from 2000 published by Random House in a series called Baby Bears.
What you will find is that none of the books were spelled incorrectly by the publishers and you can go through the Berenstain Bears entire book list combined with Google images to verify.
Question 3: Was the television showed spelling correct?
First we need to figure out when and where this television show aired and according to the Wikipedia these are the details:
- 1979 Special The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree on NBC followed by 4 other episodes.
- 1985 Berenstain Bears television series
- 2003 Berenstain Bears television series
There was also 6 Berenstain Bear video games, 3 Museum Exhibits, 1 broadway musical debuting in New York City, involvement in anti-smoking campaigns, campaigns against child abuse and support for children to get vaccinated through a vaccine manufacturer named Lederle Laboratories which I found a bit odd.
I am going to focus on the television series because I think the majority of us aren’t too familiar with the entire franchise and if our minds were confused it was most likely by the books of television show. Since we have ruled the books out lets keep digging into television.
1979 Special The Berenstain Bears’ Christmas Tree
I even found a couple uploads on Youtube doing a search for it:
I even found the movies poster on IMDB:
These were the next 4 Berenstain Bear episodes that aired on NBC:
- The Berenstain Bears Meet Bigpaw (November 20, 1980)
- The Berenstain Bears’ Easter Surprise (April 14, 1981)
- The Berenstain Bears’ Valentine Special (promotional title) (broadcast as The Berenstain Bears’ Comic Valentine and released on home video as The Berenstain Bears and Cupid’s Surprise) (February 13, 1982)
- The Berenstain Bears’ Littlest Leaguer (also called The Berenstain Bears Play Ball) (May 6, 1983)
At the time of this article I was also able to find all of them with the exception of “The Littlest Leaguer” on Youtube an they were all spelled “BerenSTAIN” which means the first 5 pilots airing on NBC were spelled correctly.
1985 Berenstain Bears television series
From 1985 to 1987 the Berenstain Bears had played on CBS and this was where I personally had a lot of exposure to the series as it was part of the CBS Saturday Morning Cartoon Block. I was definitely a big fan of Saturday morning cartoons and while Berenstain Bears probably wasn’t a favorite on TV, it certainly passed the time until a better cartoon came on. Sorry if anyone’s offended but I also despised the adventures of Teddy Ruxpin. That show taught me discipline at a young age as I would patiently wait for Ninja Turtles to boot off the bears and get down to business.
Here are some examples from the 1985 -1987 television series:
This is the opening title screen from the CBS 1985 Berenstain Bears series which was taken from the November 23, 1985 episode of Too much birthday.
Here are some variations of screens showing the name used throughout the 1980’s and you will notice the spelling was correct in all of them.
You can see in this screen grab from the 1985 CBS Berenstain Bears series the closing credits definitely say “STAIN” not “STEIN“.
These were the only two places I noticed that showed the spelling of the bears in the entire show. The opening title screen and the closing credits with the name located in the bottom at the end. In both places we can see the name spelled correctly as “Berenstain”.
Here are some examples from the 2003 television series:
Here is the title from the opening credits taken from Berenstain Bears The Bad Dream which aired September 18, 2003 and once again you will see the spelling is “STAIN“.
Following the title opening in the 2003 series was another title screen with the writers name and once again you can see the spelling is correct.
Here are the closing credits for the 2003 Berenstain Bears television series and once again we can see the family name is spelled correctly.
As you can see the television show as well as the book series did not contain any spelling mistakes, so how it is possible that a vast number of people old and young remember the spelling as Berenstein?
This I have discovered to be called “The Mandela Effect” and apparently it is not just the Berenstain Bears. A website called the Mandela Effect created by Fiona Broome was created in 2010 to discuss and record these types of events. You will find more examples such as the Berenstein Bears where a large demographic of society has a completely different memory of an event and presently there really is no answer as to why. Perhaps the idea of a parallel universe isn’t completely off the table yet because the debate on the Berenstain is far from over. I know from my perspective I refuse to believe I had made a mistake in the spelling because it also affected how I said the word. Initially I was open to the idea that I had made an error until I saw just how many people made the same error…
While I have proven the books and television series had the correct spelling, I did find a possible reason as to why so many people had remembered the spelling as “STEIN“…
The 1985 television series of The Berenstain Bears aired on September 14, 1985
The TV Guide spelled the Berenstain Bears as the Berenstein Bears on the day of the series premiere. Here is an example TV guide taken from the Ponchatoula Times newspaper located in Louisiana, United States. You can see the date 9/12/85 which would be Thursday which would mean the Berenstain Bears would show up premiering on Saturday.
Here is the TV Guide dated Saturday, September 14 1985 from the Ponchatoula Times:
So you can see the television premiere of the Berestain Bears was spelled incorrectly inside of all the TV Guides since each newspaper would append the TV guide to their publishing. It was spelled Berenstein… Were the other TV guide postings the same?
Below is an image of a TV Guide from September 19, 1985 and you will see Berestain is spelled correctly.
As well as the same observation in another add with Hulk Hogan here:
If you do some detective work, you will find a lot of variations in different local newspapers regarding the spelling of the Berenstain Bears.
We can even see the Simpsons were confused and changed their stance on the spelling… The Simpsons aired the 11th Tree House of Horror in November 1, 2000 as episode 11 season 12 called Tree House of Horror XI. At the time of the post you could watch the segment here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw_waUNnu7o
Simpsons episode 3 of season 22 titled Money Bart which aired October 10, 2010.
As you can see the Simpsons had also changed their stance on the spelling of Berenstain. Originally in November 2001 the Simpsons had used the spelling Berenstein and later in 2010 changed it to Berenstain.
The creators Jan and Stan Berenstain were Christians and following the death of Jan, Mike Berenstain their son created many Berenstain Bears Christian publications. Such examples would be the Berenstain Bears Say Their Prayers and the Berenstain Bears Bible. As soon as I heard this detail, I recall hearing a strange internet rumor that the Bible had been changed by none other then the Mandala Effect. That is when I decided enough is enough and it was time to get to the bottom of this Mandala effect.
Why is there such a wide array of confusion among details like these children stories or even the Lord’s Prayer?
My conclusion is that there is a disconnect occurring in popular media and reality. I believe we have all seen popular television shows that have illustrated something different than what was in the original media and possibly several times. Since the mix up is so close to the real, the mind becomes confused and remembers the more recent illustrations wrongfully portrayed in media in place of the original. Another example of this supposed Mandala Effect is relating to the Lords Prayer which was the basis of the internet rumor. The prayer was not changed by some form of time travel, the truth is some of us never really knew it. Protestants and Catholics differ in their saying of the Lords Prayer and in media, Catholicism seems to dominate in movies which has led to even Protestants speaking a different Lords Prayer.
“…Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we have also forgiven our debtors.”
“…Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
I find it interesting how one version removes attention from personal debts and financial institutions and I wonder if there is something more to that? Regardless of what the truth is behind the mix up, I suspect we will continue to see many other people remain confused…