The #BerensteinRift: Are We Living in An Alternate Reality?

Like most adults, you probably grew up reading The Berenstein Bears children's books, like "The Bears' Picnic," "The Bike Lesson," and "The Big Honey Hunt." Created by Stan and Jan Berenstein, the Berenstein Bear family have been educating and entertaining children since 1962.

There's Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Brother and Sister Bear, and now even Honey Bear. And if you remember those early Berenstein Bear books, you'll even remember that Brother Bear used to be called Small Bear.

And if you're like many people, you didn't catch that I've been misspelling the authors' name this entire time.


Because you absolutely remember, without a doubt, with 100% certainty, that the name on the books was BerenstEin, yes?

Except the correct spelling is Berenstain.

Are you now questioning your entire childhood because you're sure BerenstEin is correct and BerenstAin looks wrong?

You're not alone.

Many people will swear up and down that they read the BerenstEin Bears, and that the name on their childhood books was spelled with three E's.

But if you check again, you will be staggered to find BerenstAin as the popular spelling.

What's going on? Is your memory faulty? Did the BerenstEins change their name sometime in the '80s?

No, I'll tell you what's happening.

It's a conspiracy, man! There's a glitch in the Matrix! And they're all in on it! All of them. This goes all the way to the top, to Random House Publishing. Even Dr. Seuss was in on it!

What are they keeping from us? What aren't they telling us?

We're living in ANOTHER REALITY!

Somehow, somewhere, in the last 50 years, we shifted from a reality where the BerenstEin Bears became the BerenstAin Bears. There was some cataclysmic event that made us flip realities, and everything that's happening now shouldn't be happening.

And there are only a couple differences between the two realities to show that things have changed.

For the most part, people don't actually believe this to be true.

Actually, I would like to say that "no one" believes this to be true, but there are people who believe the Earth is flat, that vaccines cause autism, and that "Die Hard" is not a Christmas movie.

The #BerenstainRift started gaining traction back in 2012, when "a graduate student of physics" named Reece published a blog article that allegedly proved we are living in our own parallel universe.

(I say allegedly, because I barely passed high school science, so I have no way of knowing.)

Reece noticed the problem when he or she wanted to correct the spelling of Jan Berenstain's name in her obituary that year. Except Reece discovered that ". . . when I went to the internet to find a source for the name change correction, it turns out. . . everyone has always misspelled her name."

Reece was staggered by this and went to check the old book covers, "the ones that every 20-something in the world will tell you read 'Berenstein Bears.' Except they don't read 'Berenstein.'  They read 'Berenstain.'"

Reece wondered if the family had changed their name or been pressured to spell it differently. Like maybe the new books had the new spelling and the old books had the original.

Reece did further research that revealed there were many other people "who ran to their parents house and dug up their own copies of the books and saw, to their own great terror, that the physical book itself no longer says 'BerenstEin,' but in fact says 'BerenstAin,' but more horrifying still is that it has always said 'BerenstAin.'"

Even now, in 2020, you may be thinking, "But it's BerenstEin! I distinctly remember reading BerenstEin books!"

You're not alone.

If you Google the phrase "Berenstein Bears," there are over 91,000 pages with that spelling. Many of them are about the #BerensteinRift and the idea that we crossed over into a crazy, mixed-up world.

Given the events of the last few years, I'm ready to get back to the original timeline.

But there may be a simpler, much better explanation, provided by anonymous men and women in white lab coats. This is the Mandela Effect: a false shared memory that many of us have about a particular incident.

It's called this because a very large number of people believed that Nelson Mandela died in July 1991, not December 2013. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world swear up and down that they remember hearing the news in 1991 that Mandela had died.

Even though it didn't happen, and there were absolutely no news stories about it that year, people say they remember it anyway. Once, when I explained the Mandela Effect to someone, they said, "But I DO remember that!"

Did we somehow change realities somewhere in the 80s or 90s? Did turning on the Large Hadron Collider in 2008 cause it? Was it the Y2K bug? Was it the Three Mile Island disaster? Or when Elvis met Richard Nixon in the Oval Office?

Or are a bunch of people who never really paid attention to their surroundings when they were children misremembering a name they have a 50/50 chance of getting right?

I'll give my VHS copy of Shazaam, starring Sinbad, to anyone who can prove the truth.

Photo credit: Christopher Dombres (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 1.0, Universal Public Domain Dedication)

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.