Bears. Just bears.

The sightings a few days ago of a lovelorn bear in Kutztown who was not named Avalanche (if you want coverage featuring more ursine puns than you can probably b—that is to say, stomach, look no further than 69 News) got us to thinking about a much-loved bunch of bears from southeastern Pennsylvania.

It was 50 years ago that Stanley and Janice Berenstain of West Philadelphia published The Big Honey Hunt, the first of what would be hundreds of books about the amiable tree-dwelling family we now know as the Berenstain Bears.Cover of a Berenstain Bears book, linking to others in Rohrbach Library

Their first editor, a guy with a bit of an ear for rhymes, shortened their names to Stan and Jan. The Bears became a monumental franchise as the Berenstains churned out their many successful projects from their home in Solebury, Bucks County.

Both lived into their 80s, and both died in Solebury: Stan in 2005, and Jan just three months ago. Their Bears will be around for a long, long time.

The latest issue of the indispensable magazine mental_floss includes “14 Essential Talking Points About The Berenstain Bears,” which lives up to its promise of enabling readers to “steer a predictable discussion about teamwork and manners to one on sex and panda discrimination.”

If you do meet an actual bear around here, the stock advice is to make lots of noise. And, oh yeah, to avoid texting till you’re out of reach..

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Kutztown University is part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

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