The Dirty, Sexy Secret Of The Berenstain Bears
The Berenstain Bears series of children's books has been around since 1962, and has nauseated generations with its treacly life lessons, each presented in a manner similar to what would happen if The Family Circus's Bil Keane wrote a self-help book while dressed in a furry costume and covered in lukewarm syrup. Things have only become more saccharine since the bears became born-again Christians and added an extra righteous flair to their toddler-oriented lectures. So it might surprise you to learn that the creators, Stan and Jan Berenstain, were also responsible for this:
And ... egad:
It seems that before Stan and Jan found their rhythm in moral hectoring, they tried their hand at the dirty joke game. With their "Lover Boy" trilogy (Lover Boy, Bedside Lover Boy, and Office Lover Boy), the couple made a living on the back of naughty-for-the-1960s filth. Although that wasn't their only foray into less kid-friendly fare, as they cast a pretty wide net in search of a bestseller. Some of the titles that would have surely made Papa Bear genuflect in shame include:
And Beat Him When He Sneezes
I Love You Kid, But Oh My Wife
The Facts Of Life For Grown-Ups (also published as What Dr. Freud Didn't Tell You)
Be Good Or I'll Belt You
They also covered such niche topics as guidebooks on fishing, bowling, taxes, cooking, and honeymoon etiquette (which we can only assume was also intensely filthy). There was even a primer on how to teach kids about the birds and the bees (and hopefully why wearing a miniskirt when you're eight months pregnant is a little weird).
It was a different time, yes, but it can be a little hard to accept that the same people who wrote the innocent book your kid is reading about dimwitted anthropomorphic bears also thought things like sexual harassment and spousal abuse were hilarious topics for nudge-nudge yuk-yuks. Despite the myriad subjects the Berenstains dabbled in, there's a throughline of cringeworthy inappropriateness that might make you think that those bears could have a bedside drawer filled with assorted butt plugs, and very possibly an ursine gimp in the attic.
But really, weren't they just young artists trying to make their way in a competitive field? Surely that 1967 book they put out called Our Honeymoon: A Photo Album With A Humorous Commentary wasn't a collection of photos documenting their hirsute Kama Sutra pretzeling in a suite at some Niagara Falls hotel. Today, Jan and Stan's son Mike is responsible for the fate of the preachy bear family, so there's probably little chance of any freewheeling smut from the Summer of Love surreptitiously surfacing. Although we can't really vouch for the mental state of someone who grew up with parents teaching him every uncomfortable subject under the sun using cognitively deficient hillbilly alpha predators.
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