Bernie's Mittens Break the Internet

Anthony Agnelli

At the historic inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the attendees’ fashion game was on point. However, one certain Senator from Vermont got everyone talking and eventually developed into a viral meme sensation. Senator Bernie Sanders sitting on a folding chair sporting some (quite toasty-looking) wool mittens has been edited into various images and has made for some of the best memes of 2021.

On Wednesday, January 20, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were inaugurated as President and Vice President of the United States. Fashion was a big point of conversation, from Michelle Obama’s purple-magenta outfit to Lady Gaga’s “Hunger-Games-esque” dress. But the outfit that has everyone talking and the internet buzzing was Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ brown, black, and tan wool mittens featured in the iconic photo of Sanders sitting on a folding chair on the steps of the Capitol.

Since the photo was taken, it became instant meme fodder. The photo spread like wildfire across social media, being posted with witty captions and funny jokes. However, the “creme-de-la-creme” of the Bernie memes are photos with Sanders sitting in his chair edited into countless photos and locations. You can spot Bernie in all of your favorite pop-culture moments, such as sitting on the bench with Forrest Gump, at the end of the hallway in The Shining, and featured in one of Bob Ross’ happy, little paintings. Many cinema and television fandoms have also inserted Bernie into their favorite scenes, from The Office to Game of Thrones to Harry Potter.

The next day, Sanders appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers and explained his position on the matter. “I was just sitting there trying to keep warm, trying to pay attention to what was going on”, he says. However, he was a good sport, and laughed along with us at the fantastic memes going around.

The story behind the mittens is actually quite heartwarming… and hand warming. The mittens were knit by a Vermont teacher named Jen Ellis, who gifted them to Sanders a few years ago. Since then, he has rocked them on the presidential campaign trail. In addition, they are made from upcycled sweaters and recycled plastic bottles! Environmentally sustainable and cozy? You go, Bernie.

This isn’t the first time that the Vermont senator has become a popular meme. In December of 2019, Sanders released a video requesting donations to his 2020 presidential campaign saying “I am once again asking for your financial support…”. The snapshot of Bernie with this caption blew up as 2020 began and became a template for memes asking for various things. This marks the second January that Sanders has become a viral meme. What will January of 2022 bring? We’ll find out soon enough.

Now, for the burning question. What are Wapiti Weekly’s favorite Bernie memes? You’re about to get your answer. Our first pick has got to be Bernie Sanders sitting in detention with The Breakfast Club. It’s simple, it’s nostalgic, it’s exactly what a Bernie meme was meant to be. Our second pick is of Bernie sitting in on the cabinet meeting/rap battle in the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton. Seeing as Sanders is in the federal government, this one feels especially fitting and the theatre kid in me is screaming with unbridled glee. Our final pick isn’t an edited one, just an old-fashioned caption and image. The famous photo of Sanders sports the caption “This could’ve been an email.” I think that we can all relate to this one on some level, and the look on Bernie’s face says it all. These memes have certainly made us smile and we hope that they have done the same for you!

The Winchendon School