Bernie Sander’s Mittens

How mitten memes took over the internet.


Teresa Jones

January 20th was a historic day, not only was it the inauguration of a new president, but it was also the launching pad of Bernie Sanders going viral! 


Why did the independent Vermont senator go viral? Was it something relating to his progressive approach to climate change, or maybe he introduced a bill raising the minimum wage? While those things certainly sound viral-worthy, it was his mittens and overall outfit on inauguration day that was the cause.


The Senator sat in a folding chair, arms and legs crossed, in a blue face mask, large gray coat, and of course, hand- made mittens. The history of these mittens goes back to 2016 when Mr. Sanders lost the Democratic nomination and received these mittens from Jen Ellis, an elementary school teacher in Vermont. Ellis made these mittens from repurposed wool and lined them with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles.  Initially, people online just jokingly remarked on the senator’s attire, captioning this image with lines like, “this could’ve been an email”. Then, the real fun began with photoshop. Suddenly, Bernie Sanders’ mittens were everywhere! From sitting on a train, to sitting on the couch from the opening of the show “Friends”, Bernie Sanders was seen throughout social media as the staple mood of the inauguration. 


Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images