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A funny thing happened after the Biden-Harris inauguration: no cascade of scandals took over the news cycle. Instead of hand wringing, social media was flooded by a harmless meme.

With vibes of a teen forced to attend a family reunion while their favorite band plays a show, the viral photo of Senator Bernie Sanders has a heartwarming backstory, according to the Washington Post. The mittens came from a Vermont second-grade teacher who knits them for friends and fam, and apparently, politicians who inspire her. She sent them to Sanders when he lost the 2016 nomination bid, and the senator has worn them regularly since.

Striped in muted earth tones, the mittens are a key part of the image’s zeitgeist. Along with the rest of the posture — legs and hands crossed, back slumped into a chair — they add to the senator’s resigned, don’t-know-don’t-care look.

The pic caught fire almost immediately, with sulky Bernie photoshopped into everything from Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” to the Starship Enterprise to the audition scene from ’80s cult fave “Flashback.”

Great. Amusing, at first. But more than 48 hours after President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris walked off the stage in DC, the meme was still proliferating.

There are quite a few that are Philly specific, some better than others. For posterity, we collected as many as we could find, divided into some common categories.

(Note: Depending on your connection speed, the embedded posts may take a moment or two to load.)


Bonus points to the person who actually makes a cardboard cutout of the image and uses it during the next snowstorm.


Public transit

Not as many SEPTA Bernies as you’d think.



The Gritty scenario doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibilities.


Entertainment and media

A Sanders cameo in the upcoming Creed sequel would be pretty perfect.

Restaurants and bars

A lot of people in Philly do really sit this way when they get a coffee.


Local businesses

The senator could definitely use a trim.

Cultural institutions

If any brands are going to co-opt a meme, let it be the museums.

Tayyib Smith

The Philly entrepreneur, cultural instigator, and Little Giant Creative co-founder swapped out the senator, and inserted himself. Next-level trolling.

Danya Henninger is director and editor of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation — including the membership program. She is a former food...