Who’s Profiting from Memes, Mittens, Jackets.. and Now Socks?

No question, Senator Bernie Sanders won the internet the week of the Inauguration with Bernie memes going viral.

And the second-grade teacher, Jen Ellis of Essex Junction, found herself instantly famous. And while she declined to make any money off the mittens she’d made from recycled sweaters and fleece made from pop bottles, that didn’t stop others from jumping on the Bernie bandwagon.

There was some irony to the fact that while the mittens got all the attention, the jacket Sanders was wearing was actually a Bernie Sanders jacket that Burton made.

In 2018 Jake Burton Carpenter had Burton launch a jacket and sweatshirt with Bernie’s likeness on in, the Best Ever, with proceeds going to the Sanders Institute. The story goes that Senator Sanders admired the jacket, but wasn’t sure he wanted to wear something with his own image on it so his son, who worked at Burton, made one without the image.

Within just a few days of the Inauguration, the Edgecomb down jacket by Burton sold out, with orders more than doubling the week after the memes went out.

Sanders himself jumped on the bandwagon, releasing a sweatshirt and other apparel with the meme on it. Those sold out too, with $1.8 million in proceeds going to some of his favorite charities, including  the local food pantry, Feeding Chittenden, Meals on Wheels and the CHILL Foundation — a program stood up by Jake and Donna Carpenter of Burton fame to help underserved youth gain confidence through board sports.

Then Darn Tough jumped on the bandwagon and is partnering with mitten maker Jen Ellis to make a custom premium Merino wool sock that mimics the now famous mittens Bernie Sanders wore on Inauguration day. And 100% of proceeds of the sock sales will go directly to the Vermont Foodbank.

“This sock is not political. This is about Vermont, community and neighbors. It’s about Jen being a 2nd grade teacher and a mother who aims to do good for all,” says Ric Cabot, Founder and CEO of Darn Tough Vermont. “When Jen reached out to us, we immediately saw this as an opportunity to continue our support for the Vermont Foodbank and we knew we had to do it”.

Darn Tough and the Vermont Foodbank had a quarterly custom sock program set to kick off this May, but noted that the program has been kick started early when the opportunity the with Ellis presented itself. The brand will drop a new sock every three months that benefits the Vermont Foodbank, and potentially expand its hunger relief efforts beyond the state later this year. 

”I adore Darn Tough and I’m thrilled to partner with such an amazing and generous Vermont based company. I want everyone to have a cozy, mitten inspired sock and now you really can. I hope they bring everybody joy!” explains Jen Ellis creator of the original mittens.

To date, Darn Tough has provided 538,960 meals to the Vermont Foodbank over the life of their partnership. Their official socks that give back to the Vermont Foodbank program will launch later in 2021.


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