5 Items That Were Peak 2021

Bernie Sanders' inauguration mittens make the list
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2021 10:30 AM CST
5 Things That Will Forever Remind Us of 2021
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wears mittens made from recycled sweaters as he attends President Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2021.   (Jonathan Ernst/Pool Photo via AP, File)

If 2020 was a dumpster fire, 2021 was ... perhaps hard to sum up in a word or two. But at Fast Company, Rob Walker defines the year by cherry-picking the objects that defined it best. "The products, material goods, consumer culture artifacts, and other stuff that defined or left a mark on this unique time," as he puts it. He boils it all down to a dozen standouts. These five are among them, along with links to related Newser stories:

  1. QAnon Shaman's hat. "Horned Rioter Pleads Guilty" is how our own story put it. While the images of the US Capitol being stormed won't soon be forgotten, it was Jacob Chansley's choice of headgear—paired with his painted bare chest—that became instantly associated with it. Indeed, prosecutors noted Chansley had become "the public face of the Capitol riot." He was sentenced to 41 months in November.
  2. Bernie Sanders' mittens. Among the most-discussed sartorial choice at President Biden's inauguration were the mittens worn by Sen. Bernie Sanders. They were made by Vermont second-grade teacher Jen Ellis from repurposed wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic, and they won Sanders plenty of Twitter praise for "keeping it real" and "crushing Vermont dadcore." And, bonus, they ended up bringing in big bucks for charity.

  1. The COVID vaccine syringe. We're pretty sure we included hundreds of photos of them in Newser stories over the course of the year. Whether you couldn't wait to be on the receiving end of one or tried to avoid them, it was almost impossible to go a day this year without hearing, thinking, or talking about the vaccine.
  2. Jeff Bezos' rocket. Two billionaires sent tourists to space this year, but it's Jeff Bezos, his Blue Origin rocket, and his cowboy hat that stand out. As Walker notes, the Bezos rocket "briefly became a trendy, and slightly off-color, meme. This had less to do with the craft’s technical details and more with what the Internet considered its blatantly phallic aesthetic."
  3. Potato Head. Formerly known as Mr. Potato Head (or Mrs., if you bought that version) Hasbro in February announced that its iconic toy would no longer have gender attached. As part of the Potato Head rebranding, it also released a new Potato Head playset that lets kids create their own type of families, including two moms or two dads.
Read the full story for the other 7, two of which are tied to singers. (Read more Best of 2021 stories.)

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