VANCOUVER 2010 WINTER OLYMPICS | SOUVENIRS :: THE ICONIC RED MITTENS

There is something ineffably Canadian about mittens. They’re more childlike than gloves, and seem to be a bit of a national obsession. In a “cheeky Canadian” move, the National Post even created the National Mitten Registry (sadly, now defunct) in 2005:

For three seasons, the National Post has run the registry, and we are proud to say that at no point in its history has any Canadian political party campaigned for its abolition.

It works like this: You, the reader, find a misplaced mitten. You mail it to Canada’s liveliest national newspaper, and we print a picture and the coordinates of your find in this section. Meanwhile, a cold-handed reader perusing this paper’s unbeatable blend of news, commentary and moxie spots his or her mitten and drops us a line. A reunion is made, and both hearts and hands are warmed.

– “In the name of glove,” The National Post, 4 January, 2007

I’m not making this up.

Canadians need their mittens in the winter, and VANOC and the Hudson’s Bay Company have hit paydirt on these Olympic souvenirs. (The ten-buck price point is perfect for something that’s going to get lost eventually.)

I’ve been to the Olympic “memories” shops at various Bay stores and snapped photos of the more interesting merchandise. The iconic mittens, however, are the only purchase I’ve made. I’m not sure I’ll ever use them (they’ll just get lost!), but I like the look and feel of these mitties (the inside is fleece and the maple leaf paw — a brilliant design decision — is felt). Made in China for worldwide consumption.

Here’s a photo from VANOC of Leo Obstbaum’s design team’s vision for the Olympic Torch Relay uniform, featuring those ubiquitous red mittens:

Oprah gave 300 pairs to her studio audience (they’re not exactly like winning the keys to a car, but the crowd still erupts into a frenzy):

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For those Americans who missed out on Oprah, The Great Canadian Mitten Giveaway offered the promise of a pair.

All one had to do is give a piece of Canadiana to the Giveaway’s creator, Fiona Richards. Click the screenshot for more:

HERE ARE SOME CHOICE “THINGS ABOUT CANADA” FROM THE GREAT CANADIAN MITTEN GIVEAWAY!:

• Bacon in Canada is awesome, nice and thick.

• Campbell River, BC on Vancouver Island is the salmon fishing capital of the world.

• They make nice mittens. More Americans should wear them. I volunteer.

• Manitoulin Island is the world’s largest island in a freshwater lake.

• Poutine is a delicious, greasy mess :D

• Canadians love hockey! You can drink there at a younger age … and they have hot winterized men.

• True fact: when I worked at a law firm, all the coolest lawyers were from Canada! (I am not trying to grovel, it’s a fact, I swear!)

• Canada = multiculturalism.

• Canadians consume more macaroni and cheese than any other nation. [Note: We call it “KD” up here].

• Kraft Dinner, Smarties, pop, TimBits, lumber jackets, beavertails, Nanaimo bars, butter tarts, two-fours, serviettes, chocolate bars, and most of all, eh!!!! (not to mention, once again, zed!!)

• I’ve always secretly wished I were Canadian!

• Canada is known to have the highest quality of life in the world, according to the United Nations Human Development Index.

• Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and health care.

• Canadians have the cutest accents! :)

• Americans live by “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Canadians aspire to “Peace, order, and good government.”

Well, 353 people entered this contest and I could just go on cutting and pasting, but I suggest having a look at the contest yourself and the contestants’ “factoids” about our county.

The one I like most is:

• The mittens are pretty but your poster about them is more than beautiful!!

Thanks, Fiona, for the fun and for getting into the spirit of it all!

P.S. If you’re obsessed and can’t get your paws on a pair, there’s always eBay (but you’ll have to pay a premium!).

update:

More than 3.5 million pairs were sold. For details, see:

VANOC thanks Canadians, fans, for wearing hearts on their hands

THE 2010 VANCOUVER WINTER OLYMPICS SUITE