"It's a repurposed syrup bottle," Tennessee Rep. Kent Calfee explained

By Sean Neumann
February 06, 2020 03:52 PM

It was, for a few hours, a perfectly silly mystery for Twitter to try and solve: Why was Tennessee Rep. Kent Calfee photographed drinking from a bottle of Hershey’s chocolate syrup while he was at work?

Parts of social media lit with joy, jokes, confusion and tongue-in-cheek theories after a viral photo showed Calfee, 70, drinking from his chocolate syrup bottle on the floor of the Tennessee House of Representatives before the State of the State address.

The mystery, such as it was, began when Tennessean political reporter Natalie Allison tweeted Monday afternoon that Calfee regularly brought the syrup bottle with him.

Allison’s caption read: “As he waits for the State of the State to begin, Rep. Kent Calfee takes a swig of from his Hershey’s chocolate syrup bottle, as he often does during #tnleg session.”

After the photo (taken by Tennessean photographer George Walker IV) was retweeted thousands of times, Allison gave some additional background.

“You had a lot of questions after the photo of Rep. Kent Calfee went viral on Twitter, so we decided to get some answers,” Allison wrote in a Tuesday article for The Tennessean. “So first, you ask, what was actually in the chocolate syrup bottle?”

Some on social media had predicted that maybe Calfee had a sweet tooth or that the state lawmaker was using the bottle to hide another kind of drink — but he said the truth was simpler.

“It’s a repurposed syrup bottle that I drink my water out of,” Calfee told the Tennessean. “I’m not going to buy a $25 or $35 or $45 water bottle that’s not worth what it costs because I’ll probably put it down and leave it somewhere.”

Calfee said he and his wife, Marilyn, “recycle everything.”

“I was fixing to put it in the plastic recycling one day at home and I thought, Shoot — I can put water in that,” he told Allison.

There was a twist, though. “I don’t know that I’ve ever drank chocolate syrup,” he told the Tennessean.

Calfee said he does, however, enjoy taking a spoonful of Nesquik and washing it down with a sip of milk instead of mixing it in, a trick that he has passed down to his grandchildren.