Pople Drank: What's Up With Pope Francis and His Pipe Thing?

Pope Francis is a different kind of pontiff, a friendly and humble Jesuit who loves to hang out on the corner with his people. But what's that bowl-pipe thing he carries around and frequently takes a hit off? It's a mate cup with a silver straw. And it's how you drink the caffeine-loaded "national infusion" of Francis' homeland, Argentina.

Pople Drank: What's Up With Pope Francis and His Pipe Thing?

Here's the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio hanging out in Buenos Aires on March 3, just 10 days before he was elected to be the new pope. Even after becoming Pope Francis, he still loves to wander the city like a regular dude in touch with the street.

Pople Drank: What's Up With Pope Francis and His Pipe Thing?

Mate is made by brewing the dried leaves of yerba mate, which is a delightful South American herb. There's a silver straw/strainer, and a traditional gourd for the cup—you may have seen annoying 1990s-style alt-hippies conspicuously slurping mate in Brooklyn or Silver Lake in recent years, but mate has been the hot drink of choice for South Americans for thousands of years. Here's the then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in Buenos Aires back in 2009 with some unidentified friends.

Pople Drank: What's Up With Pope Francis and His Pipe Thing?

When's a good time to enjoy a hit off your mate? Are you awake? Then now is a good time! Here's our cool new pope having his usual in October at the Vatican.

(Second photograph via Associated Press; other photographs via Getty Images.)