At a recent all day design meeting in Chicago with one of the largest U.S. providers of home furnishings, a platter with two bowls – one of gummy worms, and one of trail mix- was wheeled into the conference room in the afternoon. It was hilarious to see men in their forties with titles like Director and Sr. Systems Engineer stumbling over each other to get to the gummies. But in some cases a little sugar boost is all that’s needed to get over the hump of a long meeting.
As the Senate gears up for a long impeachment trial, the Senate Candy desk, manned by Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey is providing such a sugar high. The Candy Desk (#80 on the Republican side) has been a staple in the Senate since its inception in 1965 by California Senator George Murphy. After his six year term the tradition continued. Although it sort of breaks the rule of senators taking gifts – because candy companies send shipments pro bono – it’s overlooked because its available to all senators Democrat or Republican, and whomever is in charge provides candies native to their state.
The Democrats have also been manning a candy desk on their side of the Senate since 1984, but both are supposed to be open to all parties.
When our own George Voinovich manned the candy desk from June 2007 to January 2009, he provided candies from northern Ohio – like Spangler’s Dum Dums, Mars Products, and Harry London Chocolates, which are made in Green, Ohio. Dum Dums are pretty iconic to northern Ohioans who eat it for ‘dessert’ after having the iconic Barberton Fried Chicken, a Slavic immigrant food with a similar story to Cincinnati Chili. That tradition is like eating a peppermint patty after having a three-way. Although Voinovich did provide Northern Ohio candies – he could have given some homage to southwestern Ohio by supplying Doscher French Chews, Aglamesis peppermint patties, or Esther Price Chocolates.
Food is the great mediator, and candy can break down barriers. Maybe more senators should tap into the candy desk.