There are two candy desks in the U.S. Senate, my friends, and it is a sweet tradition that started on the Republican side of the Senate in the 1960s. It eventually influenced the Democrats to create their own candy desk in the mid-1980s.
Let's face it, there really isn't anything better than a desk filled with candy. Well except maybe, two desks filled with candy.
Let's start where the legend begins, on the Republican side of the Senate. In 1968, Senator George Murphy of California took a seat in the back row of the Senate, and was known by his fellow senators to always keep candy in his desk. Senator Murphy had a major sweet tooth and enjoyed having confections on hand. He often shared his candy with his fellow senators and, thus, the candy desk was born.
The tradition continued and now the candy desk is a source of pride for the Republican side of the Senate. Senators are put in charge of filling the desk with confectionary delights and take pleasure in showcasing candy that is made in the state they represent.
All of the candy is donated with The National Confectioners Association representing the majority of the candy companies that donate. There is one rule that the senators must get around and that is the ethics rule.
It states that senators are not allowed to accept donations of more than $100 in a year. The loophole, of course, is that this rule does not apply if the donations are manufactured in the senator's represented state.
The location of the candy desk is in the heart of the Republican side, in fact, for the Democrats to take over the candy desk they would need to acquire 80 seats in the Senate. While, the Republicans only need 20 seats to maintain the candy desk as their own. Located by the most used entrance on the Republican side, I'm sure Democrats sneak over there to grab a confectionary treat before finding their seat.
There has been some difficulty throughout the years in maintaining the candy desk. When Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming was put in charge of the candy desk, there was fear the tradition would end. Wyoming is not home to any big name candy manufacturers, but Senator Thomas came through with a few small named companies.
Eventually the maintenance of the candy desk went to Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois who was proud to showcase the land of Wrigley's gum, Tootsie Rolls, and Jelly Belly.
I'm sure everyone's breath was extra fresh while he was stocking the candy desk with double mint gum.
Pennsylvania Senators have had the most to show off when in charge of the candy desk and this has become a rivalry amongst the other Republican Senators as everyone is trying to keep the candy desk out of the hands of Pennsylvania.
You see, Pennsylvania leads the United States in candy manufacturing with big names like Hershey, Just Born, Inc., and Wilbur Chocolate, just to name a couple. Hersey is the largest producer of chocolate in North America and Just Born, Inc. is most famous for their marshmallow Peeps.
Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey asked for the seat of the candy desk and his request was granted in 2015. Senator Toomey is currently in charge of the candy desk and enjoys filling it with his favorite candy: 3 Musketeers.
3 Musketeers is made by Mars, Inc., who's headquarters are located in Virginia, but the actual candy itself is made in Pennsylvania.
The Democrats founded their own candy desk in 1985. They help keep their candy desk stocked with a "candy fund," which works on the goodwill rule. If you take a piece, you leave a little money to keep the candy desk running. Their candy desk is located on the front wall on the Democratic side of the Senate in the desk belonging to the United States Senate Democratic Conference Secretary.
The candy desk represents the ability for both sides of the Senate to come together and enjoy a couple pieces of candy. At the end of the day, we are all citizens of this great nation, so let's come together and share some sweet, sweet candy.