Campaign to Save Congressional Candy

Candy belongs to the world of children. The gleeful assortment of bright circus colors advertising flavors both real and imagined. The treasure-like lustre of untold riches wrapped in foil. Yes, sweets are the stuff of make-believe.

And that is why, if you were to say you'd heard of a desk, a luxurious mahogany desk, fashioned by a cabinetmaker nearly two centuries ago, and that in one of the drawers of this desk is a self-replenishing cache of chocolates and jellies and other sugary delights for anyone's partaking, the last place I would have expected such a marvel is the U.S. Senate. Hogwarts Senate, yes. U.S. Senate, no.

Nonetheless, such a desk can be found in the U.S. Senate chamber. Like a child smirking with a secret on the political playground, amongst all the serious legislative rhetoric, atop its rightful spot on the distinguished blue carpet, it sits: the "candy desk."

For the past ten years the desk belonged to Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. During his tenure the candy desk benefited enormously from a gifting rule adopted by the Senate, which borrows from the wisdom of teachers who tell students they can eat in class so long as they bring enough for everyone: a senator can accept gifts from their home state in excess of the usual $100 cap, provided the bulk of it will be shared with others.

In the case of Sen. Rick's candy desk, the endless supply of bonbons came not from magic, but from Hershey's, with Just Born Inc., another Pennsylvania company, throwing Hot Tamales and fruity Mike & Ikes into the mix.

But as the political tides turned in November, Mr. Santorum, a Republican, was voted out of the Senate. Despite Pennsylvania's embarrassment of candy wealth, Mr. Santorum's successor, Bob Casey, had no chance of succeeding Rick as commander of the candy desk. Like grammar school boys and girls who stick with their own gender to avoid catching cooties, senators sit according to party lines on opposite sides of the room. The candy desk sits decidedly on the right-hand Republican side. The popular seat was up for grabs.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Sarah Lueck, Sen. Craig Thomas of Wyoming is the lucky one who nabbed Congress's most lighthearted chair. Thomas told the WSJ: "the candy desk has been my favorite for a while."

There's only one problem: nobody in Wyoming produces enough confectionery to stock Mr. Thomas' desk with the sugar that made it so special. Lueck reports that the senator's camp didn't understand how crucial it was that the home state was capable of supplying a steady stream of confections before he planted himself on the saccharine-seat. None of mom-and-pop candy shops that dot Wyoming's prairie can afford to supply the pounds needed to keep the tradition alive.

Poor Craig. I feel sorry for him. He's like the kid who, at the start of a new school year musters up the guts to sit at what was last year's "popular" lunch table. Then learns the cruel lesson that the only thing that made it cool were the people who sat there; the table itself possesses no magic.

Ms. Lueck reports that whether it be by taking up a collection, or some other means, Sen. Thomas is vowing that the candy desk will be saved. For the sake of the child in all of us (even in hardened politicos), I hope so.

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