Haley Oellerman, 8, played with the cap from a long-necked bottle of cream soda as she waited with her parents to tour the Capitol.
The pop offers a little taste of home. It comes from Fitz's vintage bottling works in St. Louis, and Haley lives in nearby Defiance, Mo.
It is a tradition in Washington to offer goodies made back home. Who could forget how Ronald Reagan passed around jelly beans from the Fairfield, Calif.-based Jelly Belly Candy Co. to Cabinet members?
Visitors to Washington can get chocolate from California, Pennsylvania peanut chews and even New York-brewed beer when they call on their members of Congress.
For Sen. James M. Talent (R-Mo.), who stocks Fitz's sodas in his glass-fronted refrigerator, nostalgia is part of the fun.
"Cream soda, doesn't that bring back memories? Cream soda on a summer afternoon," Talent said in an interview.
Because a fair amount of walking is necessary for a Capitol tour, it also is practical to offer a snack to visitors, especially children.
"If you give them a root beer, or you give them a piece of candy or a cereal bar or something, it keeps them quiet and gives them a little snack in between these sightseeing events," Talent said.
Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies -- made by McKee Foods Corp. of Collegedale, Tenn. -- are staples in the office of the Senate's majority leader, Republican Bill Frist of Tennessee.
Macadamia nuts -- chocolate covered and plain -- and pure Hawaiian coffee can be found in the office of Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii).
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has a weakness for the Ghirardelli chocolate -- made by the San Leandro, Calif.-based company -- in her office.
"That would be an understatement," said Pelosi's spokesman, Brendan Daly.
Saranac beer -- from the Matt Brewing Co. of Utica, N.Y. -- brewed at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, is occasionally offered in Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert's office. Visitors, of course, must be of the appropriate age, spokeswoman Melissa Carlson said. Boehlert (R-N.Y.) also sometimes has New York-grown apples in season.
Georgia lawmakers have Coca-Cola products and Georgia peanuts on hand, along with the occasional sweet Vidalia onion. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) keeps a variety of Hershey's chocolate on hand. He stocks a candy drawer on the Senate floor for GOP colleagues. He also does not mind sharing, acknowledging that his office has been known to swap a few bags of candy for a few cases of Coke, "just to offer a little bit more of an array of things."
The Senate has a rule that generally prohibits taking anything worth $100 or more in a given year from one source. But there is an exception for accepting home-state products to hand out to visitors.
Ethics watchdog groups do not mind the practice.
"We have a long list of reforms we've proposed. That I don't think would make the top 200," said Gary Ruskin, who runs the nonpartisan Congressional Accountability Project. "However, it is a sweet deal for members and staff."