This year the honor goes to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Sweetest Place on Earth) — that’s his joke, not ours. It’s a logical assignment given that Pennsylvania is home to candy giant Hershey’s, as well as other renowned candymakers, such as Just Born, which makes Peeps, and smaller companies, such as Asher’s and Wilbur Chocolate.
“I campaigned for this assignment on the platform of life, liberty, and the pursuit of Peeps and hope Pennsylvania’s treats will sweeten the bitter partisan atmosphere,” Toomey said in a statement. “I plan to stock the Candy Desk with Pennsylvania’s finest chocolate and deliciousness to ensure a surplus of sweets.” (Ah, fiscal puns.)
The candy desk, located in the back row on the Republican side of the aisle, was started in 1965 by former senator George Murphy of California and the tradition stuck. Toomey joins an esteemed list of former candy men who include John McCain and Rick Santorum. Santorum, also hailing from Pennsylvania, had the duty for 10 years and was, we hear, quite diligent about keeping it well stocked.
When Santorum lost in 2006, there was fear the candy desk would be no more. A Hershey spokesman told The Wall Street Journal, “We were pleased to be a small part of sweetening up congressional proceedings.”
After Santorum, the job went to Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.), but a problem was that Wyoming isn’t a big candy producer, and it was against ethics rules for him to accept candy from other states.
Thomas died in 2007, and other senators picked up the candy man mantle. The latest was Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who held the job since 2011.
Now with Toomey in the role, Hershey and other Pennsylvania sweets will once again be the candy of the Senate.
He can even stock up later this month when the House and Senate GOP hold their joint retreat in Hershey.