Election 2020

Why U.S. senators will be eating Philly’s Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews during the impeachment trial

Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey occupies a desk of honor.

US Senate/Billy Penn Illustration

Pat Toomey takes this moment in history seriously. The U.S. senator from Pennsylvania sent out a release noting that the “impeachment of any president is an extraordinary event,” and advocating for “a fair trial.”

The second-term lawmaker also takes his desk seriously — as do his hungry colleagues these days. Toomey’s desk holds what’s basically the only food allowed on the legislative floor:

The Senate candy stash.

Toomey’s staff is preparing appropriately. “Yes, we are expecting higher demand at the candy desk,” press secretary Steve Kelley confirmed to Billy Penn. “Our office dropped off additional back stock with the staff of the Senate Cloakroom this morning – who will fill the desk as necessary.”

According to Senate rules, only water is officially permitted in the federal government’s upper chamber. Milk is also de facto allowed, after an exception was made in 1966 for Sen. Everett Dirksen of Illinois, who wanted some extra sustenance at lunch.

Other than that, senators and staff are supposed to refrain from bringing comestibles into session. Except for the occupant of desk No. 80.

Since California’s Sen. George Murphy made it a habit in 1968, tradition holds that whoever occupies the seat — which is located next to one of the chamber’s most-used entrances — keeps sweets in a drawer for colleagues.

As with his predecessors, Toomey stocks his pantry with local fare. Right now, the drawer is filled with Pennsylvania’s finest:

  • Hershey’s with Almonds
  • Rolos, Milky Ways
  • 3 Musketeers
  • Palmer Peanut Butter Cups
  • Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, which were developed in Philadelphia in 1890 and first marketed there in 1917, before they were adopted by the army and spread popularly nationwide

Midway through the first day of senate proceedings Tuesday afternoon, Toomey’s office wasn’t sure who had asked for candy so far, if anyone.

For the 58-year-old from Lehigh County? “Senator Toomey particularly enjoys 3 Musketeers,” said spokesperson Kelley, adding that Toomey certainly might partake in “a few” during the impeachment session himself.

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