The Senate Candy Desk is a special desk on the Republican side of the aisle in the United States Senate which is kept stocked with various candies. The Senator who sits at the Candy Desk is responsible for ensuring that it is well supplied with sweets, and by tradition, the candy must originate from the Senator's home state. This desk is one of the few exceptions to the seniority rule of desk seating in the Senate, as it is generally offered to a candy-loving Senator, who may in fact forfeit a seat further up in the chamber for the privilege of maintaining the Senate Candy Desk.
The tradition of the Senate Candy Desk started some time in the 1960s, although there is some dispute about whether it started with Arizona Senator Paul Fannin, or California Senator George Murphy. In any case, the desk in the back row of the Republican side of the Senate nearest to the side door came to be known as the place to stop for a quick sweet fix, and the desk became an enduring Senate tradition.
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At the start of each new Senate session, the desks in the Senate chamber are typically doled out by seniority, with high-ranking Senators sitting close to the front of the chamber, while junior Senators sit in the back. Republicans sit on the right side of the chamber, while Democrats sit on the left side of the chamber, across an aisle. Certain desks in the Senate are reserved for particular Senators; for example, Daniel Webster's former desk goes to the senior Senator from New Hampshire. Typically, agreements about who will take custody of the Candy Desk are made prior to the start of the new session.
Some Senators have complained about the expense of keeping up the Senate Candy Desk, as stressful Senate sessions can put quite a strain on the contents of the Candy Desk. As a result, some Senators compensate the desk's owner with a few dollars now and then. Candy manufacturers have also realized that stocking the desk could be a great public relations opportunity; Hershey famously supplied 400 pounds (181 kilograms) of candy a year to the Senate Candy Desk when it was in the custody of Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
When the Senate Candy Desk changes hands, it often makes headlines as an interesting tidbit from the hallowed traditions of the United States Senate. In 2007, a candy controversy erupted when a Wyoming Senator took over; Wyoming is not a state known for its candy manufacturing, and there was concern that Senator Craig Thomas would be unable to keep the desk fully stocked with candy exports from his native state. Fortunately, several artisan candy producers from around Wyoming stepped in to fill the desk with Wyoming specialties.