Congressional Snack Trading Helps Cut Across Party Lines

Fritos, Skittles, and Little Debbie snack cakes are the unspoken currency of Capitol Hill

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Congressmen reach across the aisle… for snacks.

There’s a secretive and well-protected black market happening right inside our nation’s capital, and what gets traded has the power to cut across state and party lines, reports Politico.

This black market, used to help government aides “make friends, forge informal alliances and, ultimately, help keep Capitol Hill functioning” is a “covert snack economy” that helps Capitol Hill staffers get what they’re looking for: a bag of Skittles in exchange for a bag of Fritos, for example.

Food and beverage companies, as well as farm cooperatives, donate snacks to Capitol Hill, though some offices reportedly do keep specific snacks on hand at all times. Receiving snacks is permitted under ethics guidelines and although staffers “aren’t supposed to directly ask suppliers for their snacks to be replenished, they tend to not run out for long.”

Senator Rand Paul reportedly keeps his office stocked with Pop-Tarts and Nutri-Grain bars, while Kirsten Gillibrand has the Chobani yogurt, which makes good currency for heath-conscious staffers.

“I hesitatingly slink into a New York office and awkwardly make small talk until I ask if I can take a yogurt,” an aide from another delegation told Politco.

Amongst junior staffers, Politico reports the existence of “an elaborate barter system” where Pepsi is traded for M&Ms and Coke is exchanged for Craisins. What’s more, the most politically savvy snackers have compiled something akin to a “Capitol Hill snack bible.”

It’s a good strategy to be well-stocked “at 4 p.m., when you need that sugar buzz,” said a spokesman for Senator John Boozman.

For the latest food and drink updates, visit our Food News page.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy

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