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Senate Chamber Desks

Overview     |     Seating Plans     |     Desk Occupants     |     The Desks     |     Traditions     |     Timeline

The Senate’s Candy Desk(s)

One of the many traditions associated with the historic Senate Chamber desks is the biannual assignment of a candy desk, a practice that began without ceremony in 1965. To date, more than 18 senators have served as keepers of the candy desk.

List of Candy Desks

Every new Congress, once senators finalize their desk selections, the desk assigned to a specific spot in the Chamber is given a unique responsibility. For the next two years, the desk serves as the go-to spot for a quick burst of sugar powered-energy, and its occupant is responsible for ensuring it is stocked with an abundant supply of candy.

Any desk can become a candy desk, but to become “the” candy desk each Congress, the desk must be located on the Republican side of the Chamber, in the last row, on the aisle, and adjacent to the Chamber’s busiest entrance.

The custom began in 1965, when California Senator George Murphy joined the Senate and kept hard candy lozenges in his desk drawer (likely to soothe his throat following vocal cord surgery).1 Because his desk was near the Chamber’s most frequently used door, Senator Murphy often shared his deliciously soothing sweets with Senate colleagues.

After Senator Murphy left the Senate in 1971, subsequent senators, always seated in the same location, have preserved the custom by keeping candy in their desk for the enjoyment of all members.

This practice became a tradition when it was publicly recognized in 1979 in a floor speech by Senator Robert Byrd, in which he referenced the earliest tenants of the candy desk, Senators Murphy, Fannin, Lugar, and Durenberger.2 The occupant and location of each new candy desk has been faithfully recorded by curatorial staff of the Secretary of the Senate since 1985.

The sweets provided by the earliest occupants were typically hard candies, while more recent tenants have offered a wider variety of bite-sized, individually packaged sweets from their home states.

Although the tradition was started by a Republican member, the contents of each candy desk have always been available to all senators regardless of political affiliation.

1. Spokane Chronicle, Spokane, WA, August 30, 1966.

2. Congressional Record, 96th Congress, July 19, 1979, p. 19412.

Beginning in 1965, the following Senate Chamber desks have been designated as the candy desk:

Unidentified*19651965–1971MurphyGeorge L. Murphy CaliforniaR
Unidentified*19711971–1976FanninPaul J. Fannin ArizonaR
Unidentified*19771977–1979LugarRichard G. Lugar IndianaR
Unidentified*19791979–1981DurenburgerDavid F. Durenberger MinnesotaR
Unidentified*19811981–1983JepsenRoger W. Jepsen IowaR
Unidentified*19831983–1985SymmsSteven D. Symms IdahoR
72 (LXXII)19851985–1987GortonSlade Gorton WashingtonR
25 (XXV)19871987–1989McCainJohn S. McCain III ArizonaR
25 (XXV)19891989–1993GortonSlade Gorton WashingtonR
25 (XXV)19931993–1995JeffordsJames M. Jeffords VermontR, I
6 (VI)19951995–1997BennettRobert F. Bennett UtahR
73 (LXXIII)19971997–2007SantorumRick Santorum PennsylvaniaR
57 (LVII)2007_12007ThomasCraig L. Thomas WyomingR
57 (LVII)2007_22007–2009VoinovichGeorge V. Voinovich OhioR
95 (XCV)2009_12009MartinezMel Martinez FloridaR
95 (XCV)2009_22009–2011LeMieuxGeorge S. LeMieux FloridaR
24 (XXIV)20112011–2015KirkMark S. Kirk IllinoisR
80 (LXXX)20152015–2023ToomeyPatrick J. Toomey PennsylvaniaR
22 (XXII)20232023–presentYoungTodd Young IndianaR

*Regular verification of desk assignments began in 1985.