If you happen to be in Washington, DC, you might want to pay a visit to one or both of your Senators to let them know what you think about the state of affairs in this here country. And did you know that you can buy a souvenir to commemorate your grassroots lobbying visit? Well, you can.
On a recent trip to Our Nation's Capital, I happened to stumble upon the United States Senate Gift Shop, which had lots of fun stuff available for people to purchase. You can buy a United States Senate water bottle, United States Senate shotglasses, a United States Senate cookie jar, a United States Senate bathrobe, a United States Senate comforter, United States Senate ball caps, a fancy United States Senate clock, United States Senate golf balls, and fine crystal United States Senate goblets and decanters, among other things.
But what really struck me about the United States Senate gift shop was the proliferation of paraphernalia related to bean soup, of all things. They had mugs dedicated to bean soup, bags of bean soup mix, tea towels and trivets with the bean soup recipe, and so much more.
So, I asked the check out clerk--what's the deal with the bean soup?
"Oh," she said, "They passed a law a long time ago that there has to be bean soup on the menu in the cafeteria every single day."
"Is it good?" I asked.
"Meh. You can try for yourself."
So, I did some quick research on my phone, and sure enough, sometime during Grover Cleveland's administration, the Senate passed a decree that made it mandatory to serve bean soup in the Senate Cafeteria at all times. Senator Fred Thomas Dubois of Idaho was given a seat on the committee that oversaw the operations of the cafeteria (a very important and powerful position, obviously), and he was so obsessed with bean soup, that he decided to use the power of his office to compel the federal government to give him access to bean soup whenever the hell he wanted some.
Apparently, they didn't have anything more important to concern themselves with in the late 1800's.
I decided to walk across the hall to the cafeteria to see what all the fuss was about.
Sure enough, it was there--bean soup, required by federal law. I had a cup, and, well, I agree with the clerk. "Meh." It wasn't bad, at all, but I think I've had better bean soup in my life. Still, I felt like I'd stumbled upon a funny, weird Washington thing, and now, at least I can say that I've eaten bean soup that's protected by an act of the United States Senate.