New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spent more than $80,000 of taxpayer money on snacks at NFL games between 2010 and 2011, according to a report from New Jersey Watchdog. Christie used his government debit card 58 times at MetLife Stadium, and his office “did not provide any receipts, business reasons or names of individuals entertained, but defended the expense.”
Christie’s office has defended his use of the expense account, but were clearly embarrassed by the revelation that the governor was expensing quite a few beers while watching the Giants and Jets play because it reimbursed the costs associated with the games.
My first response was shock, of course. Christie averaged $1,500 in concessions at each game and didn’t bother keeping receipts to explain the expenses. But my second response was total envy. Spending $82,000 on snacks is an actual dream of mine. I mean, not the exact amount but the idea of spending the cost of a down payment on a home on queso and hot dogs has always been very appealing to me.
When I was little and out grocery shopping with my mom, I would imagine that I could hide in the storage room until the supermarket closed. Then, after the store had emptied, I would walk the aisles and eat any and all the snacks that I wanted. I worked in a pharmacy through most of high school even though babysitting proved more lucrative because the job meant I could buy myself boxes of Twix at cost.
My snack fantasies have stayed with me in my adulthood. One time a few years back I saw Naomi Watts in a Whole Foods, and while my friend observed how shiny her hair was, I offered: "Her grocery cart is so full!" Just last week, my best friend’s mother texted her from Kansas to say that she had taken shelter from a tornado in the basement of a grocery store. My first question, after making sure that she was fine and that no one else in the store had been hurt, was to ask if they had opened any of the boxes of snacks while waiting out the storm. (They had not.)
In tribute to Christie’s terrible/inspirational snack budget, I decided I would try to spend $80,000 on snacks by creating an Amazon Wish List and letting my imagination run wild.
Turns out, it’s pretty hard to spend that much money on snacks! Even factoring in that prices are wildly inflated at stadiums so that maybe Christie only would have spent half as much on pretzels and beer at a Wegmans, I spent an hour adding bulk items to my wish list and maxed out around $14,800 before abandoning the project.
And even that took getting a little experimental. I hit all of my standards first: fancy beef jerky, Haribo Sour Sketti, dried mango, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Prairie Breeze cheddar, Fromage d'Affinois, queso dip, tortilla chips, pumpkin seeds, red grapes, Newman’s Own Ginger-Os, and “soft eating” licorice. These are my desert island snacks, my ride or die foods.
But even buying these in cases of 30, I was coming up short. So I started buying wine in bulk -- good wine and multiple bottles of the Grateful Dead wine because why not -- and adding condiments like Priya brand red chile pickle and other things I sometimes top my snacks with, but I was still nowhere near my goal.
Then I started asking my colleagues what kind of snacks they would want on a dream snack spree, and added their recommendations, including different kinds of popcorn and Lunchables (names withheld to protect the innocent). I even added experimental sodas (butterscotch?) and delicious standards (Dr. Pepper), but I still couldn't make it happen.
All of which is to say: Chris Christie, I salute you. (Even if you are terrible.)
You can check out what I put together here and see if you can do any better. Godspeed, my fellow snackers.