WASHINGTON -- For House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), it's Merlot and Camel cigarettes. For vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), it's P90X. And for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), it's chocolate ice cream, chocolate bars, chocolate truffles, chocolate candy, chocolate cake, chocolate gelato and chocolate milkshakes.
Pelosi is completely addicted to chocolate. Dark chocolate, to be specific. Even if she exercised, which she doesn't, she'd eat it during her workout. Her husband got her a stationary bike once, and during the brief period that she actually used it, she ate pints of Ben & Jerry's chocolate ice cream the entire time.
"It's okay to eat ice cream while you're riding a bike," Pelosi told The Huffington Post during an interview earlier this month, adding that her favorite flavor is New York Super Fudge Chunk. "If you can't eat ice cream while you're doing it, why would you do it?"
Pelosi isn't your run-of-the-mill chocolate lover. She's obsessed with it -- "madly," even, in her words.
She scoffed when asked if she eats chocolate every day; she'd already had truffles, chocolate candy and a dark chocolate bar that day, and it wasn't even 4 p.m.
"I don't know what it is. But some call it dedication, some call it an addiction, others call it an affliction," Pelosi said. "I knew I loved my husband when I said I would give up chocolate for him. But I also knew he loved me because he'd never ask me to do such a thing."
Pelosi's obsession is well known on Capitol Hill. House Democrats surprised her with a chocolate cake on her 70th birthday, and her office is fully stocked with Ghiradelli chocolate bars, which are made in her San Francisco district.
Those stashes have come in handy during tough policy negotiations. During the 2009 health care debate, Pelosi confessed that she kept Ghirardelli chocolate squares strategically placed throughout her offices as she met with Democratic lawmakers to try to win their support on the bill. When the bill passed in March 2010, and she was asked how she made it through the yearlong slog, Pelosi replied, "Chocolate. Very, very dark chocolate."
When she's back in her district, Pelosi said she makes a point to get "all-around brown" milkshakes, which involve chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup and chocolate milk. Some ice cream shops don't carry chocolate milk anymore, but she said she just makes up for it by "going heavy" on the syrup. That costs an extra $1.25, but apparently it's worth it.
"Just live it up," she said. "Put it in there on the milkshakes."
Pelosi told tales of how chocolate has taken over her life, recalling the time she downed an entire pint of New York Super Fudge Chunk while her driver waited outside her door to take her to an event and the times she ate chocolate ice cream right before bed and woke up at 3 a.m. on a sugar high.
She also broke down her favorite types of chocolate globally. Best candy? Belgian chocolate. Best ice cream? The Netherlands, except when it comes to the best gelato. That honor goes to Italy.
At one point, an aide interrupted the interview and signaled that it was time to go, but Pelosi wasn't done yet.
"Nut and Chews," she said, naming her favorite chocolates from See's Candies, a San Francisco-based candy store. "Sometimes people come in and say, 'I know you like dark Nuts and Chews but I brought you an assortment.' And I'm like, 'What, so we could it eat together? Why did you bring me an assortment?' I want Nuts and Chews. Dark."
It just so happens that your Huffington Post reporter is also a dark chocolate fanatic, so during the interview, a subtle competition ensued. Pelosi's first strike: she'd never heard of Dagoba chocolate, a favorite of this reporter. HuffPost's first strike: the president never sent us chocolate on our birthday.
President Barack Obama gave Pelosi dark chocolate with sea salt on it for her birthday two years ago. "I think that's what they have at the White House, like in those little boxes," she said. "At the time I thought, oh, this is so great."
The interview eventually wrapped up, and Pelosi headed off to another event. But many hours later, when HuffPost was off the clock and at a bar, one of Pelosi's aides called with a message.
"Pelosi just called me," said the aide. "She wanted me to tell you someone brought her a Dagoba bar today. She loved it."