No, Taxpayers Didn't Pay $8,600 to Buy Cheesecake for Chuck Schumer

Schumer loves giving away Junior's cheesecakes, but there's a lot of confusion over who's paying for them.
February 25, 2020, 1:01am
chuck schumer junior's cheesecake
Photo: Getty Images

During a press conference on Sunday, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) held up a full-color printout from the New York Post's website, and read its shocking headline out loud. "Chuck Schumer has spent $8,600 on Junior's cheesecakes in the past decade."

The 69-year-old senator didn't deny it for one second. "I give them as gifts," he said. "I use them for bets [...] I love Junior's cheesecake. So I say to the New York Post and others, guilty as charged. I love Junior's cheesecake so much. It's the best cheesecake in the world."

He then stepped away from the podium and started handing out what appeared to be Junior's "Little Fellas" miniature cheesecakes to the members of the press.

As Schumer mentioned, the Post scrolled through several years' worth of Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings, and discovered that Schumer spent a total of $8,638.85 on cheesecakes from the Brooklyn restaurant between 2012 and 2016.

But despite the fact that the senator called Junior's his "guilty pleasure," he wasn't crouching down behind his desk, housing hundreds of pounds of cheesecake: The desserts were actually purchased by the Friends of Schumer PAC, and were—as the Senator said—given away as "supporter acknowledgement" gifts. (In other words, to be clear, the cheesecakes were not purchased with taxpayer money.)

Angelo Roefaro, a spokesperson for Schumer, told VICE that the senator no longer gifts the cheesecakes; last year, supporters received a book about the Capitol. Still thoughtful, but significantly less edible.

Schumer was born two weeks and two days after the original Junior's opened on Election Day 1950, and he told the press that he'd been eating its cheesecake since he was a kid. According to the Junior's website, the "magic formula" for the now-iconic dessert was the result of a collaboration between its founder, Harry Rosen, and Eigel Petersen, the restaurant's Danish-born master baker. Almost 70 years later, Junior's is still using pretty much the same recipe.

''It was perfect, it was the platonic cheesecake, as smooth as alabaster,'' James Beard award winning author Michael Stern told the New York Times after Rosen's death. ''If you think of great cheesecake, you think of New York cheesecake, and when you wanted great cheesecake in New York, you went to Junior's.''

As he mentioned, Schumer has also used Junior's cheesecakes as a wager when he's "bet"—and that goes in the friendliest possible air quotes—on sporting events with other politicians. In 2008, he bet then-Wisconsin senator Herb Kohl a cheesecake that the New York Giants would beat the Green Bay Packers in that year's NFC Championship game. (The Giants won, 23-20, so Kohl had to surrender a block of Wisconsin-made cheese.)

A year later, Schumer and Sen. Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY) made another cheesecake wager, betting the late Sen. Arlen Specter and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) that the New York Yankees would beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2009 World Series. (The Yankees won in six games, so the New York senators supposedly collected some Philly cheesesteaks.)

On Sunday, Schumer seemed pretty hype to have a reason to stand behind a podium, eating a cheesecake: "In Brooklyn, they would say something is so 'something' good, but I'm just going to say so good."

You can just say it, Chuck: Junior's cheesecake is so fucking good.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.