Political rally

Former Democratic Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke brought his newly minted 2020 presidential campaign to a town hall event to Burke High School's gym on Saturday, March 23, 2019, after stops in Rock Hill, Columbia and Orangeburg the day before. File/Wade Spees/Staff

What does “cook-off” mean in Orangeburg County?

Is it another word for speechifying? Perhaps a way to describe shaking hands?

Three Democratic candidates for president (U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, and businessman Tom Steyer) in October addressed a crowd at the annual Betty Henderson’s Elected Officials and Candidates Cook-Off in Orangeburg, which at least sounds like an opportunity to knock a few items off The Post and Courier’s S.C. Iconic Food Challenge list. But in what’s become a recurring theme of this primary season contest, none of the participants appear to have eaten anything at the event.

In fact, according to photographic evidence, the political party was furnished with plenty of yard signs, campaign literature and volunteer sign-up sheets. But just about the only food available was a bowl of hard candies on the Bernie Sanders table. Quick refresher: A Lemonhead can’t pass for a tomato sandwich.

By all measures, October was the worst month for the S.C. Iconic Food Challenge. Not only did every candidate fail to garner a single check mark, but U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan dropped out of the presidential race. Ryan was tied for second in the Challenge by virtue of his once eating fried fish. Now second place belongs exclusively to Steyer, who earlier this season drank sweet tea.

Did Michael Bennet scare off the field with his Challenge assault in September? Is it possible to govern effectively if you don’t breakfast on grits? Here’s hoping that answers come our way in November.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.