It’s election season, time for political junkies everywhere to hunker down with friends and family in front of the tube and listen to the candidates trade barbs and sound bites in hopes of winning viewers’ votes.

Then, on Election Day, there are hours of return-watching, and all the talk about jobs and deficits is bound to make you hungry. So why not throw an election party and feed your friends while you argue over who’s got the best plan for solving the housing crisis?

I’ve gathered some ideas for what to serve on debate- and election-night parties, including information on what election-themed goodies local businesses will be offering over the next few weeks.

Don’t forget to vote!

Let’s start with a little stew of ideas that could get your brain cells cooking up a menu:

Sloppy Joes in honor of Vice President Joe Biden, who is known for his mouth getting him into trouble.

A pitcher of Kool-Aid, as in “You’ve really drunk the Kool-Aid, haven’t you?”

Pulled pork in honor of any member of Congress who has ever accepted federal funding for their state that was really unnecessary, while at the same time complaining about too much spending. In other words, any of them.

How about a drinking game where you take a shot every time Obama says “Make no mistake ” or “Let me be clear ” Two shots for “It won’t happen overnight.”

Romney doesn’t drink alcohol or caffeine but he loves chocolate milk (wait, doesn’t chocolate have caffeine)? Take a shot of chocolate milk every time he refers to his family. Two shots every time he says he won’t cut the taxes of the 1 percent.

Cast a vote for cuteness with adorable little donkey and elephant truffles from Moonstruck Chocolate Co.’s “Election Collection.”

Moonstruck, a Seattle company, sells the dark chocolate ganache critters by the four-pack or by the dozen at moonstruckchocolate.com.

You can buy them right here in town, too, at LeRoux Kitchen, 161 Commercial St., where they’re being sold individually for $3.25 each.

Good Eats Boutique, 463 Stevens Ave., will be selling Democrat and Republican cookies in the shape of donkeys and elephants wearing colored neckties. Each animal sports a D or R on its body as well.

Don’t be obvious and buy only the cookie of the party you support. Wouldn’t you like to bite the head off your opponent?

Independents, you’re on your own. Maybe somewhere out there a baker is selling a lone wolf cookie.

Good Eats will also be selling cake pops in the colors of each party, and striped colored cupcakes in the party colors.

Jill Dewitt, owner of the shop, says all the treats will be available beginning the week of Oct. 22.

East End Cupcakes, 426 Fore St., is taking orders for patriotic cupcakes topped with fondant donkeys and elephants, and will be selling them on Election Day.

A couple of local bakeries aren’t making anything special for election season, but do plan to reward their customers for voting on Election Day. Pop into Bam Bam Bakery at 267 Commercial St. wearing your “I voted” sticker, and you’ll get a free cookie.

At Bakery on the Hill, 253 Congress St., your “I voted” sticker will score you a free election-themed cupcake. 

Doesn’t a whoopie pie poll sound so much better than a straw poll?

Cranberry Island Kitchen in Portland has been selling elephant and donkey whoopie pies ($35.95 for a dozen) and keeping track of which ones are more popular in its own little poll.

“The elephants are way behind,” said Carol Ford, co-owner of Cranberry Island Kitchen.

Ford said lots of people have been ordering half elephants, half donkeys, which she takes to mean that either there’s a lot of undecided voters out there “or that people are too polite and they don’t want to offend anybody.”

“People have definitely been doing this to tease their friends,” Ford said. “They’re sending elephants to their friends who are Democrats and they’re sending donkeys to Republicans. They’re doing it just to aggravate each other, basically.”

The business is donating 10 percent of every “Election Collection” purchase to the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

The Cookie Jar, located at 554 Shore Road in Cape Elizabeth, will be making sugar cookies with the party logos, as well as special-order cakes and cupcakes.

For the young Republicans and Democrats, there will be elephant and donkey sugar cookies. 

Aurora Provisions will be making sugar cookies that make a statement: Vote! 

Want to make the goodies yourself? I’ve done the shopping for you, both online and in local shops:

Let them eat cake. Wilton sells a “Stars and Stripes” cake pan ($9.99) at wilton.com that looks like a waving flag.

There are also plenty of sources for election-themed cookie cutters out there, and many of them go beyond the usual donkey and elephant motif. There’s plenty of time to order online before the late-October debates and Nov. 6 election night.

A website called thelittlefoxfactory.com has an Americana collection of cookie cutters that includes not only an elephant and donkey, but also an Uncle Sam, a Colonial Patriot, a map of the United States, the Capitol Dome, an American flag, George Washington’s head, Abe Lincoln’s head (which would be good for a Republican gathering) and two kinds of eagles – an eagle head and an eagle with spread wings.

If you’re the cynical sort, this collection also includes a cookie cutter that will remind your party guests of what’s driving politics today – a dollar sign.

Cheapcookiecutters.com has a Washington Monument, and the entire Capitol building in addition to the Capitol dome. The site also sells Lincoln and Washington heads, an American flag and a Liberty Bell.

Cookiecuttercompany.com has two eagles with spread wings, an elephant and donkey set, flags, a liberty bell, a Lincoln head, a Statue of Liberty, a U.S. map and two kinds of stars.

Fantes.com has a U.S. map, flag, eagle, Statue of Liberty, donkey and elephant.

Locally, LeRoux Kitchen on Commercial Street sells an elephant cookie cutter, and manager Suzie Rephan says their horse cookie cutter could make donkeys if you add longer ears.

Keys to the Kitchen, 155 Port Road in Kennebunk, has a complete elephant and donkey set.

If you want to show pride in our state, I found three websites (thelittlefoxfactory. com, CopperGifts.com and cheapcookiecutters.com) that sell cookie cutters shaped like the state of Maine.

You could have some fun with these, icing them red or blue, or writing your favorite legislative candidate’s name on them. Or you could pronounce to every one at your party how you feel about a particular issue (Yes on or no on ).

If you’re a Mitt Romney supporter, you can buy a Massachusetts cookie cutter, or maybe a Utah one to represent his Mormon heritage. If you prefer Barack Obama, there’s also an Illinois cookie cutter and, believe it or not, cheapcookiecutters.com has one for Hawaii. (Don’t worry, it’s just one island.)

If you’re wild about a particular candidate, show your love by serving your guests your candidate’s favorite foods.

Of course, this could be tricky. Mitt Romney is Mormon and doesn’t drink, so if you follow candidates’ preferences too closely your guests will be watching the returns without a beer or glass of wine in their hands. After a couple of hours listening to pundits spar with each other, you may have a mutiny on your hands.

In Romney’s case, you could go with milk, which would pair nicely with one of his favorite foods, peanut butter sandwiches. (Actually, Romney told TV host Kelly Ripa that he prefers chocolate milk with his peanut butter.)

Other Romney favorites, according to various sources: hummus, organic applesauce, granola, pizza without the cheese, and the meatloaf cakes his wife makes for his birthday.

But apparently Romney really has a thing for peanut butter. He loves Reese’s peanut butter cups, which he told Ripa are “not really junk food.”

What about President Obama? As we have previously reported during one of his visits to Maine, Obama loves pie, especially banana cream pie. He also likes steak, broccoli, hamburgers, apples and sweet potatoes. 

Last week, Family Circle magazine announced that Michelle Obama had won its sixth quadrennial Presidential Cookie Contest by the smallest margin ever in the bake-off’s history.

The first lady’s white and dark chocolate chip cookies garnered 51.5 percent of the vote over 48.5 percent for Ann Romney’s M&Ms cookies.

The contest began in 1992, after Hillary Rodham Clinton stated that she “could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life.”

This statement – taken out of context, of course – ruffled the feathers of stay-at-home moms and delighted the media, who know a good catfight when they see one.

In the end, Clinton was victorious, not only because her oatmeal chocolate chip cookies won out over Barbara Bush’s classic chocolate chip cookies, but because she is now secretary of state.

Clinton actually won the cookie contest twice, as did Laura Bush. In 2008, Cindy McCain’s oatmeal-butterscotch cookies beat Michelle Obama’s shortbread cookies.

You could argue that this cookie contest should go the way of beauty pageants, but hey, there are lots of Americans, including working moms, who still love to bake.

And going after cookies? Well, that would be a little like going after Big Bird, wouldn’t it? 

Staff writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

mgoad@pressherald.com

Twitter: MeredithGoad