Red wine, popcorn and more.
scandal food moments
Credit: Courtesy of ABC / Craig Sjodin

On Thursday October 5, the final season of ‘Scandal’ begins. After six seasons full of politics, murder mysteries and forbidden love, Shonda Rhimes is gifting us with eighteen more episodes to close out Olivia Pope’s story.

While the gladiators in suits always have cups of coffee in hand or a table full of takeout containers in front of them while working on a case, ‘Scandal’ is better known for outrageous plot-twists than culinary scenes. But that’s not to say that ‘Scandal’ doesn’t have its fair share of significant food moments and Olivia’s love of red wine is undoubtedly rooted in her daddy issues.

So grab a bottle—and some popcorn while you’re at it—and get excited for the last season of ‘Scandal’ with the 21 best food moments from the past six seasons.

1. When the murderer just wants to finish his scampi

Season 1 Episode 3 “Hell Hath No Fury”

Does anyone even remember the first season? When Fitz is accused of having an affair with White House intern Amanda Tanner, but is really set up to sleep with her by Billy Chambers, the Vice President’s chief of staff? Well, before we knew Billy was an awful person and before he became a murderer, he felt very strongly about his shrimp scampi. Olivia finds Billy and Cyrus at a nice, white-tablecloth restaurant having lunch and asks Billy if she can have a minute with Cyrus. “I’m eating shrimp scampi, so, no,” he says, “I’m eating and he’s paying. Do you know how rare that is?” Billy reluctantly leaves and Olivia gives Cyrus the update about the Amanda Tanner situation. Little did they know, they had just forced the culprit to leave the table.

2. When Olivia drinks wine for the first time

Season 1 Episode 4 “Enemy of the State”

At the end of the third episode, Amanda Tanner tells Olivia that she’s pregnant with the President’s child, news that certainly made her need a good drink. Stephen arrives at her door and says, “You know what’s interesting about being engaged? Fiancées don’t like it when you get out of bed at 3am to go see another woman. But you called, I came and I brought our best friend shiraz,” as he holds up a bottle that says, “California Oak” in light blue letters. This leads to the first (and second) glass of many that we see Olivia imbibe throughout the show.

3. When Mellie and Fitz eat ice cream

Season 1 Episode 6 “The Trail”

In this flashback episode, we get to see how Olivia and Fitz first met on the campaign trail when he was running against Sally Langston for the Republican nomination. Olivia tells Fitz and the team that he and his wife need to look like they’re having sex because the American people want a President and First Lady they’d want to get a beer with. To create this image, Mellie and Fitz flirt and share an ice cream cone on camera. When he gets a drip on his chin, she wipes it off and they kiss. Apparently, this is how you can win a presidency.

4. When Olivia drinks wine and eats popcorn on her couch for the first time

Season 2 Episode 1 “White Hat’s Off”

If there is anything more Olivia Pope than a glass of red wine, it’s a glass of red wine, a bowl of popcorn and her cream-colored couch. The first time we see this iconic combo, Olivia is sitting on her couch, eating popcorn and watching a televised interview with Mellie and Fitz about their baby-to-be. With a glass of red wine next to her and the same “California Oak” bottle on her coffee table, she answers her phone to find Fitz on the other end. They have a painfully depressing conversation about how they can’t see each other and whether or not he’s going to invade East Sudan. It is all very romantic.

5. When Fitz eats the duck he shot

Season 2 Episode 3 “Hunting Season”

On orders from Fitz, the secret service takes Olivia from her apartment and brings her to meet him in the middle of the woods. They fight about a new technology called Thorngate that the government is using to spy on its citizens and then Fitz shoots a duck. Later, he is eating dinner alone and drinking Scotch on the rocks—his tipple of choice—in the White House when Mellie shows up late to join him. “Is this the duck you shot? I hope Mickey got a good photo to show to the press corps,” she says before digging in and making some “mmm” noises.

6. When Hollis Doyle doesn’t like sushi

Season 2 Episode 12 “Truth or Consequences”

Hollis is sitting at his desk with his feet up when he calls to his assistant, “Dammit, Trixie! Don’t ever talk me into sushi again. I’ve eaten a whole plate of the stuff and I’m still starving. Go to Gettysburger and get me a General Lee with cheese and bacon.” For a moment, he looks puzzled when he doesn’t get a response. Then the FBI barge in with a warrant for the search and seizure of anything relevant to Fitz’s shooting, implying he had something to do with it. Honestly, Hollis seemed more upset about the sushi.

7. When Jake orders a bran muffin

Season 2 Episode 14 “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”

The first time we ever meet Jake Ballard, he’s in front of Olivia in line at a coffee shop. “I’d like a large coffee and a bran muffin, please. No, make that banana nut. Aw hell, make it a doughnut,” he says, as he “accidentally” knocks Olivia’s phone out of her hand. He apologizes and offers to buy her a doughnut, telling her that “they’re the unsung heroes of the pastry case.” He tries to make small talk, asking what she does for a living, and she lies and says she’s a D.C. tour guide. He, too, lies and says he sells office supplies. It is not until later in the episode that we find out their meeting was not a coincidence.

8. When Olivia picks up Gettysburger

Season 2 Episode 18 “Molly, You in Danger, Girl”

While Jake has Olivia’s apartment bugged and he is constantly spying on her, she continues to date him without a clue. She rings his doorbell, he turns off his two-television surveillance system that streams her apartment and he opens the door. Olivia walks in, oblivious, holding bags from Gettysburger, the show’s fictional fast food spot. She criticizes the wine Jake has on his counter, so he pulls two cold beers out of the fridge. “I don’t drink beer,” Olivia says. “Tonight, you do,” Jake responds, “it’s a light ale. Of course, a dark ale would also do the trick. Really any beer pairs well with a burger. It’s what regular people drink.” Olivia argues that she is a regular person, but Jake, as well as the rest of us, knows that isn’t true. We regular people, however, do agree with the beer and burger combo.

9. When Charlie’s sweet tooth gives him away

Season 2 Episode 20 “A Woman Scorned”

When Olivia Pope & Associates is trying to figure out who the White House mole is, the crew needs to determine who Charlie’s employer is. But first they need to find Charlie. They start brainstorming things he likes. “He likes killing,” Huck says, “he likes sugar. Sugar. Pastries, doughnuts, bear claws, danish, those cinnamon pull-apart things.” So Quinn and David Rosen go to the best pastry spot in town and pretend they’re there on Charlie’s recommendation. The cashier recognizes his picture and tells them he comes in every Thursday at about 6 p.m. and orders two-dozen cannolis. The team does more sleuthing and finds out Charlie brought the cannolis to a book club to get close to the stenographer who worked on the Defiance grand jury. Since Cyrus knows about Defiance, it means he is not the mole. Thanks, cannolis.

10. When Olivia has dinner with her dad

Season 3 Episode 2 “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”

The first time we learn of Olivia’s weekly Sunday night dinners with her dad is in a flashback to five years earlier. They have an arrangement: in exchange for dinner, Rowan pays off his daughter’s law school loans. At a fancy restaurant, he is trying to get back in her good graces after sending her off to boarding school right after her mother died, and Olivia is having a difficult time forgiving him. With the help of some red wine, they slowly begin to have a normal conversation. At their next dinner, Olivia is surprised that Rowan learned to cook and he encourages her to try his food with the wine. “I don’t really like wine,” she says, “I don’t have the taste for it.” He responds, “that’s because you’ve never really had fine wine. Try it.” She takes a sip and says, “that’s amazing,” and it is the moment that Olivia’s love for red wine is born. Only a few dinners later, Olivia learns that her dad is the head of B613. Surprise!

11. When Olivia’s mother is alive and they have breakfast

Season 3 Episode 9 “YOLO”

After Olivia finds out her mother — who she thought died twenty-two years ago in a plane crash — is actually alive, she can barely speak. Her mother escaped from Rowan’s captivity and she is trying to hide. Olivia brings her grapes, apples, orange juice and other breakfast grocery items. Maya snacks on the grapes and they begin to catch up, only for her mother to quickly conclude that Olivia is just like her father, which immediately offends her.

12. When Olivia uses food as an escape

Season 3 Episode 13 “No Sun on the Horizon”

When Olivia finds out that Cyrus and Mellie are trying to cover up the fact that Sally Langston murdered her husband, she starts to freak out. She shows up at Jake’s apartment with a bag of takeout and a bottle of wine. She says to Jake, “I got you a double Lincoln with bacon. I’m trying the Mary Todd turkey burger, but with double cheese fries, so it balances out. I also brought wine, but this is for me. I’m drinking the whole bottle, you’re on your own. I don’t want to talk. Yes, something is wrong. Everything is wrong, but I don’t want to talk about it. I want to eat too many fries and drink way too much wine and relax with my fake boyfriend. I want to pretend for just one night to be a normal person who doesn’t live in this world or know these things.”

13. When Olivia and Jake get a wine delivery on a desert island

Season 4 Episode 1 “Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia”

At the end of the third season, Olivia and Jake escape Washington on a plane and now, in the first scene of the fourth season, they are alone together on an island 100 miles off the coast of Zanzibar. A boat comes to drop off groceries and supplies and the first thing Olivia goes for is, of course, the wine. “We got the ‘94 du Bellay,” she says. “Did they send the beer?” Jake asks. Ignoring him, Olivia says, “the ‘94 du Bellay. Only one hundred bottles ever made and now we have five. This will change your life.” While this is one of the few times a specific bottle is actually name-dropped, it’s not even real. Back when the episode was released, show creator Shonda Rhimes tweeted “The '94 du Bellay. We made this wine up. Same wine Cyrus brings to Olivia’s apartment back when he's sure James is cheating. #scandal #tgit

14. When Mellie eats grief fried chicken

Season 4 Episode 2 “The State of the Union”

Jerry, Mellie and Fitz’s son, was murdered with an injection of bacterial meningitis and Mellie stops caring about her appearance, the presidency and everything else. She eats potato chips in her pajamas at Jerry’s grave and sugary cereal in her sweatpants in the oval office. Then, she asks the White House chef for Southern fried chicken and she eats a drumstick on the balcony as she continues to grieve. Cyrus grabs a thigh and shares his grief for James with Mellie, only for her to tell him that losing his husband isn’t the same as losing her child.

15. When Mellie breaks out the hooch

Season 5 Episode 3 “Paris is Burning”

Olivia publically admits to the press that she is, indeed, the President’s mistress. While Fitz is happily surprised, Mellie is not. Olivia goes to find Mellie, who is in her giant walk-in closet looking for her hooch that she hid. Mellie gives a little soliloquy about how all the frivolous duties of the first lady drove her to drink the clear, strong alcohol she bottled in a mason jar, and then she offers some to Olivia. Olivia declines and Mellie tells her that now that she’s in the White House, what she wants no longer matters. According to Mellie, “liquid gold” is the only thing that can make you feel alive.

16. When Olivia has no groceries

Season 5 Episode 5 “You Got Burned”

Once Olivia and Fitz’s relationship is public, they hire Leo Bergen to make sure the American public likes Olivia. While conducting a bit of a background check, he opens her fridge to find it bare, aside from just a single cup of yogurt and a bottle of seltzer. “Where’s all her food?” Leo asks. “You mean her wine and popcorn?” Huck responds. Leo asks where she buys it and the answer is a delivery service. “I don’t have time to go grocery shopping,” Olivia argues. But Leo has her grocery shop in front of paparazzi so that America can see her as the “every woman.”

17. When Susan Ross goes to Gettysburger

Season 5 Episode 11 “The Candidate”

Elizabeth North, who is sleeping with David Rosen herself, convinces him to ask Susan Ross out on a date so that he can convince her to run in the presidential race. After suggesting three romantic date ideas only to find out Susan has already done these things with her daughter, he suggests they go to Gettysburger, where she’s never been before. “Welcome to Gettysburger. Breakfast, lunch and dinner for the people, of the people and by the people,” the cashier says. “Is the double Lincoln as good as it sounds? I want that,” Susan says. “That’s going to come with freedom fries. You’re also going to want union rings,” David tells her. “But I thought I had to choose,” she responds. “No, union and freedom go to together,” he explains.

18. When Mellie lies about Gettysburger

Season 5 Episode 15 “Pencils Down”

In an effort to make Mellie relatable during her run for president, Olivia sends her to off to Gettysburger to show the American people that she’s like everyone else. She orders a double Lincoln with cheese and sits down with a family while the press is in her face. As she’s eating freedom fries, one reporter asks about the last time Mellie had been to a Gettysburger. It all gets pretty awkward, though, when she says she used to go to Gettysburger on 21st and Q every Sunday after church services with Karen. “But, Gettysburger is closed on Sundays,” the constituent in her booth says, “in honor of the first major battle of the Civil War, which happened on a Sunday. I thought everybody knew that.”

19. When Rowan is in the bunker

Season 6 Episode 12 “Mercy”

There aren’t many food moments in the most recent season, since everyone is busy trying to figure out who Peus and Ruland are, why they made Rowan kill Frankie Vargas and what they want Mellie to do in the Oval Office. In order to keep them from killing Rowan, Olivia and Fitz lock him up in the White House bunker. When Olivia goes to check on him, he is reading the paper in front of an entire table of breakfast pastries, fruit and tea. Though Rowan wants to leave, Fitz tells him, “you are free to eat as many of my croissants as you want...but make no mistake, Mr. Pope, you are still a prisoner.”

20. When Cyrus and Rowan go to the wine cellar

Season 6 Episode 12 “Mercy”

While everyone is on lockdown for a fake drone threat, Cyrus asks Rowan if he wants a drink. He leads him to a huge, beautiful wine cellar in the White House that Cyrus said Fitz had installed during his first term as a gift to future presidents. They down a “damn fine” bottle and decide to open another. “Something lighter this time?” Rowan suggests, “Maybe a pinot noir. No, no, no. A grenache!” He looks through some bottles and a certain one excites him. “I can’t believe that the United States government has an ‘87 Andre,” he exclaims. “Gift from the French PM,” Cyrus explains. They continue chatting until Cyrus switches open the blade on the wine key. Just as he is about to stab Rowan in the back, Rowan smashes the bottle of wine in his hand as he turns around and holds the jagged glass towards Cyrus. Cyrus emotionally yells at Rowan that the world needs Frankie Vargas and they both stand down.

21. When Olivia and Cyrus drink wine at the Lincoln Memorial

Season 6 Episode 16 “Transfer of Power”

After Olivia and her associates discover that Luna Vargas was behind all of the murder and terrorism of the season, they force her to kill herself. All is well again when Olivia and Jake make sure that B613 is funded and Mellie is officially the first female president. During the Inauguration Ball, Cyrus meets Olivia on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and she is holding a bottle of wine. They take gulps straight out of the bottle as Olivia tells Cyrus what Luna did and that she thought her husband would be more powerful dead than alive. When Cyrus says to Olivia that Luna looked like Jackie Kennedy in her blood-stained, pink Chanel suit the night Frankie was killed, Olivia knows that Cyrus planted the seed in Luna’s head all along.