We investigate universal properties of strongly confined particles that turn out to be dramatically different from what is observed for electrons in atoms and molecules. For a large class of harmonically confined systems, such as small quantum dots and optically trapped atoms, many-body particle addition and removal energies, and energy gaps, are accurately obtained from single-particle eigenvalues. Transport blockade phenomena are related to the derivative discontinuity of the exchange-correlation functional. This implies that they occur very generally, with Coulomb blockade being a particular realization of a more general phenomenon. In particular, we predict a van der Waals blockade in cold atom gases in traps.