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The last meal is a customary part of a condemned prisoner's last day. Often, the day of or before the appointed time of execution, the prisoner receives a last meal and religious rites, if they desire. In the United States, inmates generally may not ask for an alcoholic drink. Other countries have different traditions, such as the "little glass of rum" granted to the condemned in historical France in the minutes before execution; but no formal last meal as they were told of the impending executions only on the fatal morning, generally minutes before the actual event.
In many countries the prisoner may, within reason, select what the last meal will be and the authorities do their best to satisfy the request.
In pre-modern Europe, granting the condemned a last meal has roots in superstition in that a meal was a highly symbolic social act. Accepting freely offered food symbolized making peace with the host. The guest agreed tacitly to take an oath of truce and symbolically abjured all vengeance. Consequentially, in accepting the last meal the condemned was believed to forgive the executioner, the judge, and witness(es). The ritual was supposed to prevent the condemned from returning as a ghost or revenant to haunt those responsible for their killing. As a superstitious precaution, the better the food and drink, the safer the condemned's oath of truce. The law of 18th Century England, however, as noted by Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, ca. 1765, made no such concession; "during the short but awful interval between sentence and execution, the prisoner shall be kept alone, and sustained with only bread and water".
The provision of alcohol to the condemned may well have its roots in biblical times: "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts."
Contemporary restrictions 
In the United States, most states give the meal a day or two before execution and use the euphemism "special meal". Alcohol or tobacco are usually denied. Unorthodox or unavailable requests are replaced with substitutes. Some states place tight restrictions. In Florida, the food for the last meal must be purchased locally and the cost is limited to $40. In Oklahoma, cost is limited to $15. In Louisiana, the prison warden traditionally joins the condemned prisoner for the last meal; on one occasion, the warden paid for an inmate's lobster dinner.
In September 2011, the state of Texas abolished all special last-meal requests after condemned prisoner Lawrence Russell Brewer requested a huge last meal and did not eat any of it, saying he was not hungry. His last-meal request was for two chicken-fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions; a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger; a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and jalapeños; a bowl of fried okra with ketchup; one pound of barbecued meat[clarification needed] with half a loaf of white bread; three fajitas; a meat-lover’s pizza (topped with pepperoni, ham, beef, bacon, and sausage); one pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream; a slab of peanut-butter fudge with crushed peanuts; and three root beers (normally non-alcoholic). The abolition followed a complaint by a Texas Senator, John Whitmire (Democrat, of Houston), who called the meal "inappropriate". The tradition of customized last meals is thought to have been established around 1924 in Texas.
Documented last meal requests 
This represents the items reported requested but does not, in all cases, represent what the prisoner actually received.
Notorious condemned prisoners 
- Adolf Eichmann: World War II German Nazi senior officer and Holocaust mass murder organizer; (German national) Israel 1962 – hanging: declined a special meal, preferring a bottle of Carmel, a dry red Israeli wine. He drank about half of it.
- Charles Peace: serial killer and Sherlock Holmes novel subject; UK 1879 – hanging: A breakfast consisting of eggs and a large amount of salty bacon.
- Peter Kürten: The Vampire of Düsseldorf, serial killer/rapist; Germany 1931 – Decapitation by guillotine: Wiener schnitzel, fried potatoes and a bottle of white wine. He requested seconds and received it.
- Mona Fandey: murderer; Malaysia 2001 - hanged at Kajang Prison: declined a last meal; she was instead given KFC meal.  
- Saddam Hussein: Iraqi President; Iraq 2006 – hanging: The Times states that "he refused their offers of cigarettes and a last meal of chicken." Other sources state a variety of meal options.
- Ajmal Kasab: terrorist involved in 26/11, Mumbai, India; hanged at Pune's Yerawada jail, 21 November 2012: declined a last meal; he was given a basket of tomatoes and regular jail food.
- John Martin Scripps: serial killer; Singapore 1996 - hanging: a pizza and a cup of hot chocolate 
- Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin: last to be executed in Canada; 1962 - hanging: steak, potatoes, vegetables and pie 
United States 
- Aileen Wuornos: serial killer; Florida 2002 – lethal injection: declined a special meal, but had a hamburger and other snack food from the prison's canteen. Later, she drank a cup of coffee.
- Bruno Richard Hauptmann: Lindbergh Kidnapping and murder; New Jersey 1936 – electrocution: Celery, olives, chicken, French fries, buttered peas, cherries, and a slice of cake.
- Clarence Ray Allen: murder; California 2006– lethal injection: Buffalo steak, Kentucky Fried Chicken, sugar-free pecan pie and sugar-free black walnut ice cream.
- Danny Rolling: The Gainesville Ripper, serial murder; Florida 2006 – lethal injection: Lobster tail, butterfly shrimp, baked potato, strawberry cheesecake, and sweet tea.
- Gary Carl Simmons, Jr.: 1996 murderer; Mississippi 2012 – Lethal injection: "one Pizza Hut medium Super Supreme Deep Dish pizza, double portion, with mushrooms, onions, jalapeno peppers, and pepperoni; pizza, regular portion, with three cheeses, olives, bell pepper, tomato, garlic and Italian sausage; 10 8-oz. packs of Parmesan cheese; 10 8-oz. packs of ranch dressing; one family size bag of Doritos nacho cheese flavor; 8 oz. jalapeno nacho cheese; 4 oz. sliced jalapenos; 2 large strawberry shakes; two 20-oz. cherry Cokes; one super-size order of McDonald's fries with extra ketchup and mayonnaise; and two pints of strawberry ice cream." He consumed about half of the meal.
- Gary Gilmore: murderer; Utah 1977 – firing squad: A hamburger, hard-boiled eggs, a baked potato, a few cups of coffee, and three shots of contraband Jack Daniel's whiskey.
- John Allen Muhammad: The Beltway Sniper, murder; Virginia 2009 – lethal injection: Chicken with red sauce and several cakes.
- John Wayne Gacy: Serial murderer; Illinois 1994 – lethal injection: A dozen deep-fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe chicken from KFC, French fries, and a pound of strawberries.
- Michael Bruce Ross: serial murder; Connecticut 2005 – lethal injection: declined a special meal, but dined on the regular prison meal of the day: turkey à la king with rice, mixed vegetables, white bread, fruit, and a beverage.
- Rainey Bethea: Murder/Rape, last person executed in public in the US; Kentucky 1936 – hanged: Fried chicken, pork chops, mashed potatoes, pickled cucumbers, cornbread, lemon pie, and ice cream.
- Ruth Snyder: American murderer photographed in the electric chair; New York 1928 – electrocution: Chicken Parmesan with alfredo pasta, ice cream, 2 milkshakes, and a 12-pack of grape soda.
- Ted Bundy: Serial killer; Florida 1989 – electrocution: declined a special meal, so he was given (but did not eat) the traditional steak (medium-rare), eggs (over-easy), hash browns, toast, milk, coffee, juice, butter, and jelly.
- Timothy McVeigh: domestic terrorist/mass murder; Oklahoma, executed in Indiana in 2001 – lethal injection: Two pints of Ben & Jerry's mint chocolate-chip ice cream.
- Velma Barfield: murder, North Carolina 1984 – lethal injection: declined a special meal, having a bag of Cheez Doodles and a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola instead.
- William Bonin: serial murderer and rapist, California 1996 – lethal injection: Two pepperoni and sausage pizzas, three servings of chocolate ice cream, and three six-packs of Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Other prisoner requests 
- Allen Lee Davis, Murder, Florida 1999: 350-pound "Tiny" Davis had one lobster tail, fried potatoes, a half-pound of fried shrimp, six ounces of fried clams, half a loaf of garlic bread, and 32 ounces of A&W root beer.
- Ángel Nieves Díaz, murder, (Puerto Rican) Florida 2006: declined a special meal. He was served the regular prison meal for that day, but declined that as well.
- Barton Kay Kirkham, executed in Utah in 1958: Pizzas and ice cream, "because you get cheese, meat and everything in one meal. Not so much fuss."
- Charles Starkweather, murder, executed in Nebraska in 1959: declined the usual steak dinner, asking for cold cuts instead.
- Dennis Wayne Bagwell, executed in Texas in 2005: Medium rare steak with A1 Steak Sauce, fried chicken breasts and thighs, BBQ ribs, French fries, onion rings, bacon, scrambled eggs with onions, fried potatoes with onions, sliced tomatoes, salad with ranch dressing, two hamburgers, peach pie, milk, coffee, and iced tea with real sugar.
- Desmond Keith Carter; executed in North Carolina in 2002, declined a special meal, but had two cheeseburgers, a steak sub, and two Cokes from the prison canteen, for which he paid $4.20 from his prison account.
- Dobie Gillis Williams, executed in Louisiana in 1999: Twelve chocolate bars and some ice cream.
- Edward Hartman, executed in North Carolina in 2003: A Greek salad, linguini with white clam sauce, cheesecake with cherry topping, garlic bread, and a Coke.
- Eric Wrinkles, executed in Indiana in 2009: Prime rib, a "loaded" baked potato, pork chops with steak fries, rolls and two salads with ranch dressing, served three days before execution because Indiana State Prison system found that condemned inmates tend to lose their appetite near the end.
- Francis Crowley, executed in New York in 1932: Steak and onions, French fries, apple pie, ice cream and melted ice cream.
- Gary Lee Davis, executed in Colorado in 1997: Chocolate and vanilla ice cream cups, shared with the prison superintendent and a manager.
- Gary Michael Heidnik, executed in Pennsylvania in 1999: Two slices of a cheese pizza and two cups of black coffee.
- Gerald Lee Mitchell, executed in Texas in 2001: Assorted bag of Jolly Rancher candies.
- Ignacio Cuevas, perpetrator of the 1974 Huntsville Prison Siege, executed in Texas in 1991: Chicken dumplings, steamed rice, sliced bread, black-eyes peas, and iced tea.
- James Edward Smith, executed in Texas in 1990: A lump of dirt, which was denied. He settled for a cup of yogurt.
- John Albert Taylor, executed in Utah in 1996: Pizzas "with everything."
- John David Duty, executed in Oklahoma in 2010: A double cheeseburger with mayonnaise, a foot-long hot dog with cheese, mustard and extra onions, a cherry limeade, and a large banana shake.
- Joseph Mitchell Parsons, executed in Utah in 1999: Three Burger King Whoppers, two large orders of fries, a chocolate shake, chocolate chip ice cream, and a package of grape Hubba Bubba bubblegum, to be shared with his brother and a cousin.
- Karla Faye Tucker, executed in Texas in 1998: Banana, peach, and garden salad with ranch dressing.
- Keith Zettlemoyer, executed in Pennsylvania in 1995: Two cheeseburgers, fries, chocolate pudding and chocolate milk.
- Lawrence Russell Brewer, executed in Texas in 2011: Two chicken fried steaks smothered in gravy with sliced onions; a triple meat bacon cheeseburger with fixings on the side; a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapeños; a large bowl of fried okra with ketchup; one pound of barbecue with half a loaf of white bread; three fajitas with fixings; a Meat Lovers pizza; three root beers; one pint of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream; and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts. Brewer's request was granted, but he refused the meal when it arrived, prompting Texas to stop granting last meal requests to condemned inmates.
- Lowell Lee Andrews, executed in Kansas in 1962: Two fried chickens with sides of mashed potatoes, green beans and Pie a la Mode.
- Mark Dean Schwab, executed in Florida in 2008: Fried eggs (over easy), bacon, sausage links, hash browns, buttered toast, and a quart of chocolate milk.
- Martha Beck, executed in New York in 1951: Fried chicken, fried potatoes and salad.
- Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, executed in Kansas in 1965: Shrimp, French fries, garlic bread, ice cream, and strawberries with whipped cream.
- Odell Barnes, executed in Texas in 2000: "Justice, Equality, World Peace."
- Philip Workman, executed in Tennessee in 2007: He declined a special meal for himself, but he asked for a large vegetarian pizza to be given to a homeless person in Nashville, Tennessee. This request was denied by the prison, but carried out by others across the country.
- Ricky Ray Rector, executed in Arkansas in 1992: Steak, fried chicken, cherry Kool-Aid, and a pecan pie. Rector, rendered mentally retarded by his suicide attempt after murdering a police officer, said that he did not eat the pie because he was saving it for later.
- Robert Alton Harris, executed in California in 1992: A 21-piece bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, two large Domino's Pizzas (no anchovies), ice cream, a bag of jelly beans, a six-pack of Pepsi, and a pack of Camel cigarettes. The pizza was actually from Tombstone Pizza, per the stipulation of Vernell Crittendon.
- Ronald Clark O'Bryan, executed in Texas in 1984: T-bone steak (medium to well done), French fries with ketchup, whole kernel corn, sweet peas, a lettuce and tomato salad with egg and French dressing, iced tea, sweetener, saltines, Boston cream pie, and rolls.
- Ronnie Lee Gardner, executed in Utah in 2010: Lobster tail, steak, apple pie, vanilla ice cream, 7 Up, and watching The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Stephen Wayne Anderson, executed in California in 2002: Two grilled cheese sandwiches, one pint of cottage cheese, a hominy/corn mixture, one piece of peach pie, one pint of chocolate chip ice cream, and radishes.
- Teresa Lewis, executed in Virginia in 2010: Two fried chicken breasts, sweet peas with butter, a Dr Pepper and German chocolate cake for dessert.
- Thomas J. Grasso, executed in Oklahoma in 1995: two dozen steamed mussels, two dozen steamed clams, a double cheeseburger from Burger King, half-dozen barbecued spare ribs, two strawberry milkshakes, half a pumpkin pie with whipped cream with diced strawberries and a 16-ounce can of spaghetti with meatballs, served at room temperature. However, he issued a public statement complaining that he had requested SpaghettiOs, not spaghetti.
- Troy Davis, executed in Georgia in 2011, declined a special meal, explaining that "this meal will not be my last".
- Victor Feguer, executed in Iowa in 1963, requested a single olive with the stone still in it.
- Wesley Baker, executed in Maryland in 2005: Breaded fish, pasta marinara, green beans, orange fruit punch, bread, and milk (this was what was on the prison menu that day).
- Eric Nance, executed in Arkansas in 2005: Two bacon cheeseburgers, french fries, two pints of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and two Coca Colas.
See also 
- Lynn-Geroge, Michael. "The Writing Lesson: From the Dragon’s Teeth to Tristes Tropiques". The International Journal of the Humanities 4 (8): 61–72. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
- Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England
- "Death Row Fact Sheet". Florida Department of Corrections. Retrieved 11 November 2007.
- Last-meal requests come to an end on Texas death row (Houston Chronicle, 22 September 2011)
- The Book of Lists #3. Bantam. 1983. pp. 85–87. ISBN 0-553-27868-1.
- Ward, Mike. "Last Meals for Condemned Cons Off Menu". Austin American Statesman.
- "Texas jails abolish last meals after uneaten banquet". BBC Online. 23 September 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
- Last meal requests come to an end on Texas death row
- Fernandez, Manny (23 September 2011). "Texas Death Row Kitchen Cooks Its Last ‘Last Meal’". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
- Last-meal requests off death row menu
- "No Seconds". TIME Magazine. 23 May 1994. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
- The Book of Lists #3. Bantam. 1983. p. 85. ISBN 0-553-27868-1.
- The Book of Lists #3. Bantam. 1983. p. 86. ISBN 0-553-27868-1.
- "Mona Fandey - A modern witchcraft murder.". CapitalpunishmentUK.org. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- "Mona Fandey, hubby and assistant hanged". The Star (Malaysia). November 3, 2001. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- Ned Parker and Ali Hamdani (1 January 2007). "How one mobile phone made Saddam's hanging a very public execution". The Times (UK) (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Google. "Saddam Hussein Last Meal". Google.
- Shaikh, Asseem; Mihir Tanksale; Umesh Isalkar (22 November 2012). "Ajmal Kasab sang in cell the night before". Times of India (Pune). TNN. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- The Last to Die: Ronald Turpin, Arthur Lucas, and the End of Capital Punishment in Canada. Dundurn. 2007. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-55002-672-2 Check
- "Last Meals on Death Row (2002)". Dead Man Eating. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
- "Clarence Ray Allen". Clark County Prosecutor. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
- "'Gainesville Ripper' Danny Rolling Executed". WESH. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- "The 29,000 calorie last meal: Murderer who dismembered his victim requests last meal with two pizzas, five lbs of cheese, super sized french fries, nachos, cherry Cokes, milkshakes, strawberry ice cream and more". Daily Mail. 21 June 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
- John Peck (5 January 2006). "Last Meals". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
- Katherine Ramsland. "Gary Gilmore: Death Wish". Crime Library. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
- Meserve, Jeanne; Mike M. Ahlers (11 November 2009). "Sniper John Allen Muhammad executed". Jarratt, Virginia: CNN. Retrieved 2 October 2010. "The lawyer said Muhammad's last meal was "chicken and red sauce, and he had some cakes."
- "Michael Bruce Ross". Clark County Prosecutor. Retrieved 7 January 2010.
- Ryan, Perry T. (1992). "24. Final Preparations for the Hanging". The Last Public Execution in America. Ryan, Perry T. ISBN 0-9625504-5-0. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
- Paula Tully Bryant. "Timeline: 1989 – A History of Corrections in Florida". Florida Department of Corrections. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
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- Rita Cosby (12 June 2001). "Timothy McVeigh Put to Death for Oklahoma City Bombings". FOX News. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
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- "Allen Lee "Tiny" Davis". Clark County Prosecutor. Retrieved 17 April 2008.
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- "Killer Calmly Goes To Death". The Florence Times. Associated Press. 7 June 1958. p. 1. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
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- Wolcott, Martin Gilman (1 January 2004). The Evil 100. Citadel Press. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-8065-2555-6. Retrieved 5 June 2010.
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- Scott Lawrence (September 21, 2011). "Lawrence Russell Brewer refuses to eat final meal". KFDM News. Retrieved 2013-02-10.
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- The Book of Lists #3. Bantam. 1983. pp. 86–87. ISBN 0-553-27868-1.
- Ashley Fantz (9 May 2007). "Killer orders pizza for homeless as last meal". CNN. Archived from the original on 15 May 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
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- Lance Morrow (4 May 1992). "Television Dances With the Reaper". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
- Jonathan Kellerman, ed. (2008). "Dean of Death Row (by Tad Friend)". The best American crime reporting, 2008. New York: Harper Perennial. p. 143. ISBN 0-06-149083-0.
- Sanchez, Ray (18 June 2010). "Ronnie Lee Gardner Executed by Firing Squad in Utah". Good Morning America. pp. 1–4. Retrieved 18 June 2010.
- "Stephen Wayne Anderson". Clark County Prosecutor. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
- Glod, Maria (23 September 2010). "Teresa Lewis pronounced dead by Va. authorities". The Washington Post. p. 2. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
- Collins, Nick (7 December 2010). "Last meals: weird requests on death row". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- Schwartzman, Paul; Finnegan, Michael (20 March 1995). "Grasso Is Put To Death; Poem, Complaint His Final Words". New York Daily News. Retrieved 26 December 2009.
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Further reading 
- Treadwell, Ty and Vernon, Michelle (2011) Last Suppers: Famous Final Meals from Death Row
- Van Dülmen, Richard (1990). Theatre of Horror : Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Germany. Cambridge. ISBN 0-7456-0616-4.
- Foucault, Michel (1977). Discipline & Punish : The Birth of the Prison. ISBN 0-679-75255-2.
- Von Hentig, Hans (1973). Punishment – Its Origin, Purpose, and Psychology. ISBN 0-87585-147-9.
- Osler, Mark (February 2009). "Ch. 7: Last Meal / Last Supper". Jesus on Death Row: The Trial of Jesus and American Capital Punishment. Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press. pp. 63–67. ISBN 978-0-687-64756-9.
- Nelson, David (18 March 2007). "Choosing a Last Meal". Points in Case. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- Greene, Bob (12 June 2001). They didn't get to choose their last meals. Jewish World Review. Retrieved on 2007-08-17.
- Karon, Tony (10 August 2000). Why We're Fascinated by Death Row Cuisine. TIME Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-08-17.
- Stein, Joel (18 October 2007). You Eat What You Are. TIME Magazine. Retrieved on 2007-11-11.
- Famous Last Meals. Portraits of Last Requests. Retrieved on 2010-09-17.
- Final Meal Requests. Texas Department of Criminal Justice (12 September 2003). Archived from the original on 2003-12-02. Retrieved on 2011-03-17.
- Last Meals. rotten dot com. Retrieved on 2007-08-17.
- Last Meals: What Would You Order? Seattle Weekly (18 June 2010). Retrieved on 2010-06-24.
- Last Meals on Death Row (since 2002). Dead Man Eating. Retrieved on 2007-08-17.
- Top 10 Death Row Last Meal Requests from Texas. Zombie Popcorn (9 October 2008) Retrieved on 2010-09-29.