Last meal

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A condemned prisoner's last meal is a customary ritual preceding execution. Various countries have various traditions in this regard. A "little glass of rum," but no formal last meal, was granted to the condemned in historical France in the minutes before execution; no meal was offered as the condemned learned of their impending execution only on the fatal morning, generally just minutes in advance.[1]

In many countries, the prisoner may, within reason, select what the last meal will be.

Contemporary restrictions[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3]

Sometimes, a prisoner shares the last meal with another inmate (as Francis Crowley did with John Resko) or has the meal distributed among other inmates (as requested by Raymond Fernandez).[4]

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 a plate of two chicken-fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions, a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, jalapeños, a bowl of fried okra with ketchup, a pound of barbecued meat with half of a loaf of white bread, a portion of three fajitas, a meat-lover's pizza (topped with pepperoni, ham, beef, bacon, and sausage), a pint of Blue Bell ice cream, a slab of peanut-butter fudge with crushed peanuts, and a serving equivalent to three root beers. The abolition followed a complaint by a Texas Senator, John Whitmire (Democrat, of Houston), who called the meal "inappropriate".[5][6][3][7] The tradition of customized last meals is thought to have been established around 1924 in Texas.[8]

Documented last meal requests[edit]

This represents the items reported requested but does not, in all cases, represent what the prisoner actually received.

Europe[edit]

Name Crime Country Year Method of Dispatch Requested Meal
Charles Peace Serial killer UK 1879 Hanging A breakfast consisting of eggs and a large amount of salty bacon.[9]
Fritz Haarmann: The Butcher of Hanover Serial killer Germany 1925 Decapitation by guillotine An expensive cigar and a cup of Brazilian coffee.[10]
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 a second helping and received it.[11]
Roger Casement:Irish revolutionary Treason UK 1916 Hanging Communion wafer. Casement converted to Catholicism before his execution and stated he intended to go "to my death with the body of my God as my last meal."[12]

Asia[edit]

Name Crime Country Year Method of Dispatch Requested Meal
Adolf Eichmann Holocaust perpetrator (German national) Israel 1962 Hanging Declined a special meal, instead he requested a bottle of Carmel red wine with the usual prison food of cheese, bread, olives, and tea. He drank about half of the bottle.[13]
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran The Australian ringleaders of the Bali Nine Indonesia 2015 Firing squad KFC. Although Indonesia does not normally grant last meal requests, Sukumaran and Chan were granted their KFC feast via officials.[14]
Leo Echegaray Rape of his 10-year old stepdaughter Philippines 1999 Lethal injection He ordered a last meal of sardines and dried fish. When the reprieve was announced, he shared the food with relatives who had gathered at the prison.[15]
Mona Fandey Murderer Malaysia 2001 Hanging at Kajang Prison Declined a last meal; she was instead given a dinner of KFC.[16][17]
Saddam Hussein Crimes against humanity Iraq 2006 Hanging The Times states that "he refused their offers of cigarettes and a last meal of chicken and shawarma rice."[18] Other sources state Saddam ate his last meal of chicken and rice with a cup of hot water and honey.[19]
Ajmal Kasab Terrorist involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks India 2012 Hanging at Pune's Yerawada jail Declined a last meal; he was given a basket of tomatoes and regular jail food.[20]
John Martin Scripps Serial killer Singapore 1996 Hanging A pizza and a cup of hot chocolate.[21]
Cheng Chieh Terrorist involved in the 2014 Taipei Metro attack Taiwan 2016 Shooting Biandang, consisting of stewed pork, rice and vegetables.[22]

Canada[edit]

United States[edit]

Name Crime State Year Method of Dispatch Requested Meal
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.[24]
Allen Lee Davis Murderer Florida 1999 Electrocution 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.[25]
Alton Coleman Spree Killer Ohio 2002 Lethal injection Well done filet mignon smothered with mushrooms, fried chicken breasts, a salad with French dressing, sweet potato pie with whipped cream, French fries, collard greens, onion rings, cornbread, broccoli with melted cheese, biscuits and gravy, and a cherry Coke.
Andrew Lackey Murderer Alabama 2013 Lethal injection Turkey bologna, French fries, and grilled cheese.
Ángel Nieves Díaz Murderer Florida 2006 Lethal injection Declined a special meal. He was served the regular prison meal for that day, but declined that as well.[26]
Barton Kay Kirkham Robber and murderer Utah 1958 Hanging Pizzas and ice cream, "because you get cheese, meat and everything in one meal. Not so much fuss."[27]
Brian Steckel Murderer Delaware 2005 Lethal injection Cheesesteak, coleslaw, and a Pepsi.
Bruno Richard Hauptmann Lindbergh kidnapping and murder New Jersey 1936 Electrocution Celery, olives, chicken, french fries, buttered peas, cherries, and a slice of cake.[13]
Cal Coburn Brown Murderer Washington State 2010 Lethal injection Combination meat pizza, apple pie, coffee, and milk.
Carey Dean Moore Murderer Nebraska 2018 Lethal injection Pizza with bacon, beef, cheese and mushrooms, Pepsi, and strawberry cheesecake
Clarence Ray Allen Proxy murderer California 2006 Lethal injection Buffalo steak, KFC, sugar-free pecan pie and sugar-free black walnut ice cream.[28]
Charles Starkweather Murderer Nebraska 1959 Electrocution Declined the usual steak dinner, asking for cold cuts instead.
Daniel Anthony Lucas Murderer Georgia 2016 Lethal injection Meat pizza, steak and cheese calzone, stuffed Portobello mushroom, chef's salad with ranch and honey mustard dressings, and orange juice.
Danny Rolling The Gainesville Ripper, serial murderer Florida 2006 Lethal injection Lobster tail, butterfly shrimp, baked potato, strawberry cheesecake, and sweet tea.[29]
David Thomas Dawson Murderer Montana 2006 Lethal injection Two double cheeseburgers, two large servings of French fries, a half gallon of vanilla fudge ripple ice cream, and two Dr. Peppers.
David Alan Gore Serial killer Florida 2012 Lethal injection Fried chicken, french fries & butter pecan ice cream.[30]
David Mason Murderer California 1993 Gas chamber Declined a special meal, but chose to have some ice water while waiting in his cell.
Dennis Wayne Bagwell Mass Murderer Texas 2005 Lethal injection 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.[31]
Dennis McGuire Murderer Ohio 2014 Lethal injection Roast beef, fried chicken, fried potatoes, a bagel with cream cheese, a Coke and butter pecan ice cream.[32]
Desmond Keith Carter Murderer North Carolina 2002 Lethal injection 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.[24]
Dobie Gillis Williams Murderer Louisiana 1999 Lethal injection Twelve chocolate bars and some ice cream.
Donald Edward Beaty Murderer Arizona 2011 Lethal injection A beef chimichanga with salsa and guacamole, a double cheeseburger with all the fixings, fries, 14 ounces of rocky road ice cream, and a diet Pepsi.
Douglas Wright Murderer Oregon 1996 Lethal injection Five fried eggs sunny side up, crisp bacon, coffee and orange juice and one honey bun.
Edward Hartman Murderer North Carolina 2003 Lethal injection A Greek salad, linguini with white clam sauce, cheesecake with cherry topping, garlic bread, and a Coke.[33]
Earl Forrest Murderer Missouri 2016 Lethal injection Steak, pasta, fruit plate, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, chocolate cake and milk
Edward Schad Murderer Arizona 2013 Lethal injection A 12-inch meatball sub, a large order of french fries with ketchup, two ears of corn on the cob, two ounces of cranberry sauce, a slice of apple pie, and a vanilla milkshake.
Elijah Page Murderer South Dakota 2007 Lethal injection Steak, jalapeño poppers with cream sauce, onion rings, a salad with cherry tomatoes, ham chunks, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and blue cheese and ranch dressing, coffee, lemon iced tea, and ice cream.
Edmund Zagorski Murderer Tennessee 2018 Electrocution Pickled ham hock and pig tails
Eric Scott Branch Murderer Florida 2018 Lethal injection T-bone steak, pork chop, fries, and two pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.
Eric Nance Murderer Arkansas 2005 Lethal injection Two bacon cheeseburgers, french fries, two pints of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, and two Coca-Colas.
Eric Wrinkles Mass Murderer Indiana 2009 Lethal injection 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.[34]
Frank Spisak Serial Killer Ohio 2011 Lethal Injection Spaghetti with light tomato sauce but no meat, tossed salad with Italian dressing, chocolate cake, coffee with cream and sugar and a root beer.
Francis Crowley Murderer New York 1932 Electrocution Steak and onions, French fries, apple pie, ice cream and melted ice cream.[11]
Frederick Treesh Murderer Ohio 2013 Lethal injection Steak with mushrooms, eggs, hash browns, cottage cheese, onion rings, deep-fried mushrooms, a hot fudge sundae and sodas.
Gary Lee Davis Murderer Colorado 1997 Lethal injection Chocolate and vanilla ice cream cups, shared with the prison superintendent and a manager.[35]
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.[13][36][37]
Gary Michael Heidnik Murderer Pennsylvania 1999 Lethal injection Two slices of a cheese pizza and two cups of black coffee.[38]
Gary Carl Simmons, Jr. Murderer Mississippi 2012 Lethal injection One Pizza Hut medium Super Supreme Deep Dish pizza with double portions of mushrooms, onions, jalapeño peppers, and pepperoni, a second pizza 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. jalapeño nacho cheese, 4 oz. sliced jalapeños, 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.
Gerald Lee Mitchell Murderer Texas 2001 Lethal injection Assorted bag of Jolly Rancher candies [39][40]
Gerald Stano Serial killer Florida 1998 Electrocution Delmonico steak, a baked potato with sour cream and bacon bits, tossed salad with blue cheese dressing, lima beans, a half gallon of mint chocolate-chip ice cream, and 2 litres of Pepsi.[41]
Hastings Arthur Wise Mass murderer South Carolina 2005 Lethal injection Lobster tail, french fries, coleslaw, banana pudding and milk.[42]
Harold McQueen Jr. Murderer Kentucky 1997 Electric chair Two cheesecakes, shared with his attorney
Ignacio Cuevas Perpetrator of the 1974 Huntsville Prison Siege Texas 1991 Lethal injection Chicken and dumplings, steamed rice, sliced bread, black-eyed peas, and iced tea.[43]
James Otto Earhart Murderer Texas 1999 Lethal injection Steak, french fries, and one vanilla milkshake.
James Edward Smith Murderer Texas 1990 Lethal injection A lump of dirt, which was denied. He settled for a cup of yogurt.[40]
James Hubbard Murderer Alabama 2004 Lethal injection Two eggs over-medium, four pieces of bacon, sliced tomatoes, fried green tomatoes, pineapple slices with mayonnaise, white bread, a banana and a medium-sized V8 juice.
Joe Arridy Falsely accused of rape and murder. Posthumously pardoned in 2011 Colorado 1939 Gas chamber Ice cream.[44]
John David Duty Murderer Oklahoma 2010 Lethal injection A double cheeseburger with mayonnaise, a foot-long hot dog with cheese, mustard and extra onions, a cherry limeade, and a large banana shake.[45]
John Wayne Gacy Serial murderer Illinois 1994 Lethal injection A dozen deep-fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe chicken from KFC, French fries, a pound of strawberries, and a bottle of diet coke.[36]
John Joubert Serial killer Nebraska 1996 Electric chair Pizza with green pepper and onions, strawberry cheesecake, and Coca-Cola
John Allen Muhammad The Beltway Sniper, murder Virginia 2009 Lethal injection Chicken with red sauce and several cakes.[46]
John Albert Taylor Murderer Utah 1996 Firing squad Antacid medicine, a cigarette, and pizzas "with everything."[47]
Joseph Paul Franklin Serial Killer Missouri 2013 Lethal injection Declined the traditional last meal, but had a lunch of roast beef and potatoes.
Joseph Mitchell Parsons Murderer Utah 1999 Lethal injection 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.[48]
Joseph Taborsky Spree Killer Connecticut 1960 Electrocution Banana split, cherry soda, coffee with cream and sugar, and a pack of cigarettes.
Juan Garza Murderer and drug trafficker U.S. Federal Government 2001 Lethal injection Steak, French fries, onion rings, three slices of bread, and a soft drink
Keith Zettlemoyer Murderer Pennsylvania 1995 Lethal injection Two cheeseburgers, fries, chocolate pudding and chocolate milk.[49]
Lawrence Russell Brewer Murderer Texas 2011 Lethal injection 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.[50] Brewer's request was granted, but he refused the meal when it arrived saying that he was simply not hungry, prompting Texas to stop granting last meal requests to condemned inmates.[51]
Ledell Lee Murdered his neighbor Arkansas 2017 Lethal injection Chose to receive Holy Communion as his last meal.[52]
Leon Moser Mass Murderer Pennsylvania 1995 Lethal injection A large cheese pizza, cheese slices, cold cuts, pasta salad, iced cup cakes and a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola.
Lowell Lee Andrews Mass Murderer Kansas 1962 Hanging Two fried chickens with sides of mashed potatoes, green beans and Pie a la Mode.[53]
Marcel Williams Murderer Arkansas 2017 Lethal injection 400-pound Marcel Williams last meal consisted of 3 pieces of original recipe KFC fried chicken, banana pudding, nachos with chili cheese and jalapeño peppers, two 16 oz bottles of Mountain Dew, and potato logs with ketchup.
Marco Allen Chapman Murderer and rapist Kentucky 2008 Lethal injection A 32-ounce medium rare sirloin steak, 20 butterfly shrimp, tossed salad with ranch dressing, iced tea, and a banana cream pie.
Marion Albert Pruett Spree killer Arkansas 1999 Lethal injection A stuffed crust pizza from Pizza Hut, four Burger King Whoppers, a large order of French fries, three two-liter bottles of Pepsi, a bucket of ice, a bottle of ketchup, salt, fried eggplant, fried squash, fried okra, and a pecan pie. In an interview prior to his execution date, he said he was going to share his last meal with another inmate who was going to be executed the same day. He went on to say he originally wanted to have a roast duck for his last meal, but declined because he felt the prison wouldn't cook it.
Mark Dean Schwab Murderer Florida 2008 Lethal injection Fried eggs (over easy), bacon, sausage links, hash browns, buttered toast, and a quart of chocolate milk.
Mark Hopkinson Proxy murderer Wyoming 1992 Lethal injection Pizza, shared with his mother and other family members. He later asked for and received a fruit plate.
Martha Beck Serial Killer New York 1951 Electrocution Fried chicken, fried potatoes and salad.[11]
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.[54]
Oba Chandler Murderer Florida 2011 Lethal injection Two salami sandwiches on white bread with mustard, peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich on white bread, iced tea and coffee.
Odell Barnes Murderer Texas 2000 Lethal injection "Justice, Equality, World Peace."[55]
Paul Ezra Rhoades Serial killer Idaho 2011 Lethal injection Hot dogs, sauerkraut, mustard, ketchup, onions, relish, baked beans, veggie sticks, ranch dressing, fruit with gelatin and strawberry ice cream cups
Perry Smith and Richard Hickock Mass murders Kansas 1965 Hanging Shrimp, French fries, garlic bread, ice cream, and strawberries with whipped cream.[13]
Philip Workman Murderer Tennessee 2007 Lethal injection 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.[56][57]
Rainey Bethea Murder and rape Kentucky 1936 Hanged, last person executed in public in the US Fried chicken, pork chops, mashed potatoes, pickled cucumbers, cornbread, lemon pie, and ice cream.[58]
Ralph Hudson Murderer New Jersey 1963 Electrocution Prime rib steak, ice cream and a cigar.
Randy Greenawalt Serial killer Arizona 1997 Lethal injection Two cheeseburgers, french fries with extra salt, coffee with milk.[59]
Raymond Fernandez Serial Killer New York 1951 Electrocution Onion omelet, french fries, chocolate candy, and a Cuban cigar.
Richard Albert Leavitt Murderer Idaho 2012 Lethal injection Baked chicken, french fries, and milk.
Ricky Ray Rector Murderer Arkansas 1992 Lethal injection Steak, fried chicken, cherry Kool-Aid, and a pecan pie. Rector, rendered mentally incapacitated by his suicide attempt after murdering a police officer, said that he did not eat the pie because he was saving it for later.[60]
Richard Cooey Murder and rape Ohio 2008 Lethal injection. Clemency appeal based on his being too overweight for lethal injection drugs to work on him properly T-bone steak with A-1 sauce, onion rings, French fries, four eggs over easy, toast with butter, hash browns, a pint of rocky road ice cream, a Mountain Dew soft drink and authentic bear claw pastries [61]
Robert Alton Harris Murderer California 1992 Gas Chamber A 21-piece bucket of KFC, 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.[62][63] The pizza was actually a Tombstone Pizza, per Vernell Crittendon's orders.[64] Crittendon worked at the prison and was responsible for dealing with the condemned person before his execution.
Robert Moorman Murderer Arizona 2012 Lethal injection One double hamburger (two quarter-pound patties prepared “medium”) with two slices of onion, three leaves of lettuce, three tomato slices and a bun; plus French fries (with four ounces of ketchup), two three-ounce beef burritos, three Royal Crown colas, and two 14-ounce containers of Rocky Road ice cream.
Ronald Clark O'Bryan Murderer Texas 1984 Lethal injection 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.[55]
Ronnie Lee Gardner Murderer Utah 2010 Firing squad Lobster tail, steak, apple pie, vanilla ice cream, 7 Up, and watching The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.[65]
Ruth Snyder Murderer New York 1928 Electrocution, photographed in the electric chair Chicken Parmesan with alfredo pasta, ice cream, two milkshakes, and a 12-pack of grape soda.[9]
Stephen Wayne Anderson Murder California 2002 Lethal injection 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.[66]
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.[13][67]
Teresa Lewis Proxy murderer Virginia 2010 Lethal injection Two fried chicken breasts, sweet peas with butter, a Dr Pepper and German chocolate cake for dessert.[68]
Terry Douglas Clark Murderer New Mexico 2001 Lethal injection Several jumbo shrimp, French fries, fried okra, peach cobbler, ice cream, and a Coke.
Terry Jess Dennis Murderer Nevada 2004 Lethal injection Two cheeseburgers and a Coke with ice.
Thomas J. Grasso Murderer Oklahoma 1995 Lethal injection 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 and diced strawberries, and a 16-ounce can of spaghetti with meatballs, served at room temperature.[40] However, he issued a public statement complaining that he had requested SpaghettiOs, not spaghetti.[69]
Timothy McVeigh Domestic terrorist/mass murder U.S. Federal Government 2001 Lethal injection Two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream.[70][71]
Velma Barfield Murderer North Carolina 1984 Lethal injection Declined a special meal, having a bag of Cheez Doodles and a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola instead.[72]
Victor Feguer Murderer Iowa 1963 Hanging Requested a single olive with the pit still in it.[73]
Wesley Baker Murderer Maryland 2005 Lethal injection Breaded fish, pasta marinara, green beans, orange fruit punch, bread, and milk (this was what was on the prison menu that day).[74]
Westley Allan Dodd The Vancouver Child Killer, serial killer and child molester Washington state 1993 Hanging Salmon and potatoes.[75]
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.[76]
William G. Zuern, Jr. Murderer Ohio 2004 Lethal injection Mashed potatoes and gravy, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, corn, garlic bread, chocolate milk, and cherry cheesecake.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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