The last meal for those about to be executed is a custom that started pre-modern Europe. The belief was that if the prisoner is given a final meal, he will be at peace and not come back to haunt as a ghost. This is a list of the strangest last meal requests.
Some of these requests range from pure gluttony to very specific meals and a few are downright chilling. Each state has rules that dictate what can be ordered. For example, some have to order off the prison menu (boo!) while others get to choose from local restaurants. There is typically a capped dollar amount as well. No surprise that comfort foods and sweets are often high on the list of requests.
Personally, I go back and forth on this one. On one hand I could see a nice seven-course meal being nice, but then again why not McDonald’s? I mean, I really like McDonald’s and it’s not like it really matters what I put in my body at that point. Again, I continue to go back and forth on this one.
One particular request just missed the list. In 2012, Gary “The Butcher” Carl Simmons took the gluttony route and ordered the following: Pizza Hut Super Supreme Deep Dish with everything, ten packs of Parmesan cheese, ten packs of ranch dressing, Doritos, nacho cheese, jalapenos, two shakes (strawberry flavored), a couple of Cokes, French fries (McDonald’s of course) and (yes, and) two containers of ice cream (strawberry). He actually ate half of it which means he ate five packs of Parmesan cheese and five packs of ranch dressing. What a way to go…
Here we go, we’ve got the last meal requests of the worst criminals. Makes you think… Yeah, I still can’t decide. Here are your top 20 craziest last meal requests from death row.
20 Vegetarian Pizza For Homeless (Philip Ray Workman)
Workman was part of a controversial trial (several experts claimed that a bullet in question could not have come from Workman) that eventually found him guilty of murdering a police officer, leading to an execution in 2007 in the state of Tennessee. Most inmates on death row are thinking selfishly when ordering their last meal. That was not the case with Workman. His last meal request was to order a large vegetarian pizza and then give it to a homeless person. Prison officials denied Workman of his request. He then went on a hunger strike that led to followers (outside of prison) to begin giving away vegetarian pizzas to the homeless.
19 Bread and Wine (Jonathan Nobles)
Never too late to try and score points with the big guy upstairs. Nobles went off menu with his last meal request. In 1986 Nobles was found guilty of killing two women. Before his execution, Nobles went through some changes and “found God,” becoming a born-again Christian. This explains his final meal request of the Eucharist, known to many as Holy Communion and known to simple peasants such as myself, as the holy bread and wine. My assumption is he was not granted (nor did he probably ask) for seconds. After his meal he was executed by lethal injection, and after that we’ll never know…
18 Lump of Dirt (James Edward Smith)
Smith was involved in a robbery gone wrong. During the robbery at a cashier’s office Smith shot and killed a man. He was found guilty and was sentenced to be executed. When asked for his last meal Smith requested a lump of dirt. Most likely, this request was out of spite. After all, his sentence was death, so what better way to “spit back” at the establishment than by not giving them the satisfaction of a last meal? In hindsight, not a wise decision, but apparently Smith had a history of making the wrong decisions. He was not given this; instead, receiving yogurt. Assuming it was plain yogurt, not much difference in the taste.
17 Wiener Schnitzel, Fried Potatoes a White Wine (Peter Kurten)
Kürten was a famous German serial killer, known as the “Dusseldorf Monster.” He was convicted of several murders and sexual assaults throughout the city of Dusseldorf. He was sentenced to death by guillotine or decapitation if you prefer. For his final meal, Kurten asked for a wiener schnitzel, fried potatoes and white wine. Not very surprising, right? However, it was the request for seconds that was crazy, and you know what? He got it. The old sayings “the squeaky wheel” and “you never know if you don’t ask” apply here. It goes without saying Kurten was never satisfied with one of something.
16 Lobster, Steak, Ice Cream and Pie (Robbie Lee Gardner)
Gardner had a long time to think about what his last meal was going to be. He was convicted in 1985 of murder, but it wasn’t until 25 years later when he would finally be executed (by firing squad). Gardner’s last meal request was lobster, steak, ice cream (vanilla) and pie (apple). This request is nothing shocking, but what was surprising was his additional request to watch the Peter Jackson movie trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Some people can’t eat without a TV in front of them; clearly Gardner was one of these people. It’s not known if he got to watch all three movies. I guess it depends how slow of an eater Gardner was.
15 Kool-Aid and Pecan Pie (Ricky Ray Rector)
Rector’s last meal was interesting for a couple of reasons. Rector was convicted of killing a man in a nightclub and then shooting a police officer. He then tried to commit suicide, but failed, leaving himself half brain dead. He was sentenced to execution. His last meal request included steak, chicken, cherry flavored Kool-Aid and a full pecan pie. Strange combination, but not too shocking given he had taken a shot to the brain. The kicker is that Rector left the pie behind and joked with the guard that he was “saving it for later.” Always leave them wanting more…
14 Nothing (Troy Davis)
Davis was convicted of murdering a police officer and given a death sentence. When asked for his last meal request he turned down the offer, insisting that meal would not be his last. In the end, it was his last chance for a meal because after that he was killed by lethal injection. Two things; first, does this mean the ghost of Davis haunts where he spent his final days on death row? I would think there are plenty of ghosts in this space regardless of meals had or not had. Secondly, he still could have ordered the meal and said it wouldn’t be his last. Never turn down a free meal!
13 Pretty Much Everything (Thomas Grasso)
Grasso was a serial home robber that was convicted of murdering an 87-year-old woman and 81-year-old man as part of a two separate robberies. He was sentenced to death. His last meal request was rather extravagant in both taste and volume. His meal included steamed clams, steamed mussels, spare ribs, a cheeseburger, strawberries, pumpkin pie, milkshakes (multiple) and a can of Spaghetti-O’s. What, no chicken and gravy? Seems to be what’s missing. Grasso’s famous last words were “I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.” You can’t make this stuff up.
12 Birthday Cake (Miguel Richardson)
In 1980 Richardson was accused of killing two security guards. He was tried and convicted for the fatal shootings and sentenced to be executed in the state of Texas. Richardson’s last meal request was a birthday cake with the date of when he got married on top along with seven pink candles. He also asked for a lot of fruit and a salad with Thousand Island dressing. First off, birthday cake is a really good “thinking outside the box” last meal request and also, Thousand Island dressing is so underrated. I’m impressed, just a really solid all around last meal request from Richardson.
11 Cheeseburger Out Of Spite (Delbert Teague Junior)
Teague was given the name “one man slaughterhouse” by prosecution at his trial. Given this, it was a foregone conclusion that if found guilty (was found guilty) he would be given the death sentence by the state of Texas. Teague decided refusal was the best response for his last meal and then didn’t eat when a meal was offered. It wasn’t until his mommy came in and told him that he had to eat his cheeseburger that he then chomped away. “Now you listen Junior, if you don’t eat your dinner you’re going straight to bed, no execution for you!”
10 “Justice, Equality and World Peace” (Odelle Barnes)
Barnes killed a woman during a home robbery. His trial was a circus of forensic evidence, human rights groups and anti-death penalty protests. There was an enormous amount of attention calling for a life sentence (or less), but these actions failed. Eventually he was found guilty and sentenced to death. In 2000, before he was executed, his last meal request was simple “Justice, equality and world peace.” Unfortunately the prison officials could not grant his request. Despite his horrid crime I think we can all agree the world would be a better place had Barnes been given what he requested.
9 The Rule Changer (Lawrence Russell Brewer)
Brewer ruined a good thing. In Texas, a big proponent of the death penalty, there weren’t many rules related to last meal requests, and then Brewer came along. His last meal request was chicken fried steak (two with gravy and onions), a cheeseburger (actually a triple cheeseburger), an omelet made of beef and cheese (not sure what this even is), a pizza covered in meat, jalapeno peppers, barbeque meat (a pound), bread, fajitas and root beer (three to be exact). That wasn’t it, for dessert he requested ice cream with peanut butter fudge. His request was given; however, he didn’t eat any of it. From then on Texas refused to offer last meal requests.
8 No Appetite (Ted Bundy)
Bundy is one of the most notorious serial killers of all time so it’s no surprise that his last meal is part of his story. Bundy was found guilty of over 30 murders (and possibly) more and sentenced to be executed in 1989 in Florida. Typically difficult Bundy refused his last meal request so the official of Florida gave him the standard steak, eggs (over easy), toast and hash browns, milk, coffee and juice. Bundy refused all of it and didn’t eat. I don’t believe anyone lost any sleep over this. Well, maybe people who really love breakfast foods, because that is quite a nice spread.
7 Bottle of Carmel (Adolf Eichmann)
Eichman was a senior officer of the Nazis and was eventually tried, found guilty and executed in 1962. Obviously the worst of the worst, but I can appreciate his last request, to a degree. His last meal request was a bottle of Carmel and an Israeli red wine. Who wouldn’t want alcohol before your execution? If there has ever been a stressful day it’s got to be “dead man walking day” and that drink has to taste pretty good. Anyway, what’s perplexing to me was that he only drank half the bottle. Why not polish it off and why not ask for two bottles? “Sorry guys, I need to be alert for my execution.” I guess I’ll never understand Nazi masterminds.
6 KFC (John Wayne Gacy)
Gacy is another serial killer who arguably got what was coming to him. Gacy was found guilty of murdering at least 33 young males. Regarding his last meal request, this is getting closer to where I think my head would be at. His last meal request was fried shrimp (one dozen), French fries, strawberries (a pound) and a bucket of KFC (original recipe). If there was ever any doubt, this settles it: original recipe is much better than crispy. I’m pretty sure I would want to throw in a couple Israeli bottles of red wine, but a bucket of KFC original recipe is not the worst meal you could have.
5 Sugar Free Black Walnut Ice Cream (Clarence Ray Allen)
This is where it starts to get a little weird. First off, Allen was the second oldest person to ever be executed in the United States, but that’s not the weird part. His final request was fried chicken and steak (again not too weird, personally I’m going KFC, but different strokes…). Anyway, he also requested sugar-free black walnut ice cream. I’ve never even heard of such a type of ice cream so that’s impressive, and also, why sugar free? Too bad Allen killed people, he could have lived longer and witnessed Whole Foods; I’m guessing he would have enjoyed that place.
4 One Black Olive (Robert Buell)
Buell a high profile criminal convicted of raping and murdering an 11-year-old girl. He was sentenced to death in the state of Ohio. His last meal request was not anything extravagant, but rather one black olive, un-pitted of course. So many questions here, "why only one?" is a good start. I’m sure the officials debated giving him one pitted olive, just to screw with him. Also, why an olive? Why not ask for a martini with an olive? I guess I’ll never understand how the worst criminals think. Somehow a bucket of KFC and one un-pitted black olive would make sense to me.
3 Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream (Timothy McVeigh)
McVeigh doesn’t need an introduction; he is the terrorist responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing. It was Indiana where he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. His last meal request was quite simple, just two pints of chocolate chip ice cream. This is another confusing request to me, not because it's ice cream, I mean we all love ice cream. Why not a box of cones or sprinkles also? I mean, this is it, even though you are an awful human being you get one meal, live it up man, throw some sprinkles on top of that ice cream!
2 Jolly Rancher Candy (Gerald Mitchell)
Mitchell was found guilty of killing two people during a robbery gone bad (as opposed to a robbery gone well, I guess). He was sentence to be executed in 2001 in the state of Texas. His last request was a bag of Jolly Rancher candy. My curiosity is how did he eat them? Most seasoned Jolly Rancher lovers do not equally divide and conquer, but rather eat flavors in order. My guess is he first ate the cherry because they are most enjoyable and then moved on to watermelon (second best). He then ate the grape and stuck out his tongue because it would be purple and that never gets old. Finally, he would eat the sour apple candies. After enough of those I’m guessing he was ready for his execution.
1 Coca-Cola and Pepsi (William Bonin)
Bonin was another terrible man who was found guilty of raping and killing 21 people and possibly a lot more. Sometimes a last meal request is not food, but instead drink, and we’re not even talking about alcohol. Bonin requested and ate two pizzas and ice cream (chocolate) and then also requested (and drank) eighteen colas (mix of Coke and Pepsi) as part of his last meal. I’m sure there are at least a thousand dentists upset he was put to death given the amount of potential dental work required after that meal. No word as to whether Coke or Pepsi appreciated the free advertising.