The idea of a final meal has, for decades, been a topic that always sparks a decent discussion.
Whether it’s dreaming up your own perfect meal, or being fascinated by what some of the most notorious killers ate just before they died, our fascination with food can always be relied on to be a talking point.
Take, for instance, serial killer John Wayne Gacy, the ‘killer clown’ who sexually assaulted and murdered at least 33 young men in Illinois in the 1970s. While he was alive (and not in prison), Gacy was a manager at a number of KFC restaurants.
He loved the fried chicken outlet so much, in fact, he requested his last meal to be a bucket of KFC chicken, a dozen deep-friend shrimp, fries and a pound of strawberries prior to his lethal injection on May 10, 1984.
On the other hand, Ted Bundy – who’s recently undergoing somewhat of a revival thanks to a documentary and film about his life and crimes – rejected the chance to order a final meal. He was offered the default option of steak, eggs, hash browns and coffee instead, but refused to eat any of it.
Now, however, the intrigue of a final meal looks set to be confined to history, as one inmate in Texas has made sure no one in the state can order a special last meal again.
Before his execution in September 2011, a white supremacist called Lawrence Russell Brewer ordered a mammoth final meal.
It consisted of: two fried chickens, steaks with gravy and sliced onions, a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger, a cheese omelette with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapeños, a bowl of fried okra with ketchup, one pound of barbecued meat with half a loaf of white bread, three fajitas, a meat-feast pizza, one pint of Blue Bell ice cream, a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts and, last but not least, three root beers to wash it all down.
However, if you’re thinking there’s no way he managed to eat all that, well – he didn’t.
Instead, as a final attempt to ‘make a mockery of the system’, Brewer turned to prison staff and said he wasn’t hungry.
The next day, infuriated by Brewer’s actions, lawmakers in Texas decreed that death row inmates would no longer get a final meal, but just be given whatever was being served to the other prisoners that day, according to The New York Times.
Talking about the decision to revoke final meals, senator John Whitmore said:
[Brewer] never gave his victim an opportunity for a last meal. Why in the world are you going to treat him like a celebrity two hours before you execute him? It’s wrong to treat a vicious murderer in this fashion. Let him eat the same meal on the chow line as the others.
Brewer was executed for his role in the racially-motivated murder of James Byrd Jr in 1998.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.