Our Fascination with Last Meals: More Than Morbid Curiosity?


Minutes before his 1995 execution in Oklahoma, convicted murderer Thomas Grasso had an important message to convey.

“I did not get my SpaghettiOs. I got spaghetti,” Grasso wrote to reporters in his final statement. “I want the press to know this.”

Grasso’s story is a favorite among those who track the last meals of death row inmates, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Public fascination with the custom of granting the condemned a last meal has increased so much that three of the 38 states with capital punishment — Arizona, California and Texas — feature prisoners’ final meal menus on their Web sites.

The interest in last meals ranges from dark humor to sociological study. Mike Randleman, a California actor who operates the Web site deadmaneating.com, said he has been accused of exploiting “a sick spectacle.” But he shared an e-mail from one of his site’s visitors that he thinks helps explain the macabre interest in last meals.

“I believe a man’s last meal speaks volumes: Personal history, level of education, cultural and geographic background, economic history — the list goes on and on. These ‘last meal requests’ serve as a valuable social document and I am glad you’re archiving them. I think your site also manages to humanize the most hated segment of our society. A difficult if not impossible task.”

Here are a few last meals detailed by the newspaper:

• 24 soft-shell tacos, six enchiladas, six tostados, two whole onions, five jalapenos, two cheeseburgers, one chocolate shake, one quart of milk and one pack of Marlboro cigarettes.

• Three Burger King Whoppers with cheese, two extra crispy chicken breasts from Kentucky Fried Chicken, large french fries, two slices of white bread, two RC Colas, one slice of navy bean pie.

• Strawberries, grapes, peaches, plums, vanilla malt.

•Six fried eggs over easy, 16 strips of bacon, a breakfast steak, hash browns, a pint of pineapple sherbet, hot sauce, a cup of coffee, two sugar packets, a cup of ice, a 7 UP, a Dr Pepper, a Coke — and four Rolaids tablets.

Link: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/1203/01lastmeal.html

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