17 Death Row Requests You Won’t Believe Were Made –


The last meal is a customary ritual that’s observed in many countries across the world. The tradition generally entails a condemned prisoner having the right to select what their final meal will be, within reason. Of course, some of the time, the requests made by death row inmates are far from reasonable.

The ritual of the last meal is most widely observed in the United States, where the tradition is still upheld in many states that support capital punishment. The practice itself dates back to pre-modern Europe, based on the superstition that granting a condemned prisoner a final meal symbolically means they’ve made peace with the host. Many believed that if the prisoner accepted their last meal, they would not return as a ghost to haunt those responsible for their execution.

This list takes a look at 17 of the most bizarre final meal requests from death row inmates. From abstract ideas that can’t possibly be fulfilled, to gluttonous feasts that contain at least a normal week’s worth of calories, these entries probably wouldn’t be most people’s choice for their ultimate supper.


17. James Edward Smith

Murderpedia/Wikimedia Commons, Thamizhpparithi Maari

James Edward Smith was convicted of murder after the fatal shooting of Larry D. Rohus during a robbery made at a cashier’s office.

Upon being asked what he wanted as his final meal, Smith asked for a lump of dirt. This was denied, and Smith eventually settled for a nice pot of yoghurt.

16. Peter Kürten

German Federal Archives/Wikimedia CC, Leipnizkeks

Peter Kürten was a particularly nasty serial killer. Convicted for a series of murders and sexual assaults in the city of Düsseldorf, Kürten was sentenced to death (decapitation by guillotine).

His final meal request of a Wiener schnitzel, fried potatoes, and white wine wasn’t all that unusual, but the “Düsseldorf Monster” had the cheek to ask for seconds – and received it!

15. Ronnie Lee Gardner

Utah Department of Corrections/New Line Cinema

Ronnie Lee Gardner was convicted of two counts of murder in 1985, and was executed by firing squad 25 years later in 2010. His meal of lobster tail, steak, vanilla ice cream, and apple pie was fairly standard, although Gardner specifically requested that he eat the meal while watching Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

14. William Bonin

Wikimedia Commons/Guillén Pérez CC

William Bonin was convicted of the rape and murder of 21 boys and young men, and is suspected to have had a number of victims far in excess of that total. Bonin’s final meal was substantial, consisting of two pepperoni pizzas and three helpings of chocolate ice cream.

Apparently Bonin wanted to die of diabetes before the lethal injection; he consumed eighteen servings of Coca-Cola and Pepsi before his execution.

13. Philip Ray Workman

Murderpedia/Wikimedia Commons, Rainbow Pizza

The murder trial of Philip Ray Workman was highly controversial, as several experts claimed that the bullet that killed a police officer could not have come from Workman’s weapon. Despite this, Workman was convicted and executed by the state of Tennessee in 2007.

Before his execution, Workman requested that his final meal be a large vegetarian pizza, to be given to a homeless person. Officials denied the request, Workman refused to eat anything, and people throughout the country began a campaign to give vegetarian pizzas to the homeless in Workman’s honour.

12. Jonathan Nobles

Murderpedia/Wikimedia Commons, John Snyder

Jonathan Nobles was convicted for the murder of two young women in 1986. Before his execution by lethal injection in 1998, Nobles had seemingly become a devout Christian. For his final meal, Nobles requested the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, which consists of consecrated bread and wine.

11. Ricky Ray Rector

CC Executed Today/Wikimedia Commons, Joe Hakim

Ricky Ray Rector killed a man in a nightclub, shot a police officer who was attempting to negotiate a surrender, then shot himself in the head in a suicide attempt. Rather than killing him, the shot effectively lobotomised Rector, and he was convicted of the murders. Shortly before his execution, Rector requested a steak, fried chicken, cherry Kool-Aid, and a pecan pie. He left the pecan pie, jokingly informing a guard that he was “saving it for later.”

10. Clarence Ray Allen

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Wikimedia Commons

Clarence Ray Allen was convicted of murdering three people, becoming the second-oldest person to be executed in the United States. For Allen’s final meal, he requested buffalo steak and fried chicken, along with sugar-free pecan pie and sugar-free black walnut ice cream. Why Allen was acting so health-conscious when it came to his final desserts is beyond us.

9. Timothy McVeigh

Wikimedia Commons, FBI

Timothy McVeigh might have been a convicted terrorist and mass murderer, responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, but there’s no denying that he knew exactly what he liked. Shortly before being executed by lethal injection by the state of Indiana, McVeigh requested a meal that consisted of just two pints of mint chocolate-chip ice cream.

8. Gerald Mitchell

Murderpedia/Wikimedia Commons, Mene Tekel

Convicted of killing two victims during a botched robbery, Gerald Mitchell was executed by the state of Texas in 2001. It turns out Mitchell had a sweet tooth, as his only request for his final meal was a large bag of assorted Jolly Rancher sweets.

7. Troy Davis

Wikimedia Commons

Troy Davis was the subject of a highly controversial murder trial during which he was convicted of the fatal shooting of police officer Mark MacPhail. Before his execution, Troy Davis declined his special meal, claiming that “this meal will not be my last.” It turned out that it was his last; Davis was summarily executed by lethal injection.

6. Thomas Grasso

Alchetron/Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Grasso was convicted for the strangulation of an 87-year-old woman at her home, and an 81-year-old man just six months later, as part of a series of home robberies. His final meal was an extravagant feast of two dozen steamed mussels, two dozen steamed clams, a cheeseburger, half a dozen spare ribs, two strawberry milkshakes, strawberries, half a pumpkin pie, and a can of spaghetti with meatballs. This spawned Grasso’s famous last words, “I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s, I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.”

5. Miguel Richardson

Clark Prosecutor/Hans Splinter CC

Miguel Richardson was tried and convicted for the fatal shooting of two security guards in 1980, and executed by the state of Texas in 2001. Richardson made the rather romantic request for his final meal by asking for a birthday cake with “2-23-90” written on top, which was the date he got married. He also specifically requested seven pink candles, a lot of fruit, and a salad with Thousand Island dressing.

4. Robert Buell

Wikimedia Commons/Zeevveez CC

Robert Buell was infamous for being convicted of the rape and murder of 11-year-old Krista Harrison. Shortly before being executed by the state of Ohio, Buell made an odd final meal request. While many of the entries here have featured excessive plates filled with rich food, Buell only wanted a single, unpitted black olive.

3. Delbert Teague Junior

Murderpedia/Wikimedia Commons

Delbert Teague Junior was described by prosecutors at his trial as a “one man slaughterhouse,” which might give you a good idea of just how pleasant the guy was. Teague outright refused to eat his last meal. At least, he did until his mother told him off, and Teague sheepishly ate a cheeseburger before being executed by the Texas state.

2. Odell Barnes

Murderpedia/Human Rights Campaign

Odell Barnes was a Texas man that was convicted of murdering Helen Bass in a home robbery. The later stages of Barnes’ trial received heavy attention from anti-death penalty advocates and human rights groups, primarily due to deficiencies in the forensic evidence. Before his execution in 2000, Barnes requested “Justice, Equality, World Peace” for his final meal. Sadly, prison officials were unable to comply.

1. Lawrence Russell Brewer

Murderpedia/Wikipedia Commons, Aravind Sivaraj

Lawrence Russell Brewer pretty much ruined the ‘final meal’ for every death row inmate in Texas, after his infamous request shortly before execution. Brewer asked for (take a deep breath) a triple bacon cheeseburger, two chicken fried steaks with gravy and onions, a cheese and beef omelette, tomatoes, a ‘Meat Lovers’ pizza, bell peppers, jalapeños, a bowl of okra, one pound of barbecue meat, half a loaf of bread, three fully loaded fajitas, three root beers, a pint of ice cream, and a slab of peanut butter fudge. Brewer’s ridiculous request was granted, but he refused to eat a single bite, leading to the state of Texas ending the tradition of offering last meal requests.


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