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An unusual and admittedly morbid article piqued my interest this week, which reviewed a U.S. study about death row inmates’ choices for their last meal.
The results indicate unsurprisingly that comfort foods and fried foods are most popular, with meals tending to be high in calories and heavy on meat. French fries, soda, ice cream, hamburgers, chicken, steak and pie seem to be the most commonly requested items.
The average meal request apparently came in at an estimated 2,756 calories, more than a typical grown man needs in a whole day. Fruits and vegetables were requested much less often, though more than a quarter asked for salad.
It is reported that lead researcher Brian Wansink, who directs the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., said the popularity of comfort foods and name-brand products like Coca-Cola could reflect people trying to deal with extremely high stress by surrounding themselves with familiar food.
“In some ways, this might be a way to bring the level of stress and negative excitement down to something that’s something a little bit more manageable,” Wansink said. “You don’t find people going for Neapolitan ice cream or for Chunky Monkey or Chubby Hubby. They go for chocolate; they go for vanilla.”
Researchers note that some of patterns, like the limited number of vegetarian meals, could reflect the socio-economic backgrounds of people on death row. In addition, the fact that most death row inmates are men is a factor to take into account.
I have never really thought about what I would want to eat for my last meal. Considering it now, I would imagine that facing imminent execution would make me lose my appetite, so I am not surprised to see that several inmates (more than 50 of the almost 250 people studied) chose to forego a last meal altogether.