If you had to choose, do you have any idea what you would prefer to have as your last meal on Earth?
Even the most notorious serial killers and criminals on death row are usually offered a final meal before they are executed–that is, unless they are executed in Texas. Historically, this meal is supposed to denote a means of resolution between the condemned and the society that has sentenced them to death.
Researchers Kevin M. Kniffin and Brian Wansink of Cornell University studied the last meals of 247 people who were executed in the US between 2002 and 2006 and found that individuals who upheld their innocence to the very end were more likely to turn down the meal than those who had accepted their fate.
The study concluded that “those who denied guilt were 2.7 times as likely to decline a last meal than people who admitted guilt (29 percent versus 8 percent).”
Last meals most frequently include comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, baked potatoes, soda, fried chicken and “status foods,” such as lobster or steak. Many of America’s serial killers opted for buffet-sized banquets, while others requested little portions or nothing at all.
When Aileen Wuornos, famous for killing seven men, was offered barbecue chicken on the night before her execution, she turned it down and asked for a single cup of coffee. Murderer Gary Gilmore decided to say goodbye with three shots of whiskey before being shot by a firing squad in Utah in 1977.
This “special meal” has not only captured the attention and imagination of scientists and legal scholars, but also the curiosity of artists and photographers, like Henry Hargreaves. In his body of work titled No Seconds, Hargreaves photographed the last meals requested by death row inmates, which are accompanied by text explaining what the meal consisted of, the name of the convicted, and the crime they committed.
Each image serves as a medium to try and better comprehend the inner workings of their devious minds.
“Researching this topic strangely personalized these people for me and for a moment I was able to identify with them through the common denominator of food,” said Hargreaves.
Check out the above slideshow to see what some of the nation’s most notorious criminals chose as their final feasts, or lack thereof.
Images: Henry Hargreaves / Via henryhargreaves.com