Florida has revealed the final food choices of executed criminals, throwing up a number of eccentric final meals in the process.
While many of those spending their last day alive decide to go for the final indulgence of a heaving plate of fatty, fried food and a giant bowl of ice cream, others opt for more Spartan fare - requesting homemade sandwiches or just a simple cup of coffee.
The enlightening details come after news emerged that Florida’s most recently executed criminal – the Lauderdale Lake murderer William Happ – ordered the sickly sweet combination of a large box of assorted chocolates followed by a giant tub of German chocolate ice cream before facing the lethal injection.
According to the Orlando Sentinel , Happ was not alone in making a somewhat unorthodox selection when it came to his final food on earth.
Allen Lee Davis – who murdered a pregnant woman and her two daughters in 1982 – also opted for a final blowout banquet, ordering lobster, fried potatoes, half a pound of fried shrimp, six ounces of clam strips, half a loaf of garlic bread and vast quantities of ginger beer, before his controversial 1999 execution which saw him scream in pain as he suffered a severe nosebleed and extensive burns while being electrocuted.
Davis was the final criminal to face the electric chair in Florida.
Lobster was also the food of choice for Gainesville serial killer Danny Rolling who requested his crustacean served with baked potato and sweet tea, followed by a strawberry cheesecake.
Meanwhile, white supremacist Lawrence Brewer – one of three men convicted for killing 49-year-old black man James Byrd Jr. by dragging him behind their pickup truck - chose an equally indulgent final feast.
Brewer requested a staggeringly large meal, consisting of two chicken-fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions; a triple bacon cheeseburger; a cheese omelette with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapenos; a bowl of friend okra with ketchup, a pound of barbequed meat with half a loaf of white bread, three fajitas, a meat pizza, a pint of Blue Bell ice cream, a slab of peanut butter fudge and three root beers.
Although he did not receive all the items on the list, the final meal Brewer did eat was still large enough for a Florida state senator to launch an official complaint.
Other final meals tend to reflect the geographic origin of the killer who requested them. Panhandle murderer Arthur Rutherford for example, opted for a full-on southern state dish of fried catfish, fried green tomatoes, fried eggplant, hush puppies and a mug of sweet tea.
Meanwhile Puerto Rican national Angel Nieves Diaz ate a decidedly Latin-influenced meal of tacos, rice and pinto beans before his botched lethal injection, which required a double dose of drugs to terminate life in an hour-long execution that was supposed to last 15 minutes.
In fact tacos appear to be quite a popular final meal choice for those on death row, with cop killer and bank robber Clarence Hill opting for a double helping of the traditional Mexican dish.
Not everyone opts for an extravagant final meal, however. Serial killer Ted Bundy turned down a dish of steak and eggs in favour of facing the electric chair hungry, while Tampa rapist Oba Chandler chose two salami sandwiches on white bread, followed by half a peanut butter and grape jam sandwich.
Aileen Wuornos – whose seven man killing spree was dramatised in 2003 movie Monster – chose even simpler final refreshment. She declined all solid food and instead drunk a mug of black coffee nine hours before her execution.
Other final meals of note include those of Oklahoma city bomber Timothy McVeigh – who ordered two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream, Utah murderer Gary Gilmore – who ate a dish of eggs, a hamburger, potatoes, milk and coffee- and Illinois serial killer John Wayne Gacy - who chose fried chicken, French fries, fresh strawberries and diet cola.
The idea of death row prisoners' choosing their last meal is shaded in mystery, but it is thought to date back to ancient Greece. Acceptance of the meal is supposed to show the prisoner has forgiven the executioner and the justice system, while supposedly also offering a degree of dignity to the grisly proceedings.
There are, however, a number of rules about what prisoners can order. Takeaways are banned, as all the final meals must be prepared in the prison kitchen and - in Florida at least - the cost of the meal must not exceed $40. Cigarettes and alcohol are also now banned, but previously it was common for prisoners to go to their death under the influence.
In fact John Spenkelink - the first murderer to be executed in Florida after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976 - shared a flask of Jack Daniel's whiskey with the prison superintendent before his execution.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies