The Last Meals Requested by Death Row Inmates Before Their Executions

In certain countries around the world, death row prisoners who are about to face execution are offered a special last meal to eat. Authorities do their best to accommodate the special food requests, and these choices are often published to the media after the execution is carried out.

Photographer Henry Hargreaves decided to do a photo project to document what these last suppers comprised and what they might have looked like. He looked up the requests of some of history’s most notorious executed criminals, recreated those meals, and photographed them. The project is titled “No Seconds.”

The photograph above shows the last meal requested by murderer Victor Feguer: a single unpitted olive.

Ronnie Lee Gardner requested lobster tail, steak, apple pie, vanilla ice cream, and to eat the meal while watching the Lord of the Rings

Allen Lee Davis requested Lobster tail, fried potatoes, 1/2 fried shrimp, 6oz fried clamps, 1/2 loaf of garlic bread, and 32ox A&W root beer

Ted Bundy declined a special meal, so he was given the traditional last meal of medium rare steak, over-easy eggs, hash browns, toast with butter and jelly, milk, and juice

Stephen Anderson requested 2 grilled cheese sandwiches, a pint of cottage cheese, Hominy/corn mixture, peach pie, chocolate chip ice cream, and radishes

Timothy McVeigh requested 2 pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream

Ricky Ray Rector requested steak, fried chicken, cherry Kool-Aid, and pecan pie. He left the pecan pie, telling the guard that he was “saving it for later.”

John Wayne Gacy requested 12 fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe KFC (he had managed 3 KFC restaurants), french fries, and 1lb of strawberries

Angel Nieves Diaz declined a special meal, was offered the regular last meal and declined that also.

You can find a list of documented last meal requests over on Wikipedia. The amount of money last meals are limited to vary by state. Oklahoma restricts it to $15, but Florida is willing to spend up to $40 for the request.

No Seconds by Henry Hargreaves (via

Image credits: Photographs by Henry Hargreaves and used with permission

  • Nathan Downing

    Interesting series. Reminds me of a series of paintings an artist, Julie Green, has done as well.

  • Martin Esquives

    I remember seeing a similar series made by another photographer, but executed rather poorly compared to this series… Can’t remember her name though.. I think I saw it on petapixel

  • Diego

    There is a mistake in the post. There are not “many” countries with death penalty. Only USA, some islamic countries, China and few others. A pity.

  • Dave

    Those eggs don’t look over easy….

  • John Burridge

    Makes me wonder about the whole point of a last meal… here, have a nice meal in case we were wrong about convicting you or maybe this whole capital punishment thing was overkill.

  • Samcornwell

    I think James Reynolds did a better job –

  • rtfe

    i think i remember seeing that work. i thought it worked a little better as each meal was in exactly the same institutional setting on those compartment tubs with the same lighting. there were no frilly doilies, gold plated plates, colorful tablecloths, or metal spoons. metal forks and glass wear on death row?? that other series showed the isolation and impending fate of each convict and their stale last meal with uniform lighting and presentation. this series creates ambiance and presentation that i don’t think is present in a prison on a human’s last day. i wish i could think of the other photographer????!!!!!

  • Greg Schmidt

    A pity. There should be a lot more.

  • Gabriel Esparza

    I also remember that series. Also, I believe that was made with the actual meals that prisoners ate before being executed (no recreations), which made it all the more interesting, in my opinion. Plus, it was made before this one.

  • Michael Zhang
  • JJ

    Executed? Bad pun? lol

  • Marlenne

    This is just sad… is like they are mocking the person by offering them a last “good” meal, what is the point if they are going to kill them?

  • Guest

    thank you!!!

  • rtfe

    thank you! i think his series is far better

  • Mansgame

    It’s like that King of the Hill episode.

  • eraserhead12

    so they should stop offering one last meal? I would think instead of ‘mocking’, it provides one last semi-enjoyable experience that they have some control over. what’s the point of eating any good meal as death is but inevitable?

  • tyrohne

    This screams to be done with Instagram.

  • eraserhead12

    I do believe in rehabilitation over execution, but not everyone is that poor guy who was accused of one murder and didn’t actually do it. just read the histories of the above mentioned people.

    though, it’s a little twisted that the guys who ****ed, mutilated, and murdered over 30 children/women got lethal injection while the guy who shot a few was executed by a firing squad.

  • Nico in China

    Well, you can’t make a “last meal” serie if there is one such meal every year or so… I think apart from the USA, there is only China, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and North Korea who kill enough of their own citizens and i’m not sure it would be so possible to carry such photo project in these places.

  • madmax

    and donĀ“t forget Japan, India, Taiwan, Singapur and both Koreas too…

  • veryuncooltony

    He wanted to be executed by firing squad for religious reasons.

  • bob cooley

    This immediately made me think of the James Reynolds exhibit. I agree, Reynolds’ was better executed (arg.. no pun intended).

    Methinks you don’t want to give someone their last meal with metal utensils…

  • Fred

    I would have gone for an all you can eat buffet

  • daveO

    These meal are pretty high in fat and cholesterol, don’t you think?

  • Robert Downer

    i cant remember i learned in history a guy in the 60s tried to make himself so fat he wouldnt fit in the chair

  • Nb732

    How is it sad when the person having this last meal is a murderer? If it was up to me, I’d make their last meal the worst meal ever imaginable.

  • Allison

    Has no one noticed how sad the Ricky Ray Rector quote is over his pie? He said he was “saving it for later”, he had a lobotomy after an unsuccessful suicide and probably had no idea he was going to be executed.

  • Joseph Whitley

    They forgot to post about an inmate requesting a green olive with a stone pit, that he was buried with when he died.

  • Karnezar

    They lost their own choice to have control over things when they took away the ability to choose from the victims they killed.