Last meal offers a macabre rite of passage

Kelly Renee GissendanerKelly Renee Gissendaner


ATLANTA — For many, the last meal is one of the most macabre curiosities of an execution.

​Kelly Renee Gissendaner, 47, is set to die this evening for plotting the 1997 murder of her husband, Douglas. She requested a last meal consisting of cheese dip with chips, Texas fajita nachos and a diet frosted lemonade.​

That is a smaller request than the one she made leading up to an earlier execution date in February. At that time, Gissendaner requested cornbread, a side of buttermilk, two large orders of French fries, cherry vanilla ice cream, popcorn, salad with boiled eggs, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, carrots, cheese and buttermilk dressing, lemonade and two cheeseburgers (originally identified as Whoppers).

There is no standard template for what an inmate might request. In December 2014, for example, a condemned murderer in Georgia, Robert Wayne Holsey, requested eight pieces of fried chicken for his last meal.

However, many inmates do not request a final meal and are generally offered the prison’s standard meal for the day. Some don’t eat their last meal, a quick review of media coverage surrounding executions reveals.

Interestingly, Texas no longer offers inmates the opportunity to request a special last meal. In 2011, the Lone Star State stopped obliging after 44-year-old Lawrence Brewer made an excessive request that included a pair of chicken fried steaks, a meat-lover’s pizza, a triple-patty cheeseburger, a pint of ice cream and other items.

Adding to the controversy, Brewer apparently didn’t even partake in his feast.

To avoid such an issue, some states, such as Florida, have guidelines surrounding the last meal. According to the Florida Department of Corrections, the food for the last meal must be purchased locally and cost no more than $40.

On the Internet, wildly ridiculous rumors can spread quickly. For example, concerns over a cannibal pedophile in Texas who allegedly requested a child for his last meal turned out to be false, according to

About the author

Todd DeFeo

Todd DeFeo loves to travel anywhere, anytime, taking pictures and notes. An award-winning reporter, Todd revels in the experience and the fact that every place has a story to tell. He is owner of The DeFeo Groupe and also edits The Travel Trolley and