These Were The Last Meals Of Famous People Throughout History
When we think of “last meals” we think of decadence and deliciousness. After all, the last meal is a terminally ill person’s final chance to enjoy real food. But some people have incredibly strange last meals because they’re not prepared to pass.
While macabre, the very idea of the last meal is also quite beautiful. It makes one wonder what they would choose to chow down on with only one day left to live. It also makes you think, “If I died right now, what would have been my last meal?”
Of course, some last meals are more infamous than others.
Millions of last meals go unrecorded. But we’re leaning into the menus that we do have; they’re pretty intense. Moreover, dealing with mortality can certainly be hard. If we think about last meals, though, we can indulge our morbid curiosities without looking death in the eye. Indeed, focusing on the food (and not the death) takes a little of the spookiness out of the whole topic.
Or, maybe we’re just food-obsessed as species. Food is, of course, one of the core things that sustain us. Food is the barrier between life and death. So it’s from a place of deep, instinctual respect for nourishment that we find last meals so incredibly interesting.
Consequently, we collected the last meals of several famous — or infamous — people throughout history.
We hope they won’t creep you out, but we know they’ll make you hungry.
1. Kurt Cobain
The Nirvana singer, whose unfortunate death by suicide rocked the world and the music industry back in 1994, apparently had a can of root beer (along with some cigs) before he died. Some people even claim that the singer knew the root beer would be his last meal. According to one Seattle restaurant owner, though, Cobain also stopped by the food establishment, Cactus, in the 48 hours before he died. Supposedly, he wanted to order a “Bananas Dulce” sautéed in brown sugar and rum.
His last meal is still served at Cactus today.
And it is deliciously described as, “Flash seared with brown sugar and Myers’s dark rum with toasted coconut ice cream.”
Cleopatra’s legendary tale is one for the storybooks.
In 30 BC in Alexandria, Egypt, Cleopatra, then 39, found that Octavian (later known as Augustus) defeated Antony’s forces and was planning to bring her to Rome. Instead of following that plan, Cleopatra opted to create her own out. She decided to die by suicide. Historians say the ruler met her end by either ingesting poison or enduring an asp bite (an asp is a lethal viper — yikes!).
Moreover, Cleopatra approached her demise with a sort of leisure.
She actually bathed and had a fine meal. Can you guess Cleopatra’s last meal? She had figs brought to her in a basket. In fact, figs’ natural sweetness made them a delicacy in ancient times. Some legends even note that Cleopatra hid her poison (or the snakes) in the same basket with the fruits.
She wasn’t the only one who had a preference for figs, though.
The fruits were so popular all over Egypt that people many people requested them for their tombs. To this day, archeologists find ancient figs buried in the earth.
3. Ted Bundy
We’re not saying that Ted Bundy should be famous, but he has gone down in history as one of the most gruesome serial murderers. He confessed to killing nearly 30 women between the years of 1974 and 1978. His actions ruptured the lives of hundreds of people, and they landed him in prison for life.
Despite his sentence, the man still knew how to eat well.
Bundy had his last meal in 1989 at Florida State Prison, and he certainly didn’t order anything light. In Ron Swanson (from Parks and Rec) fashion, the notorious criminal downed medium-rare steak, eggs over easy, hash browns, toast, juice, milk, and coffee. Ted Bundy basically had the makings of a delicious breakfast.
4. Adolf Hitler
Perhaps the most infamous person on this list, Adolf Hitler died on April 30, 1945, in Germany. It’s widely accepted that Hitler ended his life in an underground bunker after he realized he wouldn’t win the war. His new wife (they were only married about 40 hours), Eva Braun, also met the same fate. Surprisingly, Hitler ate a last meal of spaghetti and red sauce. It doesn’t seem fair that he would have such a delicious dinner, but so it goes.
That wasn’t the strangest thing about Hitler’s final day, either.
Purportedly, the dictator didn’t want to talk about the war at all while eating dinner. So, somehow, he and Braun were able to chat about mundane things. They seemingly discussed dog breeding methods and lipstick. Yeah, who knows.
5. Elvis Presley
The King of Rock and Roll loved to eat.
In August of 1977, Elvis Presley woke up in the night with indigestion. He headed into the bathroom to relieved himself but, instead, died of a fatal heart attack right on the toilet. That night, though, Presley had a last meal — and it was pretty decadent. It included four scoops of ice cream as well as chocolate cookies. This is a man who enjoyed bacon, peanut butter, and banana sandwiches, for goodness sakes! We can’t say he doesn’t have amazing taste in food. Would you eat a bacon and peanut butter sandwich? (We secretly would).
6. John Lennon
In 1980, right before his death by fatal gunshot, everyone’s favorite Beatle ate a corned beef sandwich. It was about 10:30 PM when someone took John Lennon’s life right outside his home at The Dakota. Apparently, Lennon wanted to go home and see his son, rather than go out for dinner. And we can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the singer chose to go somewhere else.
The corned beef he ate had some historical significance, though.
The sandwich filling actually has roots in England and Ireland, according to The Kitchen Project. The Cork area in Ireland produced large quantities of corned beef from the 1600s until 1825. It was the region’s chief export, and it shipped all over the world. Additionally, the British army survived on cans of Cork’s corned beef during the Napoleonic wars. In fact, the term “corned beef” was first found in an English Book by Richard Burton in 1621. Did Lennon eat this meal because he enjoyed it back home in the UK? Probably.
7. Timothy McVeigh
Up on deck: Another horrific criminal.
8. Abraham Lincoln
Even the leader of the United States had some interesting food habits.
Back in 1865, President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, had a last meal before heading to the theatre where he was fatally attacked. Lincoln had it good before he died, though. He indulged in a big ol’ presidential lunch of mock turtle soup, roast Virginia fowl with chestnut stuffing, baked yams, and cauliflower with cheese.
Apparently, though, Abe wasn’t a big foodie nor did he demand fancy food.
According to Food Timeline, “Abe grew up on the frontier, where he ate very plain food, partly for economic reasons, partly because of the frontier tradition… During the days of young manhood, where he boarded at the Rutledge Tavern in New Salem, his diet consisted largely of cornbread, mush, bacon, eggs, and milk.” But what was Abe’s favorite food? Honey!
9. Julia Child
Now, what would a famous television chef eat as a last meal?
As it turns out, Julia Child — who also worked as a spy — ate a bowl of French onion soup. In fact, the multi-talented woman was credited with bringing French food to the American masses. So it’s no surprised she ate French onion before she died in the hospital due in 2004 from kidney failure. She was 91 at the time of her passing.
What about the origins of her meal, though?
Is French Onion soup actually French? Yes, actually! Onion soups go back to ancient times, but this one has roots in France. You can largely thank Child for making it popular in the US in the ’60s, however.
10. Aileen Wuornos
Neither of those things sounds particularly appealing.
And we’re not sure about you, but to us, the BBQ chicken and mash sound better than a burger and crappy coffee. But hey, prison inmates don’t usually get the best treatment.
11. Marilyn Monroe
The actress’s passing was immensely tragic, but her last meal seemed fitting.
Ah, Marilyn — an eternally beloved star. It was 1962 when she died after a controversy-raising overdose, (and then there are the government-murdered-her conspiracy theories). When professionals found her body, they also allegedly found a bottle of Nembutal sleeping pills by her side. To the world, Monroe was a symbol of joy and hope, but internally, she suffered from depression and isolation. Before passing away, Monroe apparently feasted on stuffed mushrooms and meatballs. She topped off her meal with a glass Dom Perignon.
12. Ernest Hemingway
Canonical writer Ernest Hemingway died on July 2, 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho. He suffered from extreme depression and died from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot. Hemingway did eat his favorite meal first, however. It included a New York strip steak, Caesar salad, a baked potato, and a glass of wine at the Christiania restaurant. Apparently, Hemingway also asked for the Caeser salad instead of ordinary greens.
So, what kind of wine did Ernest Hemingway drink? Bordeaux.
In a famous quote about drinking by Hemingway even said, “Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.”
In the end, last meals are super interesting.
They remind us that we are natural, mortal beings that require sustenance and are fallible and unable to live forever. There’s also something haunting and romantic about the last remnants of a livelihood being recorded forever for the masses, like us, to deliberate over.