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Extreme Foods

Eastern State Penitentiary to host prison food tasting menu

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Diners sample authentic prison food. (Courtesy Eastern State Penitentiary)

Tasting menus often feature unusual ingredients at a premium price.

But diners who attend this weekend’s “Prison Food Weekend” at Eastern State Penitentiary are in for a rude awakening.

On the menu is a selection of prisoner punishment food known as “Nutraloaf.” According to an event press release, Food Weekend attendees will be able to sample five different loafs currently served in five states. Freestyle BBQ, a catering company owned by a correctional officer, will create the nutraloaf samples using the official recipes. 

There’s a breakfast version from Idaho that supposedly resembles a muffin with cereal, milk, toast, and orange juice, to a non-dairy cheese and raisin loaf that used to be served to inmates in Vermont.  Pennsylvania has a relatively plain offering—a concoction of oatmeal, cooked rice, and garbanzo beans.   

“The Department of Corrections had to give each inmate who was going to eat Nutraloaf a hearing, so far the Department of Corrections hasn’t updated their policies so Nutraloaf is on suspension  in Vermont,” Eastern State Penitentiary spokeswoman Annie Anderson, told CBS Philly. 

After tasting, visitors can write down their notes on a score card and decide whether the practice of serving Nutraloaf-- which is generally upheld by the U.S. court system-- constitutes a form of cruel and unusual punishment. 

For those looking for unauthorized prison fare, the prison is also serving inmate comfort food—colloquially known as “chi chi”—a mixture which usually contains a mix of commissary items like crushed ramen noodles, crushed Doritos, meat snack snicks and other processed goodies. Formerly incarcerated individuals will reportedly be making the chi chi. 

Eastern State Penitentiary is offering the prison food tasting menu this weekend, June 6th and 7th. Admission to the facility is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for students and children 12 and under.