Eastern State Penitentiary Hosts "Prison Food Weekend," Gives Visitors a Taste of Prison Life

Visitors to the historic site will sample meals served to inmates throughout prison history

Jun 05, 2013, 10:30 ET from Eastern State Penitentiary

PHILADELPHIA, June 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Eastern State Penitentiary will host "Prison Food Weekend" on Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9. The event will give insight to what prisoners ate nearly 200 years ago, and how it compares to what is served in prisons today. Recreated prisoner meals will be sampled in historic locations across the penitentiary complex.

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130605/PH26789)

From 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on June 8 and 9, visitors will sample:

  • Beef, Salted and Broiled, with "Indian Mush," a typical inmate dinner in the 1830s
  • Hamburger Steak with Brown Gravy and "Harvard Beets," a meal that appears on a real 1949 Eastern State Penitentiary inmate menu
  • Nutraloaf, the modern version of "bread and water" punishment meals used in most prisons today. Visitors will sample the official Commonwealth of Pennsylvania recipe, currently served to inmates throughout the state as a "behavior modified meal."

Visitors will learn how changing correctional philosophies contributed to prison food policies and preparation. Also on view will be sample menus, archival photographs, prison reports, and firsthand accounts of the prison fare throughout Eastern State Penitentiary's 142-year operational history.

Freestyle BBQ, a catering company owned by Pennsylvania correctional officer John Freeman, will create the meal samples. "The goal is not to produce food that tastes good or bad, but to accurately demonstrate what inmates ate here 150 years ago and what inmates in the U.S. eat today," said Sean Kelley, Eastern State Penitentiary's Director of Public Programming.

All Prison Food Weekend activities are included in standard admission.

Regular daytime programs, including "The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi, guided Hands-On History tours, history exhibits, and artist installations, are also included in admission. Tickets are available online at easternstate.org/tickets. Tickets are also available at the door, subject to availability. 

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America's most notorious criminals, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and Al Capone.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and children ages 7-12. (Not recommended for children under the age of seven.) The penitentiary is open every day, year round. For more information, please call (215) 236-3300 or visit www.easternstate.org.

SOURCE Eastern State Penitentiary