Prison slop, anyone?
If you’re enticed by the idea of sampling a brown, baked lump of blended food meant to punish prisoners for bad behavior, you’re in luck.
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia will be doling out nutraloaf, also called disciplinary loaf, to paid guests during its popular Prison Food Weekend, returning the weekend of June 2 and 3.
The former prison, about a two-hour drive from New York City, was best known for holding mobster Al Capone.
The practice of serving the gross grub to prisoners is controversial since some consider it a cruel form of punishment. New York decided to stop serving nutraloaf in 2015 in prisons throughout the state.
Visitors to the Pennsylvania prison-turned-museum and historic site will get to try versions of the meal from five different states, three of which have discontinued the practice.
In Pennsylvania, this funky food is called a “behavior modified meal,” and was discontinued in 2016 in an effort to “humanize” how dangerous inmates are dealt with. This version incorporates cooked rice, dry oatmeal and mashed garbanzo beans.
Washington’s offering comes as two 11-ounce patties rather than the traditional loaf, and is loaded with salsa, rice, oatmeal and veggies like cabbage, corn and peas.
Delaware’s version blends pineapple, cheese sauce, wheat bread, rice and veggies.
The Maryland loaf, made with whole wheat bread, imitation cheddar cheese and dehydrated potato flakes, was discontinued in the state in 2016 by the head of prisons there.
Idaho had different breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes for its nutraloaf. Those visiting Eastern State will get the breakfast version, a fusion of cereal, milk, toast and orange juice. Idaho also eliminated the use of nutraloaf in 2016.
If none of the loaves speak to you, fear not. You’ll still be fed. Guests will also be able to sample food made by prisoners in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ Culinary Academy. They can also check out menus, photos and reports of prison food throughout the history of Eastern State Penitentiary, which opened in 1829 and stopped operating as a prison in 1971.
The Prison Food Weekend activities are all included with standard admission to this U.S. National Historic Landmark. When bought online at EasternState.org, admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and kids ages 7 - 12. Those who buy at the door will pay a bit more — $16, $14, and $12, respectively.
“The Voices of Eastern State” audio tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi, along with other guided tours, exhibits and artist installations are also included in admission.
But nothing can top that nutraloaf.