This month’s Best New Restaurants got me thinking: Everyone loves to talk about what he’d eat for his last meal on earth. A few years back, I declared mine, in print, to be friend chicken from Harold’s Chicken Shack on 53rd Street; now I’d go with the sukiyaki at Chiyo, page 76. But history has shown that the Last Meal is a wish rarely fulfilled, particularly when the end comes unexpectedly. Once I took a look at the final repasts of celebrities and compared those meals with the celebs’ favorite dishes in life, I realized my chances of getting the sukiyaki, much less the fried chicken, were not good.

illustration of Elvis, JFK, Ghandi and Sadam Hussein



What They Loved

What They Got

Raisin Bran Crunch, chips. "He’d eat a family-size bag of Doritos in ten minutes," said one of his American guards, as quoted in a 2005 GQ article. Boiled chicken and rice, several cups of hot water laced with honey, according to
Fettuccine Alfredo from De Stefano’s in Las Vegas Cream of wheat cereal made with half-and-half, seasoned with brown sugar, per his former cook
According to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, JFK liked a breakfast of poached eggs on toast, broiled bacon, marmalade, milk, orange juice, and coffee. Soft-boiled eggs, bacon, toast with marmalade, orange juice, and coffee, as reported in The Day Kennedy Was Shot, by Jim Bishop (Funk & Wagnalls, 1968)
(69-30 B.C.)
Figs Figs and an asp
Meat loaf, cheeseburgers, peanut butter and banana sandwiches, all-Jell-O diets. When Elvis was hospitalized with colon issues in the seventies, his cook claims, The King begged for sauerkraut and wiener sandwiches. Ice cream and cookies, according to Last Suppers, by James L. Dickerson (Lebhar and Friedman, 1999)
A diet strong in wheat and rice, dry cereals, raw fruits and vegetables Goat’s milk, cooked vegetables, oranges, and a concoction of ginger, sour lemons, and strained butter with the juice of aloe, per
Raw onion sandwiches doused with ketchup; steak and potatoes New York strip steak, baked potato, caesar salad, and a Bordeaux, according to Dickerson
Soup. A 2001 New Yorker article said Ginsberg loved making soup so much, he had a ledge installed outside his kitchen window where he could cool his 12-gallon stockpot. Fish chowder, per The New Yorker
The upscale French fare at Romanoff’s in Hollywood Guacamole and spicy meatballs at a Mexican buffet, chased with Champagne, according to Dickerson
Vegetarian and macrobiotic food. Then again, musician Ronnie Hawkins has always said that when Lennon and Yoko Ono stayed at his home in 1969, he caught them sneaking bologna from the fridge late at night. A corned beef sandwich, per Dickerson

Illustration: Vibracobradesign Photography: (Presley and Lennon) © Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy;
(Gandhi and Hussein) © Popperfoto/Alamy; (Hemingway) © Interfoto Pressebildagentur/Alamy


Read our list of Chicago’s best new restaurants, plus five great meals in the city.