Alcatraz island was notoriously impossible to escape from, but little has been said about one of its most formidable defenses: The food was so good on "The Rock" that there was really no reason to leave.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the prison's closing (which happened on March 21, 1963), a weekly menu from 1946 has been released. The fare is surprisingly appealing and non-redundant: fresh fruit, beef pot pie anglaise, bacon jambalaya, beet and onion salad. Even the fact that there was a menu at all is striking, indicating a degree of forethought about food that seems downright nurturing (though today's supermax facilities surely have menus, too, regardless of what's on them). When people say things were better in the old days, it's usually good to roll your eyes, but in this case the verdict seems just. To test that assessment, we might also ask Whitey Bulger, who provides a kind of perfect control experiment: He was a guest on Alcatraz in the 1960s and is now set to spend the rest of his life in jail. Maybe he'll be willing to talk about how prison fare has changed through the decades.
H/T Marginal Revolution.
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