By Mike Enemigo

Prison food is notoriously terrible, and it’s not like you can go out to a drive-thru when you get hungry between meal-times. But prison inmates are famous for their amazing creativity – and when they’re not making shivs and other improvised weapons, they’re creating some truly bizarre food items.

Here are 10 food items that you could make from scratch if you pulling a long stint at the big house.

Prison inmates have a lot of time on their hands, and a strict schedule to follow. But they still find ways to do some cooking, sneaking out leftovers from the cafeteria and purchasing basic items from prison commissaries. Including these delicacies:

  1. Correctional Cake

Used to celebrate birthdays and the release of beloved prisoners, this cake is created using Oreo cookies, peanut butter, and M&Ms. The Oreo cookies are separated, with the cookie itself crushed and molded in the presence of water to create the layers of the cake. The creamy interior of the Oreos is used as icing. Peanut butter then becomes icing for another layer, with the “cake” topped off with broken up M&Ms.

  1. No Bake Cheesecake

Piper Kerman worked as a drug smuggler and money launderer for a West African drug kingpin. She wrote about her time in prison in her memoir, Orange Is The New Black. In the book, Kerman gives the recipe for a common prison cheesecake, made with graham crackers, lemon juice, vanilla pudding mix, stolen margarine, and coffee creamer.

  1. Fried Chicken

There is not a lot of information out there as to how prisoners accomplish this in their cells, but what is out there involves wiring a heating element into a plastic trashcan. How the oil and raw chicken (or fish) are obtained, I’m not entirely sure – but the smell probably makes fellow inmates jealous. Fresh fried chicken has to be worth at least a pack of cigarettes.

  1. Prison Lattes

The first drink to make our list is probably the tastiest. Making prison lattes involves a carton of milk and finding a faucet with really hot water. Keep the carton sealed and place it under the water until steam starts emanating from the sink. Pop open the carton of milk and add instant coffee along with maple syrup if you can grab a leftover packet from breakfast. Serve hot.

  1. Prison Pizza

To make this “pizza”, prisoners mold ramen noodles and crackers into a crust using hot water and a trash bag. After the crust hardens, top with anything absconded from the cafeteria or purchased from the commissary – leftover meat, cheese, salsa, etc. I’m scared of this one.

  1. Teriyaki flavored water

Prisoners often use leftover flavor packets from ramen noodles to add an extra zest to their water. If you can’t find a soft drink in your cell, this is better than nothing. Maybe.

  1. Tamales

Similar in concept to prison pizza, you make these tamales by mixing crushed Frito corn chips and spicy Cheetos inside a plastic bag. Once mingled together, you add hot water until the chips and Cheetos get soggy. Prisoners then mold the chips into the shape of a tamale and let the concoction sit for about five minutes until it hardens.

  1. Pad Thai

Once again, you use ramen noodles for this recipe (beginning to see a trend?), but this time, the noodles are used for their intended manner. You add peanut butter and hot sauce to cooked ramen noodles, to make a quick and simple facsimile of Pad Thai.

  1. Crabapple Jelly

During her stint at Alderson Federal Prison Camp for insider trading, home and lifestyle guru Martha Stewart created crab apple jelly and earned the nickname M. Diddy. M. Diddy picked crabapples from trees on the prison grounds (technically a rules violation) to create her jelly. Stewart likely made this recipe with access to a kitchen.

  1. “The Spread”

The cheese ball of prison culture makes for a weekend treat and an opportunity for other prisoners to contribute leftovers or small amounts of food for a communal meal. To make “the spread”, break up ramen noodles and mix the spices in a trash bag, and then toss anything into it the mixture. Canned tuna, hot sauce, salsa, Doritos, and flavored popcorn are common – essentially whatever you can keep in your cell or buy from the commissary is fair game. Hot water is added to “cook” the mixture, which is then spread over a newspaper and eaten by fellow inmates with a spoon.

Honorable Mention #1 – Non-alcoholic Cognac

Mix a can of Cherry Dr. Pepper with instant coffee, cocoa, cappuccino mix, a carton of milk, and some leftover sugar packets to make a drink that tastes as close to cognac as you will get in prison. I would not let this one ferment.

Honorable Mention #2 – Beef stick Barbecue

Not quite worthy of its own entry – but pretty interesting. This recipe involves cooking a Slim Jim (not typical beef jerky – it’s too dry) with a lighter to create a little sizzle and variation on the Macho Man Randy Savage’s favorite food.


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