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The Great Fried Meat Prison Protest of 1930

Unappetizing food led to an impromptu protest at a 1930 pentitentiary that nearly had to be broken up by the National Guard

Andrew Martin
2 min readFeb 8, 2024

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Prison is not meant to be fun. Those who are incarcerated are provided the bare minimum for survival, with the intent that the experience is to rehabilitate, if not punish. Sometimes the conditions drive prisoners to the breaking point where they revolt and insist on better treatment. That’s what happened in 1930 at the Missouri Penitentiary where the inmates became so fed up with the poor quality of the food that they erupted into a protest that they wouldn’t end until they were promised what they were looking for — fried meat.

The March 27, 1930 issue of the Portland Press Herald reported on the extreme unhappiness at the prison in Jefferson City when the discontentment with how bad the food was finally boiled over. Around 650 of the 4,000 inmates serving time were in the dining hall to have their customary lunch. It was an unappetizing stew, replete with undercooked potatoes. The grumbling finally hit a turning point and prisoners began banging on their tables and chairs and chanting, ‘Meat! Meat! Meat!’ The prisoners did not take any violent measures, but kept up their chants and refused to obey the guards’ orders or leave the hall.

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Andrew Martin

Dabbler in history, investing & writing. Master’s degree in baseball history. Passionate about history, diversity, culture, sports, investing and crypto.