Food as punishment: Giving U.S. inmates "the loaf" persists

Prisoners who’ve had the loaf hate it. Johnnie Walton had to eat it in the Tamms Supermax in Chicago. He describes it as “bland, like cardboard.” Aaron Fraser got the loaf while he was serving time from 2004 to 2007 in several different institutions for a counterfeit-check scheme. He loathed it.

“They take a bunch of gook, like whatever they have available, and they put it in some machine,” Fraser says. “I would have to be on the point of dizziness when I know I have no choice [to eat it].”…

Scientists say it’s the monotony of eating the loaf that’s the real punishment. is a physiological psychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. She says humans have evolved to crave a variety of food.

“Having to eat the loaf over and over again probably makes people miserable. They might be a little nauseated by it, they’re craving other foods,” says Pelchat.

And it can sometimes stop prisoners from eating altogether. “It’s very difficult to consume enough calories to keep your weight up if you’re on a boring diet,” says Pelchat.