24 December, 2019

The Missouri Department of Corrections Says "Happy Holidays!" with Treats... but They Don't Really Mean It

Every year at Christmastime, the Missouri DOC allots several tens of thousands of dollars from its statewide annual canteen profits and buys a treat bag for every prisoner in its custody. The bags usually come from Keefe Corporation, the Saint Louis-based prison profiteer. In addition to all of the Keefe Kitchens-branded products that they package specifically for institutional sale, the company also packs and ships these clear plastic bags filled with several varieties of holiday snacks, at multiple price levels, to institutions around America. Missouri prisons hand them out to the inmates two or three days before Christmas.

When we're told to lock down it's forty-five minutes earlier than usual. The guards make it to B-Wing with the sealed cases of treats a good deal later. They enter loudly, with two in the lead and another two taking up the rear, acting as if it's gold bullion they're escorting through the housing unit.

One of them shouts, "Show your IDs, gentlemen!" It's not exactly "Merry Christmas," but I don't have expectations of kindness from anyone working for the state, so I don't mind.

My cellmate, Jeff, ever the wise-ass, tells the guard who opens our chuck hole, "I'm disabled. It's strictly a mental disability, but I'm supposed to get an ADA bag, too."

The guy is visibly confused. Jeff laughs and says, "I'm just messin' with you, man."

"Oh," he cracks a smile as he passes the bags in. "Good one."

The chuck hole closes with a thud.

The four unmerry men in uniform leave, and Jeff and I root though this year's assortment of junk food. Years past offered bags that were truly indulgent. I used to be able to snack a little bit every day and still make my trove last until after the new year. No longer. With what little is in the bags now, I'm lucky to have a week's worth of sweets. Of course, it still beats a big, fat holiday goose egg.

In order of tastiness, from best to worst, here's an inventory of Keefe Holiday Treat Bag 2019:

  • One 1.5-ounce bag of Toad-Ally Snax (no, really!) Hanky Panky chocolate-drizzled caramel popcorn

  • One Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chunk granola bar

  • A 1.5-ounce bag of Cheez-It crackers

  • One 1.75-ounce bag of Cool Ranch Doritos

  • A 4-ounce bag of King Nut trail mix

  • A 1-ounce bag of Bud's Best Holiday Confetti Crém cookies

  • Four single-serve packets of Maxwell House Select Roast instant coffee (aaaaaand I'm back on the sauce)

  • A half-ounce packet of Peterson's Mini Pretzels

  • A 1-ounce bag of Bud's Best Holiday Candy 'n Cookies

  • An "original" flavor 0.9-ounce beef stick from Tomer Kosher

  • An Atkinson's "jumbo" (0.7-ounce) peppermint stick

  • One package of six Austin PB & J sandwich crackers

  • A 3-ounce bag of ¡Hola Nola! Creole tortilla chips

  • Two sleeves of wild strawberry Crystal Light energy drink mix

  • A 1.75-ounce bag of Crunchy Flamin' Hot Cheetos

  • A package of iced blueberry Pop-Tarts, with multicolored sprinkles

  • One 5-ounce package of Woopee Lemon Cremes cookies

  • Right away, Jeff and I traded a couple of things. I ended up with more Cheez-Its and a second granola bar; he got extra Pop-Tarts and those freakishly red Cheetos. I couldn't unload the Lemon Cremes on anyone, though. One guy we know ate six of them right away — half the package — and said that he vomited. Woopee, indeed! And to all a good night.

    No comments:

    Post a Comment

    Byron does not have Internet access. Pariahblog.com posts are sent from his cell by way of a secure service especially for prisoners' use. We do read him your comments, however, and he enjoys hearing your thoughts very much.