New York State Funeral Directors Association

I hope beef stew is still on the menu years from now so my great-great-great nephew can experience a little bit of my life, if only for a moment.

I imagine he’ll push a few sliced carrots out of the way while digging through the bowl before scooping up a warm chunk of savory beef covered with gravy.

I’ll argue that food is among the top three best things in life – and one that should always be placed into an obituary.

Obituaries often reveal the only detail anyone will find about an ancestor years later. Word of mouth is great – until everyone who remembers what you loved to eat has also passed away.

NOT TOO COMMON

I thought I’d find hundreds of favorite food mentions in obituaries when I started searching, but there were fewer than I expected.

A search for “obituary” and “favorite food” in NewsBank turned up only 309 results – including duplicates – out of 1,293 newspapers nationwide.

That’s out of more than 5.6 million results for “obituary” dating back to 1984, when an article about the late Rev. Francis Fitzhugh ran in a Pennsylvania newspaper.

It was there where Fitzhugh’s colleague, Rev. Richard C. Winn, described the importance of his friend’s favorite food:

"Had he died eating a pizza, his favorite food, he would have gone the best way he could have wanted to," Winn said in the October 24 edition of the Philadelphia Daily News.

WHAT FOOD?

In the short list I reviewed, there were several mentions of ice cream. Only once was a flavor specified – chocolate. Two boys eat pasta in this image dated 1900 titled "Naples type," from the Bain News Service collection of the Library of Congress.

Oatmeal raisin cookies, Goldfish crackers, spaghetti, hamburgers and blueberry pie were among favorite foods, as was the favorite of Texas resident Mine Brightwell, whose obit declared "Her favorite food was sushi, with green tea of course."

Some enjoyed a whole culinary style, like Jeffrey Simpson, of Florida who loved Mexican food.

For others, such as Glenn Beck of Wisconsin, a beverage might mean the difference between a good day and a bad day: “He considered Dr. Pepper his favorite food group,” his obituary states.

Other folks, like the late Charles Ellis of West Virginia, enjoyed several favorite edibles during their life:

“A self-proclaimed chocoholic, he loved Dove Chocolate and Klondike Bars. His favorite food was fried chicken from KFC" reads Ellis’ obituary in the April 23, 2017 Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Reading through the obituaries, I learned Christine Raiola of Connecticut considered a “perfect turkey sandwich” her favorite food. Sour dough pretzels were her favorite snack.

Sometimes, a person’s favorite food leads to a nickname during life. Such was the case for Margaret Mele of Texas, who loved cookies and was called “The Cookie Monster” by family members.

Favorite food can lead to a lifestyle, too, according an obituary article about Keone Penn, of Georgia, published in the June 28, 2013 Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Despite facing medical issues as a youth, Penn eventually enrolled in Culinary Arts school.

His affinity for cooking stemmed from his love of scrambled eggs at any time of the day.

Family members, weary of cooking eggs all the time, taught him how to cook his own, his sister told the newspaper.

Favorite things in life may not define people – but they can definitely help others piece together the persona of someone they’ll never get to meet.

So when you’re drafting your obituary, make sure to mention how you cut the ends off the bread when you eat a peanut butter sandwich – or how you consider the crust on pizza to be just a handle.

It could mean a lot to your kin, years down the road.


EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association