We all know that food really isn’t about sustenance- at least the physical kind.

Sure we need food to fuel our bodies and keep them functioning. But it’s no great secret that food is about emotional nourishment and associations.

I find exploring favorite foods and the feelings they evoke is actually a great exercise to do in brainstorming sessions. It helps to warm up the creative juices and can sometimes have direct implications for developing stronger brands.

I remember once pitching a large Atlanta based airline where we recommended that they serve ice tea to everyone who comes on board to really bring their promise of southern hospitality to life. We even recommended finishing each glass with a small mint leaf in each cup to demonstrate (not just talk about) the special touches the airline was touting in its ad campaigns

I am sure many of you are familiar with the power of the fresh baked chocolate chip cookies on Midwest Airlines. It’s not about the physical need of hunger that’s satisfied. It’s about the emotions of comfort and security that the taste, and most importantly the smell, of the cookie evokes.

Here’s a great game that explores these food feelings. It may seem morbid at first blush, but I find that it actually unlocks a lot of creativity and inspiration if you allow yourself to get into it. It’s really fun to do in groups.

It’s called “Last Meal”.

Here’s the premise.  Imagine you are on death row and your execution is tomorrow (stay with me). You are allowed one final meal. Anything you want. What would it be?

Here’s what I would have:

New England clam chowder – the homemade creamy kind with lots of oyster crackers to float in the cup.

Garden salad with iceberg lettuce, plum tomatoes, red onions, and blue cheese dressing (with real hunks of blue cheese). Not too much to overpower the salad, but just enough.

Salt and Pepper corn on the cob- so sweet you don’t need butter (but I’d add it anyway- after all it’s not like I am worried about dying from high cholesterol…and I’d add more salt). I’d butter the corn using corn bread, and then I’d eat the corn bread with all the extra butter and the little kernels sticking to it.

Next up, steamed lobster (again dipped in butter). Here I‘d have one whole Maine lobster and eat the meat from claws, tail, all the little nooks and crannies. But I’d also ask for a few more tails and hope the warden would oblige.

I’d finish it off with strong brewed coffee and my mother’s home made blueberry pie served warm and topped with Coffee Mocha Almond Assault ice cream from Kimball’s Dairy.

Looking back on this last meal what does it tell me about myself?

First, I really like butter.

And second I get a strong association of summer time. Not surprising since I was lucky enough to grow up in Marblehead, a beautiful coastal town on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

I think my last meal is as much about food as it is about happy memories.

Where I grew up in the North East, lobster was never at a fancy restaurant meal. It was always something you picked up from friends who were lobster men or from local seafood shacks and made at home with friends and family.

Many Sundays we would go to dinner at my grandparent’s house in Gloucester Massachusetts. Before my grandmother would put the lobsters in the pot, we’d name them and have them race each other across the kitchen floor (seems a bit cruel now, but it was cool when I was young).

When I was little my parents would do all the hard and messy work of cracking the claws, picking the meat out, etc for me. I would just sit there with my silver spoon (well, stainless steel lobster fork) drown the morsels in real butter and enjoy.

Now that I have a family of my own, we continue this special summer tradition with my kids. It’s my daughter’s requested meal on her first night back home from her summer sleep away camp (which by the way is a Kosher camp, so lobster is definitely a special treat).

All of this adds up to my “last meal” reminding me of childhood, the long carefree days of summer, being loved and taken care of by my family…and of course butter.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

What’s on your  “last meal” menu?

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Julie is the Founder and CEO of BrandTwist, a brand consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and corporations build stronger, more profitable brands.


  1. Good post.

    Easy answer for me: The Full English Breakfast. I know it’s called the Full Irish in the States but that’s because you’re still annoyed you had to rope in the French to kick our butts…I digress…

    The Full English contains:

    Fried Egg (sunny side up)
    Fried Break (heart attack side up)
    Heinz Baked Beans
    Fried tomato
    Black Pudding (don’t ask, certainly isn’t Kosher, not certain it’s food, but it’s tasty)
    Sausage (proper sausage like a Cumberland, not a “dog” sausage)
    HP Sauce (I’ll take A1 if forced upon me)

    Served with piping hot tea strong enough to stand a teaspoon up in it.

    For desert I’d have a Cadbury’s Creme Egg. Yup, I’m classy like that 🙂

    Now, THAT sets a man up for the day! Mind you, I’m planning on going veggie, so this rare treat may be confined to history…

  2. Great topic Julie! Mine would share similar sentiments as yours. A meal that reminds me of my favorite people and times.

    I’d start off with a Filipino dish called Chicken Adobo.
    A dish my Mom made and knew I loved, then I would have fried
    Milk-fish {“Bangus” in the Philippines) made like my
    Grandfather used to. For a drink, I’d have some
    “Kalamansi” juice, a native citrus drink my Dad used to make.

    Finally, if I had room left, I’d request an In-N-Out Cheeseburger. My fave during my college years in the U.S.

    I never fails to amaze me how the smell and taste senses trigger deep emotions from the past. That emotional bond between food and our childhood years is something we carry with us forever. Surely a great emotional core to build from with when developing a brand for food products.

  3. First off Julie, while not raised in the New England area, and being a hater of most things related to Boston sports (i.e. the Red Sawx, the Pats & the Celtics), I am ALL THINGS that resemble a Summer Lobster-fest!!

    If I may, I’d like to add 2 items to your Cholesterol-climber:
    * in addition to starting with the creamy, buttery Clam Chowder AND the Salad (with Bleu Cheese dressing, naturally!!), I hereby submit a Dozen Cherrystone Clams with some freshly homemade Cocktail sauce with PLENTY of Garlic & Spicy Horseradish.
    * along with your Steamed Lobster AND the drawn butter, I’d like to add some Turf to that Surf. And not your lean Filet Mignon. Pls make mine a fatty, marbled 12 oz. NY Strip Steak barely medium rare (a warm, pink, juicy center). A not-so-well kept secret to a great NY Strip (see Chris, Ruths Steak House)? Drizzle some melted butter over it JUST before you take it off the grill… boo-yah!

    My finisher is most definitely a piece of chocolate cheesecake with a cinnamon crumb crust, served VERY COLD right out of the fridge. If you can swirl that cake batter with a hint of peanut butter mixed in, EVEN BETTER!! I could go on about the cup of coffee I’d have with it, but my mouth is starting to water.

    So, when are shucking some clams, boiling some lobsters & grilling up some steaks?!?! 😉

  4. @Lee @gregg @Floyd OMG I think I just gained 20 pounds and 10 cholesterol points reading this. What great contributions…thanks so much for commenting…I am now off to lunch. It’s going to be very hard to make it a salad today. 🙂


  5. Went to the Breslin last night with Team Cunning for a treat. I was delighted to see they have “Scotch Egg” on the starter menu ($6)

    The waitress spent a few moments beautifully describing the dish. Little did she know that it was a childhood fave of mine.

    Anyone from the UK reading this will smile. Scotch Eggs are sort of cheap, slightly nasty but tasty working man’s food. Boiled egg, wrapped in ham and deep friend in bread crumbs. It’s round and fun to eat.

    I had healthy fish afterwards FYI 🙂

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