In Florida’s Prison System, Honey Buns Are the Ultimate Comfort Food

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Andy Aitchison / In Pictures / Corbis

To be locked up is to live the life of bare survival in many cases, and that means one must barter with any available makeshift currency. Cash, of course, can be scarce behind prison walls. But as the St. Petersburg Times reports, in the counter-culture world of Florida’s incarcerated, if cigarettes are considered money, then honey buns are gold.

Florida inmates purchase 270,000 honey buns a month, the Times said, selling more than tobacco, envelopes and Coke cans. Although the pastries have little nutritional value, they are used for everything from improvising wines to settling bets. In Orlando’s Lake Correctional Institution, a man was shanked to death over, among other things, an accusation of a stolen honey bun.

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But why all the fuss over a high-calorie piece of fried yeast with glaze on top? Really because prison food is so bland and designed for nothing else but very basic nourishment. That makes the treats look good when compared with the dull, repetitive food that makes up routine prison cuisine. When an inmate can get his hands on one, it is a diversion for a palate depressed over doing time.

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Even in cases of prisoners dealing with addictions, honey buns have served inmates when they are striving to finally get that monkey off their backs. “Many people in jail are addicts or abusers of substances,” Hernando County Jail administrator Maj. Mike Page told the Times. “Alcohol is based in sugars generally, and the human body will receive some satisfaction of cravings from the honey bun as a substitute for the sugar.”