By Tyler Durden
In 2004, the U.S. banned cigarettes in all federal prisons and it was pretty much the best thing that could have happened to the packaged mackerel industry (yes, you read that correctly…the packaged fish).
So how did a smelly package of fish become the gold standard of America’s federal prisons? Well, for a variety of reasons (we’ll let your imagination run wild) prisoners are not allowed to possess actual currency. Up until 2004, they used cigarettes as their currency of choice to purchase anything from illicit goods such as stolen food and home-brewed “prison hooch,” as well as services, such as shoeshines and cell cleanings. But once cigarettes were banned, prisoners needed a replacement currency and the ‘mack’ was deemed to be the best choice because it was worth roughly $1 at the commissary and pretty much no one wanted to eat it.
As one prisoner notes in the Wall & Broadcast video below, the ‘mack’ was also “inherently inflationary” because its supply was limited to 14 macks per week per inmate….
“Mackerel had utility because it was inherently inflationary. A certain amount of macks came into circulation every day. Every inmate can only buy 14 mackerels per …read more