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Funny Food Laws

Linda enjoys searching for fascinating travel destinations, seeking relaxation and fun, and (of course) eating great food.


The minute you read something that you can't understand, you can almost be sure that it was drawn up by a lawyer.

— Will Rogers

Laws, rules, and regulations are for the good of society. We certainly benefit from these little reminders; they keep our manners in check, assure order, and provide the framework for a civilized society.

But just for fun (and because I’m the Carb Diva), I scanned the internet for food-related laws that, strange and antiquated as they may sound, are still in effect in the United States. Here are the silliest of the silly.

The 11th hour

The 11th hour

Timing Is Everything

Timing is crucial to so many things in life—proper timing can mean the difference between a good joke and a loud groan (or worse yet, a silent room), a well-cooked hamburger or a lump of charred beef, a raise in pay or a pink-slip.

And, obviously, timing is everything when obeying the laws of the land as these statutes prove.

  • Alabama: It is illegal to sell peanuts in Lee County after sundown on Wednesday.
  • Arkansas: In Little Rock, it is illegal to honk one’s horn at a sandwich shop after 9 p.m.
  • Florida: It is illegal to eat cottage cheese on Sunday after 6 p.m.
  • Kansas: One cannot sell cherry pie ala mode on Sunday.
  • Virginia: Chickens are prohibited from laying eggs before 8 a.m. and after 4 p.m.


In the late 1800s, religious groups across the United States began to speak out on the evils of alcohol and public drunkenness, labeling them a scourge on the population and a threat to our nation. In 1920, Congress ratified the 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which made it illegal to produce, transport or sell alcohol. Rather than eliminate crime and corruption, prohibition led to the bootlegging of alcohol and a rise in organized crime. Thirteen years later Congress ratified the 21st Amendment, which effectively repealed Prohibition.

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This is not to say that the consumption of alcohol is no longer considered a social problem—just look at these laws concerning the consumption and use of alcohol.

  • Missouri: It shall be unlawful to provide beer or other intoxicants to elephants. (Goodness knows how many times this might happen if this law were not on the books!)
  • Alaska: In Fairbanks, it is considered an offense to feed alcoholic beverages to a moose.
  • Illinois: In the Pullman area, it is illegal to drink beer out of a bucket while sitting on the curb.
  • Nebraska: It is illegal for bar owners to sell beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup.
  • Texas: The entire Encyclopedia Britannica is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home (does that include the online version as well?).

The People at Fish and Wildlife Are Just Doin' Their Jobs

  • Maryland: It is illegal to mistreat oysters. (No more raw oysters on the half shell?)
  • Tennessee: You can’t shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile. Also, it is illegal to use a lasso to catch a fish. (Obviously, someone at the Fish and Game Department has a sense of humor).
  • Utah: It is against the law to fish from horseback. (Is it OK if you don't use a lasso? Oops, that's Tennessee.)
  • West Virginia: Roadkill may be taken home for supper. (They told me it was spatchcocked chicken.)

Mind Your Manners

The Emily Post Institute should be pleased that these laws are still in effect.

  • Oklahoma: Taking a bite out of another’s hamburger will not be tolerated.
  • Georgia: In Gainesville, Georgia, it is illegal to eat fried chicken with anything other than your fingers.
  • New Jersey: You may not slurp your soup.

Do We Really Need a Law for This?

  • Alabama: You may not have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time.
  • California: It is against the law to open canned goods with a revolver.
  • Rhode Island: It is considered an offense to throw pickle juice on a trolley.

And Finally, One Law That Makes Perfect Sense!

  • Massachusetts: Tomatoes may not be used in the production of clam chowder.

I Saved the Best for Last

  • Connecticut: In order for a pickle to officially be considered a pickle, it must bounce.
  • Oregon: You cannot eat a doughnut and walk backward on a city street.
  • Pennsylvania: It is illegal to sleep on top of a refrigerator outdoors.
  • South Dakota: It is illegal to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory.
  • Wisconsin: State law makes it illegal to serve apple pie in public restaurants without cheese.

© 2015 Linda Lum

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