Funny Food Laws | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
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Funny Food Laws 

Did you know that in L.A., it is illegal to poke a turkey you want to buy to see how tender it is? Or that in Massachusetts, mourners are prohibited from consuming more than three sandwiches at a wake? I didn't either!

I've always been amused by lists of stupid laws, however apocryphal they might be, and so I went out looking for ones that are food related. Here's what I found...

Putting salt on the railroad tracks may be punishable by death
You may not have an ice cream cone in your back pocket at any time

It is illegal to feed alcoholic beverages to a moose

(Hackberry) A city ordinance prohibits women from eating raw onions while drinking buttermilk on the sabbath

It is illegal to eat oranges in the bathtub
(Blythe) It is illegal to wear cowboy boots unless you already own two cows
(L.A.) It is illegal for a customer of a meat market to poke a turkey to see how tender it is
(Riverside) It is illegal to kiss on the lips in public unless both parties wipe their lips with carbonized rose water
(Rosemead) It's against the law to eat ice cream in public with a fork
(Victorville) It's against the law to shoot open canned goods with a revolver

In order for a pickle to be considered a pickle, it must bounce

(Tampa Bay) It is illegal to eat cottage cheese on Sunday after 6 p.m.

(Gainsville) Chicken must be eaten with the hands

Boxes of candy given as romantic gifts must weigh more than 50 pounds

(Chicago) Law forbids eating at a place that's on fire

It is illegal for a liquor store to sell cold soft drinks. Liquor stores are also prohibited from selling milk.
Grocery stores can't sell cold liquor

After lovemaking, men aren't allowed more than three gulps of beer while cuddling with their wives
(Indianola) The "Ice Cream Man" and his truck are banned

It is illegal to sell cherry pie a la mode on Sunday

The fine for ordering a pizza and sending it to someone without their knowledge is $500

It's illegal to give beer to a hospital patient
Candy may not contain more than 1% alcohol
At a wake, mourners can't eat more than three sandwiches
Tomatoes may not be used in the production of clam chowder
(Boston) It is illegal to eat peanuts in church

It's illegal to mistreat oysters

(St. Cloud) Hamburgers may not be eaten on Sunday

(Alexandria) It's illegal for a man to make love to his wife with the smell of garlic, onions or sardines on his breath. He must brush his teeth if it's requested.

It's illegal for bar owners to sell beer unless they are simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup (*)   
(Lehigh) Doughnut holes may not be sold

New Jersey:
(Neward) It's illegal to sell ice cream after 6 p.m., unless the customer has a note from his/her doctor
It is illegal to slurp soup
(Trenton) It's illegal to throw a bad pickle in the street or to consume pickles on Sunday

New York:
(Greene) During a concert, it is illegal to eat peanuts and walk backwards on the sidewalk
(Ocean City) Eating while swimming in the ocean is prohibited
(Ocean City) Raw hamburger may not be sold

North Dakota:
It's illegal to serve beer and pretzels at the same time in any bar, club or restaurant

It will not be tolerated for anyone to take a bite of another's hamburger
(Tulsa) You may not open a soda bottle without the supervision of a licensed engineer

Canned corn is not to be used as bait when fishing

Since 1760, it has been illegal to put pretzels in bags

Rhode Island:
It's an offense to throw pickle juice on a trolley

South Dakota:
It is illegal  to lie down and fall asleep in a cheese factory

(Memphis) It's illegal to give away pie to fellow diners. It's illegal to take any pie home, all pie must be eaten on the premises.
Bologna can't be sold on Sunday

(Houston) It's illegal to sell Limburger cheese on Sunday

It's illegal NOT to drink milk
It's legal for restaurants to serve wine with meals, but only if you ask for the wine list
Alcohol may not be sold during an emergency

(Richmond) It is illegal to flip a coin in any eating establishment to determine who buys a cup of coffee
Chickens are prohibited from laying eggs before 8 a.m. and after 4 p.m.

All lollipops are banned

West Virginia:
It's illegal to cook cabbage or sauerkraut due to the odors. Perpetrators are subject to imprisonment

Cheese making requires a license. Making Limburger requires a master  cheese license
Butter substitutes may not be served in state prisons
Margarine may not be substituted for butter in a restaurant without the customer's request
It used to be illegal to serve apple pie without cheese in a restaurant

(Newcastle) It's illegal to have sex while standing in a store's walk-in freezer

Clear or "non-dark" sodas may not contain caffeine

One may not be charged for food at an inn, unless one professes to be full
Restaurants may not charge for water unless it is accompanied by another item, like ice or a slice of lemon

With the exception of carrots, most goods may not be sold on Sunday
Any person found to be breaking a boiled egg at the sharp end will be sentenced to 24 hours in the stocks
It's illegal for a lady to eat chocolates on a public conveyance

I found many of these at

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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a... more


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