Weird state laws are sometimes little missives from the past. You discover them and have to wonder what the hell was going on back then. Things like it’s illegal to feed garbage to a pig in Arizona and against the law to fall asleep in a cheese shop in Illinois. Here’s seven crazy state laws that make sense once you learn the story behind their creation.
Alaska. Wasting meat is against the law. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, “Trophy Antlers Require Trophy Meat.” The state can prosecute you for moose and caribou meat left in the field. They’re specific about how to salvage meat, advising trophy hunters not to kill early into long hunts, and to “leave the meat on the ribs, front quarters and hind quarters until it’s brought out of the field.” The law encourages hunters to respect the animal, the wilderness, and Alaska Natives. (source)
California. It’s illegal to eat a frog who dies in a jumping competition. This law doesn’t seem so crazy once you learn about the Frog Jumping Jubilee held in Calaveras every year since 1928. There’s three days of frog jumping with a $5000 prize. Rosie the Ribeter holds the world record for jumping over 21 feet. In 1933, the California Fish and Game Commission got involved to protect the welfare of the frogs. (source)
Colorado. Outside couches are illegal. Back when hippies and University of Colorado frat boys filled Boulder, old couches dotted just about every lawn, yard, and porch. Now that Boulder’s cleaned up its act and the fourth most affluent city in America, it’s prohibited to “place, use, keep, store, or maintain any upholstered furniture in any outside places.” RIP hacky sack capital of the world. (source)
Connecticut. It is a crime to sell pickles that don’t bounce. This state law is more legend than fact. The story goes that in 1948 two men, Sidney Sparer and Moses Dexler sold cucumbers claiming they were pickles. A capital crime as far as I’m concerned. The Food and Drug Commissioner at the time said you could test a pickle by dropping it. A good pickle will bounce. The cucumbers didn’t bounce; the men were arrested and paid a $500 fine. (source)
Idaho. Cannibalism is legal if it’s the only means of survival. It makes sense for Idaho to have this provision in their laws since their wilderness areas have names like the “River of No Return.” Idaho has less wilderness space than California, but it just seems like life is wilder up there next to Canada. (source)
Tennessee. Sharing streaming services passwords is illegal. The state senate enacted the law to protect the music industry from illegal streaming, but it’s written to include Netflix, Hulu, Disney +, etc. If you share a password long enough, you can be charged with a felony. At least people in Tennessee have an excuse to change their passwords after a breakup. No one wants to end up in prison because their ex needs to finish the new season of The Crown. (source)
Wyoming. It’s illegal not to close a fence gate behind you. It sounds crazy but can you imagine living on 150 acres in Wyoming and after a nice visit with your neighbors you see they left your gate open a half mile away from your house? Now Wyoming-ers can press charges against each other, breaking the law is punishable with a $750 fine. (source)