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Some Food Laws for Holiday Conversation Starters

By Steven Ellison, Esq. | Last updated on

Trying to come up with something to talk about over the holidays can be daunting. Politics and religion are (or should be) off the table, and some in your family may have no interest in discussing the football game on in the background. So what does that leave you?

If you find yourself struggling for topics, throw out a few of the weird food laws we list here and see what sort of conversations they inspire. We can't verify that all of these are legit, but they may give you and your guests something to chew on apart from the turkey.

No Prank Domino's Deliveries!

Did you ever spend a Friday night pranking your friends by having pizzas delivered to them? In New Orleans, sending food (or other goods) to someone without their knowledge or consent could result in you getting fined.

Supersize Me!

Mississippi law makes it illegal for towns or counties to restrict portion sizes. They call this their anti-Bloomberg law in response to a New York City ordinance that limited portion sizes in an attempt to combat obesity. In Mississippi, feel free to gorge yourself with impunity.

Finger-Lickin' Good

Chicken is big in Gainesville, Georgia — so big that eating it is, tongue in cheek, regulated. You can't use utensils — you must eat your chicken with your hands. The Colonel would be proud.

No Plastic Bottles

As of 2013, Nantucket, Massachusetts, prohibited single-use plastic bottles. San Francisco also prohibits single-use plastics on public property. Chalk one (or two) up for the environment.

Safety First!

The Windy City takes dining safety seriously. But if you are really into your deep-dish pizza in a restaurant there, know that you may have to abandon it if you smell too much smoke. In Chicago, you can't eat in a restaurant if it happens to be on fire.

Don't Be Melon-choly!

Watermelon makes for a delicious, refreshing snack. But what do you do with the rinds? In Beech Grove, Indiana, they solved that thorny problem by banning you from eating watermelon in parks entirely. No watermelon, no rinds!

So Much for Childhood

Remember rejoicing when you were a kid and you heard the music from the ice cream truck? No such joy in Indianola, Iowa. Ice cream trucks are banned there.

But It Stole My Money!

Sometimes putting just the right amount of English on a vending machine is enough to get that darn candy bar to drop. Don't try that in Derby, Kansas, however. In Derby, it's illegal to hit a vending machine.

Cover Up!

Mobile food vendors in Broward County, Florida, have to follow a dress code. No G-strings, T-back bathing suits, or thong bikinis — they are considered a traffic hazard.

Grease Is the Word

In North Carolina, stealing used restaurant grease is a crime and, depending on how much you take, you could be in a lot of trouble. If you steal less than $1,000 worth, you've committed a misdemeanor. More than that and you've committed a felony.

Hold My Beer

Some states have alcohol regulations that make you wonder what someone must have been up to. For example, in Boulder, Colorado, you can't drink while riding a horse, which may make sense. But in Fairbanks, Alaska? They have a law that bans you from giving alcohol to a moose (?).

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!

Wisconsin is rightly proud of its dairy industry, and it goes to some lengths to protect it. In Wisconsin, you can't serve margarine as a substitute for butter unless a customer specifically requests it. And you generally can't serve margarine at all in a public school, hospital, or prison. Only the real stuff.


And then there's Idaho. Idaho found it necessary to prohibit you from eating someone else unless it's necessary for your survival. So don't snack on your friends, no matter how delicious they might look!

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Here's another rule that might make you wonder. Ice cream is one of America's most popular desserts. But do you really need to be told not to put it in your back pocket? There's a law in Georgia that prohibits you from putting ice cream in your back pocket on Sundays.

Uhm, Did You Just Eat a Big Mac?

Gargle some mouthwash after you eat in Gary, Indiana. They take bad breath so seriously there that you have to wait four hours after eating garlic to ride a streetcar or go to a movie theater.

Mind Your Manners!

Make sure you let your soup cool off before you put a scalding spoon into your mouth if you're in New Jersey. There it's illegal to slurp it in public.

Again, Mind Your Manners!

Some states make sure you treat wakes and funerals reverently. Massachusetts has a no-gluttony law that prohibits you from having more than three sandwiches at a wake. And in Claremont, New Hampshire, it's illegal to drink at the side of someone's grave in their cemetery.

We'll Stick With Turkey, Thanks!

And to conclude our list of intriguing food laws, we have one especially for Thanksgiving. If you're in West Virginia and you happen to hit a deer on your way to Grandma's, consider pulling over. In West Virginia, it's legal to eat roadkill.

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