Many states have passed some very strange food rules for no clear reason. Many of them have since been thrown out, but a few are still in effect. It makes sense to like real butter more than margarine, but making rules that say you have to use it seems excessive. Still, oleomargarine rules can be found in Chapter 97 of Wisconsin’s “America’s Dairy Land” Statutes.
On the other hand, Gainesville, Georgia, is known as the “poultry capital of the world” because of its huge chicken business. What can a city do to keep its nickname and make money off of it? In Gainesville, you can order a life-sized chicken and hold a spring chicken festival every year. Finally, just for fun, you make it illegal to eat fried chicken with a knife and fork.
The law that says you can only eat chicken with your hands was made official in 1961 as a way to promote Gainesville. Some strange people have been arrested in restaurants, but no one has ever been arrested for breaking this rule. In 2009, Louisianan Ginny Dietrick was visiting friends for her 91st birthday when she was arrested and told that “it’s against city ordinance to eat fried chicken, ‘a culinary delicacy sacred to this municipality,’ with anything other than your fingers.” News from the Gainesville Times said that the mayor was there to quickly forgive her.
This law may seem like a silly publicity stunt, but Gainesville may be on to something. In the end, it was about making sure that people had the best time possible when they ate traditional food. Some places think it’s not only polite to eat with your hands instead of tools, but also healthy. Book author Julie Sahni told The New York Times, “Eating with your hands makes you feel very emotional.” “It makes me feel something warm, soft, and caressing.” In traditional Indian cooking, you can’t even think about using a stick. It looks a lot like a weapon.
People in the United States find it fun to eat things that you can hold in your hands. It’s fun to eat chicken wings or fried chicken without any tools, even if it gets messy. There were over 200 different opinions on Reddit about whether it’s better to eat chicken wings with your hands or not. Most people agreed that eating with your hands is better.
Someone on Reddit wrote, “I mean, you can eat chicken wings any way you want, but if I see you doing it (or trying to) with a knife and fork, I’m going to question your sanity.” The comment was liked 441 times. Some things can be eaten with your hands, as long as you do it neatly; even Emily Post agrees.