Author Samuel Johnson once said: "The law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public." A noble philosophy, perhaps, but local officials who wrote some of these old onion laws seem to have acted for no greater purpose than a good belly laugh. After reading some of the following pieces of legislation, you'll probably agree that Johnson's opinion is debatable at best.
For example, are you a woman who happens to weigh in at over 200 pounds? Like to wear shorts? If these two questions apply, then beware of Ridgeland, South Carolina. It's strictly a violation of the law for a woman over 200 pounds and attired in shorts to be seen eating onions in a restaurant or at any public picnic.
Grant's Pass, Oregon, has a special ordinance making it perfectly legal for any citizen to throw onions at "obnoxious salesmen" when they won't stop knocking on the door or ringing the bell. And in Tamarack, Idaho, no one can buy onions after dark without a special permit from the sheriff.
Local residents are prohibited from eating row onions while walking down a street in Northfield, Connecticut. Barbers in Columbia, Pennsylvania, are prohibited from eating onions between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. And in Dyersburg, Tennessee, citizens aren't allowed to enter a movie theater within four hours after having eaten raw onions.
Onion-loving males be on guard when stopping over in Headland, Alabama, and going out on the town in an effort to meet one of the local cuties. An old piece of legalese says, "No man can place his arm around or kiss an unchaperoned woman without a good and lawful reason," should he have eaten onions within the last four hours.
Try to stay away from Nacogdoches, Texas, if you'd like to take your date for a delicious hamburger and onions. There's a strict onions curfew for "young women." Under no circumstances are they allowed to have any raw onions after 6 p.m.
It's a violation of the local law for any citizen to carry one or more raw onions in his pocket in Lexington, Kentucky. It's also against the law in Okanogan, Washington, to eat onions in public with a spoon.
Like a chewy onion now and then? Well, be extremely cautious in Hackberry, Arizona. An antiquated city ordinance prohibits women from eating raw onions while drinking buttermilk on the Sabbath. Hungry and feel like having a nice big bowl of hot onion soup on one of those chilly wintery days? A loony law in Wilmington, Delaware makes it illegal for anyone to slurp their onion soup in a restaurant. And in Rock Springs, Wyoming, a man isn't allowed to chew on chunks of a raw onion while driving a pickup down the street.
Never eat onions while attending church in Burdonville, Vermont. The pastor has the legal right to make offenders stand in a corner or leave the church until the service is finished. Many people certainly won't like it when they visit relatives in Wade Mills, North Carolina. Neither onions nor ice cream can be purchased or eaten on Sunday during the half hour period before a church starts its services. It's against the law in Peewee, West Virginia, to eat onions while sitting in the local cemetery. No one can legally eat onions in church on the Sabbath in Fairplay, Colorado. In Callicoon, New York, it's against the law to sell onions and ice ream sodas on Sunday.
White Horse, New Mexico, still retains an old piece of loony legislation obviously designed to protect its female population. No married woman is allowed to eat onions on the Sabbath unless she "is properly looked after." How? Her mate must follow 20 paces behind. And he's required to carry a loaded "musket over his left shoulder."
Speaking of onions, Chumuckla, Florida, doesn't allow them to be purchased between sunset and sunrise. On the other hand, Bourbon, Mississippi, requires that one small onion be served with each glass of water in all restaurants.
And in Spades, Indiana, no onions can be purchased after 6 p.m. without a doctor's prescription.
Women's lib may get up in arms over a strange law on the books in Blue Hill, Nebraska. No female wearing a "hat which would scare a timid person" can be seen eating onions in public.
A woman has the legal right to make her wayward spouse eat raw onions when she catches him drinking. The law in Wolf Point, Montana, says such action is her "moral, wifely duty."
No one is allowed to peel onions in a Cotton Valley, Louisiana, hotel room. And in Hartsburg, Illinois, it's illegal to take onions to the local movie theater as a snack. Citizens of Attica, Iowa, aren't allowed to throw onions at other people under any circumstances.
No one is allowed to eat raw onions while "lounging on bakery shelves" within the boundaries of Pocataligo, Georgia. Any onions ordered in a Wakefield, Rhode Island, restaurant, must be eaten only by the person who ordered them. The onions cannot be shared with a friend. Onions can't be eaten in Budds Creek, Maryland, except by people over 21 who have written permission from their dentist.
Rotten onions can't be thrown at passersby on any street in Hickory Plains, Arkansas. It's illegal to store bags of raw onions in a Janesville, Wisconsin, cheese factory. Workmen can't be caught carrying a lunch pail filled with onions down a street in Upperville, Virginia. In Sturgis, South Dakota, no onions can ever be served with pretzels and beer.