In one Georgia town, it's technically illegal to eat chicken with a fork

Fried chicken on the fork – Paulo Vilela/Shutterstock

Some downright strange food laws have inexplicably made it onto the books in many states, and while many of them have since been repealed, some are still in effect. While it seems reasonable to prefer real butter over margarine, passing laws mandating this seems excessive. And yet it is in Chapter 97 of the Articles of Association of America's Dairyland Wisconsin: Oleomargarine Regulations.

And then there's Gainesville, Georgia, known as the “Poultry Capital of the World” thanks to a multi-billion dollar chicken industry. What does a city do to preserve and use this nickname? If you're in Gainesville, commission a statue of a life-size chicken and host a spring chicken festival every year. And – just for fun – they pass a law making it a crime to eat fried chicken with a knife and fork.

The ordinance requiring chicken to be eaten with hands was passed in 1961 to promote Gainesville. While people have been arrested at restaurants for bizarre reasons, no one has ever been arrested for violating this law. It was jokingly enforced in 2009 when Louisianan Ginny Dietrick, visiting friends on the occasion of her 91st birthday, was arrested and informed that “…it is against city ordinance to eat fried chicken, a culinary delicacy sacred to this community.” , to eat… with anything” except your fingers. Luckily, the mayor was there to quickly pardon her, the Gainesville Times reported.

Read more: The Best Wings in Every State

Eating with your hands can be useful

Person eating food with handsPerson eating food with hands

Person eating food with hands – Anatta_Tan/Shutterstock

Although this publicity stunt of an ordinance may seem silly, Gainesville could be on to something. Ultimately, it was about ensuring that people get the greatest pleasure from eating a food important to their culture. In some countries, eating with your hands rather than with utensils is considered not only respectable but also beneficial. “Eating with your hands triggers great emotions,” cookbook author Julie Sahni told the New York Times. “It ignites something very warm, gentle and caressing. The use of a fork is unthinkable in traditional Indian cuisine. It’s almost like a weapon.”

In the United States, foods that you can eat with your hands are considered a special kind of culinary fun. It's a pleasure to eat fried chicken or chicken wings without utensils, mess or anything else. On Reddit, the question of whether it's better to eat chicken wings with your hands received over 200 opinion responses, with most people in favor of eating with your hands. “I mean, you can eat chicken wings all you want, but if I see you doing it (or trying) with a knife and fork, I'll question your sanity,” wrote one Redditor, whose comment was upvoted 441 times. Even Emily Post admits that it's acceptable to eat some foods with your hands, as long as you do it properly.

Read the original article on Mashed.