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November 18, 2019

10/1/2011 7:30:00 AM
Effort to repeal 'oleo' law shows other silly laws still on the books

Joe VanDeLaarschot
Lakeland Times Reporter

Several Legislators in Wisconsin are working to repeal a decades-old law that makes it a crime to serve only margarine in restaurants, prisons and schools.

One of the 12 supporters of the bill, Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R- Brookfield, calls the 1967 law "silly, antiquated and anti-free market."

The oleo wars in Wisconsin that date back to 1895 when a law was passed that made it illegal to use colored margarine was cause for serious debate in the dairy state. After years of border runs and black market margarine, the state finally in 1967 repealed its ban on margarine sales but left the serving restrictions in place.

Public attention to this recent effort has also caused some to look at the dusty Wisconsin law books to see what other silly laws are still on the books.

There are plenty of other laws most people would consider silly still on the books on the state and local level. For example:

Whenever two trains meet at an intersection of said tracks, neither shall proceed until the other has.

State law make it illegal to serve apple pie in public restaurants without cheese.

While all cheese making requires a license, Limburger cheese making requires a master's degree cheese maker's license.

It is illegal to kiss on a train.

It is illegal to cut a woman's hair.

The government may not prohibit manual flushed urinals.

One may not camp in a wagon on any public highway or risk a fine of up to $10.

It is a Class A misdemeanor to wave a burning torch around in the air.

It is illegal to throw rocks at a railroad car.

Livestock have the right-of-way on public roads.

In Brookfield tattooing is illegal unless it is done for medical purposes.

In Hudson screens are required on all windows from May 1 to Oct. 1.

In La Crosse it's illegal to sell, trade or give away baby chicks or ducks, even if they're artificially colored.

Other silly laws in La Crosse include:

It is illegal to tie up your horse along Third Street (Now a major bar strip).

It is illegal to display an unclothed mannequin in a store window.

It is illegal to play checkers in public.

You cannot "worry a squirrel".

In Milwaukee an old ordinance forbids parking for over two hours unless a horse is tied to the car.

It is against the law to play a flute and drums on the streets to attract attention.

If one is thought of as offensive looking, it is illegal for him to be in public during the day.

Here's some real "winners" from Racine:

Missiles may not be shot at parade participants.

It is illegal to wake a fireman when he is asleep.

Women may not walk down a public street at night without being accompanied by a man.

In Sheboygan:

Only police officers may shoot birds in the city.

No person may water his lawn in such a way as to annoy his or her neighbor.

It is illegal to swim in the Fountain Park fountain.

In St. Croix women are not allowed to wear anything red in public.

In Sun Prairie nuclear weapons may not be manufactured in the city limits, persons may not ride a bicycle with their hands off the handlebars and cats are forbidden from entering cemeteries.

Now that we've all had a good laugh, let's get on with our lives and have our lawmakers create only new laws that really make sense.

Joe VanDeLaarschot is the managing editor of The Northwoods River News. He can be reached by email at

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Article comment by: Don Combs

I am not sure how many of these I am guilty of.....but thank goodness for the Statue of Limitations ......... And the statue of liberty!

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