Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 12
By Carolyn Crist
Georgia's unusual laws
spark humor, curiosity
Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish prepares to "arrest" Tina Fischlin, the district
governor for Rotary District 6910, for eating fried chicken with a fork, as her
husband, Mike, looks on. The arrest took place Sept. 28 at the Rotary Club of
Gainesville's annual fall cookout at the American Legion pavilion on Riverside
Drive. After Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan set Fischlin's bail at $500, Rotary
members generated $1,100 in donations to the Rotary Foundation within minutes.
COURTESY ABIT MA
s the story goes, Col. Harland Sanders-the famous founder of the
Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant chain-was arrested in Gainesville in 1977 when he visited the Northeast Georgia town to open a
new store. His crime? He didn't eat the fried chicken with his fingers!
Mayor Ernest Moore tried him on the spot, and Abit Massey, who
later served as the president of the Georgia Poultry Federation, defended
Sanders. Moore put Sanders on "probation" and gave an order that the
colonel must return to Gainesville later and eat fried chicken in the town.
The unusual but humorous law was enacted by the city council in 1961
as a publicity-boosting ordinance to market Gainesville's moniker as the
"Poultry Capital of the World." Even today, the city's water tank carries the
slogan, and there's a chicken monument at Poultry Park near the downtown
Over the years, visitors have been "arrested" for eating fried chicken
with a fork, sometimes as a birthday joke and other times as a way to
welcome a state official. The first arrest occurred in 1962, when O.C.
Aderhold, then the president of the University of Georgia in Athens,
faced the facetious penalty of not eating chicken for 30 days.
"People joke about it and have fun with it. Especially in this day and
time, we need to have fun and laughter," says Danny Dunagan, the current
mayor. "It was a wonderful idea to start and great for publicity."
Plenty of other bizarre laws and ordinances are on the books. It's illegal
to tie a giraffe to a street lamp in Atlanta, spit out of a car in Marietta or put
an ice cream cone in your back pocket on Sunday anywhere in the state.
Many of these extremely specific rules originally stemmed from a particular
concern from a resident. For example, the ice cream law comes from a time
when someone used the sweet treat to lure a horse away from its owners.
An item in The Poultry Times on Nov. 14, 1977,
documents the "arrest" of Col. Harland Sanders of
Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.
For the most part, these antiquated laws aren't
enforced or updated in modern-day code books. At
the turn of the century, for instance, people weren't
allowed to drink Coca-Cola in Young Harris because of
concerns about the original ingredients. Now it's one of
the most popular beverages in world, and Young Harris
College has benefited from the company's donations.
"You can be sure that ordinance is no longer
enforced, if it ever was," says Cathy Cox, dean of the
Mercer University School of Law in Macon. Cox learned
about the law when she served as president of Young
Harris College in the 2000s. "It's funny how people
created these laws with the idea of protecting others,
but they don't always last."
Cox has seen her fair share of amusing and symbolic laws. While serving as secretary of state, she oversaw the state's symbols, such as the state fruit (peach)
and state fish (largemouth bass). Various resolutions
have been passed over the years with tongue-in-cheek
humor and local pride but aren't used often, she says.
In Gainesville, the fried chicken ordinance comes
up from time to time but hasn't been implemented
much in recent years.
"Many of our younger residents don't know about
it," Dunagan says. "We may need to bring it back to
Carolyn Crist is an Athens-based freelance writer.
Georgia Magazine - November 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - November 2020
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 4
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 5
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 6
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 7
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 8
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 9
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 10
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 11
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 12
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 13
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 14
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 15
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 16
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 17
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 18
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 19
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 20
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 21
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 22
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 23
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 24
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 25
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 26
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 27
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 28
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 29
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 30
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 31
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Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 34
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 35
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 36
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 37
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - 38
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - November 2020 - Cover4