The United States is known as "the land of the free," and many Americans are proud of the freedoms our country grants.
But even though Americans are given the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," there are some small, surprising things that citizens can't do in the U.S. At both the national and state levels, there are certain laws that are petty or peculiar, especially compared to the rest of the world.
Whether it's a food the government has deemed "dangerous" or a weird law on the books because of one wild person, here are 26 wacky things that are surprisingly illegal in the United States.
Selling dog hair
Don't get stuck in the airport customs line trying to bring in any dog or cat fur products, because it's illegal to import, export, sell or transport these products in the U.S. This protects pets from being harmed or killed for their pelts or fur, but it even applies to their excess hair.
While plenty of animal fighting sports like bear wrestling and dog fighting are specifically banned around the United States, North Dakota has also nixed kangaroo boxing. Kangaroos naturally use a "boxing"-like punching motion to defend themselves, and humans in Australia and America both began to stage novelty "fights" against humans in 1891. Fighting kangaroos appeared at the Chicago World's Fair and Madison Square Garden before falling out of fashion. Today, kangaroo boxing is considered animal cruelty under many state laws, but in North Dakota, it is expressly forbidden.
While other confections from the Italian candy brand Kinder are sold in stores around the country, one of the company's products cannot be imported and sold: Kinder eggs. These chocolate egg shells contain plastic capsules with a prize inside. And in the U.S., any food with a "non-nutritive object embedded" inside is deemed a choking hazard.
Sharing your Netflix password
In the state of Tennessee, it's technically illegal for individuals to share login credentials with anyone who doesn't live under the same roof. This applies to Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, Spotify and more. The "Tennessee Login Law" was passed in 2011 to prosecute hackers selling off passwords and hasn't actually been used to target anyone using their ex's HBO Go account.
Cheating at video games
Waking up bears
Tourists are known for making some bone-headed mistakes, both in American parks and while traveling abroad. That's why the state of Alaska has a law on the books making it illegal to wake up a sleeping bear to take a photo. It's also against the law to feed a bear or to kill a bear that you've attracted to your mountain camp by improperly handling your food and garbage.
Even though many Americans have Scottish ancestry, the U.S. has banned Scotland's national dish for decades. Haggis is a savory meat pudding made from the sheep's pluck (liver, lungs and heart). The U.S. made it illegal to import haggis in 1971 over fears that ingesting sheep's lung would transmit a sheep disease called "scrapie," though there's no scientific evidence that it poses a risk.
It's not just Scottish people whose national dish has been the target of American regulation. Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica, but the fresh form of the produce is banned, with only tightly regulated frozen and canned ackee allowed in the country. That's because unripe portions of the fruit are toxic and can cause vomiting, seizures and comas.
Children's books printed before 1985
Books printed before 1985 are outlawed in the U.S. because the inks, dyes and paints used in the printing may contain traces of lead. Lead can cause brain damage in children, and it's illegal to sell any products intended for use by children aged 12 or under that contain lead. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores and charity shops like Goodwill will refuse any pre-1985 books for this reason.
Predicting the future
In Massachusetts, it's illegal to be paid to tell fortunes without a license. Than includes using tea leaves, coffee grounds, crystal balls, tarot cards, astrology, palmistry and more. Fortune tellers must have lived for at least one year in the city or town where they intend to tell fortunes to apply.
Even before it was the setting of popular vampire TV show "True Blood," the state of Louisiana had a law on the books banning "ingestion of human or animal blood" as part of a ritualistic act.
Foie gras, meaning "fatty liver," is a French delicacy made from the fattened livers of ducks and geese that have been force-fed corn. Animal rights advocates have argued against the practice, causing certain places to impose bans, including the cities of Chicago and San Diego and the state of California, where the production and sale of foie gras is completely prohibited. While Chicago rescinded its ban, California has held firm; a court ruling in 2015 nullified the state's ban, but later court decisions allowed the law to again be enforced in 2019.
Many activities are illegal to do while intoxicated around the country, including driving a car, boat or bike. But certain states have specified a few other "vehicles" that shouldn't be used under the influence. In Colorado, it's illegal to be drunk and ride a horse, while in Iowa - a landlocked state - drunk surfing or water skiing is prohibited. So if you're heading out to surf, skip the bottomless brunch.
This might seem like common sense, but in Alabama, it's illegal to drive while blindfolded. So anyone attempting to drive while doing the viral "Bird Box challenge" should head to a different state.
Explosive golf balls
In Massachusetts, it is illegal to own an explosive golf ball. Golf balls used to be made with liquid centers that were often caustic and could result in an explosion if the balls were cut open. Manufacturers have since switched to solid-core golf balls, but the law still bans the former dangerous design.
In 2005, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service banned importing beluga caviar and other beluga products because of the critically endangered status of the beluga sturgeon in the Caspian and Black Seas. The United Nations lifted its ban on exporting beluga caviar in 2007 after the Caspian-bordering countries of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan agreed on fishing quotas, but the U.S. ban remains in place.
According to Connecticut state law, a pickle must be able to bounce. Well, that's at least one of the tests used to determine whether or not a pickle is legally fit for human consumption. Pickles dropped one foot should bounce, according to the Connecticut Food & Drug Commission.
While cow tipping is an urban legend, "horse tripping" is a real enough problem for 12 different states to ban it. Horse tripping is a rodeo event that some states consider cruel to the animals. According to Oklahoma's Animal Protection Act, it's a misdemeanor to "to cause an animal of the equine species to fall or lose its balance with the use of a wire, pole, stick, rope or other object."
Absinthe was banned for almost 100 years in the United States and most of Europe because the Swiss grain alcohol contains the toxic chemical thujone in one of its key ingredients, wormwood. The sale of absinthe is currently illegal in bars and liquor stores unless it adheres to certain regulations for thujone levels.
Raw milk and cheese
"Raw" milk and dairy products, meaning unpasteurized, are commonly consumed in Europe, Asia and Africa. Some European countries even have unpasteurized milk vending machines. But at the federal level in the U.S., the interstate sale or distribution of raw milk is illegal. Only 13 states allow the sale of raw milk in stores. Drinking raw milk is legal in all 50 states, but each state in the union still has its own weird and wacky laws.
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