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Jun 11 2021

Weird Connecticut State Laws

There are some crazy laws from Connecticut's past that still exist today. Why? Because they were created during a time when society looked very different, and it required unique guidelines to keep the peace. They were never stricken from the rulebooks, so they’re still in place today.

You may have broken some of these laws unknowingly! But don’t worry, the majority of these wacky laws are not enforced today. These time capsule laws are unlikely to get you into trouble. However, they do provide a fascinating perspective into past generations and what they felt was important. Here are some of our state's weirdest, most outlandish laws.

It is illegal to call a pickle a pickle unless it bounces.
What? It’s true! This may have come from a time when food growers and markets needed a bit of regulation in order to set standards for fresh produce. For example, someone could try to pass off their vegetables as pickles without the proper fermentation or preparation. As a result, customers would pay money but regret their purchase.

To protect customers (and pickle producers), this rule declares that a pickle is not a pickle unless it bounces. This is an early example of a quality assurance test. QA tests are deployed in many industries today to protect consumers. For example, you can’t market a swing set to kids unless its materials are non-toxic and its construction is rigorous.

It is illegal for two people who are married to kiss in public on a Sunday.
While it might seem extreme that public displays of affection are legislated, it’s important to think back to the religious origins of the area and the deep connections between church and state. A more likely explanation is that this was not actually put in place by elected representatives.

Instead, this was more likely a guideline proclaimed by religious leaders to maintain control over decorum and family relationships. In colonial times, the church had a strong role in governing public behavior. It makes sense that people would feel equally obliged to follow church guidelines as state guidelines.

Town records can’t be stored in the same place where liquor is sold.
This one just makes sense. There are two reasons why this guideline may have been put into place. The first is that it was surprisingly likely for past generations to store liquor and important records in the same place. Why? Because both alcohol and documentation were significant and required protection. Rather than spreading out their resources, it made sense to store important items together.

However, there are equally good reasons to forbid this, and they all come down to common sense. Intoxicated people do not make very good security guards. By keeping important documents in the same location as liquor, it’s all the more tempting to have a drink or steal something. The second reason is that liquor is flammable. If anyone’s pipe or candle were to tip over, the entire storage of liquor could explode—taking the town’s records down with it.

Beauticians and stylists may not hum, sing, or whistle while working.
Experts think this law on Waterbury's books is probably another church-inspired edict rather than state legislation. In early colonial times, there were strict religious guidelines related to music, song, and dance. It makes sense that these would carry into other professions and not just the general public.

There’s also the possibility that they were trying to draw a clear separation between stylists who did less savory work on the side and stylists who were reputable shopkeepers. By forbidding the act of singing while performing styling, they could help direct business to more established practitioners.

It’s illegal to dispose of used razor blades.
There’s a social media post going around that shows a medicine cabinet in a bathroom with a tiny slot in it. The owners were renovating and removed the cabinet to discover a stash of used razor blades piled up inside the bathroom wall. Why?

Disposing of used razor blades in the rubbish bin is dangerous to the people who take out your garbage. They could easily cut themselves on the blades when dumping your waste into the truck. Not only could they get injured, but it's possible they could catch a skin disease if there were any bodily fluids still on the razor.

Past generations realized this danger too, which is why they created the prohibition. Just imagine the first time a garbage man contacted a personal injury lawyer in Connecticut about a razor blade cut! It probably took very little time to announce this new guideline to protect people from harm.

You’re not allowed to walk backward at night.
You probably haven’t knowingly broken this rule from Devon, CT (a section of Milford), since it’s dangerous to walk around backward in the dark. However, it’s odd that it is in the legal books as a guideline in our state. Of course, there are many reasons not to walk backward at night. You could step into the road and be run over. You could trip and hurt yourself. But there aren’t very many people who would make a habit out of walking backward at night. Perhaps it was just an early attempt at traffic laws and helping pedestrians stay safe.

Unless you’ve tried to sell a pickle that didn’t bounce, you may not have broken any of these laws. But it’s interesting to think about past generations and understand what they felt was important. These laws might seem bizarre by today’s standards, but they were put into place for a good reason back in their day.

Laws are a way to protect people and property. They allow officers to enforce rules and punish bad behavior for the well-being of the entire community. You may not be tempted to walk backward at night, but we hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the past of our state’s legislative history.

The next time your hairdresser hums while they work or you see a couple kissing on a Sunday, don’t get too stressed. It’s technically illegal, but it’s not worth enforcing. After all, wouldn’t you rather have police officers focused on more important things, like issuing speeding tickets and investigating serious crimes?


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