Weirdest Laws In Pennsylvania

The Keystone State sure has its share of quirks. From being home to the grittiest mascot around to having a town that quite literally defies gravity, Pennsylvania can provide an unexpected experience to say the least (via Penn Live). Perhaps you've heard that Pennsylvania natives like their cheesesteaks "wit wiz" and their "wooder ice" with jimmies. But even if you know your way around the Delco accent, and you've managed to navigate all 446 of the bridges in Pittsburgh (via Mental Floss), you still might get lost in some of Pennsylvania's wacky bits of legislation.

From catching fish in your mouth to walking backward with a bowl of peanuts, from makeup permits to weird wedding prohibitions, many of these Pennsylvania laws come across as dated, peculiar, and just plain silly. Here's a tally of the weirdest laws in Pennsylvania, along with how they might have originated and how they're currently being enforced.

Absolutely no shotgun weddings

Starting things off with a bang is this law banning the discharge of any "explosive weapon" at a Pennsylvania wedding. The law expressly mentions cannons and revolvers but appears applicable to all guns. According to Stupid Laws, this legislative gem can be found in Section 623 of the Pennsylvania penal code.

The origins of this are unclear, but one could speculate that legislators were actually trying to ban shotgun weddings, a matrimonial practice where couples rushed to the altar to save face in the event of unexpected pregnancy. While these types of processions did take place in the not-so-distant American past, USA Today reports that they usually involved societal pressure as opposed to physical shotguns.

Another thing that makes this law a little loaded is the specific mention of a cannon. Given the fact that the average war cannon weighs approximately 7,000 pounds (via Britannica), it seems highly unlikely that one would go to all the trouble of wheeling one of these babies up the aisle. But just in case someone managed this incredible feat of strength, it would be to no avail. For discharging the canon would most certainly get them arrested.

Don't sweep it under the rug

Whenever tidying up a residence, there lies that seemingly undeniable little urge to just take all that unsightly dust and debris and sweep it right under the rug rather than lugging it all the way to the trash can. In other states, this unhygienic practice is certainly frowned upon, but only in Pennsylvania is it straight up against the law.

According to an NBC Philadelphia report, a cleaning ordinance exclusive to Pennsylvania forbids someone from sweeping dirt under a rug in a dwelling space. Oddly, the ordinance appears to only apply to housewives. Presumably, working wives, husbands, and all single people can keep this dirty little secret to themselves. But if you happen to be a Pennsylvania housewife, your broom game had better be up to snuff because keeping a clean record and keeping a clean floor are pretty much one and the same.

You can legally catch a fish in your mouth

Speaking of undeniable urges, if you've ever felt the overwhelming desire to wade through Pennsylvania waters and catch a fish with your bare fists, don't do it. According to Patch, catching fish in this manner is strictly against Pennsylvania legislation. In fact, the only body part Pennsylvanians are legally permitted to catch fish with is their mouths. As you might imagine, this makes fishing quite the challenge, not to mention a pretty unhygienic endeavor, particularly for a state with such strict cleaning ordinances.

Of course, you could always try catching fish the old-fashioned way, with a rod and some bait and tackle. But if you find yourself unsatisfied with these traditional fishing tactics, you are more than welcome to dip your head down into the muddy waters of Pennsylvania's lakes and creeks and emerge with a wriggling fish, so long as you do not use your hands or any other body parts for assistance in the endeavor.

In Ridley Park, you cannot walk backward and eat peanuts

When it comes to weird laws, this one's definitely nuts, and a testament to the truly wacky tactics of Pennsylvania legislators. As a way of keeping theatergoers on their toes, the Ridley Park police force, most known for its flashy red patrol vehicles, whipped up this befuddling bit of legislation. As silly as the statute seems, it's really quite specific, meaning it might even be enforced.

Only in Your State reports that the law pertains only to pedestrians located in front of the Barnstormers Auditorium, and it is only applicable while a show is proceeding. During this time and at this precise location, theatergoers and foodies alike are well within their rights to eat peanuts, so long as they do not eat them while walking backward. If you absolutely have your heart set on snacking on these salty delights while pacing backward during a Barnstormers show, you do run the risk of being arrested. So sorry if this spoils your Sunday matinee plans.

You cannot put pretzels in bags

According to Only in Your State, placing pretzels in bags is yet another illegal activity for people in Pennsylvania. This funny foodie law would leave many people, particularly Pennsylvania natives, scratching their heads. The thing that makes it most ridiculous is the fact that Pennsylvania is essentially the home of the pretzel. While other foods like cheesesteaks, hoagies, and "wooder ice" have taken center stage, the City of Brotherly Love and the delectable soft pretzel often go hand in hand. Some might even say Philly's got pretzels in the bag. Just don't mention that too loud. The police might hear.

So how did this weird law come into existence? Need To Know Facts reports that it was drafted during prohibition, at a time when bootleggers were concealing alcohol in Philly pretzel bags. While this might have been big business at that time, PA pretzel lovers everywhere are now engaging in the highly illegal activity every time they walk out of a Wawa parking lot after purchasing a pretzel.