Listen up, Trentonians, because if you like to indulge in a vinegary snack on Sundays, you might find yourself in quite a pickle!

In a community as old as Trenton, it’s no surprise that dozens of laws and ordinances have been passed over the years. While many of our laws have evolved and changed with the times, others have been forgotten to history or otherwise obscured. However, if you take a quick look at the books of yesteryear, you may be surprised at what you might find.

Of all the laws on Trenton’s books, perhaps the strangest is the Trenton Pickle Ordinance. Like the name would suggest, this law legislates when and when not citizens of the Capital City are permitted to indulge in a pickle. Specifically, the Trenton Pickle Ordinance stated that you cannot eat pickles in Trenton on a Sunday. Additionally, Trenton residents are also forbidden to throw a bad pickle into the street. Who would have thought that a crisp pickled cucumber on a sunny Sunday afternoon could be the cause of such controversy?!

This law is a stand-out amongst many of the strange laws that New Jersey municipalities have passed over the years, offering residents of the Garden State a humorous look back at some of the pressing matters of the past. Over the years, New Jersey towns have legislated a number of strange ordinances, including:

  • In Manville, it is illegal to offer cigarettes or tobacco to zoo animals
  • Men are not permitted to knit during the fishing season
  • It is illegal to buy a car on Sundays in New Jersey
  • If you have been convicted of drunk driving, you are forbidden from having vanity/custom license plates
  • You cannot play bingo in Hoboken, NJ until 1pm or later
  • It is illegal to frown at a police officer in New Jersey

Although many of these laws may seem ridiculous to us now, it is curious to think that at one time, these matters were considered so crucial that legislators felt it had to be consecrated into law. In fact, one can’t help but wonder why many of these laws arose in the first place. Whether these laws were the result of the grudge of a particularly feisty statesman or the result of the ruling social or moral compass of the day, examining these aspects of our history can be an enlightening opportunity to understand the perspectives and ideas which were prevalent at the time of the passage of these laws.

Looking back at these laws and ordinances can give us a good chuckle, but it can also be a welcome reminder of how far we have come since many of these laws passed. As the tides change and humanity continues to evolve, we can only hope that we will continue to progress as the years go by. No matter what the topic is, our lives are always enriched when we take a look back at the curiosities of history. And just remember, no matter what you do, when Sunday rolls around, don’t get caught in a pickle in the Capital City!

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