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Wisconsin’s quirky laws reveal the state’s unique character

Wisconsin is known for its cheese, beer, and beautiful landscapes, but it also has its share of quirky laws. Up North News Radio Host Pat Kreitlow gets you up-to-date on a few of the more obscure and amusing laws from across the state

Wisconsin’s quirky laws reveal the state’s unique character

June 14, 2024 2:10 PM CDT
By: Teri Barr

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Wisconsin is known for its cheese, beer, and beautiful landscapes, but it also has its share of quirky laws. Up North News Radio Host Pat Kreitlow gets you up-to-date on a few of the more obscure and amusing laws from across the state

Compiling a quick list of Wisconsin’s quirky laws, Pat Kreitlow, host of Up North News Radio, helps paint a colorful picture highlighting the state’s unique character. These laws are also considered a bit obscure while also being rather amusing:

State Law:  Serving apple pie with cheese

“This may be one of the most curious historical laws which remained in effect for only two years,” Kreitlow says. “It’s when state law required restaurants to serve apple pie with cheese.” 

It was actually illegal to serve apple pie without a slice of cheese on the side. It may sound odd today, but this highlights Wisconsin’s dairy pride. Some locals still swear by the combination, arguing creamy, salty cheese complements the sweet, tart apple pie. State lawmakers voted for the bill forcing restaurants to serve apple pie with cheese in 1935. This law was repealed in 1937. 

State Law:  Ordering colored margarine

Another law in support of America’s Dairyland. According to Sec. 97.18(4), “The serving of colored oleomargarine or margarine at a public eating place as a substitute for table butter is prohibited unless it is ordered by the customer.”


Listen to the full Up North News segment and hear about these quirky laws here.


Brookfield:  Using someone else’s phone to make a prank call

A city law on the books in Brookfield states you don’t want to get caught using someone else’s phone to make a prank call:  “No person shall knowingly permit any telephone under his control to be used to make or cause the telephone of another repeatedly or continuously to ring with intent to harass any person at the called number or numbers.”

Hudson: Following a screen door mandate

This law mandates all houses in the Hudson area must be fitted with screen doors from May 1st to October 1st. “Yes, it’s true,” Kreitlow says. “If your home doesn’t have a screen door during these months, you are technically breaking the law.” 

This regulation stems from a practical need to keep the summer bugs out while allowing the fresh air to circulate, considered a necessity during Wisconsin’s warm summer months.

Sheboygan: Watering your lawn

The city of Sheboygan’s municipal code includes making it illegal to water your lawn in a way that annoys your neighbors. It states:  “No persons shall, with purpose or intent, sprinkle their property in any manner to the distress or annoyance of others.”

Sun Prairie:  Nuclear restrictions

Sun Prairie has a particularly stern law: it is illegal to make, store, or deliver nuclear weapons. This ensures the town remains a safe and nuclear-free zone, “Much to the relief of its residents,” Kreitlow says. “Though most people who live there probably have no idea about this peculiar restriction.”

Sun Prairie:  Pets in cemeteries

It is illegal to take your pet to a cemetery in Sun Prairie. Dogs and cats are prohibited from entry into all cemeteries. However, there is an exemption for special service animals such as guide dogs.

Wausau: Throwing snowballs

Snowballs top the list in Wausau, but this one, from the code of ordinances goes on to include Sec. (09.08.010), “No person is allowed to throw or shoot any object, including without limitation, any arrow, stone, other missile, or projectile, by hand or by any other means, at any other person or at, in or into any building, street, sidewalk, alley, highway, park, playground, or other public place within the city limits.”

Wonder about a state or city law and the story behind it? Send your question and we’ll get to the bottom of it!

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