The National Pulse

Did Oklahoma Really Outlaw Sharing a Hamburger?

This article is part of a series focusing on Lens of Liberty, a project of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation.

If you’re anything like me, you love good food. My family owns a pizza restaurant — I worked there for almost 15 years — and it allowed me to get creative with cooking. Through tons of experimentation, I’ve created some unlikely delicious meals — pineapple, pepperoni, jalapeno, and bacon pizza to name just one.

But all that experimentation had some unintended side effects — weight gain included. So rather than adjust how much I experiment with cooking, I instead adjusted how much I ate and would often share my meals with my wife or siblings.

I’ve also experimented with burgers. Have you ever have a burger seasoned with Tony’s topped with pineapple and pepper jack cheese? You haven’t lived until you have. Burgers are great, but as I stated earlier, sometimes one is just too much — so you share with someone else.

That’s why one of Helen Krieble’s recent Liberty Minutes caught my attention.

Apparently it’s illegal in parts of Oklahoma to share a burger. I’m not kidding:

In Oklahoma, some bar owners were upset at customers sharing hamburgers. They wanted to make every customer buy their own. So, they convinced legislators to require it. Now the law prohibits one person from taking even a bite from another person’s hamburger.

Legislators claimed it was a health hazard, but most people understood it was really about government officials protecting their friends in a favored business. Years later, the anti-hamburger sharing law remains in force.

Citizens should never be complacent about such threats to their freedom. They should look through the Lens of Liberty, and remember that freedom doesn’t end all at once; it is chipped away slowly by such little things as hamburger laws. If responsible citizens want to take a bite out of government overreach, this would be a good place to start.

These laws, while they can often be laughed off and taken with a grain of salt, illustrate the government’s willingness to strip us of our freedoms. In this case something as simple as sharing a sandwich has been outlawed under the guise of health concerns — it’s just plain ridiculous.

While not every state or town is passing laws and regulations that are as egregious as the ones tackled by Krieble in her Liberty Minutes, they are most certainly passing laws that limit our freedoms unnecessarily. Even the most ridiculous of laws can stay on the books for years, so it’s important that citizens stay informed and make sure we elect leaders with a modicum of common sense.

Terry Schilling

Terry Schilling is executive director of the American Principles Project.