Stories about weird local laws always begin like urban legends. You might have heard that in Wisconsin, the Dairy State, all restaurants are required by law to serve cheese with every dish, including placing a slice of certified Wisconsin cheese on top of each and every order of apple pie.
Really? Will a waitress get cited for serving a naked apple pie in a Madison diner? No. But it turns out this law was actually kinda true, at least for a few years: A 1935 law required Wisconsin restaurants to serve a small amount of cheese and butter with every meal. One could absolutely imagine that the state legislature, in an effort to boost the local economy during the Great Depression, would require restaurants to "buy local" and serve up a side of state pride. But it didn't last forever. Due to a sunset provision, the law was off the books in 1937.
These seemingly-silly laws appeal to us in a strange way, piquing our curiosity, but also enlisting us in a brief moral dilemma to decide what's right and wrong. After learning about a few of these wacky statutes, photographer Olivia Locher realized that a good way to address some of these ridiculous—and often antiquated—ordinances would be by creating similarly ridiculous imagery. Her series I Fought the Law will eventually illustrate laws from all 50 states, including one from Texas (above), where it is illegal for children to have unusual haircuts. This one is apparently still enforced: A Mesquite, Texas, seventh grader was suspended for having "too-high hair" in 2011.
After seeing Locher's work, I wanted a little more insight about how, say, one learns about a state's two-dildos-per-household law (that's you, Arizona!), so I asked Locher a few questions about how she finds inspiration, why we can't carry ice cream in our pockets in Alabama, and her own law-abiding ways.