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The ‘Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?’ Joke

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road
Photo by קלאופטרה [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Have you ever heard the joke: “Why did the chicken cross the road?” If you are an American, you probably have, although it has been told in several languages. This joke is so common that people often use this as their default joke when they simply can’t think of anything else. But be warned that you may get the response, “Is that the best you got?”

Where did this joke originate?

Excellent question. Its true origin remains a mystery.

The ‘Chicken’ Joke First Published in 1847

‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ was first published in 1847 in a New York magazine, called The Knickerboxer.

Well…What’s the Answer?

If you are ever told the joke, ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?

The most widely accepted answer for this joke is: “To get to the other side.”

Give this answer if you want to play it safe, however, risk takers come up with more creative answers.

Variants to the Joke Followed Shortly After

By the 1890’s, people starting making up their own chicken jokes, and as you can imagine – chaos ensued.

Potter’s American Monthly was daring enough to publish this in their 1892 magazine: ‘Why should not a chicken cross the road?’

Their answer: ‘It would be a foul proceeding.’

But some variants use puns in their version, such as ‘Why did the duck cross the road?’

Answer: ‘To prove that he’s no chicken!’

Famous People Have Answers to ‘Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?’

According to, below are how some iconic people would have answered this age-old question, if they were given the opportunity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: It didn’t cross the road; it transcended it.

Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.

Charles Darwin: It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees.

Bill Clinton: Define “road”.

John Calvin: It was predestined by God to cross the road.

Julius Caesar: To come, to see, to conquer.

Sigmund Freud: The fact that you are at all concerned about why the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

Robert Frost: To cross the road less traveled by.

Bill Gates: I have just released the new Chicken 2000, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Of course, you will have to purchase Microsoft Road.

Martin Luther King: I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

James Tiberius Kirk: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

Moses: And the LORD spake unto the chicken, “Thou shalt cross the road.” And the chicken crossed the road.

Richard Nixon: The chicken did not cross the road. I repeat, the chicken did NOT cross the road.

J.R.R. Tolkein: The chicken, sunlight coruscating off its radiant yellow- white coat of feathers, approached the dark, sullen asphalt road and scrutinized it intently with its obsidian-black eyes. Every detail of the thoroughfare leapt into blinding focus: the rough texture of the surface, over which countless tires had worked their relentless tread through the ages; the innumerable fragments of stone embedded within the lugubrious mass, perhaps quarried from the great pits where the Sons of Man labored not far from here; the dull black asphalt itself, exuding those waves of heat which distort the sight and bring weakness to the body; the other attributes of the great highway too numerous to give name. And then it crossed it.

Your Grandpa: In my day, we didn’t ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us that the chicken had crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.

There’s More to Read!

If you can’t get enough of reading about chicken, now read about the Usain Bolt Chicken Nuggets Diet on the Odd Random Thoughts blog.


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3 thoughts on “The ‘Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?’ Joke
  1. What a cool post Zack. I especially like the celebrity versions of the joke. Thanks for sharing the origins of this classic with us, quite interesting!

  2. Haha, i really laughed hard at this post. They don’t know this joke here in The Netherlands, so everytime i want to tell one, no one gets it.. haha but i am still laughing my butt off

    1. Wow, I didn’t know that joke has not traveled to the Netherlands before now. I am glad you found humor in this post.

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