We’ve all heard it, that generic joke that’s stood the test of time: “Why did the chicken cross the road?” The answer is usually “… to get to the other side”. It’s pretty silly, but it’s an example of anti-humor where there’s no expected punchline, just a simple answer. The joke has become somewhat iconic and has changed slightly over time.
So how did this odd little joke come about? Well, according to Wikipedia, the chicken riddle first appeared in a New York monthly magazine called The Knickerbocker. This was way back in 1847.
There are ‘quips and quillets’ which seem real problems, but yet are none. Of such is this: ‘Why does a chicken cross the street?[‘] Are you ‘out of town?’ Do you ‘give it up?’ Well, then: ‘Because it wants to get on the other side!’
Then a few years later, in the 1890s, the following pun appeared in the Potter’s American Monthly: “Why should not a chicken cross the road? It would be a fowl proceeding.”
Nowadays, many riddles are based on the chicken one and assume one’s familiarity with the joke. For example: “Why did the turkey cross the road?” “To prove he’s no chicken.” And so on.
The Real McCoy
But sometimes, real life can imitate jokes. This is what happened when one driver, Dalton Szymanski, noticed a chicken crossing a street. Fortunately, he had a camera ready to capture the moment forever. The life of the average chicken isn’t so pleasant if it’s spent in a factory farm cage, without room to move.
But luckier chickens have more freedom to spread their wings and fluff out their feathers in the freedom of the open air. They are naturally curious creatures who like to peck away at anything that interests them.
So, if allowed to roam free, they might well break away from the flock and go wandering. On their rambles, after a bit of pecking here and there, and a sharp shake of the feathers, such a chicken might be tempted near a road.
So why did the chicken cross the road?
Dalton Szymanski quite obviously has a sense of humor. While driving along, he noticed a chicken. And the chicken was about to cross the road. Not one to waste time, Dalton whipped out his phone, ready to focus his camera lens on this extraordinary spectacle.
Maybe, he thought, the riddle would finally be answered forever. This was no ordinary chicken, though. Boldly strutting its stuff, it stepped onto the tarmac marching determinedly forward.
Spotted a chicken crossing the road so asked it the all-important question… pic.twitter.com/J1D3GCtCGy
— LADbible (@ladbible) February 25, 2019
And the answer?
Our intrepid cameraman behind the wheel of his car, pulled over to the side of the road to capture the moment for all eternity. Would the chicken explain its motivations, he wondered? Would we finally know why?
But this chicken was no talker. Not a single cluck did it utter. If it wasn’t for the fact that @Dalton_Reed02 posted his video on Twitter, we might never have realized that the joke had happened in real life. So, we still don’t know the answer to why the chicken crossed the road.