“Why did the chicken cross the road?” This joke seems older than everyone I know (and inversely as funny). Where did the chicken-cross-the-road joke come from — and when?
You’re right — the joke is older than everyone you know, unless you know someone who’s more than 170 years old.
According to Smithsonian magazine, the joke first appeared in the March 1847 edition of Knickerbocker, or New York Monthly Magazine. A little bit of extra digging reveals the full text of the original joke read as follows:
“There are ‘quips and quillets’ which seem actual conundrums, 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 to the other side!'”
Clearly, people of the mid-19th century were far more easily amused than we are today. I think.
More chicken-style humor
In addition to the standard answer, “To get to the other side,” here are 15 more possible answers to the question “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Because it felt like it.
Because it needed the exercise.
Because she couldn’t fly.
It wanted a change of scenery.
It was collecting experiences for its next book.
The light turned green.
Because his mom was behind him with a list of chores.
Because he and the cow were going to the mooooo-vie theater.
It wanted to prove to the armadillo that it could be done.
To avoid the rupture in the space-time continuum.
To get away from the Colonel. (aka the icon of KFC)
Because it was the pig’s day off.
All the other chickens were doing it, and it just wanted to fit in.
Because the road was there.
Because he wanted to make everyone wonder why he crossed the road.