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Origin of “Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road” Joke & 10 Best Answers

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Chicken cross the road rooster street bird joke

The perpetrator in question at the scene of the incident
Photo: library_dragon via cc/Flickr

Some jokes are timeless… while others inexplicably survive year after year. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who said that their favorite joke was a “why did the chicken cross the road” gag, but yet the format persists against all odds. So how did this wisecrack about a flightless fowl crossing a paved thoroughfare come about?

The question first appeared in The Knickerbocker, a New York City magazine. An 1847 issue mentioned it as an example of a quip that might seem like a riddle but is in fact a straightforward and unfunny solution–an example of anti-humor:

 ‘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!’

Not long after that, the line was modified and adapted to become an actual joke format, employing various puns and subversion of expectations (since everyone already knew the official answer). Here are 10 of our favorite versions of the joke.

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Q: Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

  • A: If you saw Chuck Norris coming, you’d have crossed that road too!
  • A: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.
  • A: To get the hell outta Kentucky!
  • A: It thought it was a good idea at the time…
  • A: Because it was free-range.
  • A: No one knows, but the road sure was pissed.
  • A: To prove to the possum that it could actually be done.
  • A: To find a place where no one would question his intention of crossing the road.
  • A: When I was your age, we didn’t ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us that the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.
  • A: To get to your house. Knock Knock Who’s there? THE CHICKEN
  • A: To get to the other side.

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