Feature

The end of Chicago's latest Prohibition

“One way to drum up interest in an item is to tell the people they can’t have it,” said Phil Vettel. That’s what happened after the Chicago City Council banned the sale of foie gras in 2006. In the four

Phil Vettel Chicago Tribune

“One way to drum up interest in an item is to tell the people they can’t have it,” said Phil Vettel. That’s what happened after the Chicago City Council banned the sale of foie gras in 2006. In the four months between the time the ban was approved and the time it took effect, Chicago restaurants reported a surge in demand for lusciously fatty pâté made from the livers of force-fed geese. “Then the ban went into effect, and things got really silly.” One restaurant added to its menu a “suspiciously wonderful” pâté from “naturally fed” ducks. Then Bin 36 started offering a premium-priced salad of figs, apricots, and honey, which comes with a torchon of foie gras on the house. When the Health Department approved “this transparent bit of legerdemain,” reasoning that the banned substance wasn’t for sale, the prohibition’s fate was sealed. Chicagoans, who had seen the ban turn the city into a national joke, were delighted when the City Council repealed it last week. Let this be a lesson to all you nanny-staters. If you want to get rid of something, don’t ban it. “Just tax it.”

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