Rants

TSA: Cupcakes Are Okay, Unless They're In a Jar

The Transportation Security Administration has some complicated rules

about bringing food on airplanes. For example, you can't bring jam, but a

pumpkin pie is okay.

But what about a nice, precious cupcake? Surely that shouldn't raise alarms.

In a recent uproar dubbed "Cupcakegate," the TSA stopped a traveler flying out of Las Vegas and told her she couldn't bring cupcakes. Now the agency has stepped up to clarify: the only dangerous cupcakes are the ones in jars.


If you, like this writer, didn't realize that cupcakes-in-a-jar were even a thing, rest assured. They are. Perhaps this is common knowledge among the Etsy-and-little-dogs crowd. Paper wrappers are so passe.

Anyway, this was the confection that traveler Rebecca Hains tried to bring on a plane last month. She was told that it was a security threat, because of the icing.

Now TSA blogger Bob Burns is here to clarify:

I wanted to make it clear that this wasn't your everyday, run-of-the-mill cupcake. If you're not familiar with it, we have a policy directly related to the UK liquid bomb plot of 2006 called 3-1-1 that  limits the amount of liquids, gels and aerosols you can bring in your carry-on luggage. Icing falls under the "gel" category.  As you can see from the picture, unlike a thin layer of icing that resides on the top of most cupcakes, this cupcake had a thick layer of icing inside a jar.

Burns says that it's up to an individual officer to make on-the-fly decisions about what counts as a liquid or gel. And an officer would understandably want to err on the side of caution so he can go home at night without worrying that he might have let a bomb on board.

But sometimes a TSA policy just looks darn silly in the light of day -- even though Burns provided this helpful picture to illustrate the difference. Man, that does look volatile.


Should your local airport Sbarro decide to offer meatballs with marinara in a jar, we expect the TSA would evaluate that on a separate basis.


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Stefan Kamph
Contact: Stefan Kamph