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31Oct
2007
TSA: Peanut Butter Is A Gel

When I travel on longer trips, especially international trips, I bring along snack food with me (things like snack bars, dried fruit, nuts, crackers and peanut butter, etc.) - quick protein snacks (for the most part). I've been doing this for years, and never a problem. Until yesterday. I usually carry the tiny 1 ounce peanut butter containers (use once and throw), but I could not find them this time and therefore brought along a 3.4 ounces jar. And the TSA agent in Detroit Metro got quite upset at my little plastic peanut butter container. He held it up and sternly declared "you can't carry gels!". Ok, I know that you should not aggravate or mess with TSA agents, but I could not help myself, and burst out laughing. "A gel?" I asked him. "Do you know what a gel is?" He was not amused. I explained that TSA rules prohibit carrying liquids, gels and aerosols over 3 ounces, but that thicker paste like substances are not prohibited (with the exception of the very dangerous toothpaste). "Let me get this straight, peanut butter is a gel?". "This is a gel!" he replied. I (slowly) tried to explain that the definition of a gel is a liquid that has become semi-solid, and that a gel is only a gel if it can revert back to a liquid (usually by heating or shaking). I also pointed out that no one has ever complained about this before (even when I have carried the deadly 3.4 ounce jars), and that he seemed to be making up his own rules. To no avail. "This is a gel, and you can't bring it on board!" was his final statement, and he then told me to check my bags if I wanted to bring the jar along. So, there you have it - contrary to what common sense dictates, peanut butter is now a gel.

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Comments (14)



  • Scott Bennett

    ROFL! That is hilarious! It reminds me of the time about 2 years ago when I had a cigarette lighter in my pocked when going through airport security. The TSA officer told me I could bring up to 3 packs of matches, but lighters where prohibited. I almost started to explain to him that I could probably start a much bigger fire with 3 packs of matches than I could with my lighter, but then I thought better of it and just let him keep it (I didn't want him to start checking my body cavities for toothpaste).

  • Greg Wilson

    Ben - I suggest you review the following TSA documentary before traveling again - http://www.metacafe.com/watch/428187/snl_homeland_... - it explains the liquid gel stuff.

    :)

    #2Posted by Greg Wilson | Oct 31, 2007, 06:39 PM
  • JW

    Hopefully you have more than just cornmeal left!
    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/251713/ts...

    #3Posted by JW | Oct 31, 2007, 06:48 PM
  • Adrock

    First Pluto is denounced as planet, now peanut butter is a gel. Reality is coming apart at the seams!

    #4Posted by Adrock | Oct 31, 2007, 07:45 PM
  • John Farrar

    It might be your beard that scared him. LOL ... so, does this mean you can conceal these dangerous "gels" in the roof of your mouth? Now homeland security is going to be monitoring all your gel purchases. You just raised our taxes because they are going to assign a full time team just to follow Ben Forta... AKA... The Peanut Butter Man. (so much for your former identity as Scorpio Man)

    #5Posted by John Farrar | Oct 31, 2007, 09:35 PM
  • Gus

    After the Reagan administration determined ketchup is a vegetable, it's no surprise the bush administration determined peanut butter is a gel!

    #6Posted by Gus | Oct 31, 2007, 09:37 PM
  • Mike K

    So... was the TSA guarding the safety of US flights from crunchy or low-fat peanut butter?

    #7Posted by Mike K | Oct 31, 2007, 09:59 PM
  • Terrence Ryan

    Actually, once of the many uses of peanuts that George Washington Carver came up with was a rudimentary plastic explosive.

    You should be lucky they didn't detain you.

  • Dan G. Switzer, II

    @Ben:

    I don't know, maybe PB is a gel. I mean I know if I spread the PB on a nice, hot piece of toast it does change to a liquidy state. Makes the PB run all over the toast.

  • David

    Dude....You were ALWAYS going to lose that fight! Still, "A" for effort.

    Cheers,

    Davo

    #10Posted by David | Nov 1, 2007, 05:03 PM
  • Mike Brunt

    I think I have it, the TSA agents brain is actually a gel.

  • Petunia

    Someone needs to back to school-i guess you don't need much training to be a TSA officer!

    #12Posted by Petunia | Nov 10, 2007, 08:10 PM
  • Kristen Schofield

    I had a funny (in a sad way) conversation w/an TSA rep re: a container's volume (on return from CF United). They struggled to ID the volume - even though the container listed it as 4 oz and it was only 1/2 full. That's tough math I know. They confiscated it. Sigh. I found comic relief on youtube's video of a TSA SNL skit - hysterical - no longer on youtube.. that is, I can't find it.

  • Stephen

    The TSA agents this weekend told me that they have to go by what's printed on the container, no matter how much is used, even if the container is squished or transparent to see that it isn't full. In my case it was toothpaste. I had a >3oz container that was already used quite a bit and was well below 3 oz by any reasonable estimate of the squishedness. Didn't matter. So don't use too big a jar for your three ounces, either.

    #14Posted by Stephen | Dec 30, 2007, 04:38 PM