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.

15 thoughts

  1. 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).

  2. 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)

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. I just found this blog post after the same thing happened to me. Apparently TSA is still under the impression that peanut butter is a gel. A sealed, brand new container of Peter Pan crunchy peanut butter is a threat to Americans. Get fucking bent, TSA. And your welcome to whatever thieving piece of shit TSA employee will be stealing my peanut butter and taking it home. Fuck you, I hope you fucking choke on it and die.

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