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Seattle TSA shares the wackiest foods people fly with over the Thanksgiving holiday

(Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)

Thanksgiving week is a special time at the airport, when passengers tuck all kinds of holiday food into their suitcases and carry-on luggage.

“It is true, it is not myth, that people do bring turkeys,” said Seattle based TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers. “They’ll bring fresh turkeys, frozen turkeys, 25-pound turkeys to the security checkpoint. As long as it fits into the x-ray tunnel, we’re happy to screen that. They like to bring through leftovers, especially right after a holiday. They’ll have a plate with foil over it so they can take some of that good cooking home with them. We’re ready, we expect that, we see it all the time.”

But on that plate, be mindful of how much gravy you’ve ladled over your mashed potatoes. Last year, a tweet by supermodel and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen went viral when she posted a video of herself trying to get a container of homemade gravy through airport security.

“This is gravy,” Teigen said. “We’re trying to get it through security. What do you guys think? Is it a liquid or a gel or is it gravy in a solid form?”

The gravy is cold and congealed, so even when she turns the container upside down nothing drips out. But it turns out, even a jiggly mass of gravy isn’t allowed through security. The next video shows her sitting on the floor in the airport, mixing the gravy into another container of homemade mashed potatoes. She went through security again and posted this tweet: “Results: cold gravy IS allowed if you mix it with mashed potatoes.”

Ladies and gentleman, Chrissy Teigen cracked the TSA gravy loophole.

So I asked Denkers what else you could get away with. You can’t bring a bottle of salad dressing through security, but you can surely bring a dressed salad. A jar of peanut butter wouldn’t pass muster, but of course you can bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to nibble on during your flight. What about spaghetti dressed in marinara sauce?

“Well, depending on how much sauce is on your spaghetti,” Denkers said. “Let’s just say it was a normal amount of sauce that had been mixed in with the spaghetti and it was clinging to the noodles itself, it would be fine. However, if the noodles are just sitting in the sauce like noodles in soup, that would not be permitted because that would not be able to hold its original form. It’s fairly simple. I would not recommend that people try to circumvent this rule by mixing things together in hopes of coming through the security checkpoint. It’s really not a good Plan A.”

TSA allows passengers to bring small 100ml, or 3.4 oz., bottles of liquids or gels in their carry-on luggage. So what if you filled 10 of those with marinara sauce or gravy?

“Well, let’s put it this way: If it’s in a quart size Ziplock bag, they’re going to be allowed to do that. But at some point, that bag will be full and our officer will give the traveler opportunity to either check them, or give them to a non-traveling friend, or place them in their car. They will not allow unlimited quantities of those. That is a creative workaround, but I would not recommend that either.”

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Due to the nature of their jobs, TSA agents aren’t known for having a sense of humor. But Denkers does:

“Last thing I wanted to point out is that if you are bringing a green bean casserole to your destination, please don’t come to my house. I don’t like those and I won’t let you in.”

This interview was excerpted from the new episode of Rachel Belle’s James Beard Award nominated podcast Your Last Meal, releasing at 5 a.m. Thanksgiving Day, featuring the creator of Prancercise. Click here to listen or find it where you get your podcasts (Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher).

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