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Harry_Gorilla t1_jdtg9ie wrote

Former screener here: peanut butter is approximately the same density as C4 when viewed on TSA’s X-ray screens. It sets off a false alarm on the automated bomb detection software, and the X-ray can’t see through it. You can hide whatever you want inside a peanut butter jar and it will be hidden from the X-ray operator (within certain size limitations).

They didn’t ban it for no reason.


Cerrida82 t1_jduvfxv wrote

So are Magic: the Gathering cards, apparently. We got stopped because they found solid, rectangular shapes in our suitcases. Explosives? Nope, just our MtG decks.


gtrocks555 t1_jdwli7f wrote

Got stopped for a card game in a box with “sharp edges” too. I didn’t even open it though, they just took it out, saw it was a card game and told me why it was flagged and let me be


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdv4vyi wrote

I can see that. The coating on the cards and the type of paper stock probably make for a nice organic looking orange brick on the X-ray, like a brick of Semtex


Callinon t1_jdwo8zj wrote

Forgive me for saying so but it sounds like this machine isn't very reliable. If it's routinely mistaking cards for bombs and peanut butter for homemade explosives, that feels like a very high false positive rate to me.

Maybe instead of banning everything in sight, it'd be better to fix the machine?


Ketheres t1_jdwu6cg wrote

>this machine isn't very reliable

Because it isn't. It's practically all about theatrics to make people feel safer in a post-9/11 society.


DjuriWarface t1_jdwwv4b wrote

False positives are fine though. Mostly no harm done. False negatives are the concern. I realize the TSA is still not that effective but still.

Not being able to bring peanut butter through TSA is hardly going to affect anybody.


Callinon t1_jdx31l7 wrote

Never travelled with very young children I take it?


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdxboow wrote

Do your children only eat peanut butter with their fingers? Just make it into sandwiches, put it in crackers, dip the celery in it, or whatever it is you do with peanut butter BEFORE you pack it, and it will cruise through the xray


LuvCilantro t1_jdx60nq wrote

You could always put it in your checked suitcase. It is quite plausible that the number of people who MUST travel with a jar of peanut butter in their carry on is small enough to not warrant an exception.


Callinon t1_jdxb4hv wrote

>You could always put it in your checked suitcase

Never travelled with very young children I take it?


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdxbf6v wrote

False positives like crazy. That’s why there are still humans checking every bag the computer flags


Eruionmel t1_jdwuida wrote

>it'd be better to fix the machine?

Oh thank god, someone finally suggested it. We assume you have ideas on how better to literally see through solid objects? If you'll head right this way, our R&D team would love to get started on your plan...


ryanCrypt t1_jdtnog0 wrote

I don't agree or disagree with this discussion, but thanks for reasoning.


Ghosttalker96 t1_jdujodu wrote

I can however confirm that it does not taste the same.


StillSundayDrunk t1_jdwkatz wrote

Also, imagine if they smeared Mr. Ed's gums with C4 to get him to "talk" on the show. Instant tragedy.


ElGuapo315 t1_jdv1yka wrote

But the stupidity is that if you freeze peanut butter it's suddenly ok.


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdv4g3p wrote

Uh… you think increasing the density of the item that’s too dense will convince TSA to let it in baggage?


ElGuapo315 t1_jdv4t24 wrote

TSA: You have to dump out that water.

Also TSA: Ice cubes? You're good to go!


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdv5gjd wrote

Hah! That’s hilariously amazing. New one to me. Edit: after some thought… one reason you can’t have water is because there are explosive components that look very similar to water. But they don’t freeze. So if your water is frozen then it can’t be a liquid component of an ied.


Ketheres t1_jdwujix wrote

>But they don’t freeze.

You can freeze all matter if you get it cold enough, and stuff that's liquid in room temperature usually doesn't need to be really cold to be frozen solid. Stuff that looks like water when liquid might not look like water ice when solid though.


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdxb7th wrote

Riiiight, but the explosive slurries have such a low freezing temp that it would not stay frozen at room temperature long enough to get through security


Longshot_45 t1_jduzdv5 wrote

Ah, the guy who tried to smuggle a handgun through TSA in a jar of peanut butter makes more sense now.


Callinon t1_jdwol5z wrote

It's ok, the bullets were coated with jelly. So it all balanced out.


burrito-disciple t1_jdwrrfk wrote

>You can hide whatever you want inside a peanut butter jar and it will be hidden from the X-ray operator

Can confirm, I used to live with a guy who smuggled drugs all over the country via US mail just by sticking things inside peanut butter jars.

Eventually got caught, but not because of how he shipped things.


Sluggish0351 t1_jdwyyg2 wrote

This doesn't seem like a good excuse considering that there are devices that can sniff out C4, as it has a very distinct scent. There is literally no reason to believe that peanut butter is C4. If they actually cared about safety they would just invest in tools that identified actual threats instead of just making life harder for people traveling.


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdxawhc wrote

Have you never shrink wrapped food before? It’s not all that complicated to package smelly materials so that they can’t be smelled. The X-ray is the device that can detect explosives almost perfectly


Sluggish0351 t1_jdxv1xz wrote

Lol I used to work with C4. I have used the tech I am talking about. It can sense the scent of C4 on a person's hands that have been washed numerous times. It can detect it through packaging. C4 literally comes in plastic wrapping and is detected through it.


hockeyh2opolo t1_jdxpxya wrote

Apparently so is cheddar cheese, got held up for a while with a block of white cheddar because it looked and scanned like c4


--___- t1_jdvqjuk wrote

We travelled to Israel with jar of peanut butter in checked luggage. As it happened, the kids liked the food and we didn’t use it.

When at the airport for our return home, Israel security pulled our bag aside, rummaged through and asked us about the peanut butter. They let it go back in the bag.


[deleted] t1_jdtt780 wrote



Desert_Avalanche t1_jdtvtrc wrote

You stand in a millimeter wave imaging machine.

Your bag goes through an x-ray machine.


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdtxe6e wrote

Then why does it say X-ray on the side, on the monitor, in the manual, and in the training?


Sciguystfm t1_jdvf5uc wrote

The entire agency exists for no reason my dude


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdvfzxv wrote

I understand your point, but you’re grossly overstating it. Hijacking used to be commonplace in the 70s & 80s. Then 9/11 obviously happened and TSA was obviously created in reaction to that, so there are obviously reasons. Whether those reasons justify the existence of TSA is a different discussion tho


tauntingbob t1_jdx3h36 wrote

The number of airplane hijackings was already in decline during the 90s and processes were already improving at airports around the world. Remembering that the TSA is a purely US production and doesn't represent the world, where most incidents happened. The world's airports have improved their processes and it's improved security a fair bit.

But ultimately the evidence is there, the TSA fails almost every test they're checked against by their own organisation. They're probably the least effective security force in the world, other than to frustrate people, they're good at that.

$8bn a year for an organisation who let through banned materials 70% of the time...


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdxap5p wrote

They were designed to frustrate would-be terrorists, so it makes sense that they frustrate everyone else too


Sciguystfm t1_jdvouq7 wrote

I mean the reason was entirely security theater.

Locking, reinforced cabin doors and air marshals prevent another 9/11, banning toothpaste does not.

There's zero evidence the TSA has stopped a single terror attack, and on top of that they fail their own internal red team tests 95% of the time


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdvrxle wrote

They are the most expensive home security window sticker ever. While they haven’t actively prevented terrorist actions, their mere presence may have been sufficient to make terrorists seek softer targets. Unfortunately, that’s hardly something we can measure or quantify


Poguemohon t1_jdwsrnf wrote

Idk why you're getting downvoted? You're literally talking about the shit Ralph Nader proposed before 9/11.


penguished t1_jdvayio wrote

So what you're saying is they paid through the nose for shitty tech with problems like that, that haven't been fixed, and so the ultimate solution is ban peanut butter. Wonderful work.


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdvchy5 wrote

No…. I’m saying That the laws of physics don’t allow us to distinguish between the two substances.
It’s like when men look at two things that appear to be the same shade of yellow, but really they are different shades of yellow. (Men are less able to discern differences between shades of yellow than 1/3rd of women who have more yellow cones in their eyes)


penguished t1_jdvs6qx wrote

Technology isn't men though. It's meant to be doing things we can't on its own. With how powerful stuff like AI analysis is getting, they should find better solutions.


Harry_Gorilla t1_jdvued3 wrote

I would personally prefer my tax dollars not be spent on upgrading these systems, antiquated tho they might be. We haven’t had a plane blown up or hijacked in over 20 years


VanDenBroeck t1_jdt2ddj wrote

“The agency says peanut butter fits its definition of liquid, which it declares as something with no definite shape that takes the shape of its container.”

That could also define a gas.

But my question is why does peanut butter take the shape of the jar? Is it because it is forced to under pressure during the manufacturing process?

If I scoop out a large portion with a tablespoon, does it fill the spoon like a liquid and the excess run out?

If I scoop out a bunch of it and dump it in a measuring cup, does it uniformly fill the cup by seeking a level like water would?

The TSA is a ridiculous bunch of nitwits.


DuePomegranate t1_jdu7nwp wrote

The rule was always about liquids and gels. Or to be more anal,

>Any liquid, aerosol, gel, cream or paste

My understanding is that the "liquid" explosives that airlines are afraid of are often quite viscous and more like gels or putties (or peanut butter) than water.

The TSA media person is just doing a terrible job of explaining the rationale. They could just have said that peanut butter is a paste and that's restricted.


Longshot_45 t1_jduz5ii wrote

In another post someone noted that some machines are actually calibrated/tested using peanut butter and honey as they mimic the consistency of certain explosives they are looking for.


curlyhairlad t1_jdvcctq wrote

I’ve played enough Arkham City to know about explosive gel


eXecute_bit t1_jdtgk5w wrote

Peanut butter is a non-Newtonian fluid.

> a liquid with non-constant viscosity


antiquemule t1_jduomrd wrote

Not very helpful. Most gels, pastes and other gloop are non-Newtonian and they do not all behave like peanut butter.

To be precise, it is a yield stress fluid, which means that when pushed a little bit, it acts like a solid, whereas when pushed a lot, it flows like a liquid. The (fuzzily defined) amount of push separating the two states is called the yield stress.


SpencerWS t1_jdu9hdr wrote

Actually they’re completely right. Also, the bigger issue is that you can mix chemicals in there that make it dangerous or can be distilled into powder later.


K4m30 t1_jdufx8a wrote

Seems like the definition of a fluid ifnyou ask me, but what do I know, I'm no scienceoligist.


Mrsum10ne t1_jdwq61i wrote

Not to agree with or defend their assetry, but if I’m remembering correctly gases are fluids. They aren’t liquid though. All (most?) liquids are fluids, not all fluids are liquids. And maybe peanut butter is like pitch. It just takes forever for it to flow. If they would’ve called it a fluid they may be technically right.


HarlanCulpepper t1_jdsd4rd wrote

I just want to know who just can't bear to travel without peanut butter.


patienceisfun2018 t1_jdsldx9 wrote

I have stringent dietary restrictions and peanut butter is one of my favorite travel foods. Obviously, there are always alternatives, but classifying it as a liquid is stupid and another example of the security theater bullshit they put us through.


grudginglyadmitted t1_jdt6e5j wrote

my sister has tons of food allergies and just recently had to beg TSA to let her keep her jar of jam (that plus some bread was her only meal for the 14+ hour travel day). If you guys end up on a flight together I bet you can make a great pb and j


man-vs-spider t1_jdv0ekw wrote

Regardless of if it’s actually a “liquid”, it’s properties are those that security would be looking out for in explosives. So doesn’t sound too stupid to me (since we already have restrictions for liquids in general)


Larkson9999 t1_jdun09q wrote

Isn't peanut butter a fairly easy item to procure upon arrival?


Ahab_Ali t1_jdsgbvo wrote

I run marathons and always pack peanut butter so I do not have to worry about finding some at my destination. It is part of a traditional race day breakfast.

The TSA had been restricting peanut butter container size for quite a while--I guess it was just unofficially until now.

Edit: I package it in multiple 2oz condiment "to go" containers.


texanfan20 t1_jdspx4x wrote

Now the shops behind security are going to stock peanut butter and charge $20 a jar.


HorseGestapo t1_jdtlpqc wrote

So, why not just put it in your checked baggage?


StephanXX t1_jdtm21n wrote

Better yet. Why not shut down a multi-billion dollar jobs program that has no record of actually preventing a single incident.


Ahab_Ali t1_jdtlrnv wrote

I do not check baggage.


HorseGestapo t1_jdtm3y0 wrote

Oh you're one of those...

If you refuse to check a bag I don't think you have much ground to complain about what you're allowed to carry on, especially when it isn't an immediate necessity.


ryanCrypt t1_jdtnafj wrote

Maybe he doesn't carry much. Doesn't make him a "type of person". He didn't say he "refused". Only his tendency. He wasn't complaining.


Sciguystfm t1_jdvfh0z wrote

Unless you're bringing more than a week of outfits or you need to bring so much stuff that you can't fit it in a carry on, why would anyone choose to pay the extra money to check a bag


shannyleigh87 t1_jdt2t81 wrote

My 3 year old legitimately refused to eat anything that isn’t snack food, except for peanut butter. He went on a two day eating strike over a green bean. I don’t want to deal with that when I’m traveling, I’d rather just bring the peanut butter.


Sharing_Violation t1_jdt8ejt wrote

I was on a flight once where they announced at the gate that someone on the flight was deadly allergic to peanuts and they would confiscate all peanut butter and related to make sure it was sealed... the amount of protest...

Me, I'm sitting there like... who is bringing peanutbutter on planes??...

So maybe it's common?


St3phiroth t1_jdtoslm wrote

I almost always pack peanut butter, PBJ sandwich, or nuts for plane trips. It's a really great, shelf-stable source of protein and fats which makes it a really great travel food when you can't bring a cooler/ice pack.

Obviously I would keep it sealed if someone on the plane was allergic though. I'm not an AH.


texasdeafdogs t1_jdws4lt wrote

I definitely packed some my last flight. The hotel was fairly remote and pricey. I don't eat much so I wanted to not waste $ on the hotel food.


Radingod123 t1_jdtlay2 wrote

I wanna know who is making bombs out of it.


VanDenBroeck t1_jdv0a4b wrote

No one is making bombs out of peanut butter. Peanut butter is THE bomb.


SilasX t1_jdu48xw wrote

Jim Hopper from Stranger Things.


lufecaep t1_jdsajet wrote

So make your sandwich first. I brought several PB&Js through several countries not to long ago. The only people that seemed concerned with them was the group that is concerned with restricted foods. I actually had to pull them out of my bag and show them at a couple places.


machina99 t1_jdsd97u wrote

But what about if I want some peanut butter to dip my apple slices? And even on a sandwich that raises the question - what if I have more than 3.4 oz on a single sandwich? I'm team amorphous solid when it comes to PB


lufecaep t1_jdsmco9 wrote

I wonder what would happen if you spread it onto a sheet of wax paper then rolled it up? I'm sure half the TSA agents would let it pass in the jar anyway.


AurumArgenteus t1_jdtbwgd wrote

If it were a literal bomb, there's at least a 90% chance they'd let it through.


MoistAttitude t1_jdsfbgb wrote

Pitch is a liquid, and peanut butter is much less viscous than that so sure.


valomorn t1_jdtjnc9 wrote

I'm gonna be the annoying "AAActually" guy here and point out that the term liquid can include many substances that are far more viscous than even peanut butter, to the point of appearing solid.

There's a whole ongoing experiment where a form of naturally occuring asphalt has been left to drip, it has only done so 9 times since 1930 and is for this reason still considered a liquid despite seeming so solid at room temp it can be shattered with a forceful enough blow.


SmurfsNeverDie t1_jdt49o5 wrote

They are probably talking about kirkland peanut butter.


Scutshakes t1_jdt0zb4 wrote

There is a YouTube channel called "What's My Line?", it is a channel that archives and uploads episodes of the old panel show of the same name. The famous John Charles Daly hosts this game show where a celebrity panel interrogates the subject on what their profession is, kind of like a game of 20 questions. Sometimes they blindfold themselves to bring in guest celebrities (like Jack Benny and Groucho Marx) and they have to guess who they are talking to.

My memory is a little hazy as this has been some years, but I believe one person had worked as like a mustard taste tester, or worked in a mustard factory, or was an officiant for mustard marriages. I don't remember. But when the panel asked "Is what you [work with] a liquid or a solid?", the subject looked confused. The famous John Charles Daly, in all his grace, wisdom, and good nature, took the subject in for a private deliberation, and very confidently announced that the mustard was a SOLID OBJECT, which of course derailed the entire subsequent line of questioning to an inevitable failure.

For as much as I respect and love the famous John Charles Daly, I will never forgive him for this, and I've never watched another episode since. Peanut butter, a liquid? Maybe. I admit I am not smart enough to argue for or against this. There are better qualified people for it. But MUSTARD? That I have to shake up and squeeze out of a bottle? That I can easily spread over my bologna sandwich in the back of a limousine? I will never agree to call it a solid. Maybe you do, maybe you will side with the famous John Charles Daly purely on the trust he has built with you. But he's not fooling me, and I'm not afraid to look dumb enough to argue against him.


Ghosttalker96 t1_jdujr8h wrote

Aren't they now removing the liquid restrictions entirely as they create a lot of delays during safety checks and don't bring any benefit for security in the first place?


nuadusp t1_jdsjkp3 wrote

why just not allow oils and emulsions


Wooba99 t1_jdt8etd wrote

It's so silly. Several years ago I was flying to Canada via London. I had half a jar of nutella in my bag. No issues for the first flight, but it was taken from me in London. I was transiting and hadn't even left the terminal!


Reyemreden t1_jdtch15 wrote

We already have peanut butter in a tube, I guess they could make travel sizes too.


Christovir t1_jdtdiyu wrote

TSA has been enforcing this for 10+ years when they made me throw out my peanut butter. They also took my “gel” insoles.


herronasaurus_rex t1_jdtx0qo wrote

I’ve had this same issue but with toothpaste - a paste is not a liquid!


ErieSpirit t1_jduxvxj wrote

The TSA rule has always included liquids, gels, pastes, creams, and aerosols.


man-vs-spider t1_jdv11aa wrote

This is a pretty thin defence, pastes are typically liquids with solid suspensions and behave like liquids when large enough forces are applied.

You may disagree with the general TSA guidelines, but given that liquids are restricted, it is consistent that things similar to liquids are also restricted


RotisserieChicken007 t1_jdu19fz wrote

if they really wanted to ban it they should just have done so without giving a silly reason like it's a liquid.


[deleted] t1_jdudu7s wrote



SlackerKey t1_jdu3vzp wrote

I would invite TSA to drink a pint of peanut butter, then.


SilasX t1_jdu47u8 wrote

If they comment on the Frosty from Wendy’s … God help them.


harpejjist t1_jdu695g wrote

Peanut butter can stand in a lump. So not enough of a liquid. But also, I dare them to try and drink it


DeepTh0tt t1_jdv5gnk wrote

It's a paste. Unless you melt it, you can't pour it. You don't need to melt a liquid to pour it.


28463719174636 t1_jdv83dd wrote

I'm gonna bring a block of tar and break their minds.


mazzimar7 t1_jdw982f wrote

The have "paste" as a qualifier under the liquid category. Peanut butter is definitely a paste.


LarYungmann t1_jdwkc1m wrote

I think Muck is a closer definition.


ButtMustard t1_jdwoa49 wrote

Why are you bringing peanut butter on an airplane?


skittlebog t1_jdx097u wrote

Glad my peanut butter cups made it through.


tomd65 t1_jdx4psw wrote

TSA Takes Snacks Away


XenoskarSIMP t1_je9pqvn wrote

Are this many mofos taking peanut butter on planes? Like, "Okay, all packed for the trip. I got my sunblock, extra socks, some magazines to read... and, uh, my Peanut butter."


CavScout81 t1_jdudsi6 wrote

A few years ago the TSA stole my cheese spread because they said it was a liquid.

Fuck the TSA!


VanDenBroeck t1_jdv25cs wrote

I have never carried a jar of peanut butter on a plane. I have however carried: bags of peanuts, peanut butter sandwiches, and peanut butter fudge. Now, peanut butter is in a state that is between peanuts and peanut butter fudge. So… it seems that this transitional phase of matter matters to the TSA. They are anti trans. /s