Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Please step away from the peanut butter, Ma'am"

Have you ever had food souvenirs taken away from you at the airport by customs or the TSA?

After having customs officers confiscate several items over the years (including meat-flavored instant noodles from Singapore which contained no meat whatsoever), I'm really careful about what I bring back from vacation because I honestly can't bear the thought of someone taking away my food.

Kris and I just got back from our annual visit to Vancouver (and an Alaskan cruise... more on that later) and the one thing I always bring home is a jar of
Kraft Smooth Light Peanut Butter. Kraft peanut butter just tastes way better than anything I can get stateside (and who can resist those cute little bears on the label?) so my parents always remember to buy me a jar before I leave.

During the voyage home, this precious jar of peanut butter always stays with me in my carry-on bag and in the past, I've never had a problem with getting it on the flight. But this was before security was significantly beefed up at the Vancouver airport (courtesy of a
recent bomb scare). The recently implemented TSA screening process includes a full body scan and a complete search of carry-on baggage, during which every item is removed from your bag and examined closely. Everything was fine until the TSA agent pulled out my jar of peanut butter and said I couldn't take it on the plane because it exceeded 100 ml! Since when is peanut butter considered a liquid?! Normally, I try to maintain my composure when in public (and especially when dealing with airport security) but when someone tries to come between me and my food, all bets are off! I uttered a string of profanities before I could stop myself. Kris said I was lucky I didn't get tasered.

But this story has a happy ending. Rather than watch his wife get locked up and detained over a jar of peanut butter, Kris suggested we go back to the check-in counter and pay an extra $30 for an additional checked bag (containing my Kraft peanut butter, lovingly wrapped in layers of newspaper). $30 for a jar of peanut butter - money well spent in my opinion!

What would you have done?

p.s. Now that I'm thinking rationally again, I guess I could have easily purchased another jar of Kraft peanut butter at one of the many online Canadian grocers (ie. Canada Only, Canada Grocer, Canadian Favourites, Canadian Delicacies ) where you can also find Coffee Crisp, Old Dutch potato chips, Shreddies, and St. Hubert poutine sauce.



Heavenly Housewife said...

Oh no, I am so sorry to hear that. So sweet of Kris to come to your rescue. The same thing happened to me when I went to paris and bought all these cool jams. I was just glad and didn't splurge on this uber large jar of nutlella I saw there (which was just cool for its huge novelty factor). Next time i go to America I wanted to bring my sister this special ketchup that she likes, but since I only like to travel with carry on, I don't think I'll be able to. I feel your pain.
... but i am happy, cause I'm so glad you are back. Welcome home daaaaahling!
*kisses* HH
p.s. but surely your brought other goodies home too no? I will never forget that huge bunch of crisps you brought back from ireland LOL.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Now you must really love that peanut butter to spend $30 to ship it too. But then again, your husband must really love you a lot to suggest it. Sweet story. By the way, it's not a liquid, but they were not even allowing lipsticks at first, right after 9-11. I guess peanut butter has a similar consistency.

KennyT said...

I would do the same as what you guys did!

Phyllis said...

Heavenly Housewife: So glad to be back, daaaahling! Kris is my knight in shining armour, he always knows exactly what to do when someone tries to mess with my food LOL. Next time I'm packing everything in my check-in luggage because I have a feeling that airport security won't be so easy on me next time!

Ciao Chow Linda: I think my attachment to this peanut butter is partly because my dad bought it for me. I'm always so touched that he remembers to buy my favorite peanut butter so I got overly protective when someone tried to take it from me. And yes, you are right about the lipstick thing, I also remember the TSA confiscating stick deodorants back then.

Kenny: Haha, I knew you'd have my back on this one, Kenny. No one messes with your food either!

Erin said...

Oh Phyllis you still crack me up... I hear ya I love coming back from NJ with a big bag of bread and bagels as we get crappy bread/bagels down here..Don't mess with us when there is food involved..

Anonymous said...

That is one expensive jar of peanut butter :) I wouldn't think that pb would be a problem with TSA but I guess they are pretty strict these days.

Phyllis said...

Erin: Lucky I had Kris around to do damage control with the TSA officers. Otherwise, it could've been ugly! And I'm convinced it's the water over here that makes the bagels taste so good!

5 Star Foodie: My dad cracked up when I told him how much I paid to check-in that little jar of peanut butter. He now wishes he'd bought me the family size jar!

Carolyn Jung said...

A girl's gotta have what a girl's gotta have! ;)
That is hilarious that peanut butter is considered a liquid. What gives?! Good grief. I guess they're just trying to save the world from the dangers of potentially explosive nut spreads, huh? ;)

Phyllis said...

Carolyn: Yeah, that and explosive kelp jelly (they tried to take away my foodie souvenirs from Alaska too!) :)

foodhoe said...

lol that brings back memories of the box of Real brand peanut butter that we ordered from a Minnesota retailer (that brand is not sold in CA) which was sent to us fed ex overnight. It cost over $120 for the box, which we calculated to cost $12/bottle. So your $30 is a steal. My opinion, anything for the good stuff...

Phyllis said...

foodhoe: Now you've got me curious about this Real brand peanut butter from MN... $120 per box? I better start saving up LOL!

Daily Spud said...

Beware the customs guy who comes between me and my food! Under the circumstances, Kris's solution was inspired - I think I would do the same for something that I considered precious cargo :)

Tangled Noodle said...

I am so completely unsurprised that if anyone is going to have food confiscated from them at the airport, it is our dear Phyllis - lover of durian and all things weird!

Of course, there's nothing weird about PB except that it might be mistaken for a new kind of plastic explosive. So, I am pleased that you didn't get tasered and that Kris knew exactly what to do. Said it before, will say it again: you guys are such a great team! 8-)

P.S. Hope you've been nursing that now-expensive jar of PB.