Don't Pack that Pumpkin Pie Just Yet... As home cooks get ready to travel for Thanksgiving, many are wondering whether it's OK to take their signature dishes along in their carry-ons. Can travelers safely take a container of cranberry relish, or an entire pumpkin pie with them?

Don't Pack that Pumpkin Pie Just Yet...

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


From NPR News, it's DAY TO DAY.

A lot of people are flying over the next few days, and many of them want to bring a special dish for Thanksgiving with them. But the Transportation Security Administration has those restrictions on liquids - nothing more than three ounces allowed in carry-on luggage.

So, does that mean you have to leave the pumpkin pie behind? Earl Morris is the general manager of operations for the TSA, and he joins me now. Welcome.

Mr. EARL MORRIS (General Manager of Operations): Well, to answer your question with regard to whether or not you leave the pumpkin pie at home, we're saying that you can take it, but you better but it in a sealed container, tape it up, and make sure it's shut, and then you can put it inside your check baggage. And then hope it doesn't open up and destroy anything that is inside of there. But as far as taking it through our checkpoints, no you cannot, because it would be a considered a gel or a liquid.

BRAND: Mmm. Well I guess that's the rub right is putting stuff in the checked-luggage - that's the problem.

Mr. MORRIS: Well again, people have that option. Frankly, we discourage carrying of food, but if they do want to carry any kind of food products, the only option they really do have - unless it is something that is a solid -would be to put it inside their checked-baggage.

BRAND: What about a semi-solid - say Jello mold?

Mr. NORRIS: Well again, that would be considered solid enough for us. I guess our line is basically if you can pour it, pump it, squeeze it, spread it, smear it, spray it, or spill it - then it is a liquid gel or aerosol. So in that case even a Jello mold, hard set whatever it might be, that would not pass.

BRAND: I'm just going to ask you this one question. I know I'm pushing it, but what about this?

(Soundbite of Susan Stamberg)

SUSAN STAMBERG (NPR Host): It's a shocking pink color, it's a cranberry relish, and it consists of onion, sour cream, sugar, and horseradish plus the raw cranberries.

BRAND: NPR listeners in general, might recognize that's our own Susan Stamberg's cranberry relish. And it may be a gastronomic threat, but surely not a threat to civil aviation.

Mr. MORRIS: None the less, because our screeners at the checkpoints don't have the ability to test that particular concoction that you've just given to me, we would not allow that to go through.

It would be considered a liquid/gel type of a product. When you start putting the sour cream and all of the other things that are in there - it's got a liquid consistency and would be prohibited from going through.

BRAND: A certain viscosity.

Mr. MORRIS: Again, what's important to note is that we are not opposed to people having or taking these types of things to their home. We just cannot allow it in our airplanes in the area where the passengers are. So, you know again we say you can take what you want if you can get it inside your check bag and make sure that it is sealed properly. But again if it meets any of that criteria that I gave you earlier, then it would be excluded.

BRAND: So what are you going to do with all this - I assume there is going to be piles of confiscated food - what are you going to do with it? Go in the back room and eat it?

Mr. MORRIS: No. Anything that is surrendered at the checkpoint - certainly there will be trash bins that are there that people can leave behind whatever it is they aren't going to put in their checked-baggage.

We would encourage people of course to go ahead and put it in their check baggage if they would like to do so. But if they show up at the checkpoint, they are trying to go through, and they don't have any other alternatives -then it goes in the trash can and will be thrown away and disposed of, generally by the airport.

BRAND: Earl Morris is the general manager of operations for the Transportation Security Administration, thank you and have a happy Thanksgiving.

Mr. MORRIS: Thank you ma'am. Bye-bye.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: And if you want a recipe for that viscous cranberry sauce, go to our website,, DAY TO DAY returns in a moment.

Copyright © 2006 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.