Popsicle Makers a Security Threat

Chicago chef Rick Bayless photographed this security sign, posted before airport security as people were returning home from the Aspen Food & Wine Festival:

No popsicle makers are allowed through security.

Anyone have any idea why something like this is so dangerous? Is the TSA prohibiting random things to toy with us? Their blog is silent on this question.

EDITED TO ADD (6/23): Seems that it’s not all popsicle makers, but the Zoku Quick Pop Maker that Williams Sonoma was selling at the festival. It has a small amount of liquid inside. And remember, if there isn’t a printed label stating the volume of liquid, the TSA assumes that it’s over 3 ounces. (Terrorists take note: print official looking labels on your larger-than-three-ounce bottles and you’ll have no trouble at airport security.)

Posted on June 23, 2010 at 1:16 PM34 Comments


mcb June 23, 2010 3:10 PM

At first I was thinking “popsicle shaped charges” but now I’m guessing it’s the…

“Nonstick cast-aluminum molds have a proprietary solution sealed inside their bases to enable rapid, uniform freezing.”

…must be more than 3.4 ounces of proprietary solution.

Thank you, TSA!

Davi Ottenheimer June 23, 2010 3:23 PM

I checked the TSA site for popsicle guidance and found this:


“Frozen items are allowed as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If frozen items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 requirements”

Technically the sign should thus should say no unfrozen popsicle makers….

The 3-1-1 rule means the container must be 100ml (3.4 oz) not the amount of liquid inside.

Incidentally I think it used to be 3.0 oz for total liquid volume, but was changed to 3.4 oz (100ml). Ronald Reagan must be turning in his grave. It is really a 100-1-1 rule but the TSA leaves it open to interpretation.

This reminds me of airports in Colorado, which always seem too zealous about toothpaste security.

Although I fly regularly all over the place and have no issues elsewhere for some reason the TSA in Colorado has a thing for trashing my toothpaste.

A few weeks ago I tried to point out that the tube was less than 100ml, it was a paste (not gel, aerosol or liquid)…but the screener just looked away, said “no”, and literally tossed my toothpaste into the trash.

On a similar trip through Colorado I was approached directly by a TSA screener and told to make sure I put my shave cream in a ziplock bag. Then she paused and said “Oh, I guess you wouldn’t have to worry about that now would you, ha ha ha!”

Yes, how very funny that the TSA makes flying in America today feel like Kenya in the 1970s.

Dom De Vitto June 23, 2010 3:52 PM

“I’ll give you my popsicle maker when you take it from my cold, dead hands!”

It won’t end here – there are snowcone makers with similar dangers, and with an ice cream maker, do you include the flake in the 100ml volume measurement?

“….they may take our lives, but they’ll never take… OUR 99s!”

Sharper June 23, 2010 4:43 PM

At first glance, I thought the sign referred to someone’s line of work and wondered why people who work in popsicle factories were such a special risk that they were banned from flying…

Gweihir June 23, 2010 6:35 PM

Every time I read something like this, I look at my spare laptop battery and laugh. Not only is it handy as a club, it can also pretty easily and invisibly be turned into a very hart to extinguish fire-bomb with time trigger, that, as an added bonus, creates thick, acrid, and possibly poisonous smoke.

But I think it does not contain liquids, popsicle makers or potato peelers, so it must be safe!

disarming June 24, 2010 1:37 AM

Well, d’oh! You could stick a knife or ice pick in some liquid, freeze it solid, then when it thaws — Or stick it up your *** to smuggle it through, protected from the sharp edges by the round Popsicle… Take the empty pop-maker, pay the flight attendant the going rate for a cup of ice, add the salt you’ve secreted, freeze your soft drink, grind the resulting Popsicle to a sharp edge using (fill in the blank)…

The possibilities are endless!

(Or you could just put a choke-hold on the flight attendant, using nothing but your arms. Which means we should be flying literally unarmed: “Please put your arms in your checked baggage. You may put them back on your shoulders after arrival”. … haven’t quite figured out how we’d pick our arm-containing luggage off the conveyer belt — Porter! Oh, Porter!)

@ Gweihir: http://www.xkcd.com used that very same idea in a cartoon a while ago, but I can’t come up with the right keyword to search and point you to it.

Rhialto June 24, 2010 5:56 AM

Strangely enough, that website of the specific popsicle maker tells me “Sorry, due to website restrictions we are unable to display the requested page.”
Traffic overload, or they don’t want European visitors?

No One June 24, 2010 6:06 AM

Bruce, I’d worry about giving advice like that (your parenthetical) to terrorists — it could be construed as giving aid and comfort to them! Oh no, and now I’m helping you! WHEN WILL IT END!?

Monty Python June 24, 2010 8:55 AM

“What do you do when an assailant attacks you with a tuna?”

Pretty soon my jokes wont be funny anymore…

Rick Auricchio June 24, 2010 9:24 AM

@disarming: “Or you could just put a choke-hold on the flight attendant, using nothing but your arms….”

I’ve said this for years. The population would freak out if they realized this. Even without a choke hold, threatening someone’s eyes with your hands is a good enough threat.

paul June 24, 2010 1:57 PM

I don’t know if any of the other commenters have played with the zoku. It’s a pretty big chunk of cast aluminum with liquid sloshing around inside, and I expect there are parts of the interior where x-rays would not produce a usable image. If you could get an explosive and a detonator inside it, it would make a fine package for a bomb.

That doesn’t make the TSA’s ban a good idea, but it certainly makes it no more of a bad idea than the liquid restrictions in general.

guy herbert June 26, 2010 1:16 AM

Do they let inkjet cartridges through? The makers of injets are notriously reluctant to say how much ink there is in them. Must be more than 3 ounces.

The Usual Suspect June 26, 2010 5:53 AM

“Their blog is silent on this question.”

Its been very silent in general the last 10 days.

Bob dropped by once for an update.

Lynn June 26, 2010 9:11 AM

To be clear, this wasn’t a TSA sign. The TSA signs have the TSA logo on them. Someone at the airport or airline in Apsen put the sign up, and TSA asked them to take it down.

disarming June 27, 2010 11:35 PM

@ MailDeadDrop: Thanks. Bugged the heck out of me … lousy search engine they have.

@ Rick Auricchio: Or their testes, or …. seems an averagely-strong man could pick the lightest, frailest female crewmember, and (zillions of things could be done with bare hands).

Let’s all hope Chuck Norris doesn’t go rogue!

David June 28, 2010 3:34 AM

I’ve mentioned this before but…

Has anyone ever questioned a TSA agent at the security checkpoint concerning the “3 OZ” rule? One should realize that most products sold in the US are sold by weight. Most products do not list the volume of the container, they list the net weight. And there is no direct correlation between weight and volume. The volume is the amount that the TSA is suppose to be checking, yet it is usually the weight that is stated on the container. So even if your container says 3 OZ, if it is 3 OZ net weight then this says nothing about the volume.

Not to say that your “security” is in anyway enhanced by this mindless check, but it is ironic that in many cases they aren’t even checking the right number to begin with…

Shogun37 June 28, 2010 7:15 AM

Umm, you do know that the TSA is a jobs program for the intentionally stupid? If you want real airport security, go talk to the Isrealis. When was the last time they had an attack on an airplane?

Graham Bland July 15, 2010 2:12 AM

Am I really reading this one right, “Frozen items are allowed as long as they are frozen solid when presented for screening. If frozen items are partially melted, slushy, or have any liquid at the bottom of the container, they must meet 3-1-1 requirements”
So I can take any amount of liquids on a plane as long as they are frozen as I go through security.
Doesn’t the TSA realise (Sorry, stupid question) that at cabin temperature on a plane most liquids will melt! Presumably this would solve the toothpaste problem, just freeze it first. By the way I have seen a few movies where people are stabbed and killed by icicles, how about frozen toothpaste??

Jeff July 15, 2010 8:20 AM

Aside from toxicity issues – does mercury count as a solid or a liquid ?

The TSA is borderline dysfunctional. I’ve written to complain about the variances in screening practices at different airports. I received a form letter response. I queried it again and …. ditto … well – I gave up after that.

Chuck Norris July 15, 2010 10:14 AM

Even without a choke hold, threatening someone’s eyes with your hands is a good enough threat.

I prefer to threaten to roundhouse kick them far enough into the past to prevent their birth. So far the TSA hasn’t tried to tell me that I can’t bring my body onto a plane.


gTs July 16, 2010 4:38 AM

Mercury (all forms) has been banned from planes as it can cause extensive damage to aluminium.
Given the times this is probably the only liquid the TSA will allow without restrictions.

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