If an object can be carried, it’s a good bet that somebody somewhere has tried to take it on a plane. TSA spokesman Nico Melendez has seen everything. “Engine parts. Tires. Five- and ten-pound dumbbells,” he says, deadpan. And bags and bags of food.
Naturally, food traffic spikes during the holidays, when TSA agents suddenly find themselves X-raying a lot of pies. Not cakes or cupcakes, just pies. “People bring alcohol and wrapped presents year-round, but pies only show up in great numbers around the holidays,” Melendez says.
It’s perfectly acceptable to bring pie as a carry-on item. If it’s in your checked bag and the X-ray shows anything odd, the TSA will do a test for explosives residue, though Melendez doesn’t recall any instances of pies being confiscated and dumped.
Other foods you can take on a flight:
Turkey—raw, cooked, whole, sliced, whatever. If it’s wrapped up safely and can go through the security scan, it’s fine.
Cakes, whole or in slices
Alcohol, as long as it’s bought at the airport, past security
Whole fruit of any kind—though some states might not let you bring it in when you land (“Don’t try taking fruit to Hawaii,” warns Melendez.)
Firm, cakelike English-style puddings
And some you can’t:
Cranberry sauce (“Nothing that can spray, spill, or pour,” Melendez says.)
Eggnog or any other liquid you bring from home
Soft custards and puddings
What’s more, Melendez advises travelers not to bring wrapped presents. Not because the X-ray machine can’t see through the wrapping, but because people get really mad when ribbons and bows get messed up.