The TSA Cupcake Lady Speaks: I'm Truly Sick Of Talking About Cupcakes

While the “TSA Cupcake Lady” is sick of talking about cupcakes, she’s also determined that the dessert in question not be woefully misrepresented by descriptions of it being “packed in icing.” To that end, she was kind of enough to write in and explain her side of the story, in response to the TSA’s recent blog reaction to the cake kerfuffle.

For those unfamiliar with the bakery brouhaha, here’s a quick recap: Rebecca carried two cupcakes in jars with her on her way to Las Vegas, she tried bringing one back with her and was not allowed to by the Transportation Security Administration because the icing looked “gel-like.” The story makes the news and does the blog rounds, until weeks later, the TSA writes a sassy little blog explaining that really, there was a lot of icing in that jar.

And now we’re just going to let Rebecca speak for herself because she’s pretty darn good at it.

Hi, Consumerist:

This is the “TSA Cupcake Lady.” I’m a long-time Consumerist reader. Thanks so much for reporting on my story!

In your latest post about the cupcake confiscation, you posted the photo that the TSA shared on their blog of a cupcake in a jar.

I wanted to follow up with you because…. well… the TSA post was slightly misleading. That small image, combined with their narrative about this being a “newfangled” cupcake buried under a “thick” layer of icing, led the AP to erroneously report that the confiscated cupcake was “packed in a jar of icing.”

Here is a photo from the reverse side of an actual Red Velvet cupcake in a jar from the same bakery. It contains small- to medium-sized layers of icing. It’s not like it’s encased in icing or something!

Yesterday, I asked the AP if they’d correct their story, but they refused; they insisted it is accurate to call it “packed in a jar of icing” based on the TSA blog post.

Oh, well. It was worth a try!

Now, this might seem a silly point for me to rebut, but I study media discourse professionally (I’m a media studies professor), and the TSA is misrepresenting facts ever-so-slightly. To me, it’s a transparent attempt to sway public opinion. By offering a description that led a credible national news agency to believe the cupcake was “packed in a jar of icing,” they attempt to position their agent’s decision as understandable–even logical.

However, the decision was anything but. Frosting is not a gel! And it does not magically become one just because it’s in a jar. If the TSA says cakes and cupcakes are safe to fly, there should be no caveat saying, “oh, um, unless it’s conforming to the shape of a container, like a glass jar!”

Logic would suggest that a type of product is either safe or unsafe, regardless of its container. The 3-1-1 rule shouldn’t apply when a cupcake is in a jar but not when it’s in a cardboard box.

Anyway, the TSA’s response misses a much bigger point: the story went viral because people across the nation are so incredibly tired of the TSA’s security theater. If the TSA were reformed to focus on security–WITHOUT taking naked pictures of us, dousing us with radiation, confiscating medicine, mishandling medical devices, and throwing away our water bottles and nail clippers and so on–well, then the public might have its confidence in the TSA restored.

At the moment, though I do love the deliciousness of cupcakes, I am really, truly sick of talking about cupcakes and the TSA. It’s unreal, actually, that the TSA restarted the media cycle with a blog post three weeks after the fact–and one that was not apologetic, but actually defended their agents’ right to be inconsistent! They are their own worst enemy.

But as I’ve said right along, this story is really not about the cupcake. It’s about the TSA overstepping its bounds. If this silly incident about a trivial cupcake can prompt a much broader, more serious conversation about the importance of protecting our civil liberties, then to me, it’s worth it.

Thank you, Rebecca!

If something was going to be dangerous because of the amount of potential explosive icing, why would it being in a jar make a difference?

Rebecca and The Threatening Cupcake [Facebook]

Previously: TSA Proclaims That Once A Cupcake Is Inside A Jar, It’s Not Okay To Carry On; TSA Agent Confiscates Cupcake On Grounds That Its Delicious Frosting Could Be Explosive