Cupcakegate revisited

“Don’t you just love the font we picked for the Wicked Good to Go label?”

“I think we should go with gold string bows, not silver!”

“Don’t you know that gold won’t go with the pink label? They have to be silver.”

“Why two spoons? Americans are pigs – they’ll only need one.”

“Shouldn’t we just call it Wicked to Go? What on earth does ‘wicked good’ mean?”

After recently receiving two Wicked Good Cupcakes® from a friend who lives in Cohasset, Mass., the home of the infamous cupcake-to-go in a jar, I’ve decided I just can’t let cupcakegate die. The incident illustrates the absolute lack of proper reasoning or common sense that seems to be the hallmark of the TSA, this $8 billion agency designed to “protect us,” yet that more often just harasses us.

I’m bringing it back up for the unfortunate older or infirm people who are subjected to unreasonable searches and questioning because of what should be private things like colostomy bags or adult diapers. For the parent whose sleeping baby in a stroller had to get disturbed to get a special scanning for some unknown reason. For the breast cancer survivors who are subjected to “patdowns” because their prosthetics show up on scans. This is for all of us, really, who regularly have our 4th Amendment rights ignored just because we want or need to fly.

You have to see one of these cupcakes in a Mason jar up close to realize the absurdity of the incident. I agree with the TSA’s Blogger Bob that this “wasn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill cupcake.” In fact, the packaging alone – pink labeling, cute, flighty font, and all tied up in a bow – makes imagining terrorists hatching a bomb plot using a cupcake in a jar, especially this cupcake in a jar, worthy of a Saturday Night Live skit.

Blogger Bob 1-9-2012:
I wanted to make it clear that this wasn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill cupcake. If you’re not familiar with it, we have a policy directly related to the UK liquid bomb plot of 2006 called 3-1-1 that  limits the amount of liquids, gels, and aerosols you can bring in your carry-on luggage. Icing falls under the “gel” category.  As you can see from the picture, unlike a thin layer of icing that resides on the top of most cupcakes, this cupcake had a thick layer of icing inside a jar.

In general, cakes and pies are allowed in carry-on luggage, however, the officer in this case used their discretion on whether or not to allow the newfangled modern take on a cupcake per 3-1-1 guidelines. They chose not to let it go.

Every officer wants to finish their shift and go home with the peace of mind that they kept potential threats off of airplanes. They’re not thinking about whether their decisions will go viral on the internet – they’re thinking about keeping bombs off of planes. This incident may seem like a silly move to many of our critics, but when we can’t be exactly sure of what something is, every officer has the discretion to not allow it on the plane.  This is done purely for the safety of everyone traveling.

I’m not going to buy that the TSA officer in question wanted to go home “with the peace of mind that they kept potential threats off of airplanes,” because this wasn’t just one cake part in the bottom with a huge amount of frosting on top. The Wicked Good Cupcake to Go is, in fact, three layers of cupcakes. I’m sure it actually passed the TSA’s 3-1-1 test. (And, yes, I would have needed only one spoon.)

The frosting, which is thick on each of the layers, is the same depth as the frosting on a normal cupcake, despite how the TSA agent might have perceived it. Now, since people can bring full-size cakes and pies in their carry-on (and why don’t we also imagine terrorists putting bombs into a chocolate cream pie, or, heaven forbid, an all-American apple pie?), I see no reason why the agent didn’t look at the whole package, both inside and out, and immediately see it for what it was.

The “big but” in this is that the agent didn’t use an ounce of common sense. Just like most of the agents singling out old people, people with prosthetics, or those who walk with canes or have to use wheelchairs.

That’s the point of bringing this all up again. Common sense has gone out the window when it comes to the TSA. Even this new TSA Pre✓ program illustrates a certain perverseness in that those who want to participate will have to pay to not have their rights as U.S. citizens violated, and also submit to another invasion of privacy to be able to fly without taking off their shoes (perhaps), taking their laptops out of the bag (perhaps), or taking off their jackets or belts (perhaps).

Cupcakegate for the TSA, like Watergate for the Nixon administration, is really just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many things wrong with the premise and system of the organization. It’s time to examine its practices (and expenditures) from top to bottom — using, dare I say it, some common sense.