My Huckleberry Jelly Bust

I was in Great Falls, Montana in December. When my suitcase went through the scanner at the Great Falls airport, it set off the alarms. TSA agents surrounded my suitcase like there was a bomb inside. A TSA agent said to me: “Sir, the x-ray machine has detected a bottle of an unknown liquid in your suitcase.” I said: “I don’t have any liquids in my suitcase.” They took my suitcase over to a table. The agents put on rubber gloves and searched my suitcase meticulously. (Frankly, I think I would have washed my clothes first if I had known that they were going to do that.) At the bottom of my suitcase they found a jar of huckleberry jelly. The TSA agents asked me if the jelly belonged to me. I said it did. They confiscated the jelly. They told me that the TSA regards huckleberry jelly as a potentially dangerous liquid. I knew that the TSA doesn’t allow people to go into the secure areas of airports with liquids, but it never occurred to me that they considered huckleberry jelly a liquid, and a dangerous liquid at that. The jelly was quite solid. I purchased the huckleberry jelly at a ‘Made In Montana’ store in Great Falls.

After my huckleberry jelly was safely taken away and put someplace where it couldn’t harm anyone, I was cleared to go into the secure area of the airport. I said to one of the TSA agents: “Do you confiscate a lot of huckleberry jelly here?” Every hotel gift shop in Great Falls sells the stuff. She said that they confiscate huckleberry jelly every day. The gift shop inside the Great Falls airport’s secure area had several brands of huckleberry jelly for sale. I suspect they sell it to people who promised to bring huckleberry jelly back home as a souvenir of their trip to Montana, and the huckleberry jelly that they brought to the airport was confiscated, just like mine was. Huckleberries are fussy little berries that only grow in a few places. One of those places is Montana, which is why gift shops all over Montana sell huckleberry jelly to tourists. Although most Americans have never seen huckleberries, everybody has heard of them because of Huckleberry Finn and Huckleberry Hound.

The TSA agent told me that other airports in Montana also confiscate huckleberry jelly every day as well. What do you suppose the TSA does with all that confiscated huckleberry jelly? I suspect that they sell it back to the hotel gift shops! Then the hotel gift shops can sell the jelly again and again to unsuspecting tourists – like me! I wonder how many times my jar of huckleberry jelly was resold and reconfiscated.