TSA Bans Coke Bottles That Resemble Fictional Star Wars Explosives

"It could create concern that it’s the real thing," officials say.


The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has banned passengers from bringing special bottles of Coca-Cola sold at Disney theme parks onto planes because the containers resemble the fictional "thermal detonator" devices in the Star Wars universe.

The bottles are being sold at the newly opened Galaxy's Edge, a Star Wars–themed attraction at Disneyland in California and at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. It's a clever bit of marketing, but any parkgoers who want to take their Coke bottles home as soveigners will be out of luck if they plan to fly.

"It could create concern that it's the real thing," TSA spokesperson Jim Gregory told the Orange County Register, which first reported on the ban.

Really? Let's think through this. Anyone familiar enough with Star Wars to recognize a Coke bottle made to resemble a thermal detonator is also going to be aware of the fact that thermal detonators are fictional. Anyone else is just going to think, "Wow, that's an odd-looking Coke bottle."

Even a lot of casual Star Wars fans might not know what the bottle is supposed to mimic, since the thermal detonator isn't a well-known weapon. It's mostly just a minor plot device. Introduced in 1983's Return of the Jedi, the thermal detonator is a baseball-sized explosive that is implied to be very powerful. One is brandished menacingly by a disguised Princess Leia in the movie, but it never actually explodes on-screen. (Anton Chekov would be disappointed.)

But you know what does get used pretty often in Star Wars movies to kill and maim a lot of people and aliens? Lightsabers. And do you know what the TSA's policy regarding lightsabers is? They're perfectly fine—even in carry-on luggage!

That's because plastic reproductions of laser swords carried by fictional space warriors are obviously not actual weapons. No one worries about confusing a lightsaber with "the real thing," because that's ridiculous. But plastic Coke bottles shaped like a fictional explosive device that never actually explodes? Those are so dangerous that they can't even be packed in checked bags.

"The issue concerning Star Wars Galaxy's Edge-themed soda bottles has recently been brought to our attention by the general public, as these items could reasonably be seen by some as replica hand grenades," the TSA said in a statement Wednesday. "While we continue to review this issue, TSA officers will maintain the discretion to prohibit any item through the screening checkpoint if they believe it poses a security threat."

Sadly, the TSA has a long and inglorious history of making arbitrary decisions about what counts as a "security threat." The "thermal detonator" Coke bottles are forbidden under the same broad ban on replica weapons and explosives—except for lightsabers, I guess?—that has previously led TSA agents to seize items as innocuous as whiskey stones shaped like bullets.

This nonsensical prohibition is another good reminder that, nearly two decades after it was created, the TSA is not the last line of defense against terrorism. It's a bloated, wasteful bureaucracy that treats innocent Americans like criminals and then shares those stories for laughs on social media. It kills bunniesgropes grandmothersdetains kids, and still can't find most of the actual weapons that get smuggled onto planes.

Are airline passengers safer travelling without Coke bottles shaped like fictional Star Wars bombs? No, they are exactly as safe as they would have been otherwise.


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  1. Burrrrrocrata are some of the most ignorant pathetic excuses for human beans imaginable. No, I take that back, truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to sound plausible, and no one could write a fictional story like this and expect anything but snickers.

    1. I used to have to fly a lot. And I observed that TSA agents are one of two types:

      1) Someone who is otherwise unemployable. They applied to the TSA because no one else would hire them. You can recognize them because they are frequently overweight, slovenly, etc.

      2) An anal retentive ex- drill sergeant. Or equivalent. They applied for the job because they like yelling at people and making them grovel. You can recognize them because they are the opposite of the former: military posture, military grade haircuts, uniforms pressed within a millimeter of their lives, etc.

      1. The worst ones are a combination of the two. Private Chucklefuck couldn’t hack it with the military or the cops, so he went to the only place that would give him a uniform and a gun, and let him push people around.

      2. I think you’re right. I prefer #1, as they are pretty easy to deal with most of the time + will often return politeness. By the way, I think this breakdown works for Customs and Border Protection, too. A lot of them are just run of the mill gov’t workers: potentially annoying, but generally nice enough as long as you start out nice. But some are, to use darkflame’s invention, private chucklefuck. They literally think they are on the front line of some intergalactic battle with zombie bin laden. No, pal, you’re sitting in a comfy chair at JFK.

      3. Police recruitment hardest hit

    2. Just wait till ISIS develops a real working light saber. These permissive rules will bite the TSA right in the midichlorians.

  2. “It could create concern that it’s the real thing,” officials say.

    Coke would be concerned if you didn’t think it was The Real Thing™.

  3. I can understand the TSA’s position on this. These coke bottles look more like their perception of what a bomb looks like than what a real bomb does.

    1. Also banned t-shirts that say “I am da bomb.”

    2. They do expect the bomb to have “TNT” written on it in large letters tho.

      1. Or be attached to an old school alarm clock.

    3. Well they do look like the bombs in the old timey cartoons; black spheres with a fuse coming out of the top. Those, however, are also…wait for it….fictitious!

    4. If I was looking for weapons, that does look like a hand grenade with a funny kind of fuse.

  4. Wouldn’t they be banned as a container of liquid in excess of 100 ml? You can’t bring regular Coke cans as carry on.

    1. They are banned from CHECKED baggage as well

      1. Well, someone might have a tube of Mentos in there, too, and then the whole plane’s coming down!

      2. Checking soda cans is a bad idea. In an umpressurized cargo compartment, anyway

        1. They are in plastic containers. I traveled with two across an ocean, no problems whatsoever.

  5. “The issue concerning Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge-themed soda bottles has recently been brought to our attention by the general public, as these items could reasonably be seen by some as replica hand grenades,”

    “He’s got a replica hand grenade! Everyone hit the deck!”

    I’ve come to love the absolute lack of meta-analysis that pervades this country.

    1. “He’s got a replica hand grenade! Everyone hit the deck!”

      LOL Hey, if it gets me a better seat, I say, let them stay there!

  6. I wonder what they would say to a bunch of red candles with a wind up clock attached to it? Loony tunes you’ve meet your match with the TSA

    1. Forget about trying to get anything with ACME written on it through security.

  7. “But you know what does get used pretty often in Star Wars movies to kill and maim a lot of people and aliens? Lightsabers. And do you know what the TSA’s policy regarding lightsabers is? They’re perfectly fine—even in carry-on luggage!”

    Yet as anyone who’s ever seen Star Wars can attest, blasters have killed nobody. But try to bring one of those onto a plane.

    1. OMG! That’s why they allow lightsabers! They’re counting on people with lightsabers to deflect the bullets if someone whips out a blaster.

      1. Whips out a blaster was my nickname at Space Camp.

      2. The TSA will be sorry the first time a Sith Lord decides to fly somewhere.

    2. Yet as anyone who’s ever seen Star Wars can attest, blasters have killed nobody.

      Blockades that never stop anyone…
      Patrols that are fooled by simple disguises…
      Security checkpoints that not just accept but encourage misinformation…
      Scanning devices that only search for life forms and can’t scan secret compartments… there’s a larger pattern of dysfunction in the Star Wars universe.

      1. Who does the Galactic Empire think they are, the TSA?

    3. Harrison Ford is banned from bringing a replica blaster. It’s ok provided you’re dressed as a Stormtrooper, though.

      1. is that why Harrison has to fly his own airplanes, poorly.

  8. So someone pays $8000 to get into Disney and $50 to buy a theme Coke bottle and you’re not even going to let them bring it home? I suspect the TSA is getting some kickbacks.

    1. Check out the eBay store of TSAAgent69 if you need a theme Coke bottle.

    2. The coke bottles are $5.50

      1. Plus tax

  9. Hey Boehm, you are aware that the link posted about how TSA kills bunnies is actually all about how United Airlines kills bunnies, right? I don’t think I saw one mention of TSA in there.

    1. During a news conference on Monday, the lawyer, Guy Cook,

      What’s more puzzling is how a person named Guy Cook escaped culinary arts school to get his law degree.

    2. Only a Sith deals in absolutes

      (Pretty ironic statement)

      1. Captain Kirk could use that to blow up one of those logic-bound computers.

  10. To be fair, Coke *is* a suspicious fluid.

    “People are expected to drink that? Come on, pull the other one!”

    (On second thoughts, “pull the other one” might be considered an inappropriate phrase when talking about grenade-shaped objects)

  11. These things actually look like giant fishing bobbers. What’s next on the banned list, giant fishing bobbers?

    1. I thought it was an Christmas tree ornament on first glance.

      1. Which would be banned as violating the Jefferson letter of the constitution on separation of church and state?

    2. Don’t give them ideas.

  12. Come on–security theater has designated players, including dumb-fuck audience. If this toy bomb bottle reminds Aunt Gertrude of the hand grenade that Uncle Ralph smuggled home from the Nam, and gets her all upset when some kid throws it her way in Basic Economy, then TSA has to play its role. Keep the skies (and ticket sales) safe or something.

  13. May the farce be with you. Am I right, everyone?

  14. I’m curious if TSA would allow an EMPTY bottle to be permitted in a carry-on bag. I would like to imagine a rational human being would recognize it is empty and not a threat. Then again we are talking about the TSA…

  15. The TSA was right to ban these items.
    We all know Coca-Cola is an explosive and dangerous especially to air travelers.
    Thank God for those brave and wise TSA employees.

  16. “Anyone familiar enough with Star Wars to recognize a Coke bottle made to resemble a thermal detonator is also going to be aware of the fact that thermal detonators are fictional.”

    Stupid comment

    How about bombs made to look like Disney Coke bottles ?

  17. All right, it’s time to exorcise some ignorance. These things were not banned for looking like a fictional device. They don’t even look like the thermal detonator from the movie, other than simply being round. However, if you run a quick image search for “M67”, you might understand just why the TSA has concerns about these bottles.

    1. That’s what the damn things reminded me of. Thank you! I was sitting here racking my brain wondering if it was a video game explosive or something like that I was recalling.

      1. Except those are much smaller, and made from steel.

        1. Of course, maybe if the next Mohammad covers a live one in dryer lint and then paints it yellow he can fool TSA into thinking it’s just a tennis ball…

  18. I don’t recognize a thermal detonator. Never watched the movies, but that thing looks like a red grenade. Not having watched the movies is going to make you more likely to think that someone is trying to smuggle some military surplus through, not more likely.

  19. “It could create concern that it’s the real thing,” officials say.

    Only among incompetent TSA gropers.

  20. Considering TSA can open your bags (even checked ones) to inspect them, I fail to see why they are banning it. Oh look, its just a god-damned diet coke and not an explosive.

    1. I take it as a tacit admission that the TSA knows their employees are un-trainable idiots lacking any common sense or real world experience.

      Of course, given the example set by Reason authors, maybe they are both drawing from the same pool of applicants…

      Partisans, to your battles stations!

  21. “Souvenirs,” not “soveigners.” Good grief, who’s editing your articles? Anyone?

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