- Travelling can be stressful, not least of all due to having to navigate the airport.
- But some airports in the United States have amusing, unusual offerings for purchase in their stores, from $US1,500 hams to drones to fully functional retro push-button phones.
- Here are some of the weirdest things you can buy in airports around the US.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Air travel can be tedious, annoying, and even downright infuriating.
Between navigating TSA checkpoints, waiting in endless lines, and dodging hack-coughing seatmates, making your way through an airport isn’t typically something that anyone looks forward to.
Luckily, over the years, airports have begun to appreciate that many travellers – and especially those frequent flyers who travel regularly for business – are looking for more things to do while waiting for their flights. As a result, they have begun to offer a whole lot more in the way of shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Nowadays, there are plenty of quirky things you can find in American airport shops, from drones to used horseshoes to a $US1,500 ham complete with a leather carrying case.
Here are 13 of the weirdest things available for purchase in American airports.
1. Scorpion suckers
These are certainly unlike any other plane snack, to put it mildly.
Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport sells hard candy with a real scorpion suspended in the center, which they have dubbed “scorpion suckers.” These outlandish lollipops are a popular souvenir novelty or gag gift when in Arizona for their unique and slightly terrifying look.
The scorpion candy also made the list of Phoenix Sky Harbour’s best-selling airport items, per CNBC’s 2017 report.
2. Used racehorse shoes
Louisville, Kentucky is known as the home of the Kentucky Derby, an annual horse race that’s been running continuously since 1875. So it’s no wonder that some of the most popular souvenirs for those making their way out of the city are Derby-related.
Harriet Baskas, a blogger for Stuck at the Airport, wrote that Louisville International Airport officials told her authentic used horseshoes – complete with caked-on dirt from the racetrack – were a favourite souvenir among tourists visiting the airport’s Churchill Downs Store.
3. Vaccines and immunizations
Plenty of airports have first aid centres and other medical facilities. But did you know that some even offer full-on doctor’s visits, including shots?
The SFO Medical Clinic, for one, provides travellers with travel-related and occupational medical services. In addition to urgent care and immigration-related physicals, the clinic also has a certified travel vaccination center that can provide patients with access to the immunizations currently advised by the World Health Organisation and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Available immunizations include those for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, Japanese encephalitis, tetanus, and rabies. While the clinic doesn’t accept private insurance, they do accept most major credit cards and personal checks and provide an itemized receipt that can be forwarded to your health plan for reimbursement.
4. Retro push-button phones
If you’ve ever looked at your cell phone and been hit with a pang of nostalgia for the old-timey phones of days past, you’re in luck: Some of the quirkier novelty shops with airport outposts offer fully functional throwback home phones.
Frivolous, a specialty retail shop located in the Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport and in the Detroit Metro Airport, sells retro push-button phones, in addition to other “wonderfully unnecessary” souvenirs and gifts.
While it’s not exactly recommended to fly a drone anywhere remotely near an airport, they ironically are sold at a number of domestic airports.
InMotion Entertainment – an airport-only chain of stores – sells drones, among other more common electronics like headphones and tablets. They’re available at InMotion stores located inside a number of major US airports, including those located in Miami, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Boston, and Detroit.
“We cater to the curious and the adventurous and have successfully introduced the product to the mass public in our busy airport stores across the US,” Eden Goldberg, InMotion Entertainment’s VP of marketing and business development, told Mashable in 2015.
6. Fresh honey made by on-site bees
Interestingly, although the number of bee colonies has been sharply declining, they’re getting a boost from an unlikely source: airports.
CNBC reported that, thanks to large open and unused green spaces, airports have become a great host to honeybee colonies. In the United States alone, there are apiaries located at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, St. Louis Lambert International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and Albuquerque International Sunport.
O’Hare was the first to host a major on-airport apiary in the United States, beginning operations in 2011. The airport partnered with Sweet Beginnings, a wholly-owned non-profit subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network that provides training and jobs to ex-convicts and others who have barriers to finding employment.
The honey produced by O’Hare bees is marketed as “beelove,” and is sold both raw and infused into body care products. Beelove products have been sold in O’Hare’s Hudson News stores and its Farmers Market kiosk.
7. D.B. Cooper action figures
Some airports really lean into what their city is known for. The Portland International Airport is one such airport.
D.B. Cooper was the name given to the unidentified man who went down in infamy after hijacking an aircraft back in 1971. After extorting thousands in ransom money, he parachuted out of the plane and was never located or identified.
The flight, bound for Seattle, departed from Portland International Airport, so PDX is inextricably linked with the story. The airport sells D.B. Cooper action figures, which are fittingly equipped with parachutes, for $US4.99, according to CNBC.
8. A whole brisket
Salt Lick BBQ is a beloved Texas staple among Southern foodies. In addition to the company’s restaurant locations, Salt Lick has outposts in the Austin and Dallas airports.
Like typical airport eateries, Salt Lick offers standard meals – including platters and sandwiches – that are meant to be consumed in the airport itself. But you can also pick up a whole brisket to go, coated in the restaurant’s signature BBQ sauce.
9. $US1,500 gourmet ham in a leather carrying case
US customs officials are generally a bit iffy about people sneaking gourmet ham back from Spain into the states. Officials at LAX even made the news back in 2015 after they tossed out a travelling couple’s $US100 worth of vacuum-sealed jamón ibérico.
Ham lovers can avoid smuggling the delicacy into the country by stopping in at The Shoppes at Ocean Drive in Miami International Airport. The upscale boutique store sells a $US1,500 acorn-fed Cinco Jotas Iberico ham, which comes complete with its very own leather carrying case.
“It is delicacy that is extremely rare and hard to find,” Deborah El-Assad of the Newslink Group told Mashable back in 2015. “Ham lovers worldwide recognise how special it is, and we sell several throughout the year.”
10. Stuffed crab to go
On top of specialty ham, Miami’s sprawling airport also does seafood to-go.
Prive Gourmet Market, an upscale, gourmet market located in The Shoppes at Ocean Drive, sells fresh stone crabs to go. George Stone Crabs also has a location inside the airport, offering “take n’ go” packages of claws that come with gel packs to keep them fresh during your journey home.
Of course, there’s also plenty of noteworthy seafood outside of Florida.
Since at least 1996, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Baltimore, Maryland, has offered up for sale crab meat, crab cakes, and stuffed crabs that are packaged to keep fresh all the way home.
Obrycki’s in BWI’s Concourse B has a six-pack of made-from-scratch crab cakes that are blast frozen and come with an insulated bag and ice pack, ensuring they keep for up to six hours. Phillips Seafood, which is famous for its blue crab meat and fresh crab cakes, has locations in several domestic airports, including the airports in Atlanta, Charlotte, Harrisburg, Hartford, and Newark.
11. Live lobsters
The airport availability of fresh seafood doesn’t stop at crab delicacies.
Legal Sea Foods, a well-known seafood restaurant and oyster bar that started in Massachusetts before expanding to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington, DC, packages live lobsters to go. Legal has locations in several terminals at the Boston Logan International Airport.
And though the photo of a TSA agent holding up a 20-pound live Atlantic lobster transported through Terminal C of Boston Logan International Airport went viral back in 2017, transporting live lobster in checked baggage is perfectly legal (assuming you follow the TSA’s packing guidelines).
12. Gourmet popcorn
Chicago’s famous Garrett Popcorn Shops are known for their fresh, handcrafted popcorn. Opened in 1949, the company boasts that each and every batch of gourmet popcorn is handmade throughout the day.
Their artisanal popcorn is available in Plain, Buttery, Cashew CaramelCrisp, Almond CaramelCrisp, Pecan CaramelCrisp, Macadamia CaramelCrisp, CaramelCrisp, and CheeseCorn varieties, in addition to a rotating selection of seasonal flavours.
And on-the-go popcorn fiends are in luck – there are Garrett Popcorn Shops located in several airports worldwide, including Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Singapore’s famously elaborate Changi Airport, Thailand’s Don Mueang Airport, and most recently, Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport.
13. Growlers of local craft beer
The other thing Portland is known for besides D.B. Cooper? Its microbreweries.
For beer aficionados visiting the Pacific Northwest, your sampling doesn’t need to end when you make it to the airport to head home. On top of tastings, PDX offers local microbrews for sale within the airport, which was previously voted the best domestic airport for shopping by Travel+Leisure readers in 2018.
You can even get a growler of local favourite Rogue Ales beer if you’re in a hurry.
There are several breweries with outposts in the airport, including Laurelwood Brewery and Public House, Hopworks Urban Brewery, and Deschutes Brewery.
Other airports nationwide have their own in-terminal pubs serving up a selection of local beers that can be taken in a to-go cup, including Memphis International Airport and Nashville International Airport.
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