American Couples Caught Smuggling 661 Pounds of Fruit Roll-Ups into Israel
THE COUNTRY HAS A SHORTAGE OF THE FRUITY SNACK DUE TO A TIKTOK CRAZE.
Lots of travelers pack snacks when they take a vacation, but some folks are taking it way too far. Security at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel found suitcases bursting with Fruit Roll-Ups packed by Americans visiting the country. At least two separate couples were busted this week trying to smuggle more than 650 pounds worth of the sugary snacks from the U.S., according to Israeli news outlet Mako.
It's common for travelers to bring gifts with them to friends and family while visiting Israel, but the fact that these couples arrived with only Fruit Roll-Ups—not even clothing or toiletries—is what raised red flags for customs officials at the airport.
The latest smuggling attempt was caught on video and appeared to show a customs official sifting through several open suitcases filled with nothing but sugary treats. Haaretz describes the scene as "an American-accented voice off-screen, in a mix of Hebrew and English" explaining how the contraband was intended for family members and that when asked if the culprit packed any other personal items such as clothing he responded that he had "clothes in Israel."
Approximately 375 pounds of Fruit Roll-Ups were uncovered in that instance alone. The Times of Israel also reported that at least one more American couple was caught smuggling, and a total of "661 pounds (300 kilograms) of the sweets have been confiscated at the airport, according to the Tax Authority." And that was just in the past week.
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It's all thanks to a viral TikTok trend, which has created a shortage of Fruit Roll-Ups in the Middle Eastern country. The viral videos involve layering ice cream inside of the flattened fruit snack, closing the corners around the ice cream, sealing it like a dumpling, and eating it after it sat in the fridge for a bit to harden up.
Over the past few months, Israelis have been clamoring for Fruit Roll-ups, causing them to sell out across the nation. Where boxes are available, the prices have been jacked up, with individually-wrapped rolls selling for as much as $6 a piece, according to Haaretz. The news outlet notes that "a box of 10 Fruit Roll-Ups in the United States typically costs less than $3."
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According to official Israeli customs rules, travelers "can import up to 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of food products in a shipment, but no more than 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of a specific product." Goods must "not intended for supply, manufacture or services" and should only be brought from abroad "in reasonable quantity for the importer's personal or family's use."
Anything over this limit is subject to search and seizure, especially if it's not officially declared upon entering the country, the rules also state. The rules also indicate that travelers who fail to legally declare (and be taxed for) personally imported items over the limits are usually caught with help from bag scanners, random checks, and even security animals sniffing for contraband.