Here's what happened when Britain's favorite baking expert tried bringing some pantry items to the U.S.

Elisabeth Sherman
April 20, 2018

Poor, sweet, darling Mary Berry. Who could ever imagine that Britain's beloved queen of all things baking could ever be up to any nefarious activities? Americans, that’s who. Don’t believe it? Well, it’s true. Berry was indeed once arrested trying to enter the United States.

During a recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Berry, who will judge an upcoming baking competition called Britain’s Best Cook after leaving the Great British Bake Offrecounted the tale: About 25 years ago, Berry took a trip to America to take part in some cooking demonstrations. She wanted to bring her own ingredients, so she measured out everything she needed—including flour and sugar—and packed it all in plastic baggies.

“When I arrived at the airport the sniffer dogs made a bee-line for me,” she recalls.

The now 83-year-old says that the authorities weren’t so easily persuaded of her innocence: They actually put Berry and her assistant in separate cells for questioning.

“It was alarming,” she says. “When I was asked if I was going to make money from the stuff, I said, ‘I do and my fee has already been agreed’.”

You can probably see where this is going: The police must have thought that Berry was the mastermind behind some type of drug smuggling scheme, when in fact, she was referring to the fee she would be paid after the cooking demonstrations.

Looking back, it seems almost unconscionable that anyone would suspect the prim and proper Berry of being a criminal, but of course, she just isn’t as well known in the states as she is in her home country, especially not 20 years ago.

Thankfully, that was the end of Berry’s brush with the law and she hasn’t had another run-in with the authorities since—at least that we know of. Who knows, maybe there's a dark side to Berry nobody knows about. But after all those years spent sampling cupcakes, we doubt it.