As kids, we’re raised to think of inventions as big ideas, like the lightbulb or a flying car. (Where were you on that second one, Edison?) In reality, plenty of patents are patently boring: small changes to existing products. But every now and then, inventors come along to solve a problem in a revolutionary way — like the Johns Hopkins students who have created edible tortilla tape to hold a burrito together.
As part of the Whiting School of Engineering’s annual Design Day earlier this month, a team of chemical and biomolecular engineering students unveiled “Tastee Tape,” described by the university as “an edible adhesive comprising a food-grade fibrous scaffold and an organic adhesive that ensures the ingredients in your favorite wrap are kept tucked tightly inside during cooking and consumption.”
If that description sounds equal parts technical and vague, you’re not wrong. The team behind the tape said they are currently applying for a patent, so they can’t yet unveil all the specifics of how their invention works. “What I can say is that all its ingredients are safe to consume, are food grade, and are common food and dietary additives,” explained Tyler Guarino, who worked on the project with fellow seniors Marie Eric, Rachel Nie, and Erin Walsh.
The results are rectangular strips that are two inches long and half an inch wide. To use, simply remove Tastee Tape from its waxed paper backing and wet the strip to activate its adhesive power. Just like the Scotch tape in your desk drawer, the product is clear, meaning it can be added discreetly to burritos and wraps of all sizes.
The group said they were inspired by their own struggles with sloppy burritos and that they needed months of prototypes before landing on a final product that was both safe to eat and strong enough to hold together even the biggest burrito. “First, we learned about the science around tape and different adhesives, and then we worked to find edible counterparts,” Guarino added. “Tastee Tape allows you to put full faith in your tortilla, and enjoy your meal, mess-free.”
As for Design Day as a whole, Ed Schlesinger, dean of the Whiting School, stated that the event was an exciting step for students “to becoming practicing engineers heading out to make a lasting and positive impact on our world.”
Or, at the very least, keep your lunch together.
Source: Food and Wine