Four US engineering students were brainstorming the perfect invention for their product design course, when lunch inspiration – literally – fell into their laps.
“Erin was eating a burrito and the tortilla opened all over her,” one of the four, Tyler Guarino tells CNN. “It hit her then – this is a problem that we can solve.”
Guarino, Erin Walsh, Marie Eric and Rachel Nie were seniors at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore when they embarked on their mission to create an edible tape that could hold wraps and burritos together last year.
Today, they are proud of their prototype product, dubbed “Tastee Tape.”
Guarino said the team spent months studying “normal tape” and the elements it consists of – a backbone that holds its structure together and an adhesive that makes it stick to surfaces – to try to find their “edible counterparts.”
They had three main criteria for their tape: It needed to be clear and colorless, have no taste and no noticeable texture. After testing various combinations, they hit on the magic recipe, which is also gluten free and suitable for vegans.
“We tested about 50 different formulations” before finding the winning “Tastee Tape” recipe, Guarino says.
The exact ingredients are a closely guarded secret due to a pending patent application, but the team says everything used is “edible, food safe, GRAS [generally recognized as safe], and are common food ingredients or additives.”
There are three simple steps to using Tastee Tape, Guarino explains. The first is peeling a strip from its waxed paper sheet. Next, is wetting it to activate the tape, before finally, applying it to your tightly wrapped tortilla with pressure.
The team’s current prototype consists of tape strips on wax paper, but they also hope to package it on a roll like ordinary office tape.
On Monday, the team graduated from college with Guarino expressing how Tastee Tape’s journey to date has been “really exciting.”
“We have learned so much about product design, prototyping, and patenting. We are all really grateful that we had this opportunity before we graduated as it has taught us so many valuable skills,” she said, adding that she and teammate Marie Eric would be staying on another year at JHU to complete a Masters’, and in that time, will continue working on the product.
Top image: Tastee Tape dyed blue for visibility. The actual tape is colorless. Credit: Tyler Guarino