A group of John Hopkins students have figured out a way to ensure your burrito will never fall apart — and it's an idea they hope sticks around.
Last fall, engineering seniors in a John Hopkins’ product design course were tasked with creating an invention that would be useful for everyday life. The all-female team of Tyler Guarino, Rachel Nie, Marie Eric and Erin Walsh came together and decided to solve one of life’s most frustrating problems: preventing a burrito from unraveling and making a mess.
Their solution: an edible tape that keeps all the delicious ingredients inside the tortilla instead of on your plate or lap.
“It was our favorite because we thought it was so simple, yet so relatable. And we thought that it was also feasible,” Guarino told TODAY Food.
After settling on an idea, the 22-year-old said the group started to research the different components that make up real tape. From there, they found edible counterparts.
Guarino said, “We tried tons of different combinations, and formulations and really did a lot of trial and error until we were able to get a product that was clear in color, tasteless, didn’t have a noticeable texture, but was still strong enough to hold a big fat burrito together.”
Nie, 22, also spoke to TODAY and credited teammate Walsh for first suggesting an adhesive for burritos and other wraps. She said that after the undergraduates learned that tape is composed of two parts — the backbone and the adhesive — half of them focused on developing a recipe for a sticky substance. Meanwhile, the other two created the edible structure.
“We really just went through so many iterations of trying different ingredients, trying different amounts of those ingredients, trying different cooking methods and cooking times,” Nie explained. “That process really took us a few months to figure out.”
The next step was tackling the taste and texture. Nie recalled, “A couple of our first prototypes had some really strange textures and tastes. Obviously, (for) our final one, we wanted to make sure you could barely feel it or taste it.”
Guarino came up with the name — Tastee Tape — and it stuck.
Nie described the product as being similar to regular Scotch tape, almost see-through and thin.
Tastee Tape is packaged in two-inch by half-inch rectangles on wax paper sheets. “You simply just peel the piece off of the sheet,” Guarino said. “You wet it to activate it, and then you apply it to your tortilla.”
While the team mainly tested Tastee Tape on burritos, Nie revealed that the tape also worked on pitas and flatbread.
The chemical biomolecular engineering students are understandably vague when speaking about the ingredients in the tape because they are currently working with Johns Hopkins University to file for a patent.
They presented their invention at the university’s annual engineering showcase, Design Day, on May 3.
As the team tries to secure a patent, Guarino shared that they are, “going to continue to work on it, refine the formula and see where it takes us.” They hope to “try and get it out there.”
If the patent is approved, Tastee Tape could be a game changer for fans of burritos, gyros, flatbreads and pretty much any other food that can be wrapped.