Nature creates its own packaging for perishable foodstuffs. Most fruits and vegetables come pre-packaged in delicious edible containers. The biomedical engineer who came up with huffable food, David Edwards, is now developing customized edible containers for all kinds of food, from juice to wine to chocolate.
The containers, called WikiCells, are membranes made out of a combination of biodegradable polymer and particles of food, held together with electrostatic forces instead of something less appetizing like glue. The food particles give the membrane flavor, and Edwards has been working on a variety of prototypes, including an orange-flavored membrane full of orange juice, a tomato-flavored bottle with gazpacho inside, and grape packages that can hold wine.
WikiCells are capable of containing just about anything, from solids to liquids to foams. At their present stage of development, they’re more on the “biodegradable” end of things than the “tasty and enjoyable” side, and work sort of like the shell on a hard-boiled egg that you can peel open to enjoy what’s inside. When Edwards figures out how to scrumptiousify the whole thing, you’ll probably see WikiCells first as novelty items in restaurants and specialty stores.
Ultimately, the idea is to create some kind of machine that can produce these “thin delicious membranes” (as the Harvard press release calls them), allowing people in rural communities and the developing world to make their own containers without having to rely on plastics.