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WikiPearls: natural, edible packaging for everything, even liquid

Packaging is both a convenient and inconvenient part of food. It keeps the food free of contamination, and makes handling it a clean affair. However, it creates garbage, and in some cases sticks to the food, unable to be removed. A shop near the Louvre in Paris has what appears to be an answer for this. It sells ice cream wrapped in sealed, edible (or recyclable) balls known as WikiPearls.

Created by Harvard professor David Edwards, WikiPearls are about the size of a meatball or donut hole, don’t leak, and can hold just about anything — even notoriously drippy substances like ice cream or yogurt. The Pearls are an iteration of WikiCells, a similar edible food packaging idea created back in 2009 by Edwards and colleague Francois Azambourg.

The skins, as they’re referred to, that encase the food products can not only be packed with vitamins, but flavored to accent the food hidden within. WikiPearls — which is the first commercial application of those 2009 Cells — come in three flavors so far: vanilla ice cream with a peanut skin, mango ice cream with a coconut skin, and chocolate ice cream with a hazelnut skin.

The video below has no subtitles, but it does show off what the WikiPearls look like and how you can drink from them using a straw:

The skins not only protect the food and make them more handleable, but can keep cold products at a cool temperature longer than if those products were without the skin. In theory, the packaging — if testing can prove that it can conserve other food products as well as traditional packaging — could be used on just about everything. Since the skins are recyclable, you wouldn’t have to eat it if you didn’t want to, for example, ice cream without a topping (which would be the skin, in this case) like some of us ice cream purists prefer. Instead, simply crack the Pearl open and use it as a tiny bowl.

The WikiFoods team is already experimenting with other products, officially listing yogurt and cheese as the next foods to be stuffed inside the skin. Along with the dairy, the company claims any beverage can be safely contained within the skin as well, which could not only cut down on the abundance of plastic bottles, but would certainly give mixologists a fancy new way to impress you with booze.

If you’re interested in edible packaging or simply have to find out more about tempting ice cream balls, you can head over to the WikiPearl website.

Now read: Scientists inject ozone into packaging to make food last longer

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