By Talia Beechick
I know—I did a double take when I first read it too, but indeed, a professor at Harvard’s Wyss Institute is not only creating biodegradable shells which taste like the drink they put inside, but he has also developed an aerosol caffeine boost called Aeroshot and a form of inhalable chocolate called Le Whif.
WikiCells are edible food containers
Biomedical engineering professor David Edwards teamed up with French designer Francois Azambourg in the fall of 2010 to begin to develop the edible, portable food and drink containers. The main ingredient of the containers is called WikiCells, an edible, water-resistant material made of biodegradable plastic and food particles which forms a hard shell or membrane. The membrane is held on by electrostatic forces, and can then be filled with different flavors to match or complement the container’s inner content. For example, Gizmag’s website states that experts at Harvard have already created an orange-flavored membrane filled with orange juice, a tomato-flavored container with gazpacho, a chocolate-flavored membrane to hold hot chocolate and a grape-flavored shell matched with wine.
While Edwards believes this product will be available as a novelty item in restaurants, he hopes it also spreads into supermarkets and specialty stores as it gains popularity. His ultimate goal is to construct a WikiCells machine which would allow the public to create their own edible membranes with the food or drink of their choice. From an environmental point of view, this would decrease our dependency on plastic and the need for recycling through the development of non-plastic portable containers, bottles and even lunch boxes. This would help lessen the large amounts of solid waste sitting in landfills from food and beverage packaging and our reliance on plastic as a main packaging material, according to The Daily Mail.
Although it is an environmentally friendly solution to serious waste issues, there is the question of how sanitary this product will be. Experts need to develop a stronger, tougher version of the current membranes, which can be washed and sanitized before being consumed to protect from germs.
The Lab Store in Paris offers samples of these experimental, edible containers for those who are daring enough to try them out. So far, feedback has been positive and researchers continue to develop the product to ready it for restaurants soon.
Take a shot of inhalable energy
Edwards’ Aeroshot hit stores in January and has seen success, according to the Aeroshots website. After being inspired in 2007, Edwards began developing the idea by working with the company Breathable Foods in France until it became the popular, albeit slightly controversial, novelty item that it is today: a fine-powder blend of caffeine and vitamin B served in a lipstick-sized tube. By pulling the end of the tube while placing the other end in your mouth, users release the 100 milligrams of caffeine, which is about the same as a large cup of coffee, and begin to feel the caffeine buzz shortly thereafter. According to the Aeroshot website, it has “All of the energy. None of the calories,” and is available in stores across the U.S. as well as the Lab Store in Paris. Aeroshot is recommended for nearly any activity: working out, taking a road trip, staying awake at your desk—it delivers the boost of energy you need to get through any day. The Aeroshot will be available in original chocolate, mint chocolate and cherry chocolate beginning June 15, according to the Aeroshot website.
CBS News remarks, however, on the controversy surrounding the product. Because it was released as a dietary supplement, it did not require Food and Drug Administration approval. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer voiced his concerns about overuse of the products amongst teens and young adults and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has agreed to research the product and its legality immediately. Breathable Foods assures the public that it is perfectly safe and lacks the additives found in other energy products to enhance the caffeine effects. Schumer has voiced serious concerns that this is the new club drug and that it has potentially come to replace the infamous Four Loko, a caffeinated, alcoholic beverage which has been dubbed “blackout in a can,” according to CBS News.
Breathable Foods is confident their product is safe and targeted toward an older crowd that will use it responsibly, as released to CBS News. Available at convenience stores as well as liquor and online stores, the Aeroshot retails for $2.99.
Le Whif: chocolate with fewer calories
The ingenious inventions of Edwardorganic chocolate powder and is available in original, mint, and raspberry flavors without the same amount s do not stop there. In February 2010, Le Whif hit stores internationally as the first form of inhalable, of calories as traditional chocolate. Edwards has even expanded this trend to include inhalable coffee, which first appeared in New York and Massachusetts in the spring of 2010. Containing about as much caffeine as a light espresso, the inhalable coffee has expanded to stores worldwide and is also available in packages with inhalable chocolate.
If that isn’t enough, Edwards has introduced yet another inhalable product: breathable vitamins, which are available in antioxidant green tea, multivitamin hibiscus tea and age-smart wine tea. Because Le Whif vitamins are inhaled through the mouth, it skips the digestive tract entirely, allowing a higher concentration of vitamins to flow through the bloodstream, according to the Le Whif website. In 2011, Le Whif vitamins launched in stores internationally and is just one of the many innovative creations designed by Edwards. With so many new products, who knows what he’ll think up next.