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The strawberry- and coconut-covered frozen-yogurt bonbons in David Edwards’ new Kendall Square lab, WikiFoods, look familiar and tasty enough. But these bite-sized treats, developed in conjunction with New Hampshire-based Stonyfield Farm, are not just another dessert. They are the first of a new wave of sustainable food products made to replace plastic packaging with natural, edible food skins.
In this case, the outer layer is actually fruit. Its design is inspired by cellular structure and it serves both as a thermal barrier and a protective membrane for what’s inside. The size and shape of a donut hole or the frozen Japanese dessert known as mochi, these Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt Pearls have a handmade look and a familiar frozen-yogurt tang. The exterior maintains its strength and holds the contents even as the centers begin to thaw, releasing little more than a bit of moisture. Stonyfield touts the product’s ability to be handled without damage.
Edwards and his team at WikiFoods is seeking nothing less than to revolutionize the packaged food industry. “There’s a trillion dollar industry based on certain ways of eating, packaging, and distributing food,” says Edwards, a chemical engineer and a professor of the practice of idea translation at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.