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Engineering students create edible adhesive tape to keep burrito wrapped tightly


A young girl created "Edible Taco Tape" over 20 years ago. Her invention was featured on the Nickelodeon show Figure It Out.


Came here to post this on reading the title. I remember this episode vividly


I remember reading about it in a book called "More Future Stuff" from 1991. Even the Amazon blurb mentions it:

"...edible food tape (to hold together those messy meals like burritos)..."


And a patent application from 2009 . Maybe abandoned because of prior art?


A burrito is just a rolled up large Taco. Bring downvotes.


A taco is type 3 - taco. A Burrito is type 6 - Calzone.

This is all clearly laid out here:


Interesting. The cheesecake here is nothing like ones found in the UK, which would be classified as toast!


According to that, a Big Mac is a cake, because it has a layer of bread in between.

A sandwich to me is a meal you can 1) hold with your hands, 2) enjoy while gambling.,_4th_Earl_of_Sand...



The Cube Rule (2017) - - March 2022 (136 comments)

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That was wonderful, thank you


You made my day, thanks bro


The cube rule was made by a chaotic neutral, only explanation.


i wanted for you to help me figure out the classic "is a hotdog a sandwich?" but against my best judgement I visited the page first :)


An entry in the Diccionario de Mexicanismos says that a food item called a burrito, consisting of a rolled tortilla filled with meat and other ingredients, was popular in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. The same food was eaten in areas like Yucatan and Mexico City, where it was known as a cocito and taco, respectively.


You understand neither burritos nor tacos.


Aren’t tacos very different things in different places? You and the person you answer to may be talking past each other if you have a different idea of what a tacos is in your mind.

Just for the anecdote, I’m back from France and tacos there are a weird sandwich. But I’ve always seen them made using a hard-shell made of corn, that breaks way too easy. And I believe that’s considered heretic in the US, so I’m not even sure what you would expect an actual tacos to be!


Go ahead. Explain yourself.




I will never downvote food taxonomy hot takes, no matter how wrong they are.


Watch the Taco Chronicles on Netflix then reconsider your life choices.


Agree but it’s worth noting that Taco Chronicles did do a very generous episode on American tacos.


I've never had a taco with beans & rice, but I guess that could be a thing.


No. It isnt.

That's a tostada. There are words for these things. A tostada is made and served completely differently.

Second, beans and rice have no place in a burrito and Americans who accept this from their burrito manufacturers have been being scammed for decades.


Yes, besides that, it’s essentially the same thing.

Rice and beans are served on the side with Tacos.

If you’ve worked in a Taco truck, you’d know that it’s exactly the same ingredients going into both. Your spoon goes into the same buckets. Meat is grilled in the same way. Tacos may have corn tortilla or flour, we can quibble about that.




I too enjoy trolling on HN.


A properly wrapped burrito doesn't need edible adhesive tape.

Edit: Also, does the photo of the tape look a little like mold?


For those curious what a properly wrapped burrito is like: I was taught to do it as follows (worked at a burrito joint, not Chipotle):

- Lay out your tortilla flat with all ingredients on top. Try not to overstuff for the first time you try this because getting it right takes a bit of practice

- Place the tortilla in front of you, ideally positioning the ingredients in a line running perpendicular to your field of vision (straight ahead).

- Take each hand, make the "sign of the horns"[0], except stick your thumb out instead of placing it against your fingers like in the article.

- Gently fold inward the left and right sides of the tortilla about 1 inch/2.5cm (this is slightly variable depending on tortilla size and ingredient stuffing, but a good rule of thumb) using your horn fingers and slide your thumbs under the area of the tortilla closest to you.

- Use your thumbs to push up and roll the tortilla away from you, trying to position the edge being rolled such that it grabs all of the ingredients when you close the burrito. Keep your horn fingers in the tortilla during this step and roll as tightly as possible.

- Once you have rolled the tortilla such that it covers all ingredients, push the top of the tortilla back towards you as tightly as you can before removing your horn fingers and then use your hands to finish tucking and wrapping as tightly as possible.

If done correctly, you should have a wrapped burrito that can be held and eaten without any sort of wrapping or worry about ingredients falling out from either side.



The key is to not overfill the damned tortilla. The top and bottom "flaps" should be able to fold down to the middle of the ingredients. If they can't at least fold down that far your burrito will deconstruct itself mid-meal. I like to create a polar burrito where the bottom flap reaches past the ingredient center to give more surface to attach to the side flaps. I'm ok if the top flap isn't super secure as it's eaten in the first two bites.

An inedible wrap should not be the only thing keeping the burrito together. Biting the burrito will cause it to leak inside that wrap then it makes a mess. Overstuffing a burrito might give you more food but at the expense of the burrito being an entirely self contained unit of perfection.

Also if you've got store bought tortillas stick a damp paper towel between them and microwave them for 10-20 seconds on a plate. You'll get a partial steam and they'll be more pliable and you'll get an easier wrapping experience and a superior burrito over a tortilla fresh out of the package.


This was invented by university students, who are known to fill burritos past theoretical limits



- Absolutely have to nuke the tortilla or it won’t flex. 45 seconds with the cheese (UK grated 4-cheese blend from As/co works great) until it just goes melty. Have the fillings ready and work fast, it stiffens right up.

- Don’t overstuff. UK “white wraps” are too damn small :|


These are the keys. You need a larger tortilla and or a lower amount of filling than you probably realize.

Also, after you build that burrito, you can optionally toast it in a pan with some oil to get the exterior crispy and rigid.


Do you have a video of this being executed as described? I lack burrito shells and filling, and am having a hard time following your description.


The first one? It's colored with dye to be visible, the second one is what the actual tape would look like.


It does look like mold with the added dye. I'm sure they were more concerned with the technical feasibility of using it with food safe dye than how it looked— which is fine. That's what engineers do.

But that's why culinary school curriculums are a combination of art school and a trade school rather than a branch of applied chemistry, and why industrial food manufacturers employ chefs in test kitchens rather than having food scientists do it all. Aesthetics aren't a technical problem to be overcome— it's an entirely different mode of reasoning about something. Deep understanding of the underlying mechanics isn't required— it might actually be a hinderance. I'll bet doctors have an exceptionally hard time with life drawing, for example.


So? Evidently people who properly wrap their tacos "all the time, every time", aren't the target of such an invention.


They are targets. You need to think ahead. Learned knowledge is used space. By replacing knowledge with tape you have effectively eliminated millions of gigabytes of memory wasted by thousands of burrito wrappers across the world holding this useless knowledge in their heads.

While current knowledge can't be unlearned the skill of proper burrito wrapping is similar to the skill of dialing a rotary phone or using manual gear shift in a car. The future of burrito wrapping is via tape. You sound like my grandpa telling me how he walked 10 feet to school everyday instead of riding a Segway.


> using manual gear shift in a car.

Which is useful everywhere but suburbia which is why it's still popular and mandatory in driver's education in Europe?


Once you learn how to do it it’s very easy, and even helps spread the burrito contents along the inside.

People really should just learn to wrap their burritos it’s fun and the dense bottom park provides a wonderful texture.


But I assume this invention lets you make much larger burritos for the same size tortilla, which is pretty cool.


Depending on user (the burrito maker) to perform correctly is a major engineering mistake


by that definition, everything is a mistake

burrito is just the word for doing it correctly.


Certain shops I go to consistently do it right. Chipotle does it consistently badly. They might have high turnover due to poor working conditions and can't keep up with training people to do it well. So they'd benefit from this kind of aid.


I imagine university dining halls often aren't "properly" wrapping their burritos and may be part of the motivation behind this invention :)


Normally when asking for a burrito you tell them the toppings one by one, never all at once. Withholding information is the best way to get an overstuffed burrito and your money's worth.

They're hard to wrap properly, so tape might help.


If you are referring to Chipotle as your northstar for what a burrito is, I'm sorry but I'm not sure you are qualified to weigh in on burrito construction?

Chipotle is to burritos as Little Caesars is to pizza. I mean technically maybe(?), but whats the point?


I've noticed some variation between locations, but when it's good it's great. It's all fresh, well-seasoned, high quality ingredients. How is it anything comparable to the cheapest pizza you can buy? Maybe Taco Bell but definitely not Chipotle.


> "Chipotle is to burritos as Little Caesars is to pizza."

yah, the best burritos and tacos are from a street cart on the corner or a little hut restaurant, otherwise it's probably manufactured food, no matter what the brand tries to sell you, since the overhead costs (rent, especially) drown out all the other concerns like taste.

i personally wouldn't want this tape on my burrito, because i tear off all the excess tortilla to get a better yumminess ratio.


Pizza is like sex - even when it's bad, its good.

So, are burritos the same way?


This is why I prefer ordering with the app, they see the whole list of what you want and don't have to go through the mental effort of wondering how much of what to use as they don't know how many stuffings you want.


The whole point is to get them to overstuff it though. That's why you make it seem at first like you're not going to want much but then you ask for everything you can possibly get, one by one.

"A bowl"

"White rice"

"Black beans"

"Oh yeah, some veggies too"

"Actually maybe let's add some sofritas to that"


That said -- I usually go with a bowl instead of burrito, makes their life and my life easier


Double wrap is the key


this guy chipotles


Edible adhesives have been around forever. Another case of poor quality "science" journalism just reprinting press releases without any kind of independent validation or context.


What about their taste? Can they feel neutral or do they get in the way?

Edit: interesting that somebody bothered to downvote a mere question. That does not seem to be very hacker-like.


Asking about the new one or the old ones?

It would be good to know what the new one tastes/feels like.

As for existing methods… well, could be a thousand different flavours and textures. For example, and obviously this isn’t what the people in the article are doing, I often use molten cheese to seal tortilla wraps in my home cooking.


Wish they would have said. But then is it "safe" to eat a lump of the stuff, fast food standards and all...


That plus readers upvoting on title alone --> front page!


As a mexican, I feel the need to stop this madness.

A taco is whatever you can put inside a tortilla (not a shell; if you are eating something in a shell, unless it’s a dry thin extended tortilla, called tostada, it’s not mexican food as found in México (mexican-american, maybe)), unless it’s a quesadilla.

To be more specific, there’s the canonical taco, and there is the “pass me a tortilla and the casserole because I’m going to make me a taco”. Here, if you are holding a soft tortilla with something in it, then it’s a taco (unless it’s a quesadilla).

I’ll be taking questions now :P

PS. For those of you who think all mexican food is alike, our cuisine is inscribed in UNESCO’s world heritage intangibles list[0].


I eat burritos almost daily, and I don't see this as a problem that needed solving. But perhaps it may have usefulness in other creative applications?


Same. I'm surprised by this invention.


This is a bit of a hobby horse for me. I grew up in El Paso / Juárez which is arguably where the burrito was invented. The problem is that burritos these days try to pack two pounds of stuff into a one pound sack. A proper burrito is about the size and width of a baby's forearm, not the size of a whole baby. If you are hungry, eat two.


All the burrito places near me steam their tortillas, which seems to make them sticky enough to not require this product.


Is that what makes them so gummy and disgusting! I never knew. Got one that way takeout, got to my office, tried to unwrap and it stuck to the wrapper and split into a gooey half-stripped burrito and half-gummed wrapper. Dropped the whole mess into the trash can and never went back.


It sounds like you just went to a bad restaurant or you waited too long.


Takeout is supposed to be able to be taken out. And no, I walked two blocks to my office and opened it.


Can also happen if there are a lot of wet or watery ingredients and it sits in a wrapper for a while.


Two or three minutes.


I think the Vietnamese invented something similar long ago (rice paper) and it's transparent too!


I never knew this was a thing. In CJK, people use rice to make adhesive paste. This sounds like the NASA-ballpen-and-Russian-pencil story.


I learned how to make Samosas. They used water and flour to seal the pastry, I assume something like that could be used for burritos?


That's common in all sorts of pastry, but that's done pre-bake. A burrito is (bread not pastry and) wrapped post-baking. It may help a little, but probably also unwelcome moistness at the quantity it would take to do anything.


I see the opening pic with a cold, raw tortilla and thought, they're already doing it wrong. Go to a good Mexican restaurant and learn how to prepare food properly, then you'll see this tape is unnecessary. Maybe I'm spoiled in CA but this is a solution vin search of a problem.


Edible tape? There are so many pre-existing foods that get sticky when wet. Like seaweed wrap.


In my personal experience flour tortillas would fall into that category