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MIT’s new food packaging coating ends violent ketchup bottle shaking

Nearly empty condiment bottles

We’ve all been there. You get a bottle of Heinz ketchup from your cupboard or in a restaurant ready to dress up those fresh-cut fries. When you open it up, however, the bottle is nearly finished and you have to keep tapping the neck of the container to get the last bits to flow out. That, or you can keep shaking and pray the ketchup won’t end up everywhere. Yes it’s painful and annoying, but you can’t help change the consistency of ketchup because that’d just be a gross solution. The squeezable plastic bottles also work, but toward the end they just splatter around a lot.

Instead, reseachers from Varanasi Research Group gathered up at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology labs to develop LiquiGlide, a non-stick coating for food packaging that will help substances flow out of the containers more seamlessly. Considering the thick consistency of condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard, the new way to make food packaging easier for those substances to glide out may really have an impact on diners, restaurants, and fast food chains and how much they can save.

“It’s funny: Everyone is always like, ‘Why bottles? What’s the big deal?’ But then you tell them the market for bottles–just the sauces alone is a $17 billion market,” MIT Ph.D candidate and one of the members of the LiquiGlide project Dave Smith tells Fast Co.Exist. “And if all those bottles had our coating, we estimate that we could save about one million tons of food from being thrown out every year.”

The LiquiGlide surface is developed to have a liquid-like lubrication to make condiments simply flow, yet maintain a rigid exterior to keep the substance safely inside. The coating can also be applied to surfaces like plastic and glass by a spray coverage. LiquiGlide has been patented since it’s prototype release and the team say it’s made from FDA-approved materials to not tamper with food safety. All that’s left is marketing to major bottle manufacturing companies so together, they can end food waste and annoying, violent shakes to get the last bits of condiments out. Of course, this would mean Smith is going to have to demonstrate a lot of traditional bottle pounding to prove to companies how his product can make life easier.

“It was never really a personal pain point for me, but I do hate struggling to get sauce out of the bottles,” Smith says.

With LiquiGlide recently winning the second place title in last week’s MIT’s $100k Entrepreneurship Competition, it’s no surprise the technology would be a hit among consumers. The prototype also took home the fan-favorite award despite not winning the whole competition.

For reference, watch the two videos below to see the difference between a traditional bottle and a LiquiGlide-coated bottle using the same ketchup.

LiquiGlide:

Traditional:

Mindblowing. Does this make anyone crave a burger or a hot dog now?

Image Credit: Flickr / Steve A. Johnson