These Delicious Cookies Are Hiding Edible QR Codes

Scientists in Japan developed a method to 3D-print cookies with built in QR codes. The non-toxic addition could help cut down on waste products like wrappers and packaging as well as add to food traceability and safety. And unlike food tags we’re already used to, like stickers on fruit, this one is edible and baked right in. The dessert’s infill is a combination of cookie dough and air space, producing an edible QR code pattern when backlit. And according to the students who ate them, the cookies are just as delicious as ones without the tags.

A comparison of 3D printed QR code cookies using different methods
2022 Miyatake et al., ACM UIST (2022)

We heard about this delicious experiment on DesignTAXI. The researchers Osaka University will present their findings at the upcoming User Interface Software and Technology conference in Bend, Oregon. A news release and the video below provide more information on the steps involved in making and testing this 3D-printed QR code. It also reveals that the treats come in more than just a square shape, there’s also penguin and dog cookies as well.

The team dubbed their method “interiqr,” a combination of interior and QR. They also tested cookie dough with black food coloring instead of empty space; however, the QR codes were harder to read. The human trials involved asked students to rate the dryness, hardness, smoothness, suppleness, and sweetness of each type of cookie. It found no significant difference between those with regular cookie dough, black cookie dough, and air pockets.

In a section of the research paper titled “Applicability Beyond Cookie Dough,” they also tested their methodology with avocado, mashed potato, cream cheese, and meat. A future direction for the project could include printing words instead of QR codes or patterns that reveal themselves when the cookie is dipped into liquid.

A 3D printed cookie QR code next to the baked cookie
2022 Miyatake et al., ACM UIST (2022)

Not since the research paper determining the best way to open an Oreo cookie have we seen a project where the scientists involved were clearly looking for an excuse to eat a bunch of cookies. It’s relatable, but also science.

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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