Autumn Rudlong, left, senior in food science, and Emily Hurban, graduate student in food science and human nutrition, designed a flexible packaging that could replace the traditional packaging for gelatin shots. Their design, Wine-O Gelatin Shots, received first place in the 2018 Student Flexible Packaging Design Challenge. Photo by Whitney Sager.

Students place first in flexible packaging contest

A “just for fun” contest entry turned out to be the winning design.

Emily Hurban, graduate student in food science and human nutrition, and Autumn Rudlong, senior in food science, won first place honors in the Flexible Packaging Association 2018 Student Flexible Packaging Design Challenge for their Wine-O Gelatin Shots.

The students each entered a different product into the competition, but decided to enter the Wine-O Gelatin Shots for fun as a team project.

“We were brainstorming ideas and threw out the idea of Wine-O Gelatin Shots,” Hurban said.

The challenge asks students to “develop a flexible package solution that addresses a packaging issue, such as consumer convenience or the protection of food,” according to the contest website. Hurban and Rudlong wanted to reduce the amount of packaging wasted from traditional Jell-O shots, which typically are stored and served in polystyrene cups with plastic lids. Plus, the students wanted to create a type of packaging that was easier to transport and less bulky.

In coming up with the flexible squeeze pouch the Wine-O shots are packaged in, Hurban and Rudlong were inspired by squeezable yogurt tubes and wanted to find a way to make a similar packaging. They found material in Associate Professor Keith Vorst’s lab and came up with a way turn it into a flexible squeeze pouch.

“We knew we could create different packaging that looks marketable and looks good,” Rudlong said.

The Wine-O Gelatin Shots packaging was on display at the Flexible Packaging Association annual meeting last month in Naples, Fla., attended by CEOs and other senior level staff representing more than 60 packaging companies from around the world.

The students said they enjoyed working on the project, even though they were met with some difficulties along the way.

“It’s complicated to take an idea you have in your head and turn around and actually make it,” Hurban said.

As for the future of the students’ package design, shelf life and stability tests would need to be conducted on the product before it could become a marketable item.

“I would love to be able to make it a reality,” Rudlong said.