- BACKGROUND ART
The invention generally pertains to the hygienic storage and cleaning of beverage cans, and more particularly to a beverage can that incorporates a hygienic cover and a sealed, sanitary towelette that is attached to the can's lower surface.
One of the most popular and widely utilized means of packaging beverages is in an aluminum can. Almost every type of carbonated and non-carbonated soft drink, as well as other beverages such as beer, utilize aluminum cans. This is because aluminum is lightweight, strong and is an especially good conductor for cold temperatures. Aluminum cans can be sold individually over the counter or from a dispensing machine, they can be easily carried, transported and stored, and, once they are refrigerated or put on ice, are able to maintain a cold temperature for an extended period of time.
A typical aluminum can holds approximately 12 to 16 ounces and has a lower concave surface and an upper surface having an opening sealed by a finger pull-tab. In order to use the aluminum can, the opening is unsealed, thereby allowing the beverage to be poured into a container or drunk directly from the can.
Unfortunately, while aluminum cans do provide an easy means of holding and drinking a beverage, there is one significant negative aspect. As a result of the can's opening being located on the can's upper surface, the opening is un-protected from dirt, germs and other un-desirable elements. Even if a beverage is consumed relatively soon after it is bought, a large amount of time has passed since the beverage left its place of manufacture and retail storage. One of the benefits of using aluminum cans is that they can be stored for extended periods. While this can be beneficial, the extended periods also allow much more time for the opening to accumulate disease-bearing particles.
One solution that has been attempted has been to store the cans upside down. Whereas this method may be effective for non-carbonated beverages, any carbonated beverage that is turned upside down or otherwise moved to cause the contents to shake, becomes unstable. The result is that when the can is opened, the liquid within the can is forced out under pressure, which causes the liquid to “spray” away from the opening.
In view of the above, it can be seen that there is a need for a hygienic can cover which prevents the can from accumulating disease-bearing particles and provides means for cleaning the opening on an aluminum can prior to drinking or pouring the beverage from the can.
A search of the prior art did not disclose any patents that read directly on the claims of the instant invention, however the following U.S. patents are considered related:
|PATENT NO. ||INVENTOR ||ISSUED |
|2,936,089 ||Foldfarb, et al ||10 May 1960 |
|2,310,491 ||Molow ||9 February 1943 |
|2,271,589 ||Henrickson ||3 February 1942 |
The U.S. Pat. No. 2,936,089 patent discloses a first container located within a second container. The first container is dimensioned to include a premium or the like that is accessible upon removing the second container.
The U.S. Pat. No. 2,310,491 patent discloses a container with a cap shell that houses a sanitary concealed cup. The cap shell includes a top wall, and a skirt wall that is dimensioned to fit over the neck of the container.
The U.S. Pat. No. 2,271,589 patent discloses a container which houses an applicator, such as a sponge, for use in applying the contents of a container. The design of the container allows the applicator to be visible from the container's exterior.
- DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION
For background purposes and as indicative of the art to which the invention is related reference may be made to the remaining cited patents.
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| ||PATENT NO. ||INVENTOR ||ISSUED |
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| ||Des. 294,467 ||Wirkus, et al ||1 March 1988 |
| ||2,594,729 ||Carvalho ||29 April 1952 |
| ||3,433,378 ||Ross ||18 March 1969 |
| ||3,606,068 ||Palmer ||20 Sept. 1971 |
| ||3,650,445 ||Heitzman ||21 March 1972 |
| ||3,664,497 ||Mascla ||23 May 1972 |
| ||3,752,305 ||Heyne ||14 Aug. 1973 |
| ||4,171,047 ||Ross, et al ||16 Oct. 1979 |
| ||4,428,477 ||Cristofolo ||31 Jan. 1984 |
| ||4,789,082 ||Sampson ||6 Dec. 1988 |
| ||5,540,326 ||Arnold, et al ||30 July 1996 |
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The hygienic beverage can is designed to provide a can that is substantially free of germ-carrying particles which can be harmful to a person consuming the contents of the can. The invention does not require any design change or modification to an existing can's design. Therefore, the invention is both cost effective for the manufacturers of the can and for consumers purchasing the product. The hygienic beverage can is derived from a typical beverage can having a lower concave surface and an upper surface that includes a can opening seal and a pivoting, finger pull-tab.
Two inventive elements are employed to convert a typical beverage can into the hygienic beverage can: a sanitary towelette and/or a sanitary can cover. The two elements may be used individually or in combination.
The sanitary towelette is preferably made of a paper material that can be dry or pre-moistened. The paper material is repeatably folded until the size of the folded towelette is less than the area bordering the lower concave surface of a typical beverage can. The folded towelette is then inserted into a towelette enclosure, made of a thin plastic, and the end of the enclosure is then hermetically sealed.
The sealed sanitary towelette is then applied an adhesive or a double-sided tape. The adhesive or tape is used to attach the hermetically sealed towelette to the lower concave surface of the can. To use the towelette, it is removed from the can, the package is opened and the towelette is removed.
The second element that further sanitize the can, is the sanitary can cover, which can be used alone or in combination with the towelette. The can cover includes an upper surface that is dimensioned to cover the upper surface of the can, and a flange that extends downward from the cover's upper surface and is located around the circumference of the can. The flange includes a tear strip, that when ripped off, the cover can be removed to expose the opening on the can and allow the contents of the can to be poured or drank directly from the can. In an alternate design, in lieu of a flange tear strip, the cover includes a tear strip that encompasses the can's opening. When the opening tear strip is removed the can opening is exposed.
In view of the above disclosure, it is the primary object of the invention to convert, an ordinary beverage can into a hygienic beverage can by attaching to the can a sanitary towelette and/or a sanitary can cover.
In addition to the primary object of the invention, it is also an object of the invention to produce a hygienic beverage can that:
◯ allows indicia, such as promotional advertising, to be printed on the towelette enclosure,
◯ can be sold with either one or both of the sanitary elements,
◯ can enhance sales due to the sanitary aspect of the can, and
◯ that does not interfere with the vertical stacking of the cans.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
These and other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the subsequent detailed description of the preferred embodiment and the appended claims taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of an unfolded paper napkin.
FIG. 2 is a partial elevational side/sectional view of a beverage can showing a sanitary towelette attached to the bottom of the can.
FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the beverage can.
FIG. 4 is a bottom plan view of the can with an attached encapsulated sanitary towelette.
FIG. 5 is front elevational view of a napkin that has been folded and encapsulated in a thin plastic enclosure to form a sanitary towelette.
FIG. 6 is a partial elevational side view of a beverage can having attached on its upper surface a hygienic can cover which include a flange having a tear strip around the flange's circumference and a living hinge.
FIG. 7 is a top plan view of a beverage can having a hygienic can cover which includes a tear strip that encompasses the can's opening and finger pull tab.
BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION
FIG. 8 is a side and front elevational view of the can-opening tear strip showing the strip extending into the flange.
The best mode for carrying out the invention is presented in terms of a preferred embodiment for a hygienic beverage can 10, as shown in FIGS. 2, 3, 6 and 7, which consists of a lower concave surface 62, sides 64, and an upper surface 66 having a can opening seal 68 and a pivoting, finger pull-tab 70. When the tab 70 is pulled, the can opening seal 68 is depressed, which then allows the contents of the can 10 to be poured or drank directly from the can. The can 10 is typically made of aluminum or other light-weight metal and is used for soft drinks, beer and other fluids.
The hygienic beverage can 10 is designed to be “hygienic” when either a sanitary towelette 12 and/or a sanitary can cover 40 are incorporated into the design of the can 10.
The sanitary towelette 12, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 4 and 5, is preferably made from paper, however a fabric or a pre-moistened paper or fabric material can also be used.
The towelette 12, as shown in FIG. 1, is typically 7 inches (17.8 cm) wide by 13 inches (33.0 cm) long. In order to allow the towelette 12 to fit on the can 10, it is repeatably folded until the towelette is substantially 1-inch (2.54 cm) square. The one-inch size is less than the area bordering the lower concave surface 62 of the can 60. The towelette 12 is then hermetically sealed, as best shown in FIG. 5, within a thin plastic enclosure 14 having an inner surface 16, an outer surface 18 and one edge 20 that is sealed by a heat sealing process 22 or an adhesive 24. Once the towelette 12 is sealed within the plastic enclosure 14, the towelette is effectively safe from contact with dirt and/or germs.
The hermetically sealed towelette 12 is then attached to the lower concave surface 62 of the can 10 by an attachment means 28, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4. Typically, the attachment means 14 is comprised of an adhesive 30 or a double-sided tape 32 that is applied to the inner surface 16 of the towelette enclosure 14, as shown in FIG. 5. Either of the attachment means used will securely hold the encapsulated towelette 12 onto the lower concave surface 62 of the can 10, while also allowing the towelette 12 to be easily removed from the can 10. As shown in FIG. 2, when the enclosure 14 is attached, the outer surface 18 of the enclosure 14 is above the lower concave surface 62 of the can 10. Therefore, the enclosure 14 does not interfere with the lower horizontal plane 32 of the can 10.
The sanitary towelette 12 is utilized as follows: a person holding the beverage can 10 grasps the encapsulated towelette 12 and pulls it off of the can's 10 lower concave surface 62. The towelette enclosure 14 is then opened by tearing or cutting one edge of the enclosure 14. Once the enclosure 14 has been opened, the towelette can be withdrawn, unfolded and utilized.
The sanitary towelette provides a sanitary and convenient means by which the upper surface 66 of the beverage can 20 can be wiped off and cleaned before drinking the contents directly from the can or before pouring the contents.
Since the can opening seal 68 is on the upper surface 66 of the can 10 it is not protected from dirt, germs or other un-sanitary agents that may accumulate on or around the opening 68, especially on cans that are exposed or stored for extended periods of time. By providing a sanitary towelette 12 along with the beverage can 10, the ability to clean the can's opening 68 is easily accomplished.
Additionally, the utility of sanitary towelette 12 is not limited to only cleaning the upper surface surface 66 of the can 10. The towelette 12 can also be used for any purpose where a convenient, sanitary and ready-to-use cleaning means is needed. One example of an additional use of the towelette is for cleaning a person and/or surroundings after a carbonated beverage can that was opened has “exploded”—or in other words, the beverage inside the can became pressurized, and when the opening was unsealed, the beverage was rapidly forced out of the can in many directions.
The second inventive element that can be used either by itself or in combination with the sanitary towelette 12 is the sanitary can cover 40, as shown in FIGS. 6-8. The cover 40 is thermoformed from a thermoplastic, that preferably a clear thermoplastic, and is comprised of an upper section 42, an integral flange 44 and a means for removing the cover 40 from the can 10.
The upper section 42 of the cover 40 is dimensioned to cover the entire upper surface 66 of the can 10. The integral flange 44 extends downward from the periphery of the sanitary can 10 and is dimensioned to frictionally fit around the diameter of the can 10, as best shown in FIG. 6.
The means for removing the cover from the can 10 is comprised of a tear strip 46 that is located around the circumference of the flange 44, as also shown in FIG. 6. The tear strip 46 is separated by a multiplicity of perforations 47 and includes a strip pull-tab 48 that when grasped and pulled, the tear strip is removed along the perforations 47, thus allowing the cover 40 to separate from the flange 44. Once separated, the upper section of the cover can be removed.
The can cover can be designed to include a hinge 50 and preferably a living hinge 50 that is located at an intersection between the upper section 42 and the flange 44 as shown in FIG. 6. The hinge 50 allows the cover 40 to separate from the flange 44 while remaining fastened to one end of the flange 44. Thus, the cover can function as a resealable cover, which allows a can with a beverage within that is partially consumed, to be resealed for use at a later time.
To add further utility to the sanitary can cover 40, it can be designed to have a can-opening tear strip 54 with perforations 56. The tear strip 54, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, encompasses the can's opening 68 and the finger pull-tab 70. When the can-opening tear strip 54 is pulled and removed, the can's opening 68 and the finger pull tab are exposed for use.
While the invention has been described in complete detail and pictorially shown in the accompanying drawings it is not to be limited to such details, since many changes and modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the spirit and the scope thereof. Hence, it is described to cover any and all modifications and forms which may come within the language and scope of the appended claims.