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Publication numberUS20020179612 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/843,088
Publication dateDec 5, 2002
Filing dateApr 25, 2001
Priority dateApr 25, 2001
Also published asCA2441360A1, CA2441360C, CN1531403A, EP1381298A2, WO2002085167A2, WO2002085167A3
Publication number09843088, 843088, US 2002/0179612 A1, US 2002/179612 A1, US 20020179612 A1, US 20020179612A1, US 2002179612 A1, US 2002179612A1, US-A1-20020179612, US-A1-2002179612, US2002/0179612A1, US2002/179612A1, US20020179612 A1, US20020179612A1, US2002179612 A1, US2002179612A1
InventorsJohn Toussant
Original AssigneeToussant John William
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Invertible food container
US 20020179612 A1
Abstract
An invertible food container. The food container is reversibly invertible from and between a first plate-like geometry to a second bowl-like geometry. The user may eat from the food container while it is either geometry. In the first geometry, the food container can receive food as a plate. In the second geometry, the food container can receive food as a bowl. The second geometry is useful for holding liquid food or other foods which have a tendency to flow. A plurality of the food containers may be nested and shipped in the first, plate-like geometry to conserve space. At the point of use, the food container may be used in the first geometry or, depending upon the users' preference, be inverted to the second bowl-like geometry.
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Claims(20)
What is claimed is:
1. An invertible food container comprising a first surface, a second surface opposed to said first surface, said food container being oriented concave towards said first surface and convex relative to said second surface, said food container comprising a central region and a periphery circumscribing and being disposed in angular relationship relative to said central region, a circumferentially oriented hinge line between said central region and said periphery, wherein at least one of said periphery and said central region is articulable about said circumferentially oriented hinge line such that said concave and convex orientations of said first and second surfaces, respectively, are transposable, such that said second surface is concave and said first surface is convex.
2. The food container of claim 1, wherein said circumferentially oriented hinge line is polygonal.
3. The food container of claim 1, wherein said circumferentially oriented hinge line comprises a circle.
4. The food container of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of radially oriented hinge lines, each of said radially oriented hinge lines extending from a proximal end intercepting said circumferentially oriented hinge line to a distal end, said distal end being radially outward of said proximal end and disposed in said periphery of said food container.
5. The food container of claim 4 having an edge defining the border of said food container, the distals end of said radially oriented hinge lines being disposed at said edge of said food container.
6. The food container of claim 1, wherein said food container is circular in shape.
7. The food container of claim 1, wherein said food container is rectangularly-shaped.
8. A food container having a first surface and a second surface opposed thereto, said food container being invertible between two geometries, a first geometry oriented concave towards said first surface and a second geometry oriented concave toward second surface, said food container having a first volumetric capacity associated with said first geometry, and a second volumetric capacity associated with said second geometry, said second being at least 25% greater than said first volume.
9. A food container according to claim 8, wherein said second volumetric capacity is at least 50% greater than said first volume.
10. A food container according to claim 9, wherein said second volumetric capacity is at least 100% greater than said first volume.
11. A food container according to claim 8, wherein said food container has first depth in said first geometry and a second depth in said second geometry, said second depth being at least 50% greater than said first depth.
12. A food container according to claim 11, wherein said food container has first depth in said first geometry and a second depth in said second geometry, said second depth being at least 75% greater than said first depth.
13. A method of using an invertible food container, said method comprising the steps of:
providing a plurality of identical food containers, each said food container having a first surface and a second surface opposed thereto, each said food container being oriented concave toward said first surface and having a first depth and being convex towards said second surface;
stacking said food containers in face-to-face nesting relationship, wherein said first surface of one food container contacts said second surface of a succeeding food container;
shipping said plurality of food containers in said stacked relationship;
separating at least one food container from said stack; and
inverting said separated food container from said first geometry to a second geometry wherein said food container is oriented concave toward said second surface.
14. A method of using an invertible food container according to claim 13, wherein said step of inverting said food container from said first geometry to said second geometry comprises manually inverting said food container.
15. A method of using an invertible food container according to claim 14, wherein said food container has a central region and a periphery, said periphery circumscribing and being in angular relationship relative to said central region, and further comprising the step of applying a force having a vector component normal to said central region.
16. A method of using an invertible food container according to claim 15 further comprising the steps of placing said separated food container in face to face relationship with a plurality of food containers having a nested relationship, whereby said first or said second surface of said separated food container contacts said first or said second surface of one of said plurality of said food containers, respectively and is supported thereby; and applying an inverting force to said separated food container, said force being oriented towards said plurality of food containers whereby said separated food container inverts.
17. A method of using an invertible food container according to claim 16 wherein said plurality of food containers is placed on a support surface with said convex second surface facing upwardly.
18. A method of using an invertible food container according to claim 17 further comprising the step of using a plunger to apply said inverting force.
19. A method of using an invertible food container, said method comprising the steps of:
providing a food container having a central region and a periphery, said periphery circumscribing and being in angular relationship relative to said central region, said food container further having a first surface and a second surface opposed thereto, said food container being oriented concave toward said first surface and having a first depth and being convex towards said second surface, said food container further comprising a circumferentially oriented hinge line between said central region and said periphery, wherein at least one of said periphery and said central region is articulable about said circumferentially oriented hinge,
said method further comprising the step of applying an inverting force to said central region such that said concave and convex orientations of said first and second surfaces, respectively, are transposed, whereby said first surface becomes convex and said second surface becomes concave.
20. A method of using an invertible food container according to claim 19 wherein said food container has a plate like geometry with a first depth and is invertible to a bowl like geometry with a second depth, said second depth being greater than said first depth, and said step of providing said food container comprises providing said food container in said plate like geometry.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to food containers and, more particularly a food container, which at the point of use and dependent upon user preference, can assume two geometries—a first geometry and a second geometry concavely opposite the first. In the two different geometries, the food container may have two different volumetric capacities and/or depths.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Disposable food containers are well known in the art. Disposable food containers include plates, bowls, clam shells, trays, etc.

[0003] The art has paid considerable attention to making, molding, and deforming these food containers out of a single plane. In this latter process a flat blank is provided. The blank may have radial grooves at its peripheral region. The blank is inserted between mating dyes and pressed. The radial grooves provide for accumulation of the material deformed by the dies. Exemplary art includes U.S. Pat. No. 3,033,434, issued May 8, 1962 to Carson; U.S. Pat. No. 4,026,458, issued May 31, 1977 to Morris et al., the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference; U.S. Pat. No. 4,606,496, issued Aug. 19, 1986 to Marx et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 4,609,140, issued Sep. 2, 1986 to van Handel et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 4,721,500, issued Jan. 26, 1988 to van Handel et al.; U.S. Pat. No. 5,230,939, issued Jul. 27, 1993 to Baum; U.S. Pat. No. 5,326,020, issued Jul. 5, 1994 to Cheshire et al. However, none of these attempts in the art provide a way to use the articles described therein in a configuration other than that originally provided. Typically the articles, such as food containers, are provided in a generally open configuration with sloped side walls. The side walls reduce the occurrences of food spilling from the food container.

[0004] One example of a food container that may be used in two distinct forms is disclosed in commonly assigned WO 99/47424A1, published Sept. 23, 1999 in the names of Toussant et al. and incorporated herein by reference. Toussant et al. teaches a container which assumes a first geometry which is open for receiving food and, by folding, assumes a second geometry which encloses the food contents.

[0005] At picnics and other occasions where disposable food containers are utilized, many different types of food are often served. Some foods are amenable to eating from a plate, while others are amenable to eating from a bowl. Often the user of disposable food containers would enjoy the convenience of a food container which can receive food as a plate and can also separately receive food as a bowl. Existing containers which purport to be usable as a bowl and a plate operate in one and only one geometry and are compromised in one or both capacities.

[0006] The art shows a need for a container transformable between plate and bowl geometries. One such transformation is inversion of the food container. Inversion refers to the transposition of the convex/concave surface relationship of the food container. An invertible food container would allow one to buy and store only one package of containers. No longer would one have to buy separate packages of plates and bowls to accommodate different types of culinary items. Additionally, waste of containers would be reduced. When separate packages are purchased, only half of the plates and half of the bowls may be used. Many times unused containers are discarded. Clearly, in such a situation, one package of invertible containers could be exhausted, leaving no containers to discard. Also, an invertible container can be stored in a plate configuration. The height of plates is less than the height of an equal number of bowls. Therefore, one can store more invertible containers than bowls in a particular space which is vertically constrained. Additionally, the efficiency and convenience of storing the invertible containers in their plate form is preferred compared to storing bowls. For example bowls require more vertical lift height to clear the stack than plates.

[0007] Accordingly, this invention provides a food container which can be used in two different geometries. The first geometry resembles plate-like geometry for receiving food as a plate. The second geometry resembles bowl-like geometry for receiving food as a bowl. This invention also provides a dual-volume food container.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a food container according to the present invention and used in Example 1.

[0009]FIG. 2 is the food container of FIG. 1 being inverted from its first, plate-like geometry to its second, bowl-like geometry with the application of force as shown by the arrow.

[0010]FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the food container of FIG. 1 after inversion to the second geometry.

[0011]FIG. 4 is a broken top plan view of an alternative food container according to the present invention, the left half having a single polygonally shaped circumferential hinge line, the right half additionally having a circular circumferential hinge line and radial hinge lines internal to the circumferential hinge lines.

[0012]FIG. 5 is a top plan view of an alternative food container according to the present invention having a continuous circular circumferential hinge line and discontinuous polygonal circumferential hinge lines intercepting the continuous circular circumferential hinge line, the food container of FIG. 5 further having continuous radial hinge lines between the circumferential hinge lines and exhibiting a high degree of stability.

[0013]FIG. 6 is a top plan view of an alternative food container according to the present invention having spirally oriented radial hinge lines.

[0014]FIG. 7 is a top plan view of an alternative embodiment according to the present invention having a circumferential hinge line and two sets of generally radially oriented hinge lines, one set radially outboard of the other. The food container of FIG. 7 further has two sets of panels, each set being determined by its radially oriented hinge lines. Further, each set of panels has two different widths.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0015] The invention comprises an invertible food container comprising a first surface and a second surface opposed to the first surface. The food container is oriented concave towards the first surface and convex relative to the second surface. The food container comprises a periphery circumscribing and being disposed in angular relationship relative a central region. A circumferentially oriented hinge line divides the central region and periphery. At least one of the periphery and central region is articulable about the circumferential hinge line such that the concave and convex orientations of the first and second surfaces, respectively, are transposable such that the food container may be inverted from a first geometry oriented concave towards the first surface to a second geometry oriented concave towards the second surface.

[0016] The present invention also comprises a method for using and inverting the invertible food container. The food container has first and second opposing surfaces which are top and bottom surfaces respectively. To invert the container, the user may grasp the container around its periphery and exert a force to its central region from the convex surface towards the first. This use of force will cause the container to invert between the geometries. Alternatively, the user may invert a container by removing it from a stack of containers and placing it in a face-to-face relationship on the top of the remaining stack and applying a force to its central region to cause the container to invert.

[0017] The present invention also teaches a method for manufacturing an invertible food container. The food container of the present invention can be manufactured from paper, plastic or foam using any of the methods known in the art for forming plates with a central region and periphery. In one such process, containers are made with the additional manufacturing steps including scoring hinge lines into the container.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0018] Referring to FIGS. 1-3, the food container 10 of the present invention is shown in its first, generally plate-like geometry. The food container 10 defines an XY plane and a Z direction orthogonal thereto. The food container 10 possesses a first surface 12 which is a top surface and is utilized to receive food, etc. The food container 10 also has a second surface 14, particularly a bottom surface, which is opposed to the first surface12. The food container 10 has a shape, defined by the edge 28 of the food container 10. While round food containers are illustrated, the invention is not so limited. The food container 10 may be oval, square, rectangular, hexagonal, octagonal or other regular or irregular polygonal shapes.

[0019] As used herein, the following terms have the following meanings. “Invertible” means that the food container 10 of the present invention may transform from one geometry to another via the application of external force. Preferably, the external force is mechanical. The two geometries of the food container 10 are a generally plate-like geometry and a generally bowl-like geometry. Typically, the plate-like geometry will have a greater circumferential dimension, while the bowl-like geometry will have a greater depth. Depth is measured perpendicular to the plane of the food container 10.

[0020] The food container 10 according to the present invention is considered to be bistable. By “bistable”, it is meant that the food container 10 can indefinitely remain in either the first or second geometry. The food container 10 does not move from the first geometry to the second, from the second geometry to the first or from either geometry to an intermediate geometry without external influence. Nor does the food container 10 assume other geometries or configurations without external influence. Furthermore, the food container 10 enjoys unexpected rigidity while in the first geometry and in the second geometry.

[0021] The food container 10 inverts between the two aforementioned positions about one or more hinge lines 20, 22. A hinge line 20, 22 is a line of weakness that various sections of the food container 10 articulate about during inversion. A hinge line 20 may be “circumferentially oriented” in that it encloses and typically circumscribes an area generally central to the food container 10 and congruent to its periphery 18. A hinge line 22 may be “radially oriented” in that it predominantly extends outwardly from a position at or juxtaposed with the center of the food container 10 towards the periphery 18.

[0022] The circumferential/radially oriented hinge lines 20, 22 may be provided by any means well know in the art. The circumferential/radially oriented hinge lines 20, 22 are lines of weakness in the food container 10. The circumferential/radially oriented hinge lines 20, 22 allow the food container 10 to invert in a predetermined manner. The hinge lines 20 and 22 may be disposed on the first surface 12, or the second surface 14 of the food container 10, or both. If hinge lines 20, 22 are disposed on both the first and second surfaces 12, 14 of the food container 10, the hinge lines 20, 22 may be disposed directly opposite from the corresponding hinge lines 20, 22 on the opposite surface 12, 14 of the food container 10. Alternatively radial hinge lines 22 may be disposed on one surface 12, 14 and circumferential hinge lines 20 disposed on the other surface 12, 14.

[0023] Material can be cut or removed from the food container 10 to form the circumferential/radially oriented hinge lines 20, 22. Preferably, however, material is compressed or densified to form the circumferential/radially oriented hinge lines 20, 22. Scoring design and techniques are well known in the plate making art. The hinge lines 20, 22 may be continuous or comprises discrete segments separated by lands. If the food container 10 is provided with a waterproof finish on one surface 12, 14, it may be desirable to arrange the hinge lines 20, 22 so that surface 12, 14 is intact and the waterproof capability remains.

[0024] The food container 10 is divided into two discrete regions by the circumferentially oriented hinge line 20, a central region 16 and a periphery 18. The central region 16 is the primary location to place food items. The “central region 16” of the food container 10 is internal to the circumferentially oriented hinge line 20. Intermediate the circumferentially oriented hinge line 20 and the edge, or border, of the food container 10 is the periphery 18 of the food container 10. The periphery 18 circumscribes the central region 16, providing a generally annular shape.

[0025] The periphery 18 may be disposed in angular relationship, typically obtuse, relative to the central region 16. The periphery 18 is typically raised during use relative to the central region 16, which minimizes or prevents the occurrences of spillage of food from the edge of the food container 10. The periphery 18 will typically have two sections, a wall section 36 which is characterized by having an upward and outward slope relative to the central region 16, and a top rim section 38 which defines the edges 28 of the food container 10. In one embodiment of the present invention, the central region 16 may be reinforced. Reinforcement of the central region 16 is illustrated in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. No. 6,179,203 B1 issued Jan. 30, 2001 to Toussant et al and incorporated herein by reference. A relatively stiffer central region 16 allows the food container 10 to invert more easily and to hold more food material. The hinge line may be formed into the food container 10 by scoring, a process that is well known in the art. Scoring creates a “living hinge,” as the term is known in the art. In the case of a plastic container, the living hinge can be molded into the container as is also well known in the art.

[0026] Referring to FIGS. 4-5, the circumferentially oriented hinge line 20 may take various forms around the central region 16. For example, it may form a star-like or a daisy-like shape. As used herein, a “star” shape is a geometric figure with multiple sides, oriented concave inwards, towards the center. A daisy shape, on the other hand, is a geometric figure with multiple sides, concave outwards and away from the center. Alternatively, the circumferentially oriented hinge line 20 may form a circle, or other closed polygon, around the central region 16. While not preferred, the food container 10 of the present invention may employ a circumferentially oriented hinge line 20 that is discontinuous, eccentric or not centered relative to the central region 16 and/or periphery 18 of the food container 10.

[0027] Referring to FIGS. 4-7, the food container 10 may also have radially oriented hinge lines 22. The radially oriented hinge lines 22 extend primarily in a radial direction from the approximate center of the central region 16. Preferably the radially oriented hinge lines 22 are disposed only outbound of the circumferential hinge line 20. As illustrated in FIG. 6, the radially oriented hinge lines 22 may be disposed in a spiral configuration.

[0028] If radially oriented hinge lines 22 are utilized with the food container 10, preferably they are disposed outward of the circumferential hinge line 20. If the radially oriented hinge lines 22 are disposed internal to the circumferential hinge line 20, the radially oriented hinge lines 22 may weaken the central region 16 of the food container 10.

[0029] As illustrated by FIG. 7, the radially oriented hinge lines 22 may be disposed in the periphery 18. The radially oriented hinge lines 22 divide the periphery 18 into panels 24. The food container 10 of FIG. 7 has a generally round edge 28 in the first geometry. When inverted to the second geometry the same food container 10 has a polygonal shaped edge 28 due to the inflection of panels 24.

[0030] The radially oriented hinge lines 22 according to the present invention may be multi-planar. By “multi-planar” it is meant that the radially oriented hinge lines 22 traverse a single direction and extend, at least for a discernible distance, in a direction having a vector component perpendicular to the initial direction. While not wishing to be bound by theory, it is believed that during inversion of food container 10, panels 24 become distorted and unstable which leads to the tendency of food container 10 to be stable in either the first or second geometry but require an external influence to cause it to invert from one geometry to another.

[0031] The present invention may be practiced with several different variations of the radially oriented hinge lines 22. The radially oriented hinge lines 22 may intercept or be spaced apart from the circumferentially oriented hinge line 20. The radially oriented hinge lines 22 may extend radially outwardly to the edge 28 of the food container 10. The number of radially oriented hinge lines 22 may range from about three to about twelve. Typically the number of radially oriented hinge lines 22 is from about six to about nine. The radially oriented hinge lines 22 are typically equally spaced about the periphery 18. The method of making the radially oriented hinge lines 22 is scoring or molding; the same process used to make the circumferentially oriented hinge line 20.

[0032] The shape and size of the food container 10 is defined by the edge 28. It is to be recognized that the dimensions and relative proportions of the periphery 18 and central region 16 of the food container 10 will vary according to the exact size and intended use of the food container 10. While a round food container 10 is illustrated in FIG. 1, one of ordinary skill will recognize that any suitable shape and depth of food container 10 may be selected for use with the present invention. Other suitable shapes include squares, rectangles, ovals, stars, various polygons, etc.

[0033] Referring to FIGS. 1-3, the present invention is shown at three stages in the inversion process. The food container 10 is preferably constructed to accommodate manual inversion between both geometries. FIG. 1 shows the food container 10 in its first geometry. As noted above the first geometry is plate-like. FIG. 2 shows the application of force, indicated by the arrow, to the central region 16 of the food container 10. Hands grasp the food container 10, typically at the periphery 18. While the food container 10 is firmly held, a force 32 is exerted towards the second surface 14 in the central region 16. At the same time, a moment 34 is applied along the periphery 18. In FIG. 3 the food container 10 is shown inverted to its second geometry as a bowl.

[0034] The food container 10 according to the present invention may be made of a rigid material, particularly a material which provides for inversion, as noted above. Suitable rigid materials include foam, plastic, and various other synthetic materials. The food container 10 may be made of cellulose and, if so, may be made of solid bleached sulfite or layers of various types of fibers including recycled cellulose. If desired, additional rigidity and thermal insulating capability may be provided by the materials selected for the food container 10. Additionally, the materials of the food container 10 need not be the same throughout.

[0035] A multi-ply the food container 10 may be made of corrugated board. Such a food container 10 may comprise multiple plies disposed in face-to-face relationship. A multi-ply food container 10 comprises at least three plies, a first ply, a second ply and a third ply. A second ply is interposed between the first ply and the third ply, so that the first and third plies are spaced apart from each other by the second ply. The second plies provides an air space between the first and third ply. The air space may help in reducing heat transfer through the food container 10. A suitable construction is illustrated in commonly assigned WO 99/53810 filed in the names of Plummer et al. and incorporated herein by reference.

[0036] Corrugated board comprises a generally flat layer, and a corrugated layer. The corrugated layer is not joined at all geometries to the flat layer, but instead has ribs which are spaced apart from the flat layer and troughs joined to the flat layer. The ribs and troughs are often straight and parallel, but may be sinusoidal. In cross section, a rib may be S-shaped, C-shaped, Z-shaped, or have any other configuration know in the art. Furthermore, if desired, a second flat panel may be joined to the corrugated medium and disposed oppositely from the first flat panel.

[0037] Alternatively, the food container 10 may be molded from a pulp slurry or pressed from a blank between mating plate-shaped dies. Both methods of manufacture are well known in the art.

[0038] In common practice, bowls are typically deeper and encompass more volumetric capacity than plates of comparable diameter. Plates are typically shallower in depth with relatively less volumetric capacity. The food container 10 according to the present invention enjoys greater volumetric capacity in its bowl-like second geometry than in its plate-like first geometry. This second bowl-like geometry is especially useful for containing liquid-type foods or foods that have a tendency to flow such as soup, stew, cereal, ice cream and similar foods. Plates, on the other hand, are often used for holding foods which are more solid and tend to maintain their shape such as steak, sandwiches, cake, etc.

[0039] In the present invention, it has been discovered that the volumetric capacity of the bowl-like second geometry of the food container 10 can be increased by increasing the diameter, particularly in the rim section 38, of the food container 10 while it is in the first plate-like geometry. Unexpectedly, this increases the depth, hence and volumetric capacity, of the second bowl-like geometry.

[0040] To illustrate this point, a number of different invertible food containers 10 were made and their first and second volumetric capacities were measured using the following procedure. First, the food container 10, while in its first plate-like geometry, was placed in a laboratory balance, taking care to have the top rim portion 38 of the container level and supporting the food container 10 so that it would maintain its geometry and shape upon filling with water. The balance was tared. The food container 10 was filled with water having a specific gravity of 1 gram/cubic centimeter until the top of the water was visibly level with the top rim section 38 of the food container 10. The weight of the water was noted and recorded in cubic centimeters as the first volumetric capacity of the food container 10.

[0041] The water was removed from the food container 10. The food container 10 was dried and inverted to its second bowl-like geometry. The food container 10 was again placed on the laboratory balance with its top rim section 38 level and supported to maintain its geometry and shape when filled with water. The balance tare was verified, then the bowl-like geometry food container 10 was filled with water with a specific gravity of 1 gram/cubic centimeter until the top of the water was visibly level with the top rim of the food container 10. The weight of the water was noted and recorded as the second volumetric capacity.

[0042] The ratio of the second volumetric capacity to the first volumetric capacity was calculated and recorded. Also, the ratios of the depths and diameters were measured and recorded.

[0043] If a food container 10 absorbs water in either geometry, one skilled in the art would know how to protect the container surface from water penetration or damage while still achieving accurate volumetric capacity measurements. Also, if the top rim section 38 of the container is irregular, one skilled in the art would know to measure the depth of the food container 10 from the lowest point of the rim section 38 surface to the low point of the central region 16 and would note the weight when the water is even with the low point of the top rim section 38.

[0044] The depth of the container in its first geometry and second geometry was measured and recorded in millimeters. A Starrett scale held in a vertical position can be used for this purpose. If desired, a straight edge may be placed horizontally across the food container 10 to assist in the depth measurement. The following examples illustrate the depth and volumetric capacity comparisons of various samples of the present invention.

EXAMPLE 1

[0045] A disposable foam food container 10, illustrated in FIGS. 1-3, having a gently sloping periphery 18 was tested as described above. This food container 10 did not have radially oriented hinge lines 22. A circumferentially oriented hinge 20 line was provided as a circle approximately the diameter of the central region 16 of the food container 10 in its first plate-like geometry.

EXAMPLE 2

[0046] A disposable paper food container 10 having a periphery 18 with a rather steep wall section 36 and a top rim section 38 in its first plate-like geometry was tested. Its circumferentially oriented hinge line 20 was a circle approximately the diameter of the central region 16 of the food container 10 in its first plate-like geometry. This container did not have radially oriented hinge lines 22.

EXAMPLE 3

[0047] A disposable paper invertible food container 10 having a periphery with a rather steep wall section 36 and a radially enlarged top rim section 38 relative to Example I in its first plate-like geometry was tested. This test showed that enlarging the rim section radially increases the depth and volumetric capacity of the second bowl-like geometry without changing these characteristics in the first plate-like geometry. This food container 10 had a circular circumferentially oriented hinge line 20 approximately the diameter of the central region 16 of the food container 10 in its first plate-like geometry. This food container 10 did not have radially oriented hinge lines 22.

EXAMPLE 4

[0048] A disposable paper invertible food container 10 having a periphery 18 with a rather steep wall section 36 and a top rim section 38 with an intermediate radial extension in its first plate-like was tested. The geometry was otherwise similar to that of the two previous examples. This food container 10 had a circular circumferentially oriented hinge line 20 approximately the diameter of the central region 16 of the food container 10 in its first plate-like geometry. This food container 10 did not have radially oriented hinge lines 22.

[0049] The data are summarized in Table I below.

TABLE I
Example 1 Example 2 Example 3 Example 4
Central Region Diameter, 14.3 16.5 16.5 16.5
cm
First Geometry, Plate
Properties
Diameter, cm 22.4 25.8 24.4
Depth, mm 17 22 21 21
Volumetric Capacity, cc 531.2 506 431 431
Second Geometry, Bowl
Properties
Diameter, cm 21.1 24.7 23
Depth, mm 27 33 41 38
Volumetric Capacity, cc 666.4 701 1250 775.8
Ratios
Diameter: Plate/Bowl 1.06 1.04 1.06
Depth: Bowl/Plate 1.59 1.50 1.95 1.81
Volumetric: Bowl/Plate 1.25 1.39 2.90 1.80

[0050] Table I illustrates that a food container 10 according to the present invention may have a second volumetric capacity which is at least 25%, 50% or even 100% greater than the first volume. The first and second volumes are associated with the plate-like and bowl-like geometries, respectively. Table I also illustrates the food container 10 may have a depth associated with the second geometry which is at least 25%, 50% or even 75% greater than the depth associated with the first geometry.

[0051] If desired, a plurality of the food containers 10 may be packaged, stored, and shipped in a nested configuration. In a nested configuration the first surface 12 of the food container 10 is placed in contacting relationship with the second surface 14 of an adjacent food container 10. Using the nested configuration footprint can be conserved if the bowl geometry or depth can be conserved if the plate configuration is used.

[0052] The plurality of nested food containers 10 may be used to facilitate the inversion process. For example, one food container 10 may be separated from the nested plurality. The nested plurality may be placed on a supporting surface, such as a table or countertop, with the convex second surfaces 14 facing upwardly. The separated food container 10 is the placed congruent with and top of the nested plurality of food containers 10 with the convex second surfaces 14 in contacting relationship. An inverting force 32 is applied to the separated food container 10, and resisted by the nested plurality, thus making inversion easier to accomplish. Alternatively, the nested plurality of food containers 10 may be placed on the supporting surface with the concave first surfaces 12 facing upwardly. The separated food container 10 is placed congruent with and on top of the nested plurality with the concave first surfaces 12 in contacting relationship. Again, an inverting force 32 is applied to the separated food container 10, and resisted by the nested plurality, thus making inversion easier to accomplish.

[0053] If desired, a plunger may be used to apply the inverting force 32. The plunger should be sized to approximate the central region 16 of the food container 10 if the concave first surfaces 12 are contacting or the periphery 18 if the convex second surfaces 14 are contacting. Common household items, such as lids, coasters, etc. may be used for the plunger.

[0054] While disposable food containers 10 have been described above, it is to be recognized that durable and reusable food containers 10 are within the scope of the claimed invention as well. Additionally, the materials from which the food container 10 is made need not be the same throughout. For example, different materials may be used for the central region 16 and the periphery 18. Additionally, the food container 10 may further comprise a cover in either geometry, for storage of perishable contents, etc. Many other combinations and variations are feasible and within the scope of the appended claims.

Classifications
U.S. Classification220/574
International ClassificationA47G19/00, B65D1/34, A47G19/02, A47G19/03
Cooperative ClassificationB65D1/34, A47G19/02
European ClassificationA47G19/02, B65D1/34
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 2, 2001ASAssignment
Owner name: PROCTER & GAMBLE COMPANY, THE, OHIO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:TOUSSANT, JOHN WILLIAM;REEL/FRAME:011977/0978
Effective date: 20010425