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Publication numberUS20030116576 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/026,412
Publication dateJun 26, 2003
Filing dateDec 21, 2001
Priority dateDec 21, 2001
Publication number026412, 10026412, US 2003/0116576 A1, US 2003/116576 A1, US 20030116576 A1, US 20030116576A1, US 2003116576 A1, US 2003116576A1, US-A1-20030116576, US-A1-2003116576, US2003/0116576A1, US2003/116576A1, US20030116576 A1, US20030116576A1, US2003116576 A1, US2003116576A1
InventorsKimberly Lang-Boecker
Original AssigneeKimberly Lang-Boecker
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Reusable sleeve for beverage containers
US 20030116576 A1
Abstract
A general description of aspects of the invention would be a reusable sleeve for use with hot beverage containers comprising: an sheet of insulating material having a length of at least 20 cm; the length defines a distal and a proximal end; at least at a distal end of the sheet is a closure system that will temporarily connect the distal end to the proximal end; the sheet of insulating material being at least either stretchable to conform to a truncated cone shape of a cup or cut in a form that will fit about the surface of a truncated cone shape of a beverage cup. The reusable sleeve preferably has the insulating material comprise a fabric and the closure system comprises a hook-and-loop fastening system. The reusable sleeve may have an opening therein of sufficient size to retain currency.
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Claims(13)
What is claimed:
1. A reusable sleeve for use with hot beverage containers comprising:
a) an sheet of insulating material having a length of at least 20 cm;
b) the length defines a distal and a proximal end;
c) at least at a distal end of the sheet is a closure system that will temporarily connect the distal end to the proximal end;
d) the sheet of insulating material being at least either stretchable to conform to a truncated cone shape of a cup or cut in a form that will fit about the surface of a truncated cone shape of a beverage cup.
2. The reusable sleeve of claim 1 wherein the insulating material comprises a fabric.
3. The reusable sleeve of claim 1 wherein the closure system comprises a hook-and-loop fastening system.
4. The reusable sleeve of claim 2 wherein the closure system comprises a hook-and-loop fastening system.
5. The reusable sleeve of claim 1 having an opening therein of sufficient size to retain currency.
6. The reusable sleeve of claim 2 having an opening therein of sufficient size to retain currency.
7. The reusable sleeve of claim 6 wherein the opening has a separate closing mechanism.
8. The reusable sleeve of claim 7 wherein the separate closing system comprises a zipper.
9. The reusable sleeve of claim 1 wherein the insulating material is stretchable and the shape of the material is rectangular.
10. The reusable sleeve of claim 9 wherein the insulating material is free of elastic material.
11. The reusable sleeve of claim 1 wherein the insulating material is stretchable and the shape of the material is an arcuate cut.
12. The reusable sleeve of claim 11 wherein the insulating material comprises a fabric.
13. The reusable sleeve of claim 12 wherein the insulating material is free of elastic material.
Description
    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention relates to the field of beverage containers, particularly hot beverage serving containers, particularly hot beverage cups, and to insulating holders or sleeves for use with hot beverage serving cups.
  • [0003]
    2. Background of the Art
  • [0004]
    The sale of hot beverages, such as coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and specialty drinks has dramatically increased in recent years. Many competing corporations and private business have developed around the service of these beverages. The various distributors of these beverages have established their own business strategies, but all tend to sell auxiliary products in addition to their primary food products (coffee, tea, cocoa, specialty beverages, biscuits, cookies, pastries, candy, bagels, etc.). Such auxiliary products include mugs, tee-shirts, sweat shirts, and the like.
  • [0005]
    In addition to the auxiliary products (the cups, cup-holders, napkins, bags, and other materials) having prominent advertising on them, the different companies seek to establish a unique ambiance to be associated with the specific company. For example, some provide reading areas, checker board tables, music, couches, fireplaces, and the like to define unique personalities for the business. The business regularly look for both personality products as well as functional products for use in the promotion of the business of selling products.
  • [0006]
    The sale of hot beverages provides some unique problems. Because the beverage must be served hot to satisfy customer expectations, there is a potential for liability to the customer in the event of burns or other injuries from the hot beverage. The serving container itself (e.g., a cup), or a sleeve for the serving container is therefore insulated, beyond the modest insulation provided by standard paper cups.
  • [0007]
    Hot beverage containers have traditionally been constructed of two materials: wax-coated paper and polystyrene. Although both products have received wide spread implementation by fast food restaurants and consumers, they each have their own specialized draw-backs which have yet to be overcome. The primary limitation of these cups is that sufficient heat is transmitted through them to at least annoy if not hurt the customer.
  • [0008]
    Polystyrene is an excellent insulator, and because of its unique moldability, can be formed into a myriad of different shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, however, polystyrene is neither easily recyclable nor biodegradable, and must be disposed in a sanitary landfill. Landfills have become extremely expensive to use and are rapidly being filled to capacity. Polystyrene can also be incinerated, but this disposal method requires a significant amount of environmental safeguards because of the toxic fumes polystyrene emits while burning. Additionally, polystyrene can be easily broken, and a customer gripping a polystyrene cup tightly can break the cup or squeeze liquid from the top of the cup. Customers often grip the top of cups tightly to avoid touching surfaces of the cup adjacent to the liquid, exacerbating this problem.
  • [0009]
    Wax-covered paper products have been used in beverage containers for years, and have increasingly been replacing polystyrene as the material of choice. This material is generally recyclable, and is more readily degraded by environmental exposure than polystyrene. Unfortunately, because of its low insulation qualities, containers made of this material are very difficult to handle. It has therefore become customary to provide collars or sleeves to be placed around the cup to insulate the cup and prevent heat transfer to the hands of customers.
  • [0010]
    U.S. Pat. No. 5,205,473 describes a recyclable, insulating beverage container holder, comprising a corrugated tubular member comprising cellulosic material and at least a first opening therein for receiving and retaining a beverage container, said corrugated tubular member comprising fluting means for containing insulating air; said fluting means comprising fluting adhesively attached to a liner with a recyclable adhesive.
  • [0011]
    U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,053,401; 5,909,841; and 5,715,992 describe a container is disclosed, including an outer shell with an integral handle and two flexible bags within the outer shell. The outer shell has a top, a bottom and sidewalls. The outer shell also defines two openings on opposing walls. Each of the bags within the outer shell defines an aperture sealed to and surrounded by a mouth, which defines a fluid passageway from the interior of the corresponding mouth to the outside of the container. The mouth is sized and shaped such that fluid can be poured through the mouth from a source having an outlet spaced above the mouth. The handle extends outwardly from the top of the outer shell and has sufficient strength to provide essentially all support for the container when the bags are filled with liquid in either of two positions: in the first position, one of the openings is facing upwards; in the second position, each of the openings is facing sideward. Desirably, the mouth and opening are sized and shaped such that, when the opening is facing upwards, the human eye can detect when a level of fluid in the container is approaching the mouth.
  • [0012]
    In spite of he fact that the sleeves commercially available are sold widely, they still must be disposed of. Even though they are theoretically recyclable, they are usually carries away from the site of sale and deposited in general waste disposal facilities where they are not recycled. In general, the sleeves are also “one size fits all” and the sleeves tend to settle unevenly on cups, slip, and often tear along seal lines. Additionally, the uniform sleeves provide few options in design and choice for the users.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0013]
    An insulating material is provided in a strip or sheet form of sufficient length (at least 22 linear cm), including any extenders or closure elements, to enable the sheet to wrap around a common serving cup. The strip or sheet has non-permanent adhesive closure capability to fit the sheet around the serving cup and secure the ends of the strip to each other and thereby secure the sheet to the cup. The sheet may have auxiliary functions such as a pocket to retain currency or change.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURE
  • [0014]
    [0014]FIG. 1 shows an opened sleeve-forming sheet for hot beverage cups according to the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0015]
    A flexible, reusable insulating sleeve for use with hot beverage cups comprises an elongate strip of material and closure elements for attaching ends of the strip together. The strip should have an insulating value at least sufficient to keep the external temperature of the strip below 140 F. though a standard wax-paper cup containing water at 180 F., when the strip is pressed against the cup for one minute at a force of 5 grams/cm2. It is preferred that at such conditions the external strip be maintained at a temperature of less than 130 F., less than 120 F., and less than 110 F.
  • [0016]
    The material of the strip may be any flexible sheet forming material. By flexible, it is meant that the material may be conformed about a cylinder of 8 cm diameter without cracking. This flexibility should be repeatable, meaning that the strip should be able to be conformed to the cylinder, removed, straightened out, then conformed again at least five times without cracking sufficiently to structurally damage the sheet. Preferably materials are used that are essentially permanently flexible and will not crack with over a thousand conformations. Examples of such flexible materials for the flexible sheet construction are fabrics (woven, knitted, non-woven or mixtures of these formats), extruded sheets, cast sheets, cut sheet material, and the like. The composition of the fabric flexible sheet material may be fabric composed of fibers, yarns, cables, cording, filaments and the like, for example composed of natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk, hair, collagen, etc.), synthetic polymer fibers (polyester, polyamide, polyolefin, polyvinyl resins, and the like) and other synthetic or composite materials (e.g., ceramic fibers, inorganic fibers, cellulose fibers, and the like). The sheet material does not have to be in fabric form, but may be in manufactured sheet form (which may or may not have fibers associated therewith for strength or decorative effects). For example, leather, artificial leather, extruded sheets, cast sheets and the like may be used. The material may have sufficient natural insulation capability (e.g., leather) that they can be used in their conventional state, or they can be treated (e.g., provided in a foam format) or be laminated to another layer to provide sufficient insulation as to protect the user. In some cases, it may be desirable to provide a multiplayer sleeve so that inexpensive, non-decorative, highly insulating materials may be adjacent the cup and out of view (e.g., papers and foams), and more expensive, less insulating materials (e.g., silk) may be provided on the surface of the sleeve.
  • [0017]
    Multilayer sleeves may be provided to make other functional effects available with the sleeve. For example, two or three layer sleeves may be provided where one or more layers are insulation, one or more layers are absorptive, one or more layers are decorative, one or more layers are water-repellant, and the like. Layers with each of the properties, combinations of these properties and the like may be combined in the manufacture of the sleeve.
  • [0018]
    A general description of aspects of the invention would be a reusable sleeve for use with hot beverage containers comprising: an sheet of insulating material having a length of at least 20 cm; the length defines a distal and a proximal end; at least at a distal end of the sheet is a closure system that will temporarily connect the distal end to the proximal end; the sheet of insulating material being at least either stretchable to conform to a truncated cone shape of a cup or cut in a form that will fit about the surface of a truncated cone shape of a beverage cup. The reusable sleeve preferably has the insulating material comprise a fabric and the closure system comprises a hook-and-loop fastening system. The reusable sleeve may have an opening therein of sufficient size to retain currency. The opening may have a separate closing mechanism, such as a zipper. The reusable sleeve may have the insulating material as stretchable and the shape of the material may be rectangular. It is preferred that the insulating material is free of elastic material, which tends to decompose or harden upon repeated exposure to heat. The reusable sleeve may be stretchable and the shape of the material may be an arcuate cut.
  • [0019]
    As noted above, the sleeve is not constructed to automatically fit and be secured to cups. That is, unless the temporary closing system happens to be connected, the sleeve does not exist in a permanently cylindrical or conical form. The invention does not include a permanent, preformed cylinder of material, except when combined with the pocket element described herein, but has the capability to be opened and closed to go from a flat form to the cylindrical form secured to the cup. Reference to the accompanying Figure will assist in further appreciating the present invention.
  • [0020]
    [0020]FIG. 1 shows an opened sleeve-forming sheet 2 for hot beverage cups according to the present invention. The sheet 2 comprises a structural material 4 (which may be one or more layers as described above). The material 4 is shown in a curved format, but may be rectangular in shape. It may be best constructed in a rectangular shape where the material 4 is elastic, stretchable, and the like. Fabrics are particularly suited for rectangular constructions, and knitted fabric or fabric with elastic fibers or fill are especially conformable to the tapered shape of many cups. At one end 5 of the sheet 2 are shown connecting or securing elements 6. These securing elements may directly connect to the material 4 itself (as where the connector elements 6 are the hook elements of a hook-and-loop fastener system and the material 4 is a fabric or loop surfaced system. The securing elements 6 may also connect to the other side 7 of the material 4 through connecting elements 8 that may cooperate with connector elements 6 or act independently with the material 4 to form a secure system. The securing elements 6 and 8 are shown extending from the ends 5 and 7 of the material 4, but may be attached to the material inside the edges 5 and 7 as shown with a hook connector 20 from a shook-and-loop fastening system.
  • [0021]
    An additional feature of the sleeve system 2 of the present invention is an optional pocket 10 on one surface or edge of the sleeve system 2. The pocket 2 is shown as having an open or openable edge 12 and is shown with a preferred zipper or seal-in-place closure 14. The pocket may be on a surface or on an edge, and may be on an intended exterior surface or an interior surface when placed on the cup. The sheet 2 is shown with a curved format, with the relatively lower edge 16 curved and the upper edge 18 curved so that when the sheet is fit about a cup, the fit of the sheet 2 to the cup does not leave openings along the edges 16 or 18 or asymmetry along the side edges 5 and 7. The closure elements 6, 8 and/or 20 secure to the material 4 or each other, and do not adhesive secure to the cup, as this would reduce the reusability of the sleeve. The shape shown in FIG. 1 is defined herein as “an arcuate cut.”
  • [0022]
    Although specific structures and features and materials have been described, the practice of the invention is not limited to the use of these specific examples. One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate the alternate forms, designs, structures, and materials than can be used within the scope of the invention described by these examples.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification220/738
International ClassificationB65D81/38, B65D25/36
Cooperative ClassificationB65D81/3876, B65D25/36, Y02W30/807
European ClassificationB65D25/36