FIELD OF THE INVENTION
- BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to packages and methods of forming the same. More specifically, the present invention is especially embodied in packages of stacked, individually wrapped disposable utensils and to the methods of forming the same.
Disposable utensils, such as flat, thin wooden spoons, are typically individually wrapped in a protective sanitary covering, such as a light weight paper. Such wooden spoons are typically supplied with edible products, such frozen desserts, yogurts, cottage cheese and the like at the point of sale to allow the consumer to scoop the product contents from the container and place it in their mouth.
Individually wrapped wooden spoons are typically provided in bulk in the form of a banded stack. That is, many layers of the individually wrapped wooden spoons are banded together (e.g., with rubber bands) to form a stack. Each layer in the stack may contain one, or more typically, several, wooden spoon(s) as may be desired.
As can probably be appreciated, banded stacks of individually wrapped, flat wooden spoons presents problems for the supplier and retailer. For example, from the manufacturer's perspective, the banding of a wooden spoon stack presents a labor intensive and time consuming step in the manufacturing process. From the retailer's perspective, once the rubber band is removed from the stack, the spoons become more difficult to distribute since there no longer is stack integrate in the absence of the bands.
What would be especially desirable, therefore, if non-banded integral stacks of individually wrapped disposable utensils (e.g., flat, thin wooden spoons) could be provided. It is towards providing such integral stacks that the present invention is directed.
Broadly, the present invention is embodied in an integrated stack of individually wrapped flat disposable utensils. More specifically, the present invention is embodied in packages and methods of forming the same, whereby adjacent layers in a stack of individually wrapped flat disposable utensil layers are bonded one to another by means of a removable hot melt pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA). The bond formed by the adhesive is such that the entire stack of layers forming the package is integrated in a manner whereby the bonds physically support the weight of the stack without separating. Such a bond, however, is releasable in that a user may exert sufficient force to separate one layer, or an individual one of the wrapped utensils in the layer, from another.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCOMPANYING DRAWINGS
These and other aspects and advantages will become more apparent after careful consideration is given to the following detailed description of the preferred exemplary embodiments thereof.
Reference will hereinafter be made to the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference numerals throughout the various FIGURES denote like structural elements, and wherein;
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a package formed of a stack of individually wrapped, flat disposable utensils in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the package depicted in FIG. 1; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 3 is a schematic perspective view showing a manner in which the package of stacked individually wrapped utensils may be formed.
Accompanying FIGS. 1 and 2 show an embodiment of a package 10 comprised of respective stacked layers 12 of individually disposable utensils 14-1, 14-2 contained within respective wrappers 16-1, 16-2. In this regard, the utensils 14-1, 14-2 are depicted as being conventional flat, thin rigid spoons, preferably formed of wood or a plastics material, which may be employed to scoop out edible contents (e.g., frozen desserts, such as ice cream, yogurt, and the like) from a container of the same. For convenience of nomenclature, the utensils 14-1, 14-2 will hereinafter more colloquially be called wooden spoons, but such reference is non-limiting.
The embodiment of the package 10 depicted in FIGS. 1 and 2 shows a dual side-by-side utensil arrangement in that the wrapper 16-1 which contains an individually wrapped wooden spoon 14-1 is joined via material bridges 18 to a laterally adjacent wrapper 16-2 which contains and individually wrapped wooden spoon 14.2. More or less individually wrapped wooden spoons may however be provided in the package 10 in accordance with the present invention. Thus, single wrapped wooden spoon may be stacked to form the package 10, or more than two side-by-side wooden spoons may be provided in a stacked arrangement to form the package 10.
The wrappers 16-1, 16-2, which in the preferred embodiment are formed of a light-weight paper but could be formed of a plastics film material if desired, are sealed about their generally peripheral edges so as to establish pockets 20-1, 20-2 for containing the individual flat wooden spoons 14-1, 14-2. As such, the wooden spoons 14-1, 14-2 are maintained in a sanitary condition until the wrappers 16-1, 16-2 are physically opened and the spoons removed for use.
Important to the present invention, adjacent ones of the individual layers 12 forming the package 10 in accordance with the present invention are integrated one to another by means of a removable hot melt pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA). The removable hot melt PSA is thus one which forms a fugitive bond between adjacent ones of the stacked wrappers 16-1 or 16-2 without tearing or damaging the same. In this regard, as shown in accompanying FIG. 3, adhesive dots 22-1, 22-2 comprised of an amount of a removable hot melt PSA are applied to respective surface regions of the wrappers 16-1, 16-2 on an uppermost one of the layers 12 in the stack. (It will, of course, be understood that the removable hot melt PSA does not need to be in the form of “dots” per se, but could be applied to the wrappers in any geometric form and/or pattern as may be desired.) Thereafter, another layer (designated by reference numeral 12′ in FIG. 3) may be brought into physical contact with the pressure sensitive adhesive dots 22-1, 22-2.
On application of pressure, therefore, the adjacent layers 12 in the stack will thus be bonded one to another by means of the adhesive dots 22-1 and 22-2. The bond formed by the adhesive is such that the entire stack of layers 12 forming the package 10 is integrated in a manner whereby the bonds physically support the weight of the stack without separating. Such a bond, however, is releasable in that a user may exert sufficient force to separate one layer 12 from another.
Virtually any conventional hot melt (100% solids) pressure sensitive adhesive (PSA) that forms a fugitive (releasable) bond may be employed in the practice of the present invention. For example, removable hot melt pressure sensitive adhesives as described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,680,333 and 5,624,986 (the entire content of each being expressly incorporated hereinto by reference) may be employed if desired. Removable hot melt PSA's are available commercially from a number of sources. Most preferably, the hot melt PSA employed in the practice of the present invention will have a viscosity of between about 1000 to about 10000 cps at a pour temperature of between about 100° F. to about 400° F., and will exhibit a 180° Peel Strength (Mylar™ film substrate, 12 in/min) of less than about 1.0 pound per linear inch (pli), more preferably less than about 0.50 pli, and most preferably less than 0.25 pli (ideally about 0.15 pli). One particularly preferred hot melt PSA that may be employed in accordance with the present invention is 80-8669 adhesive commercially available from Henkel Adhesives of Lewisville, Tex.
As noted above, the hot melt PSA may be applied in any pattern onto the surfaces of the wrappers 16-1, 16-2 so as to form the desired bond therebetween. Suffice it to say that those skilled in the art can determine without undue experimentation the particular pattern and/or arrangement of the hot melt PSA on the wrapper surfaces to suit particular end use applications.
Therefore, while the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiment, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiment, but on the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.