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Publication numberUS20040134910 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/698,326
Publication dateJul 15, 2004
Filing dateOct 31, 2003
Priority dateOct 31, 2002
Publication number10698326, 698326, US 2004/0134910 A1, US 2004/134910 A1, US 20040134910 A1, US 20040134910A1, US 2004134910 A1, US 2004134910A1, US-A1-20040134910, US-A1-2004134910, US2004/0134910A1, US2004/134910A1, US20040134910 A1, US20040134910A1, US2004134910 A1, US2004134910A1
InventorsEdward Colombo
Original AssigneeColombo Edward A.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Thermally insulating transparent food package
US 20040134910 A1
Abstract
A food container comprising a polymer foam bottom compartment hingeably joined to a transparent polymer top cover.
Images(6)
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Claims(19)
I claim:
1. A food container comprising a polymer foam bottom compartment hingeably joined to a transparent polymer top cover.
2. The food container as recited in claim 1, wherein said bottom compartment comprises a first flap.
3. The food container as recited in claim 2, wherein said top cover comprises a second flap, and wherein said first flap and said second flap are joined to each other.
4. The food container as recited in claim 3, wherein said first flap and said second flap are joined to each other by adhesive.
5. The food container as recited in claim 3, wherein said first flap and said second flap are joined to each other by ultrasonic welding.
6. The food container as recited in claim 3, wherein said first flap and said second flap are joined to each other by heat sealing.
7. The food container as recited in claim 1 wherein said bottom compartment is dish-shaped.
8. The food container as recited in claim 7, wherein said top compartment is dish shaped.
9. The food container as recited in claim 7, wherein said top compartment is substantially planar.
10. The food container as recited in claim 1, wherein said food container comprises at least about 80 weight percent polystyrene.
11. The food container as recited in claim 10 wherein said food container is made entirely of polystyrene.
12. The food container as recited in claim 1, wherein said bottom compartment comprises at least about 80 weight percent polystyrene.
13. The food container as recited in claim 12, wherein said top cover comprises a material other than polystyrene.
14. The food container as recited in claim 10 wherein said bottom compartment is made entirely of polystyrene.
15. The food container as recited in claim 1 wherein said bottom compartment comprises at least one latch hole.
16. The food container as recited in claim 15 wherein said top cover comprises at least one latching tab engageable with said at least one latch hole.
17. The food container as recited in claim 1 wherein said bottom compartment comprises a first lip around the perimeter thereof.
18. The food container as recited in claim 1 wherein said top cover comprises a second lip around the perimeter thereof.
19. The food container as recited in claim 1, wherein said food container is nestable.
Description
    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. provisional patent application Serial No. 60/422,692, filed Oct. 31, 2002.
  • [0002]
    This invention relates in one embodiment to disposable and/or recyclable containers for retail sale of food at supermarkets, delicatessens, fast food restaurants, and the like.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    Containers for packaging, preservation, and display of foods at retail sales locations.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0004]
    Sales of foods packaged as individual servings are common in supermarkets, delicatessens, and fast food restaurants. In many instances, such foods are sold hot, for immediate consumption. It is common to package such foods in plastic foam containers, since the insulative property of such foam keeps the food warm for a prolonged period of time after preparation and packaging. Such containers are typically of unitary construction, having a bottom portion hingeably attached to a top portion. Such containers also are shaped to be nested closely to each other, so that a large number of containers can be shipped in a small volume shipping box.
  • [0005]
    Such foam containers are generally opaque, and it is therefore not possible to display the food for visual inspection and consideration for purchase. Like many consumer products, a decision to purchase a food is often made based on visual appeal. Thus there is a need for a food package, which has insulative properties, and which is transparent to allow visual inspection.
  • [0006]
    It is therefore an object of this invention to provide a thermally insulating transparent food package.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0007]
    In accordance with the present invention, there is provided a food container comprising a polymer foam bottom compartment hingeably attached to a transparent polymer top cover.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0008]
    The invention will be described by reference to the following drawings, in which like numerals refer to like elements, and in which:
  • [0009]
    [0009]FIG. 1 is a top view of a unitary foam food container in a closed state;
  • [0010]
    [0010]FIG. 2 is a top view of the unitary foam food container of FIG. 1 in an open state;
  • [0011]
    [0011]FIG. 3 is a top view of one embodiment of the present invention in an open state;
  • [0012]
    [0012]FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 3 in a partially closed state; and
  • [0013]
    [0013]FIG. 5 is a detailed view of one embodiment of the hinge attachment of the present invention.
  • [0014]
    The present invention will be described in connection with a preferred embodiment, however, it will be understood that there is no intent to limit the invention to the embodiment described. On the contrary, the intent is to cover all alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0015]
    For a general understanding of the present invention, reference is made to the drawings. In the drawings, like reference numerals have been used throughout to designate identical elements. In describing the present invention, a variety of terms are used in the description. As used herein, “transparent” is meant to indicate a material that transmits visible light with sufficient clarity so as to render objects visible by a human when viewed through a layer of material of typical thickness in food packaging (e.g. less than about ⅛ of an inch); or so as to so as to render objects detectable by a machine vision system when viewed through a layer of material of typical thickness in food packaging (e.g. less than about ⅛ of an inch).
  • [0016]
    [0016]FIGS. 1 and 2 are top views of a unitary foam food container in a closed state, and in an open state, respectively. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, foam container 10 comprises a dish-shaped bottom compartment 12, joined to a similarly dish-shaped top cover 14 by an integral hinge 16. Foam container 10 is a unitary structure, typically made by thermoforming of polystyrene polymer foam. Alternative polymer foams may also be suitable. A detailed description of such suitable polymer foam materials is provided in the applicant's U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,520,323 6,269,946, 6,269,945, 6,213,294, 6,112,890, 6,210,725, and 6,023,915, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0017]
    Dish shaped bottom compartment 12 further comprises latch holes 20 and 21, which engage with latching tabs 18 and 19 of top cover 14 when container 10 is closed, as depicted in FIG. 1.
  • [0018]
    It will be apparent from FIG. 2 that although the prior art food container provides effective thermal insulation of the heated or chilled food therein, it does not provide a view of the food for inspection, as foam top cover 14 is opaque. In contrast, the present invention is a food container that provides effective thermal insulation and renders the food visible within the container.
  • [0019]
    [0019]FIG. 3 is a top view of a simplified embodiment of the present invention in an open state, and FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a simplified embodiment of the present invention in a partially closed state. Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, transparent thermally insulating container 30 comprises an opaque dish-shaped bottom 32 joined to a transparent top cover 34 by a hinge 36. Bottom 32 further preferably comprises latch holes 20 and 21, and lip 44 around the perimeter thereof. Top 34 further preferably comprises latching tabs 18 and 19, and lip 46 around the perimeter thereof.
  • [0020]
    [0020]FIG. 5 is a detailed view of the hinge attachment of the present invention. Referring to FIG. 5, hinge 36 is comprised of a first flap 40 of material, which is integrally and hingeably formed as a part of bottom compartment 32, in much the same manner as hinge 16 of tray 10 of FIG. 2. Transparent top cover 34 is suitably joined to hinge flap 40 by adhesive, heat sealing, ultrasonic welding, or any other suitable polymer joining processes known in the art.
  • [0021]
    In the preferred embodiment, transparent top cover further comprises a second flap 42 that is substantially the same dimensions as first flap 40, and can thus be overlaid on flap 40 prior to the joining therewith. In a more preferred embodiment, bottom 32 and top 34 have similar dished shapes. This preferred embodiment thus has substantially the same capacity, thermal insulative properties, and nestability for shipping as the prior art container 10 of FIG. 1, while having the required transparency for the display of the food therein.
  • [0022]
    In another embodiment (not shown), top 34 has a substantially planar shape. In a further such embodiment, top 34 further comprises a lip around the perimeter thereof, which is substantially perpendicular to the plane of top 34, and which engages and encloses lip 44 of bottom 32.
  • [0023]
    In the embodiment depicted in FIG. 5, heat sealing was used to join hinge flap 40 to top cover 34, thereby fusing flaps 40 and 42 into a substantially unitary structure. Thus transparent top cover 34 is securely and hingeably attached to bottom compartment 32, as shown in the contrasting views of FIGS. 3 and 4.
  • [0024]
    In one embodiment of the present invention, the top cover may be of a different material than the bottom cover, with the operative requirement being that the top cover and bottom compartment are joinable to each other. Numerous combinations of different polymers are known to be joinable in such a manner by, e.g., adhesives, heat sealing, ultrasonic welding, or any other suitable polymer joining processes known in the art.
  • [0025]
    In a more preferred embodiment, the top cover and the bottom compartment are of the same material, as the strongest hinge bond can thus be formed therebetween. Furthermore, the use of identical materials for the top cover and bottom compartment renders the container recyclable as a single object that does not require separation into its individual parts. In one preferred embodiment depicted in FIGS. 3-5, container 30 is made entirely of polystyrene. In othr embodiments, container 30 comprises at least about 80 weight percent polystyrene.
  • [0026]
    It is, therefore, apparent that there has been provided, in accordance with the present invention, a food container comprising a polymer foam bottom compartment hingeably attached to a transparent polymer top cover. While this invention has been described in conjunction with preferred embodiments thereof, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications, and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, it is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations that fall within the spirit and broad scope of the appended claims.
Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7712626Jul 30, 2009May 11, 2010Pwp IndustriesEdge-tearing tamper evident container
US7992743Jan 20, 2009Aug 9, 2011Pwp IndustriesEdge-tearing tamper-evident container
US8028851Oct 16, 2009Oct 4, 2011Pwp IndustriesEnhanced tamper evident container with tear-apart parts
US8083089 *Sep 20, 2005Dec 27, 2011Pwp Industries Inc.Versatile tamper-evident food container
US8245875Jun 24, 2010Aug 21, 2012Sussex Im, Inc.Container having a pre-curved lid
US8251242Nov 25, 2009Aug 28, 2012Pwp IndustriesTamper-evident container with extended band
US8251249Feb 16, 2009Aug 28, 2012Pwp IndustriesHangable tamper resistant packaging system
US8381946Dec 8, 2010Feb 26, 2013Sussex Im, Inc.Container having a pre-curved lid
US8418329 *Jun 14, 2010Apr 16, 2013Vandor CorporationUrn with latch
US8657138Sep 21, 2011Feb 25, 2014Sussex Im, Inc.Container having a pre-curved lid
US8851315Nov 21, 2011Oct 7, 2014Pactiv Packaging Inc.Versatile tamper-evident food container
US8985386Jan 3, 2014Mar 24, 2015Sussex Im, Inc.Container having a pre-curved lid
US20030173360 *Mar 12, 2003Sep 18, 2003Klaus RackPackaging system for at least one electrical service device
US20060144744 *Jan 4, 2005Jul 6, 2006Dispoz-O Products, Inc.Disposable foam container for food products
US20070012710 *Sep 20, 2005Jan 18, 2007Pwp IndustriesVersatile tamper-evident food container
US20070095695 *Oct 28, 2005May 3, 2007Smith Aaron WCard file
US20090223619 *Jan 20, 2009Sep 10, 2009Terry VovanEdge-tearing tamper-evident container
US20090321463 *Jul 30, 2009Dec 31, 2009Pwp IndustriesEdge-tearing tamper evident container
US20100108680 *Oct 16, 2009May 6, 2010Terry VovanEnhanced tamper evident container with tear-apart parts
US20110005048 *Jun 14, 2010Jan 13, 2011Vandor CorporationUrn with Latch
US20140224803 *Jan 31, 2014Aug 14, 2014Strategic Global Sourcing, LLCWelded tab container
US20140224804 *Feb 4, 2014Aug 14, 2014Strategic Global Sourcing, LLCWelded pull-down tab container
USD666879Nov 10, 2011Sep 11, 2012Sussex Im, Inc.Container having multiple storage compartments
USD668119Nov 10, 2011Oct 2, 2012Sussex Im, Inc.Container with internal compartment
Classifications
U.S. Classification220/4.23, 220/839, 220/835
International ClassificationB65D43/16
Cooperative ClassificationB65D2251/1033, B65D43/164, B65D2543/00296, B65D2543/00194, B65D2543/00351
European ClassificationB65D43/16C1