US 20040247208 A1
A flexible bag for storage of food products of a configurationally sustaining nature, having somewhat the configuration of a flat segmental portion of a circular disk such as a slice of pizza, provides a peripherally defined triangular body having an interconnected rectilinear neck to define a bag containment chamber. One or both sides of the triangular body provide expandible pleat structures to accommodate food products of differing thickness in the containment chamber. At least one surface of the triangular body or neck provides at least one vent structure having an orifice with an associated closure structure to open to vent heated gas from the containment chamber and close upon cooling of the flexible bag and contents substantially to ambient atmosphere temperature.
1. A peripherally defined storage bag for containment of a relatively flat somewhat configurationally sustaining food product configured substantially as a circular sector, comprising in combination:
a flexible bag, having a body with first and second sides, configured substantially as a triangle interconnecting a rectilinear neck, having first and second sides, communicating with the body to define a containment chamber having an orifice defined by the neck and communicating with the containment chamber; and
closure structure defined by the first and second sides forming the neck to releasably close the orifice defined by the neck.
2. The storage bag of
vent structure carried by at least the first side of the flexible bag and having at least one hole defined in the at least first side of the flexible bag with an associated flexible closure flap having a first end fastened on the outer surface of the at least first side of the flexible bag adjacent the at least one hole and a second freely movable end extending over the associated hole and thereabout to cover the associated hole for opening and closing.
3. The storage of bag of
an expansible pleat structure with a forward pleat element interconnected with a rearward pleat element, said pleat structure having elongate edges at least co-extensive with the side edges of the storage bag and joined thereto to allow expansion of the first and second sides of the flexible bag away from each other to accommodate sectoral food articles of greater thickness than could be accommodated without the pleat structure.
4. The storage bag of
the pleat structure extending between each side edge of the triangular body of the storage bag and at least a portion of the edges of the rectilinear neck adjacent to the triangular body to allow extension of at least portions of the neck front and back away from each other.
5. The storage bag of
an outer portion of the first side of the neck folded outwardly upon itself toward the body with the side edges of the over-folded first side portions joined to form a pocket between the over-folded portions of the first side of the neck; and
the second neck side folded over the over folded first neck side portion and into the pocket defined between the over folded first side portion to close the orifice between the first and second neck portions.
6. The storage bag of
a plastic bag zipper having two spacedly adjacent elongate ridges with bulbously enlarged outer portions defined on the adjacent surfaces of both the first and second sides forming the neck in such relationship that one ridge of each side element may be contained in the space between two ridges of the opposed side element to form a releasable closure structure for the orifice defined between the first and second neck sides.
7. A peripherally defined storage bag defining a containment chamber for a relatively flat configurationally sustaining food product having a configuration substantially of a sector of a circle, comprising in combination:
a flexible bag having a substantially triangular body, with first and second sides having side edges, interconnecting a rectangular neck, having first and second sides, extending from the triangular body to define an elongate orifice communicating with a containment chamber defined between the first and second sides of the bag;
vent structure carried by at least the first side of the flexible bag having at least one hole defined in the at least first side of the flexible bag with an associated flexible closure flap fastened by a first end portion on the outer surface of the at least first side of the flexible bag and a second unfastened end portion extending over the associated hole and thereabout to cover said associated hole; and
closure structure carried by the adjacent surfaces of the first and second sides of the neck to releasably seal the orifice defined between the first and second sides of the neck.
8. The storage bag of
an elongate back pleat element foldably interconnected with a forward pleat element, said pleat structure having an edge of the forward pleat element interconnected with the first side edge of the body and a rearward side edge of the rearward pleat element interconnected with the second side edge of the body to allow expansion of the triangular body sides to accept food products having greater thickness than could be accepted without the pleat structure.
 There is now pending a design patent application by the instant inventor filed on Jul. 17, 2002 under Ser. Number 29/159,763 that partially relates to the subject matter hereof.
 IIB. Field of Invention
 My invention relates generally to flexible bags and more particularly to a releasably closable triangular bag that may have side pleats for expansion and automatically openable venting structure.
 IIC. Background and Description of Prior Art
 Pizza and pizza-like products have long been known in the foods of the Mediterranean Region and in their more recent history have become quite popular throughout the Western World and especially in the United States. Pizza-like products are generally formed in a traditional configuration of a somewhat circular disk and containers therefore, or for segmental portions thereof, both before and after cooking, have long been known, probably substantially contemporaneously with the origin of the pizza-like products themselves. Many, if not most, of the containers for the pizza-like products have been designed and configured to contain an entire pizza pie, commonly a somewhat circular disk varying in size generally varying from five or six inches to sixteen or more inches in diameter. Commonly after preparation and baking pizza-like products are cut into sectors bounded by two radii-like sides and the arc-like periphery subtended by them for eating. Various containers for these sector portions of pizza-like products, commonly in the form of somewhat of an isosceles triangle, have heretofore become known for the storage of leftover slices of pizza-like products that were not consumed at or near the time of their preparation. Such containers, however, notwithstanding their lengthy historicity, have not become particularly popular for the storage of sectors of pizza-like products, probably primarily because of remaining problems encountered with the historical containers. The instant invention seeks to provide a container of triangle-like configuration for storage of pizza-like product sectors or other food of similar nature that resolves or alleviates problems previously associated with prior storage devices.
 Many previously known containers for sectoral pizza slices have had the configuration of an isosceles triangle and have been formed of materials sufficiently rigid to be configurationally sustaining with two portions movable relative to each other for opening and closing. The instant storage bag is distinguished from this traditional container in providing a flexible bag-like container having a body configured as an isosceles triangle with a rectilinear neck portion extending spacedly from the base of the isosceles triangle to accommodate the chordal portion of a pizza segment cut from the somewhat circular pizza pie. This structure allows the simple and efficient formation of the instant bag from a unitary sheet of material, while yet providing an orifice of a linear nature to allow closure by simple known fastening means such as plastic zippers, adhesion, tucked type folding of a tab-like portion over the bag orifice and into a pouch formed on the opposite edge of the opening, or the like.
 The instant configuration also allows formation of pleated structures on both sides of the storage bag to allow expansion upon use to accommodate pizza slices of substantial thickness while yet being foldable to a flat configuration for bag storage or transport.
 Known pizza containers of semi-rigid configurationally sustaining nature have generally had two pivotally usually interconnected portions of similar configuration that may be folded together to form a complete enclosure or else have had a flat configuration with plural portions separated from each other by fold lines to be assembled by a user at the time of use to create a three dimensional structure. The first type of container generally is bulky for storage and shipment and though not so bulky, the second type of container is often difficult and time consuming in assemblage to prepare it for use. The instant flexible bag resolves these problems by providing a storage container that in its nonuse mode is flat and relatively thin but yet needs no assemblage to ready it for use for storage of a pizza sector.
 The structure of the instant storage bag with a rectilinear neck portion defining a substantially linear orifice for ingress and egress allows use of traditional closing structures heretofore known for flexible bags which generally may not be used with semi-rigid configurationally sustaining structures or, at least conveniently, with nonlinear orifices in flexible bag structures. These traditional closing methods include plastic zipper-like fastening structures, fold over type flaps maintained in pocket-like structures, single or paired adhesive elements, hook and loop type fabric fasteners and the like.
 Pizza pies and consequently their sectors are made with varying thickness, generally ranging from about ⅜ of and inch to 1 inch or more. To have appropriate utility a storage bag for pizza sectors must accommodate such products varying through the range of their common thicknesses. The thickness of pizza slices in configurationally sustaining type semi-rigid containers has generally heretofore been accommodated by forming the containers with a containment space having the thickness of the thickest pizza sector to be accommodated therein. In the case of triangular type storage bags for pizza, and similar products other than pizza, the thickness of the contained product has generally not been specifically accommodated except by configurational change of the entire containment bag. The instant storage bag accommodates the variable thickness of a stored pizza slice by providing pleated folds along both sides of the triangular body of the flexible bag and optionally partially along the sides of the neck structure if desired. These pleated folds allow the bag to be folded in the flat mode for storage and transport while automatically allowing variable expansion upon insertion of a pizza sector for use.
 One of the gastronomically desirable features of pizza is the crispness of the crust supporting a topping. Commonly pizza is eaten while it is still quite warm after being baked and often any leftover pizza sectors that are to be stored are still warm at the time storage is desired. If pizza sectors are stored in warm condition in a somewhat enclosed chamber, they commonly will produce evaporative moisture which in the enclosed environment will subsequently be entrapped at least partially, in the pizza crust to make that crust more moist and lose it gastronomically desirable crispness in a short period of time. The instant storage bag resolves this problem by providing a plurality of vent orifices in one or both sides of the storage bag, with flap-like covers that tend to open when heated gases and entrained evaporative moisture are being release and tend to close after cessation of the expulsion of heated gases and entrained moisture. It has heretofore been known, especially in substantially configurationally sustaining containers for pizza slices, to provide a loose construction with one or more orifices for escape of heated gases and entrained moisture. It is not known by the inventor, however, that such orifices have been provided with valving means that tend to automatically open to release the warmer entrained evaporative moisture and thereafter close so that a contained pizza slice will not undesirably dry out after cooling.
 My invention lies not in any one of these features per se but rather in the synergistic combination of all of the structures of my flexible bag that necessarily give rise to the functions flowing therefrom and is not intended to be limited except by the claims herein.
 My invention generally provides a flexible storage bag particularly adapted for storage relatively flat food products having the configuration of a sector of a circle such as a pizza slice. The bag provides a triangular body having at its base a rectilinear neck portion defining an orifice with releasably closable fastening structure. One or both of the angulated side edges of the storage bag define an expansible pleat structure to allow expansion of the bag to accommodate food products of differing thickness. One or both of the bag sides define at least one vent structure having a flap type cover, that may be opened by heated gases passing from the chamber defined by the bag and is otherwise closed.
 In creating such a device it is:
 A principal object to provide a flexible bag of unitary construction that can be formed from flexible non-configurationally sustaining sheet plastic material in a triangular body configuration with a rectilinear neck portion extending therefrom defining a substantially linear orifice that can be releasably closed by known plastic bag closing structures.
 A further object is to provide such a storage bag that may be formed with expandable pleat structures at one or both sides of the triangular body, and optionally partially at the sides of the rectilinear neck, to allow bag expansion to provide a containment chamber of variable thickness.
 A further object is to provide such a storage bag that has at least one vent structure defined in at least one side with a flap type cover that is openable responsive to heated gas passage from the bag but otherwise closed.
 A still further object is to provide such a bag that is of new and novel design, of rugged and durable nature, of simple and economic manufacture and one that is otherwise well suited to the uses and purposes for which it is intended.
 Other and further objects of my invention will appear from the following specification and accompanying drawings which form a part hereof. In carrying out the objects of my invention, however, it is to be understood that its features are susceptible to change in design and structural arrangement with only one preferred and practical embodiment of the best known mode of the invention being illustrated in the accompanying drawings and specified, as is required.
 In the accompanying drawings which form a part of this specification and wherein like numbers of reference refer to similar parts:
FIG. 1 is an isometric front view of a first species of bag having a fold over type top closure.
FIG. 2 is a somewhat enlarged partial cross-sectional view through the bag of FIG. 1, taken on the line 2-2 thereon in the direction indicated by the arrows.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view taken as on the line 2-2 of FIG. 1, but showing the closing tab in a closed mode.
FIG. 4 is an orthographic back view of the bag of FIG. 1.
FIG. 5 is an isometric surface view of a second species of flexible storage bag.
FIG. 6 is a plan view of a flat sheet pattern from which the bag of FIG. 5 may be formed.
FIG. 7 is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view through the neck and closing structure of the bag of FIG. 5 taken on the line 7-7 thereon in the direction indicated by the arrows.
FIG. 8 is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view through the bag of FIG. 5, taken on the line 8-8 thereon in the direction indicated by the arrows.
FIG. 9 is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view through a closed vent structure of the bag of FIG. 5, taken on the line 9-9 thereon in the direction indicated by the arrows.
FIG. 10 is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view through the bag of FIG. 5 taken on a line and in a direction such as FIG. 9, but showing the flap of the vent orifice in open condition.
 My invention generally provides a storage bag, for relatively flat sector-like food such as a pizza slice, having triangular flexible bag 20 with a rectilinear neck extending therefrom defining an orifice carrying releasable closure structure 23. One or both angulated side edges of the flexible bag 20 may define expansible pleat structure 21 a and one or both sides of the flexible bag 20 may define at least one closable vent structure 22 a.
 In a first species of FIGS. 1-4, flexible bag 20 provides triangular body 24 having rectilinear neck 25 extending spacedly from base 26 of the triangular body. In the form illustrated triangular body 24 is substantially in the shape of an isosceles triangle with similar equal sides 27, though this shape is not necessary and any triangular shape that will accept and enclose a relatively flat sector-like food slice is within the ambit and scope of my invention. The rectilinear neck 25 is formed by the outward extension of triangular body back portion 24 a and similar outward extension of triangular body front portion 24 b. The front portion 25 b of rectilinear neck 25 is folded upon itself toward triangular body 24 as illustrated to create a pocket 25 c into which the outer end of back neck portion 25 a may be folded to cover the closure of the orifice between the rectilinear neck portions 25 a, 25 b. The side edges of the triangular body portions 24 a, 24 b and the rectilinear neck portions 25 a, 25 b that are adjacent to each other are joined by a peripheral seam formed such as by thermal welding, chemical adhesion or other similar known means to form a substantially gas impervious container illustrated, with elongate linear orifice 28 between neck portions 25 a, 25 b for placement or removal of product from the bag 20.
 A method of closing orifice 28 is illustrated in the cross-sectional view of FIG. 3. As there seen outwardmost portion of back 25 a of the rectilinear neck 25 is folded downwardly over the outermost portion of front 25 b of the rectilinear neck and then tucked upwardly into the pocket 25 c between the two front portions 25 a, 25 b, where it will be positionally maintained by reason of its flexible nature without external disturbance and generally until manual removal.
 A second species of storage bag is illustrated in FIGS. 5-10 where it is seen to provide flexible bag 20 a having expansible side pleat structure 21 a at it side edges, closure structure 23 a in its neck and vent structure 22 a in one or both body surfaces.
 Flexible bag 20 a provides triangular body 29, having back element 29 a and front element 29 b, interconnecting rectilinear neck 30 having back element 30 a and front element 30 b. The angulated sides 31 a and 31 b of triangular body 29 are joined by expansible pleat structures 21 a providing back pleat element 32 and forward pleat element 33 structurally joined at their adjacent edges to form the inwardly extending expansive pleat structure 21 a. The edges of the pleat structures 21 a adjacent to the edges 31 a, 31 b of body 29 and neck 30 are jointed to the adjacent edges of the body 29 and neck 30 by thermal welding, chemical adhesion or similar known means where adjacent to form the bag illustrated in FIG. 5. The pleat structure 21 a has its ends 34 at apex of triangular body 29 joined to each other to form a continuously closed structure about the side periphery of triangular body 29. The portions 32 a, 33 a of the pleat elements 32, 33 may extend to the side edges 35 a, 35 b of neck 30, as illustrated in FIGS. 5-6 and they terminate at the base 36 of triangular body 29 as desired. The extensions 32 a, 33 a of the pleat elements are not required as the flexible nature of triangular body 29 and rectilinear neck 30 will allow sufficient deformation and reconfiguration during use to allow insertion of sectoral material of different thicknesses to be stored.
 One type among others of a flat pattern from which a bag of the second species may be formed is illustrated in FIG. 6. Here the portions 29 b, 30 b of the triangular body and rectilinear neck, respectively, may be folded on the broken fold lines 43 upon the back 29 a, 30 a of the triangular body and rectilinear neck, respectively, and the adjacent unconnected edges of the structure joined to each other by thermal welding, chemical bonding or other similar known methods to form the bag 20 a peripherally defining containment chamber 42. From the practicalities of manufacturing, it may be more expedient to form the bag in other fashions from elements having other paternation, but such other methods and paternations ate within the ambit and scope of my invention, if they produce the assembled product specified.
 The outer portions of back 30 a and front 30 b of rectilinear neck 30 form an orifice 37 therebetween which is releasably sealable by closure structure 23 a which in the instance illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7 comprises what is commonly called a “plastic bag zipper”. This closure structure provides two elongate spacedly adjacent ridges 38 of generally linear extension having somewhat bulbously enlarged outer edges 39. The ridges 38 are created on each adjacent surface of the elements to be joined in such relationship that one ridge of each element fits in a groove defined between the two ridges of the other adjoining element as illustrated. Normally the surfaces outwardly of such a plastic bag zipper provide one or more sets of opposed ridges 40 to maintain the adjacent surfaces of the material exteriorly of the plastic bag zipper 38, 39 in a spaced relationship so that the outer edges of adjoined elements 30 a, 30 b may be easily separable by manual manipulation to aid in opening the plastic bag zipper and the neck material outwardly thereof. This type of plastic bag zipper is known in the present day manufacturing arts and therefore is not described in detail. Other known sealing methods for orifices formed by adjacent elements of flexible sheet material are within the ambient and scope of my invention and may be used with it such as releasable adhesion, paired opposed hook and loop type fabric or plastic strips, releasable mechanical fasteners such as buttons, snaps or clamps and the like that are heretofore known and not illustrated.
 Vent structure 22 a is illustrated in FIGS. 5, 9 and 10. The vent structure 22 a provides one or more holes 40 defined in one or both triangular body elements 29 a, 29 b or neck elements 30 a, 30 b. Each hole 40 has an elongate closure flap 41 associated with it such that a first end 41 a of flap 41 is fastened to the outer surface of the body element 29, 29 a defining the hole and the second end 41 b extends over the hole 40 and therebeyond in a coverable relationship. The closure flap 41 is formed of a relatively thin light weight flexible material so that portion 41 b may easily bend away from the covered hole 40 to allow opening and escape of gases through the hole 40, as illustrated in FIG. 10. The material of preference for formation of the closure flaps is a relatively thin sheet plastic material preferably of two to three mills of thickness and not thicker than about five to six mills. The holes 40 preferably are defined in one side 29 b of triangular body 29 and are relatively few in number, so that any heated gases escaping therethrough will be greater in volume than if there were more holes, to provide more force to open closure flaps 41 associated with each hole 40.
 Normally in use the vent structure 22 a will be effective, or at least more effective, only if the side of flexible bag 20 a defining holes 40 is uppermost and closely adjacent to the upper surface of a flat sectoral food to be stored so warm air in the bag containment chamber 42 will move upwardly away from the food for exit, such as in the case of a pizza slice to maintain the crust in as crisp condition as possible. The size of holes 40 preferably is not as any larger than necessary. For venting purposes when three or four holes are used in one side of a flexible bag having side edges 31 a, 31 b of about twelve to fourteen inch length and a base 36 of no greater length, holes 40 will not have a diameter greater than approximately 0.25 inch and the flexible end 41 b of closure flap 41 will not be any larger than necessary to extend over the adjacent hole 40 and sufficiently therebeyond to maintain a sealable closure over the hole 40 for cooled gases that have ceased to pass through the hole 40. When heated gases cease passing through a hole 40 the flexible end 41 b of the associated closure flap 41 will be maintained in a closed position by reason of gravity, retentive memory and often by electrostatic forces in the flexible bag structure, especially when that bag structure is formed from sheet plastic materials which commonly accumulate electrostatic forces.
 Various of the elements described in either the first or second species of my invention may be interchanged in the other species to form additional sub-combinations that remain within the ambit and scope of my invention. That is particularly that the closure structure of the first species may replace the closure structure of the second species and either or both of the pleat structure and vent structure may be used in the first species of the bag. The second species may also have only the pleat structure but not both.
 Having described the bag structure of my storage bag 20, 20 a its use may be understood. A bag 20, 20 a formed according to the foregoing specification and having an appropriate configuration to receive a sectoral portion of food that is to be stored is chosen. For use the bag orifice 28, 37 is manually opened, an apex portion of the product to be stored is inserted through the orifice 28, 37, in the case of a pizza slice with the topping of the pizza slice facing a side of the flexible bag defining holes and that side being oriented upwardly. The product to be stored is inserted until it is contained within the containment chamber 42 defined by the flexible bag 20, 20 a until the entire product is inwardly of the closure structure 23, 23 a. The closure structure 23, 23 a then is manually closed by required manipulation and the contained product is in condition for storage.
 If the stored product is warm at the time of its enclosure in the flexible bag 21 a such that heated gases are being generated, the bag is placed with vent structure 22 a uppermost so that heated gases will move by reason of their lower density through the holes 40 to be dissipated to the atmosphere thereabout. That wasted gaseous material will carry with it a proportional amount of any water vapors within the containment chamber 42 of the flexible bag 21 a. As those vapors rise through holes 40 they will tend to move the flexible end 41 b of the associated closure flap 41 upwardly to find escape to the ambient atmosphere and this condition will continue as long as heated air within the bag enclosure 42 is of lower density than the atmosphere surrounding the holes 40. When a temperature equilibrium has been reached there will be no force maintaining flexible end 41 b of the closure flap 41 in an open condition and flexible end 41 b will move downwardly at least and retained memory to close the associated hole 40. This closure action is often aided by electrostatic forces in the storage bag structure, especially if the bag is formed from relatively thin low density sheet plastic material.
 The foregoing description of my invention is necessarily of a detailed nature so that a specific embodiment of its best mode might be set forth as required, but it is to be understood that various modifications of detail, rearrangement and multiplication of parts might be resorted to without departing from its spirit, essence or scope.
 Having thusly described my invention, what I desire to protect by Letters Patent, and