US 20050006267 A1
A container has mating top and bottom portions that fit together to exteriorly provide an overall shape of a motor vehicle, and to interiorly define a cavity that contains a plurality of unwrapped food pieces. Preferred containers have appropriate colors, logos, entrant identifying numerals and so forth for a racing car. The top and bottom sections can be hinged, and can include a quick-release mechanism that assists in opening the cavity. The cavity preferably contains at least 25, or more preferably 50, 75 or even more pieces of substantially fungible mint or gums. Mints are especially preferred pieces, as are automobile shaped pieces. The mint or gums can be freely movable within the cavity, as opposed for example, to being contained within a bag, or individually sealed such as would be the case with taffy or other sticky products.
1. An article of manufacture, comprising:
a container having distinct top and bottom sections, matingly engageable to define a cavity;
a plurality of food pieces disposed unwrapped inside the cavity; and
the container having an overall shape of a motor vehicle.
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This application is a continuation-in-part of pending patent application Ser. No. 10/391748, filed Mar. 20, 2003, which is a continuation of pending patent application Ser. No. 10/266624, filed Oct. 9, 2002 and which claims priority to provisional application No. 60/389900 filed Jun. 20, 2002.
The field of the invention is mint and gum containers.
There are many types of containers and objects with ornamental designs. Most of these containers and objects have at least some functional purpose, such as lunch boxes and candy tins. These containers can vary greatly in size and shape, as is shown in the related art.
U.S. Pat. No. Des. 343,116 issued to Reger, outlines an ornamental design for a package for confectionery products.
U.S. Pat. No. Des. 382,476 issued to Bell, outlines an ornamental design for a box for candy arid nuts.
U.S. Pat. No. Des. 408,211 issued to Cordell, outlines an ornamental design for a cake pan in the shape of a car.
U.S. Pat. No. Des. 424,931 issued to Teasdale et al., outlines an ornamental design for a packaged food carton.
U.S. Pat. No. Des. 431,463 and U.S. Pat. No. Des. 437,219 issued to Gallart et al., outlines ornamental designs for a package for confectioneries.
U.S. Pat. No. Des. 438,115 issued to Caldwell, outlines an ornamental design for a domed display lid for a decorative box.
U.S. Pat. No. Des. 460,354 issued to Goldiner et al., outlines an ornamental design of a skull box.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,006,945 issued to Kirkland, outlines the use of a container structure suitable for containing non-beverage materials, such as solid or semi-solid foods or non-food items. The container structure is sized and shaped to be dispensed from a vending machine and configured for dispensing conventional drink cans. Accordingly, food items and non-food items alike may be made readily available to the public from conventional canned vending machines.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,325,211 issued to Greiner, outlines the use of a decorative container for displaying items in internal cavities and includes an inner container and an outer container, defining a hollow region therebetween. The decorative container also includes a plurality of dividers within the hollow region separating the region into a plurality of internal cavities. The outer container also includes a removable plate, configured to provide access to each of the internal cavities, so that decorative objects within the internal cavities can be easily changed or rearranged.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,328,163 issued to Coleman et al., outlines a morphing candy holding device that includes a main housing with a primary chamber and secondary chamber. The primary chamber includes an aperture through which a piece of candy secured in the primary chamber can be pushed upward for consumption by a consumer. A lower housing includes a candy stick holder in the primary chamber which pushes the candy up through the aperture for consumption. A secondary electrical circuit includes a power source, an integrated circuit and a control switch for controlling the electrical circuitry. The electrical circuitry in addition to the integrated circuit includes four LED lights which are in a series from a bottom of the secondary chamber to an upper end of the chamber. The LED lights shine through a series of transition pictures which change from one form to another form from the lower end of the secondary chamber to the upper end of the secondary chamber.
It is known to sell automobile shaped candies wrapped in foil. The “containers” in that case appear to be merely foil wrappers, and have no distinct top and bottom sections as those terms are used herein. The present inventors also believe there may exist prior art automobile or other specialty-shaped containers that are sold with a large bag of candies inside. But such combinations are not useful for mints and other candies that are typically sold as loose items inside a small mint or gum tin.
Thus, there remains a considerable need for small specialty shaped containers for holding loose, unwrapped mints or candies.
The present invention provides methods and apparatus in which a container has mating top and bottom portions that define a cavity, a plurality of food pieces disposed unwrapped inside the cavity; and the container having an overall shape of a motor vehicle.
The container is preferably spray painted or coated in some other manner to enhance its appearance as a motor vehicle, and in especially preferred embodiments as a race car. Thus, the container could advantageously be coated with a substance that shows the wheels as black, the body as having bright colors with logos, entrant identifying numerals and so forth.
Contemplated logos especially include racing-related company logos such as those of automobile manufacturers, engine and parts manufacturers, oil and fuel suppliers, and so forth. Containers can also have a NASCAR® or similar logo, official coloring, or other identifying symbol.
The cavity of the container can open in any suitable manner, but is especially contemplated to include a pivot, and additionally a quick-release mechanism that assists in opening the cavity.
The cavity preferably contains at least 25, or more preferably 50, 75 or even more pieces. Such pieces can have different colors, flavors, designations and so forth, but are preferably sections of a relatively few substantially fungible choices, such as the different colors in M&Ms®. Mints are especially preferred, as are automobile shaped pieces. The mint or gum can be freely movable within the cavity, as opposed for example, to being contained within a bag, or individually sealed such as would be the case with taffy or other sticky products.
Various objects, features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention, along with the accompanying drawings in which like numerals represent like components.
FIG. I is an environmental, perspective view of a guitar embodiment of a candy and gum container, according to the present invention.
In another embodiment of the candy and gum container 10, the top portion 20 can also be hinged together with a small wire hinge 45 to the bottom portion 30, allowing the candy and gum container 10 to be opened and closed as desired by the user. The candy and gum container 10 is preferably made of metal, although other suitable materials could be used. The hinged and non-hinged candy and gum containers 10 are structurally identical, except for the hinge 45 being added to the hinged candy and gum container 10. Both candy and gum containers are shown in
In each of
Container 400 has the overall shape of a motor vehicle. In the particular example of
The top 410 and bottom 420 sections are preferably hard, and have a fixed shape. Suitable materials for these sections are tin, aluminum, steel or other metal or alloy, hard plastics and the like. Alternatively, pliable materials could be used, such as a flexible plastic. Of course multiple different materials could be used to manufacture the top and bottom sections, rather than a single material, but the use of multiple materials may be undesirable from a cost standpoint. Preferred containers such as container 400 are small, which in this application means that they would fit comfortably into a pants pocket. In numeric terms, that would generally mean having a volume of less than 50 cc, more preferably less than 30 cc, and even more preferably less than 20 cc.
Suitable containers are preferably spray painted or coated in some other manner to enhance its appearance as a motor vehicle. The coating can be applied directly to the outside of the container, or be printed on a shrink wrap or other material and applied indirectly to the container. In especially preferred embodiments the container is coated to look like a race car. Thus, the container could advantageously be coated with a substance that shows the wheels as black, the body as having bright colors with logos, entrant identifying numerals and so forth.
Contemplated logos 417 include especially racing-related company logos such as those of automobile manufacturers, engine and parts manufacturers, oil and fuel suppliers, and so forth. Containers can also have a NASCAR® or similar logo, official coloring, or other identifying symbol. Container 400 also has one or more numerals 418, which along with colored car body sections and other indicia 417, are intended to replicate that which might be seen in actual race cars.
The cavity 440 preferably contains at least 25, or more preferably at least 50, at least 75 or even more pieces 450 of mint or gums. Contemplated pieces 450 can be entirely fungible, such as substantially identical mints, or alternatively different ones of the pieces 450 have different colors, flavors, designations and so forth, while still comprising sections of a relatively few substantially fungible choices, such as the different colors in M&Ms®. Pieces 450 are advantageously shaped in a generalized automobile shape, and optionally also include a numeral 452, which can further imply a racing car connection. The mint or gum can be freely movable within the cavity 440, as opposed for example, to being contained within a bag, or individually wrapped such as would be the case with taffy or other sticky products. Because of the similarities of function involved, the term “wrapped” is used herein to include instances in which the candies are contained within a bag, which is then placed inside the cavity. Thus, the individual candy pieces in a bag of M&MS™ which is disposed within a cavity are said to be wrapped within the cavity.
Cavity 440 can be unitary, or alternatively can be divided in any suitable manner. Thus, a single cavity 440 can be subdivided in some manner, or can be formed as multiple cavities (not shown). Cavity 440 can optionally be lined in any suitable manner, such as with a sheath 460, which lies under, to the side of, and above the pieces 440. Sheath 460 is preferably a wax or other impregnated paper that absorbs little or no moisture or mint or gum material.
All embodiments can be constructed of metal and are small enough to be easily stored in a pants pocket. The guitar embodiment of the candy and gum container 10 is preferably approximately 113 mm long, 68 mm wide at its widest point and 13 mm deep. The racecar embodiments of the candy and gum container 50, 400 are preferably approximately 62 mm long, 40 mm wide, (with rounded comers) and 13 mm deep. The surfboard embodiment of the candy and gum container 90 is preferably approximately 3.5″ long, 1.25″ wide and 0.625″ deep. The rectangular embodiment of the candy and gum container 120 and the book embodiment of the candy and gum container 230 is preferably approximately 2.375″ long, 1.625″ wide and 0.625″ deep. The star embodiment of the candy and gum container 170 is preferably approximately 2.5″ in diameter and 1.0″ deep. The ice cream cone embodiment of the candy and gum container 200 is preferably approximately 3.0″ long, 1.5″ wide at its widest point and 0.625″ deep. The lighter embodiment of the candy and gum container 270 is preferably approximately 2.75″ long, 1.5″ wide and 0.50″ deep.
Related methods should be apparent from the discussion herein. For example, the inventors contemplate methods of manufacturing and/or marketing mints and other candies, which include the steps of (a) providing a container having distinct top and bottom sections, matingly engageable to define a cavity and have an overall shape of an automobile or other motor vehicle; and (b) inserting a plurality of unwrapped food pieces inside the cavity. Contemplated food pieces are mint and gums. The count of food pieces can be any suitable number, such as at least 25 or at least 50. While remaining unwrapped, the food pieces can be separated from the inside walls of the container by insertion of a sheath into the cavity before the candies are added. Additional desirable steps would include painting or otherwise coating the container with one or more colored images that enhance the motor vehicle appearance of the container. For example, a manufacturer or distributor may affix, apply, or otherwise provide the outer portion of the container with a racing-related company logo, such as a logo of an automobile company, an oil or fuel company, or the NASCAR® logo. A manufacturer or distributor may additionally or alternatively affix, apply, or otherwise provide the outer portion of the container with a numeral which in real life would signify the number of an entrant in a race. Still further, a manufacturer or distributor may advantageously provide a hinge or other pivot that couples the top piece and the bottom piece.
Thus, specific embodiments and applications of motor vehicle shaped mint and gum containers have been disclosed. It should be apparent, however, to those skilled in the art that many more modifications besides those already described are possible without departing from the inventive concepts herein. The inventive subject matter, therefore, is not to be restricted except in the spirit of the appended claims.