US 20060016817 A1
A spill-proof snack container (10), particularly suitable for a child, for food eaten by hand, comprising a one-piece hollow bowl (11) having a hollow interior covered by a separate attachable snap-on upper cover (34). Upper cover (34) is located on open top (13) of vertically disposed hollow tube (32). Interior is inaccessible when upper cover (34) is in place over hollow tube (32). Hollow tube (32) is centrally located through top wall (20) of hollow bowl (11) and terminates with an inward curved edge at lower panel aperture (28) preventing spillage when container (10) is tilted or tipped over. Hollow bowl (11) of clear plastic provides visual access to food inside bowl (11). A portion of hollow tube (32) extends upwardly and terminates above top wall (20) of bowl (11). Container (10) includes a separate bottom cover (30) for bowl (11) that is removable for easy filling and cleaning. Container (10) is useable by adults when hollow tube (32) is sized for access by an adult hand.
1. A spill-proof container for holding food to be eaten by hand by children and adults, comprising:
a one-piece hollow bowl for holding food consisting of a top wall, a side wall, an open top, and a vertically disposed hollow tube centrally located through said top wall and rotational threads located at bottom of said side wall;
a fitting over the aperture at the open top of the vertically disposed hollow tube for closing said vertically disposed hollow tube using a separate attachable snap-on upper cover;
bottom of side wall of said one-piece hollow bowl threaded for closing said one-piece hollow bowl with a separate bottom cover threaded for rotationally attachment;
a vertically disposed hollow tube that is cast as a part of the one-piece hollow bowl; and
a vertically disposed hollow tube that is an integrated part of the one-piece hollow bowl the diameter of which is large enough to accommodate the hand and lower arm of a child.
2. The spill-proof container of
3. The spill-proof container of
4. The spill-proof container of
5. A method of spill-proofing a container filled with dry food and allowing said dry food to be reached without spilling said food by providing:
a one-piece hollow bowl consisting of a top wall, a side wall, an open top, and a vertically disposed hollow tube centrally located through said top wall and rotational threads located at bottom of said side wall;
a separate attachable snap-on upper cover at open top of said vertically disposed hollow tube;
a separate bottom cover threaded to rotationally attach to threaded bottom of side wall to close said one-piece hollow bowl;
a vertically disposed hollow tube as part of said one-piece hollow bowl cast with a diameter to accommodate the hand and lower arm of a child.
This application claims the benefit of Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/591187 filed 2004, Jul. 26.
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material that is subject to copyright protection. The copyright owners have no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure as it appears in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office patent file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyrights whatsoever.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to spill-proof containers, specifically to spill-proof containers to hold snack food for children.
2. Description of Prior Art
A multitude of containers hold foods for human consumption. Few spill-proof containers for snack foods are available for use by children. Snacks for children are important; to pacify them not only when in high chairs, but also when confined in car seats, on airplanes, and in many other public places where it is very advantageous that food not be spilled.
Prior art demonstrates some containers for food and drink that are relatively complex; one having multiple parts, one requiring assembly, one with slits forming a circle of tongues, and one with upwardly projecting annular lip seals. Another is comprised of two Tupperware bowls and two lids of different sizes fitted together and requiring disassembly for cleaning. Prior art does not demonstrate a spill-proof container having a one-piece hollow bowl containing a vertically disposed hollow tube.
The following is a further description of various known methods of providing containers for snack food for children that are spill proof and the disadvantages of each:
U.S. Pat. No. 4,328,904 to Iverson, describes a spill-proof container and closure. The closure incorporates a plurality of overlapping arcuate flaps of a resilient and flexible nature. Through the use of the overlapping arcuate flaps a container embodying the closure may be relatively tightly sealed to prevent spillage. The closure in Iverson, U.S. Pat. No. 4,328,904 is intended for use with the container and for a variety of other purposes.
Some disadvantages of Iverson, U.S. Pat. No. 4,328,904 are that overlapping flaps limit storage capacity and flaps may cause abrasions to user's hand.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,494,668 to Lottick describes a non-spillable drinking container which is manufactured in parts requiring assembly and is frustro-conical in shape to provide stackability and reduced manufacturing costs. The drinking container in Lottick, U.S. Pat. No. 4,494,668 utilizes a perforated expandable diaphragm mounted or formed over a base plate. A drinking tube is attachable to the expandable diaphragm and a sealable top is mountable over the tube. Drinking is accomplished by pulling upwardly on the tube to expand the diaphragm opening the perforations therein, allowing fluid flow through the perforations and up the straw to the mouth of the drinker.
Lottick, U.S. Pat. No. 4,494,668 is a container designed for drinks and cannot be used for snack food.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,714,174 to Williams describes a spill-proof bowl, particularly suitable for a child, for a dry, granular food to be eaten by hand, comprising a bowl having a hollow interior therein substantially covered over by a cover located on an open end of the bowl for substantially closing off the hollow interior. A tubular portion, centrally located in the cover, terminates with an inwardly curved edge at its lower extremity in a relatively small, open end. The tubular portion forms an open closure spaced in the hollow interior below the midpoint between the cover and the base. This provides visual and selective access to the food located in the hollow interior of the bowl when open. The tubular portion of the bowl in Williams U.S. Pat. No. 4,714,174 extends upwardly and terminates in an open, upper end space above the cover. A tubular passage extends downwardly through the tubular portion and communicates with the hollow interior of the bowl by means of the open closure. A cap spaced above the bowl cover is removable and located on the open, upper end, completely closing off the open closure and egress and access to the food. The diameter of the tubular passage of the bowl is slightly greater than the lateral dimension of the human hand for whom it was designed.
Some disadvantages of Williams U.S. Pat. No. 4,714,174 are the usage of Tupperware opaque products not designed for this purpose; the requirement to have a lid on top of the tubular passage of the main bowl container plus a cover over the entire bowl; and size limitations brought about by Tupperware usage.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,884,717 to Bussard et al describes a container used for nibbling snack food, including a receptacle and a top cover made of flexible material. The cover has crossing slits forming a circle of tongues which flex downward by a person's fingers reaching inside to pick up the food. The tongues form a self-closing dispensing opening through the cover.
A disadvantage of Bussard et al, U.S. Pat. No. 4,884,717 is that container is not designed for specific use by children, therefore, the circle of tongues add little to a spill-proof container's design.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,388,731 to Mengeu et al describes a cap and dispensing fitment combination for a container. The cap has an end wall and a skirt extending axially from the periphery of the end wall; the cap being adapted to engage the neck of the container. The end wall of the cap has an annular flange that extends axially and radially outward. The flange terminates in a free end surface that facilitates securing the dispensing fitment to the cap. The dispensing fitment comprises an end wall having an opening, the annular flange engages into the opening. The dispensing fitment has a sidewall extending axially from the periphery of the end wall and is adapted to engage the container when the fitment combination is placed on the container and to retain the dispensing fitment on the container even as the cap is removed from the container.
A disadvantage of Mengeu et al, U.S. Pat. No. 5,388,731 is the complicated closing mechanism which would be difficult for a child to operate.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,449,085 to Brun, Jr. describes a blow molded plastic container including an injection molded annular neck portion which is sealed by injection molding to an annular wall portion of an injection molded top end wall having a part-spherical center portion. The center portion has five circumferentially spaced and upwardly projecting annular lip seals, two of which surround openings within the top end wall. An injection molded rotatable closure snap-fits onto the neck portion and has a mating part-spherical center portion that engages the lip seals. The closure has one opening that is selectively and progressively alignable with the annular lip seals in response to indexing the closure in one direction.
A disadvantage of Brun, Jr. U.S. Pat. No. 5,449,085 is the need to close the lip seals after every use in order for the container to be spill-proof.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,176,384 to Voloshin describes a spill-proof container having an upper panel that is stationary and a lower panel enabled for rotational motion relative to the upper panel. Each panel has an aperture. The lower panel provides a device for manual actuation of its rotational motion. Voloshin U.S. Pat. No. 6,176,384 enables one to reach inside the container when the lower aperture is positioned by the rotative motion adjacent to the upper aperture. The lower panel aperture is provided with a flexible surface which is split by radial slits into flexible fingers. The flexible fingers are capable of bending into the container when a hand reaches inside the container for food, and then returning to their initial planar position, automatically closing the container when the hand is removed.
A disadvantage of Voloshin U.S. Pat. No. 6,176,384 is the closing mechanism which would be difficult for a child to operate.
Thus, heretofore known methods and devices for spill-proof snack food containers suffer from a number of disadvantages as set forth along with reasons the present invention is superior:
(a) some existing spill-proof snack food containers require overlapping flaps to prevent spillage of food which limit storage container capacity; the present invention provides access to food without need for overlapping flaps;
(b) some existing spill-proof snack food containers require assembly of various parts prior to usage of container; the present invention does not require parts to be assembled by the user;
(c) some existing spill-proof snack food containers are designed with dispensing openings, such as tongues or flexible fingers, that are not satisfactory in inhibiting spillage when used by a child; the present invention does not require a complex dispensing opening to prevent spillage;
(d) some existing spill-proof snack food containers are designed to be stackable for easier shipping and display instead of being designed for ease of use; the present invention design does not focus on ease of shipping and display;
(e) some existing spill-proof snack food containers are assembled from purchased opaque Tupperware bowls without usage of a specifically designed mold; the present invention does not rely on the purchase of products from another company for assembly;
(f) some existing spill-proof snack food containers are available in only one color of plastic; the present invention is not limited to the use of only one color;
(g) some existing spill-proof snack food containers do not allow for usage of alternative types of plastic for manufacture; the present invention is not limited to only one type of plastic for manufacture;
(h) some existing spill-proof snack food containers are manufactured in multiple pieces or sections then assembled with the addition of covers or lids; the present invention does not require an excess of multiple pieces to be manufactured and assembled;
(i) some existing spill-proof snack food containers are manufactured and assembled in a manner that makes it difficult to determine how to place food in the container; the present invention does not require instructions for use;
(j) some existing spill-proof snack food containers are opaque making visual inspection of food difficult; the present invention does not require opaque materials;
(k) some existing spill-proof snack food containers provide small storage areas that limit usability; the present invention has a large storage space.
Prior art does not demonstrate that the container may be a one-piece hollow bowl containing a vertically disposed hollow tube.
Prior art does not demonstrate a one-piece hollow bowl suitable for use by small children which prevents food placed in a container from being spilled from container when the container is tilted or inverted.
Prior art does not demonstrate a one-piece hollow bowl suitable for use by small children and which can be easily cleaned.
In accordance with the present invention a Spill-proof Container for Children comprises a snack container that is a one-piece hollow bowl with a hollow tube, an attached cover for the tube, and a cover for the bottom of the bowl.
Such container which in its preferred embodiment consists of a spill-proof one-piece hollow bowl that is open on both ends, containing a vertically disposed centralized hollow tubular portion located in a top wall that creates an opening through the top wall.
Such one-piece hollow bowl with the lower portion of the vertically disposed centralized hollow tube protruding into the inner section of the bowl; and the tubular portion protruding above the top portion of the bowl;
Such vertically disposed hollow tube with a diameter large enough to accommodate passage of a hand and forearm of a child; and the diameter of the vertical disposed hollow tube large enough to allow child easy access by reaching through the hollow tube from above.
Such container, which in its preferred embodiment, consists of a spill-proof one-piece hollow bowl with separate cover for the bottom of the bowl that can be removed and replaced by rotational action independent of an upper removable cover.
Such bottom cover that when removed allows easy access to fill and easily clean the food storage compartment of the bowl.
Such bottom cover that when replaced secures contents of the snack bowl, after food is added to the bowl, so that if bowl is dropped, tilted, or tipped over, food will not spill from the container.
Such container, which in its preferred embodiment, consists of a spill-proof one-piece hollow bowl with a separate attachable snap-on upper cover for hollow tube.
Such upper cover that permits easy removal to access food located within the one-piece hollow bowl; and that opens upwardly from the top opening of the vertically disposed hollow tube.
Such upper cover has a diameter at least equal to the diameter of the vertically disposed hollow tube.
Accordingly, besides the objects and advantages of the Spill-proof Container for Children previously described, several objects and advantages of the present invention are:
(a) to provide spill-proof food containers of one-piece bowl design for ease of access to food, without the requirement for overlapping flaps inhibiting access to food;
(b) to provide spill-proof food containers of a simple no-assembly design with bowl, an attached top cover, and screw-on cover on the bottom, instead of a design requiring assembly of various parts prior to usage of container;
(c) to provide spill-proof food containers of non-complex design including an opening that prohibits spillage while allowing easy access to food by children, instead of a design requiring complex less-satisfactory openings such as tongues or flexible fingers.
(d) to provide spill-proof food containers designed for ease of use, without focus of design on ease of shipping and display;
(e) to provide spill-proof food containers utilizing a specifically designed mold for manufacture, instead of relying on the purchase of another company's products, such as Tupperware bowls, to assemble container;
(f) to provide spill-proof food containers in a variety of colors, without the limitation of colored plastics as an alternative;
(g) to provide spill-proof food containers that can be manufactured from alternative types of plastic allowing the choice of the most cost-effective plastic to be used; instead of limiting manufacture to one type of plastic only;
(h) to provide spill-proof food containers of a molded one-piece bowl with a vertically disposed hollow tube and a separate attachable snap-on upper cover and separate attachable bowl bottom cover, a simple design resulting in a less expensive manufacturing process and no assembly; instead of requiring multiple pieces to be manufactured and assembled;
(i) to provide spill-proof food containers designed so that bowl can be easily filled by removing a cover from the bottom of the bowl; instead of complex designs that cannot be easily filled because how to fill the container is not readily apparent;
(j) to provide spill-proof food containers designed to use clear plastics so that visual inspection of food is easy; instead of using opaque materials;
(k) to provide spill-proof food containers with a food storage space of a size that reduces the need for constant refilling; instead of a small food storage area.
A principle object of the present invention is to provide a spill-proof snack container having advantages, such as usage of a one-piece hollow bowl, which has not been taught by the prior art. Usage of a top wall as a part of the one-piece hollow bowl eliminates the need for a separate removable lid to be located on top of the snack container. Another objective is to provide a spill-proof snack container that facilitates easy access to the contents of the spill-proof snack container by removing only the separate attachable snap-on upper cover which is the cover for the vertically disposed hollow tube and which does not require removal of the separate bottom cover of the container.
Further objects and advantages of the Spill-Proof Container for Children are to provide a spill-proof snack container having a hollow interior therein between its interior surfaces to permit easy access to the container by hand, while preventing spillage of the contents of the container if the container is dropped, tilted, or inverted. Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide a suitable method and apparatus for use by children which prevents food, including popcorn, candy, and dry cereal, from being spilled when tilted or inverted.
A further objective is to provide a cover for a snack container with a snap-action resilient engagement with the container to minimize exposure to dryness or moisture of the fresh air and secure freshness of the contents of the container.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a suitable method and apparatus, for use by children, which allows clear visual access to the container for easy content removal. Accordingly, a vertically disposed hollow tube is provided that extends below the top wall and ends inside the one-piece hollow bowl far enough above the separate bottom cover to provide visual and physical access into the interior of the one-piece hollow bowl, allowing user to have selective access to the contents of the spill-proof snack container while preventing spillage when the snack container is dropped, upset, or tilted.
A further object is to provide a suitable method and apparatus, using the one-piece hollow bowl, for use by small children that is simple to use and that is easily cleaned.
Further objects and advantages of this invention will become apparent from a consideration of the drawings and ensuing detailed description of the Spill-Proof Container for Children and the appended claims.
The invention may be more fully understood by reference to the following description of the preferred embodiment in conjunction with the drawings, wherein:
It is an object of the Spill-Proof Container for Children to provide one or more of the following desirable features not heretofore known or used.
Thickness of plastic for one-piece hollow bowl 11 portion of the preferred embodiment, as described in the following, need be only of sufficient thickness for rigidity and normal handling by adults and children. Volume of hollow interior of one-piece hollow bowl 11 would approximate the same volume formed by exterior surfaces of spill-proof snack container 10.
Hollow tube 32 is formed integrally with one-piece hollow bowl 11 by blow molding process using soft, hollow thermoplastic. That is, mold designed for plastic production of bowl 11 includes vertically disposed hollow tube 32. Mold fits around outside of softened thermoplastic used for bowl 11 and hollow tube 32. Tube 32 is heated. Forced air is blown into softened thermoplastic forcing outside of tube 32 to conform to inside walls of mold. After thermoplastic is cooled, mold is opened and newly molded one-piece hollow bowl 11 with vertically disposed hollow tube 32 emerges.
Hollow tube 32, extends through top wall 20 and is positioned to extend above top wall 20. Diameter is inwardly curved at a lower panel aperture 28 to prevent spillage.
User of spill-proof snack container 10 inserts hand and forearm through upper hollow tube aperture 27 lower panel aperture 28 to access food in bowl 11.
Container 10 is inverted so that bowl 11 can be filled with snack food or cleaned. Separate bottom cover 30 of bowl 11 is replaced and container 10 is turned upright. Separate attachable snap-on upper cover 34 is removed to access vertically disposed hollow tube 32.
Container 10 can be covered by snap-on upper cover 34 and bottom cover 30 when not in use, when stored, and when moved. Handle 40 can be used to carry or move container 10.
The foregoing disclosure and description and operation of the invention is illustrative and explanatory thereof, and various changes in the method steps as well as in the details of the illustrated apparatus may be made within the scope of the appended claims without departing from the spirit of the invention.
The preferred embodiment of the Spill-proof Container for Children described and shown in the drawings is designed having predominant effective application to use by children. The configuration and dimensions of the spill-proof container can be modified to serve as a snack container for use by all ages, including adults, by appropriately converting diameter of vertically disposed hollow tube to allow the adult size hand to enter.
The container can be modified to more easily manipulate and carry it by attaching more than one handle to side wall of spill-proof snack container.
In another embodiment, the molded size of the spill-proof snack container can be larger or smaller, different in color, shape, thickness of plastic, or access point for the vertically disposed hollow tube.
In another embodiment, the snap-on upper cover and the bottom cover of the container can be different colors of plastic. Covers can be designed with different shapes for displaying logos, including company and brand logos, or for promoting various product designs.
Spill-proof Container for Children will prevent any substantially spillage of food when accidentally dropped, upset or tilted, and, with separate attachable snap-on upper cover in the closed position on open top of vertically disposed hollow tube, any spillage as well as contamination of the food is absolutely prevented.
Effective use of the spill-proof snack container includes but is not limited to, snacks at parties or other gatherings, or in vehicles, etc., where there is a reasonable likelihood of it being knocked or otherwise tipped over.
The present invention has been highly effective in preventing spills, it is not claimed there is no spillage of food possible when the separate attachable snap-on upper cover is removed. However, in the context the present invention is spill-proof as its design prevents most, if not all, of the contents from being spilled out when knocked over or dropped.
The description above contains many specificities, which should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention, but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention.
Thus the scope of the invention is to be interpreted by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.