Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20080105736 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/982,763
Publication dateMay 8, 2008
Filing dateNov 5, 2007
Priority dateNov 3, 2006
Also published asWO2008057490A1, WO2008057490A9
Publication number11982763, 982763, US 2008/0105736 A1, US 2008/105736 A1, US 20080105736 A1, US 20080105736A1, US 2008105736 A1, US 2008105736A1, US-A1-20080105736, US-A1-2008105736, US2008/0105736A1, US2008/105736A1, US20080105736 A1, US20080105736A1, US2008105736 A1, US2008105736A1
InventorsRoderick W. Kalberer
Original AssigneeKalberer Roderick W
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Removable divider for food container
US 20080105736 A1
Abstract
The present invention is for a divider for use with a food package, wherein the divider is manufactured from inexpensive coated paperboard and is of a simple one-piece construction. More particularly, a divider according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention is formed from a one-piece, foldable blank of paperboard material, which is folded in half and secured onto itself so as to form a two-ply, reasonably stiff construction. The divider is shaped and dimensioned to fit within a food container, which may preferably have a circular cylindrical shape, so as to bisect same and define two separate interior regions thereof. In addition, the divider includes a center portion wherein the paperboard material is not adhered onto itself, so as to allow the formation of a ring-shaped, cup-holding portion suitable for positioning and retaining a separate container within the package.
Images(5)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(20)
1. A divider for use with a container, comprising:
a first panel;
a second panel foldably connected to said first panel;
said first and second panels each having one or more lines of weakness within a central region thereof;
said first and second panels being secured to one another at one or more regions outside said central regions thererof; and,
said first and second panels each having a cutout within said central region thereof.
2. The divider according to claim 1, wherein said one or more lines of weakness are approximately parallel with one another.
3. The divider according to claim 1, wherein said first and second panels are foldably connected by at least one member selected from the group consisting of a fold line, a score line, a perforated line, a full cut line, a partial cut line, and an embossed line.
4. The divider according to claim 1, wherein said first and second panels are secured by an adhesive at one or more regions outside said central regions thererof.
5. The divider according to claim 1, wherein
said first and second panels are foldably connected by at least one member selected from the group consisting of a fold line, a score line, a perforated line, a full cut line, a partial cut line, and an embossed line; and
each of said first and second panels comprise end edges that are tapered inwardly towards the central region from at least one member selected from the group consisting of a fold line, a score line, a perforated line, a full cut line, a partial cut line, and an embossed line.
6. The divider according to claim 1, further comprising a step-shaped cutout recess located in a top edge of said divider.
7. A container, comprising the divider according to claim 1.
8. The container according to claim 7, further comprising
at least one side wall to define an interior space; and
at least one bottom wall.
9. The container according to claim 8, further comprising a lid.
10. The container according to claim 8, wherein
said divider is positioned within said interior space of said container such that said interior space is separated into at least two portions, one of said portions being an article-receiving portion; and
each of said first and second panels comprise end edges that are pushed inwardly towards said central region such that said one or more lines of weakness within said central region bulge outwardly towards said at least one sidewall thereby providing said article-receiving portion.
11. The container according to claim 10, wherein said article-receiving portion is shaped to receive a cup.
12. The container according to claim 10, wherein
said divider comprises a top edge and said each of said first and second panels comprise end edges that are tapered inwardly towards said central region from said top edge.
13. The container according to claim 10, wherein said one or more lines of weakness are approximately parallel with one another.
14. The container according to claim 10, wherein said first and second panels are foldably connected by at least one member selected from the group consisting of a fold like, a score line, and a cut line.
15. The container according to claim 14, wherein
said divider comprises a top edge ; and
said at least one member selected from the group consisting of a fold like, a score line, and a cut line is positioned along said top edge.
16. The container according to claim 10, wherein
said first and second panels are secured by an adhesive at one or more regions outside said central regions thererof.
17. The container according to claim 10, further comprising a cutout recess located in a top edge of said divider.
18. The container according to claim 17, wherein said step-shaped cutout recess is positioned at the top edge of said central portion of said divider.
19. The container according to claim 17, wherein said cutout recess is step-shaped.
20. The container according to claim 1, wherein said one or more lines of weakening are in form of at least one member selected from the group consisting of a fold line, a score line, a perforated line, a full cut line, a partial cut line, and an embossed line.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Technical Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to disposable food containers constructed from paperboard materials. More particularly, the present invention related to disposable food containers constructed from paperboard materials, wherein a food container is provided with a removable divider for defining a plurality of discreet compartments within an interior space of the container.

2. Brief Description of the Related Art

Food containers constructed from paperboard materials are common and typically include a tray having a bottom wall, upstanding sidewalls and a removable lid for selectively enclosing hot or cold food therein. For example, fast-food take-out fried chicken restaurants typically package a plurality of hot chicken food products within a “bucket”, which is constructed from coated paperboard. Although the paperboard is not sufficient for long-term storage of the food stored therein, it is sufficient to keep the food hot and to protect it from outside contamination during the short period of time during which an end-user transports the food to his/her home.

It is becoming more common to purchase individual-sized complete meals, which might include meat, potatoes, vegetable and dessert. Similarly, it is becoming common for an end-user to purchase a variety of similar food products, rather than a large quantity of only one type of food product. For example, an end-user may wish to purchase a half order of standard fried chicken and a half order of barbeque chicken. To conserve packaging materials and to provide a simple package for the end-user to transport the individual half-orders to his/her final destination, the restaurant may wish to package both half-orders within a single package, yet while at the same time, keeping the half-orders separate from one another so that they do not commingle within the package.

It also is desirable to include within the package a separate container adapted for holding sauces, gravies, liquid or liquid-type food products, for use with the food products otherwise stored within the package.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is for a divider for use with a food package, wherein the divider is manufactured from inexpensive coated paperboard and is of a simple one-piece construction. More particularly, a divider according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention is formed from a one-piece, foldable blank of paperboard material, which is folded in half and secured onto itself so as to form a two-ply, reasonably stiff construction. The divider is shaped and dimensioned to fit within a food container, which may preferably have a circular cylindrical shape, so as to bisect same and define two separate interior regions thereof. In addition, the divider includes a center portion wherein the paperboard material is not adhered onto itself, so as to allow the formation of a ring-shaped, cup-holding portion suitable for positioning and retaining a separate container within the package.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a food container, preferably in the form of a truncated (i.e., “short”) bucket for single-serve take-out meals. A food container according to the present invention allows different food items to be carried in separate compartments within a single package for single meal offerings or for variety pack offerings. According to one aspect of the present invention, a removable internal divider is provided within the package to hold securely in an upright position a secondary container, such as a sauce cup, etc., in a generally-fixed position within the package. Either square, circular, oval, or any other shaped, configuration of package may be used.

According to another aspect of the present invention, a divider according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention separates an interior space of the package into two equal sized primary food compartments and an additional center area which is adapted to support a secondary food container, such as a sauce cup, drink cup or the like. The divider centers the secondary food container and vertically stabilizes it within the primary package, to reduce or eliminate the tendency of the secondary food container to spill its liquid contents. The functional aspects of the present invention are achieved at least in part by a single scored and die-cut blank of coated or uncoated paperboard or polymeric material, folded and sealed to itself. Since the main divider portions are folded back upon themselves and sealed, the sheet thickness of the base material can be reduced. The divider lays flat after folding and sealing are complete, so it can be economically packed for storage or shipment.

These and other objects, features and advantages of the present invention become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art from the description which follows, and may be realized by means of the instrumentalities and combinations particularly pointed out therein, as well as by those instrumentalities, combinations and improvements thereof which are not described expressly therein, but which would be obvious to those of ordinary and reasonable skill in the art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A better understanding of the invention will be had upon reference to the following description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like reference numerals represent like parts, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a food container with which a divider according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown in spaced relation to the components thereof;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the food container shown in FIG. 1, wherein the divider of FIG. 1 is shown positioned within an interior space of the container;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of a blank used to form the divider shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the blank shown in FIG. 3, shown partially folded for forming the divider of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a front view of the divider of FIG. 1, formed by folding the blank of FIG. 3, as shown;

FIG. 6 is an end section view of the divider of FIG. 5, shown along section line 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is an end section view of the divider of FIG. 5, shown along section line 7-7 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of the divider of FIG. 1, wherein a center portion thereof is shown in a flat orientation;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the divider of FIG. 1, wherein a center portion thereof is shown in an arcuate orientation; and,

FIG. 10 is a front view of the divider of FIG. 1, wherein a center portion thereof is shown in an arcuate orientation, and wherein a cup is shown positioned within a circular opening defined by the arcuately-oriented center portion.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

With reference to FIG. 1, there is shown a divider 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention for use with an open-top container 40, which may take the form of a generally-circular tray defined by an annular sidewall 42 and a circular bottom wall 44. Both the sidewall 42 and the bottom wall 44 are formed from a flexible material, such as coated or uncoated paperboard, which may be cut into blanks and then shaped using conventional container-forming equipment. For example, the sidewall 42 may be formed from a sheet of coated paperboard, which is die cut to define a generally flat (but arcuately shaped) blank (not shown) wrapped around a cylindrical mandrel (not shown) and then sealed onto itself to define a generally-continuous arcuate shape. Conventional forming and sealing equipment may be used, which might result in the formation of a longitudinal seam (not shown) extending lengthwise along the sidewall 42.

The sidewall 42 may take any form. For example, the sidewall 42 may be formed from a single blank of paperboard material such that a 1-ply, so-called “single wall”, construction is provided. An outer surface of the sidewall 42 may be coated so as to provide a surface suitable for printing, for example, to provide informational graphics, advertising or other promotional information to the end-user. Alternatively, a separate sheet, sometimes referred-to as a “wrap” (not shown), may be wrapped around the outer surface of the sidewall 42 and affixed thereto (such as, by use of an adhesive), in which case, the sidewall 42 itself need not have a surface suitable for printing.

Alternatively, the sidewall 42 may be formed from two separate blanks of paperboard material such that a 2-ply, so-called “double wall”, construction is provided. Both single and double wall constructions are known, as well as methods for forming same, and the divider 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention is suitable for use with either. If a double wall construction is used, spacing or other thermal insulation devices may be positioned between the individual walls so as to slow the rate at which heat enters/leaves the container 40. An upper end 41 of the sidewall 42 may include a rolled lip (not shown), for example, to provide a finished surface, to provide a means for securing a lid thereto or to provide a mechanism by which multiple walls of the sidewall 41 may be joined together.

The bottom wall 44 preferably has a simple disc-like, circular, flat shape sized to cover a lower end of the sidewall 42, which (as described above) has been formed into a generally-cylindrical shape. A peripheral edge (not shown) of the bottom wall 44 is affixed the lower end of the sidewall 42, preferably to form a seal therebetween sufficient to prevent the leakage of liquids from within the container 40. For example, the bottom wall 44 may include a down-turned annular leg (not shown) which is pinched between an up-turned lower end (not shown) of the sidewall 42, using conventional constructions and forming techniques. As shown, the sidewall 42 preferably has a modest inward taper top-to-bottom, such that a diameter of container 40 at the open upper end thereof is slightly larger than a diameter of the container at the closed lower end thereof.

The container 40 further may include a generally-circular lid 46, which is configured to define a removable cover for the tray (defined by the sidewall 42 and the bottom wall 44) so as to enclose food (not shown) within an interior space 45 defined by the sidewall 42, bottom wall 44 and lid 46. Lid 46 may include a conventional flange (not shown) which is sized to snap-fit over the open upper end of the sidewall 42. Alternatively (and preferably), lid 46 is sized to fit within the sidewall and to be frictionally engaged therewith so as to inhibit the lid 46 from inadvertently falling therefrom. The sidewall taper assists in this regard, as the diameter of the sidewall 42 decreases from top-to-bottom such that the lid 46 is inserted into the open upper end of the sidewall 42 until the lid 46 frictionally engages same. A small groove (not shown) may be provided in the inner surface of the sidewall 42, into which the outer peripheral edge of the lid 46 is seated and retained thereby. Separate devices, such as clips, tape, elastic bands or other fastening devices may be used to retain the lid 46 onto the upper end of the sidewall 42 for the purposes described herein.

Lid 46 may include one or more cutouts 47 in the peripheral edge thereof. Cutouts 47 provide vent holes, for example, if heated food is held within the container 40. In addition, cutouts 47 provide “thumb holes” into which the end-user may insert his thumbs (or another object) for the purpose of removing the lid 46 from the sidewall 42.

Cup 50 may be provided for positioning within the interior space 45 of the container 40. Cup 50 preferably is of a conventional construction, formed from coated or uncoated paperboard material, as described above with respect to container 40. Obviously, cup 50 is smaller (both in diameter and in height) than container 40 so as to fit within the interior space 45 of the container 40, and is adapted for containing therein sauces or other liquids or liquid-type foodstuffs. Cup lid 52 is provided to sealingly fit over an open upper end of the cup 50. Any conventional construction to form a sealed cup with a removable lid may be used. Alternatively, cup lid 52 may be incorporated into container lid 46 such that fitting container lid 46 over the open upper end of the container 40 simultaneously fits cup lid 52 over the open upper end of the cup 50.

Divider 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention includes a center, ring-shaped portion 12 adapted to hold cup 50 therein and upstanding wing portions 14, 18 which extend from ring-shaped portion 12 and is adapted to divide the interior space 45 of the container 40 into two or more interior regions, as described in greater detail below. Divider 10 preferably is formed from a one-piece blank of foldable material, such as coated or uncoated paperboard. Divider 10 can be seen to be a cylinder (defined by the ring-shaped portion 12) bisected by a generally-flat, generally-planer rectangular sheet (defined by the wing portions 14, 18, which are generally co-planar). Outermost edged 14 a, 18 a of the wing portions 14, 18 are taped top-to-bottom so as to follow the generally-tapered inner surface of the container sidewall 42, when positioned therein, as will be described in greater detail below.

Referring now also to FIG. 2, divider 10 is sized to fit within the interior space 45 of the container 40 so as to bisect the interior space 45, thereby defining first and second interior regions 45 a, 45 b, respectively. Preferably, wings 14, 18 extend the full depth of the interior space 45, although wings 14, 18 may extend only over a portion (preferably nearer the bottom wall 44) of the depth of the interior space 45. The height of the wings 14, 18, then, can be used to determine whether first and second regions 45 a, 45 b are either completely separate from one another or only partially separate from one another. Divider 10, however, preferably extends across the entire interior space 45, between opposing inner surfaces of the sidewall 42, along a diameter thereof.

Alternatively, divider 10 may be configured to form a chord with respect to the generally-circular interior space 45 of the container 40, in which case, divider 10 does not bisect the interior space 45, rather, divider 10 creates two or more regions of unequal size, area and/or volume. Cup 50 can be seen to fit within the ring-shaped portion 12 such that cup lid 52 is accessible to the end-user and may be removed from the cup 50 without removing the cup 50 from it position within the ring-shaped portion 12 of the divider 10 or without removing (or otherwise moving, reconfiguring or adjusting) the divider 10 from within the interior space 45 of the container 40.

Referring now to FIG. 3, a blank B for forming the divider 10 (FIG. 1) is constructed from single- or multiple-ply, coated or uncoated paperboard material having sufficient thickness, stiffness and physical properties to permit to perform as described herein. Although the blank B is formed preferably from die-cutting same from a larger paperboard sheet, blank B may be formed from any material and through any forming or manufacturing technique that results in a divider 10 product as described herein. Preferably, blank B is of a generally-rectangular shape having a main foldline 60 extending along one direction which may be, as shown, along a longer, lengthwise, direction of the blank B. Foldline 60 separates blank B into first and second panels 62, 64, respectively, which may be folded one-over-the-other such that first panel 62 lies over second panel 64 and is secured thereto, such as, for example, by an adhesive or other fastening device, such as staples, clips or the like.

End edges 62 a, 64 a and 62 b, 64 b preferably are tapered inwardly from foldline 60 to side edges 62 c, 64 c, respectively, such that a lengthwise dimension of the blank B is greater along the foldline 60 than along either side edge 62 c, 64 c. The purpose of the taper in end edges 62 a, 64 a and 62 b, 64 b is to form tapered ends 14 a, 18 a of the divider wings 14, 18, respectively, when the first and second panels 62, 64, respectively, are folded one-over-the-other, as described above and for the purposes described herein.

Rectangular cutout 70 is provided in the center of the blank B, interrupting foldline 60, and is generally symmetrical about foldline 60. Lines of weakening 72, preferably in the form of scorelines, or alternatively in the form of embossed lines, perforation lines, full cutlines or partial cutlines. Lines of weakening 72 extend from cutout 70, on either side thereof, towards the side edges 62 c, 74 c of the blank B and may be continuous therebetween or extend only over a portion of the space between the cutout 70 and the respective side edges 62 c, 64 c of the blank B. As shown, lines of weakening 72 are generally perpendicular to the foldline 60 and are generally parallel to one another, although lines of weakening 72 may form acute or obtuse angles with one another, or with foldline 60.

Referring now to FIGS. 4-7, blank B is shown in partially-folded (FIG. 4) and fully-folded (FIG. 5) configurations so as to define divider 10. Specifically referring now to FIG. 4, blank B is folded about foldline 60 such that second panel 64 is made to lie over first panel 62, and preferably adhesively secured thereto. Because panels 62, 64 preferably are symmetric about foldline 60, end edges 62 a, 64 a, end edges 62 b, 64 b and side edges 62 c, 64 c generally line up adjacently with one another. In this manner, when panels 62, 64 are in an overlying relationship relative to one another, adjacent edges 62 a, 64 a of blank B define end 18 a of divider 10 and adjacent edges 62 b, 64 b of blank B define end 14 a of divider 10. Similarly, opposing edges of cutout 70 are made to overlie one another when panels 62, 64 are in overlying relationship to one another so as to define a step-shaped cutout recess 75 projecting inwardly into the divider 10 from foldline 60. Step-shaped cutout recess 75 is sized to permit cup lid 52 to be positioned therein when the cup 50 is positioned within the ring-shaped portion 12, as will be described in greater detail below.

Panels 62, 64 are secured to one another generally in regions designated by reference numeral 76, but not in the region over which lines of weakening 72 are provided. Referring now more specifically to FIGS. 8 and 9, it can be seen that because panels 62, 64 (FIG. 4) are not adhered to one another within the ring-shaped portion 12, the individual panels 62, 64 can be separated from one another so as to form a generally annular shape, wherein lines of weakening 72 are provided for the purpose of assisting the bending of the panels 62, 64 so that they can assume a generally circular (or annular) shape, as shown clearly in FIG. 9. Because panels 62, 64 are adhered to one another within regions 76, panels 62, 64 remain affixed to one another, even when the portions thereof within the lines of weakening 72 are separated to form ring-shaped portion 12.

While the invention has been described and illustrated with reference to one or more preferred embodiments thereof, it is not the intention of the applicants that the invention be restricted to such detail. Rather, it is the intention of the applicants that the invention be defined by all equivalents, both suggested hereby and known to those of ordinary skill in the art, of the preferred embodiments falling within the scope hereof.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8770431 *Mar 14, 2013Jul 8, 2014Kfc CorporationSauce tray and lid system for food container
US20120084234 *Apr 5, 2012Wilson Bernard RRestaurant Method
US20130092591 *Apr 18, 2013Hearthware, Inc.Vacuum container and pump
WO2013138382A2 *Mar 12, 2013Sep 19, 2013Hearthware Inc.Improved vacuum container, twist and lock cap, and pump
Classifications
U.S. Classification229/120.38, 220/694, 220/529
International ClassificationB65D5/49, B65D25/08
Cooperative ClassificationB65D71/00, B65D5/48026, B65D2571/00401, B65D5/5035
European ClassificationB65D71/00, B65D5/50D4, B65D5/48B1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 4, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: INTERNATIONAL PAPER COMPANY, TENNESSEE
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:KALBERER, RODERICK W.;REEL/FRAME:020191/0310
Effective date: 20071130