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Publication numberUS20080107781 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/556,903
Publication dateMay 8, 2008
Filing dateNov 6, 2006
Priority dateNov 6, 2006
Publication number11556903, 556903, US 2008/0107781 A1, US 2008/107781 A1, US 20080107781 A1, US 20080107781A1, US 2008107781 A1, US 2008107781A1, US-A1-20080107781, US-A1-2008107781, US2008/0107781A1, US2008/107781A1, US20080107781 A1, US20080107781A1, US2008107781 A1, US2008107781A1
InventorsChristopher Carroll
Original AssigneeChristopher Carroll
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Food container
US 20080107781 A1
Abstract
A food container includes a first compartment for retaining a food item and a second compartment for retaining an accessory for the food item. The first and second compartments are defined by first and second flexible sheets that are secured to each other.
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Claims(36)
1. A bag, comprising:
a first compartment for retaining a first item; and
a second compartment for retaining a second item, wherein the first and second compartments are defined by first and second flexible sheets that are secured to each other.
2. A food container, comprising:
a first compartment for retaining a food item; and
a second compartment for retaining an accessory for the food item, wherein the first and second compartments are defined by first and second flexible sheets that are secured to each other.
3. The food container of claim 2, wherein the sheets are secured with a heat seal.
4. The food container of claim 2, wherein the sheets form a single web of material that is folded and the sheets join at a folded edge of the web.
5. The food container of claim 2, wherein the accessory is packaged in a package and the package is inserted into the second compartment.
6. The food container of claim 5, wherein the package includes one or more flaps that engage an interior surface of the second compartment to increase resistance against removal of the package from the second compartment.
7. The food container of claim 5, wherein the package includes an angled end to facilitate insertion of the package into the second compartment by sliding the package through an opening of the second compartment.
8. The food container of claim 2, wherein the first compartment includes an opening for receiving the food item into the first compartment.
9. The food container of claim 8, wherein the opening of the first compartment is sealed following reception of the food item into the first compartment.
10. The food container of claim 8, wherein the first compartment is vacuum sealed following reception of the food item into the first compartment.
11. The food container of claim 2, further comprising a vacuum seal that seals the first compartment following reception of the food item into the first compartment.
12. The food container of claim 2, wherein the second compartment includes an opening for receiving the accessory into the first compartment.
13. The food container of claim 12, wherein the opening of the second compartment is sealed following reception of the accessory into the second compartment.
14. The food container of claim 2, wherein the food item is pre-packaged before insertion into the first compartment.
15. The food container of claim 2, further comprising a resealable closure through which the first compartment is accessible.
16. The food container of claim 15, wherein the food item is inserted into the first compartment through the resealable closure.
17. The food container of claim 2, further comprising a handle.
18. The food container of claim 17, wherein the handle is a portion of the first and second sheets adjacent a hole formed through the first and second sheets.
19. The food container of claim 2, further comprising a pleat to facilitate expansion of the first compartment.
20. The food container of claim 2, further comprising a third compartment for retaining a second accessory.
21. The food container of claim 2, wherein the second compartment is separated from the first compartment by a resealable closure.
22. The food container of claim 21, wherein the second compartment is further separated from the first compartment by a seal that secures the first sheet to the second sheet.
23. The food container of claim 2, wherein the second compartment is separated from the first compartment by a seal that secures the first sheet to the second sheet.
24. The food container of claim 2, wherein the food container is arranged as a portable bag for selling the food item together with the accessory.
25. The food container of claim 2, wherein the accessory is a sheet that is folded or rolled for insertion into the second compartment.
26. A food container assembly, comprising:
a food container having a first compartment and a second compartment, wherein the first and second compartments are defined by first and second flexible sheets that are secured to each other;
a food item placed in the first compartment; and
an accessory for the food item placed in the second compartment.
27. The food container assembly of claim 26, wherein the accessory is related to the preparation of the food item for consumption.
28. The food container assembly of claim 26, wherein the accessory is for combining with the food item for consumption or dispensing onto the food item.
29. The food container assembly of claim 28, wherein the accessory is one of a condiment, a sauce or a seasoning for the food item.
30. The food container assembly of claim 26, wherein the food container is arranged as a portable bag for selling the food item together with the accessory.
31. The food container assembly of claim 26, wherein the food item is selected from a meat item, a fish item, a bread item, a cheese item, nuts, chips, pretzels, salad, cereal, a baked item, a vegetable item, a fruit item, berries, soup, stew, yogurt, ice cream, batter, pasta, a mixed dry good, and combinations thereof.
32. The food container assembly of claim 26, wherein the food item is selected from a fresh item, a frozen item, a raw item, a cooked item, a seasoned item, a marinated item, a processed item and combinations thereof.
33. The food container assembly of claim 26, wherein the accessory is a condiment for the food item, a seasoning for the food item, a marinade for the food item, a gravy for the food item, a baste for the food item, a sauce for the food item, a dressing for the food item, a spread for the food item, a sweetener for the food item, a spice for the food item, an oil for use with the food item, an icing for the food item, an ingredient for use with the food item, a side dish to accompany the food item during consumption, a cheese product, a baked product, nuts, raisins, granola, and combinations thereof.
34. The food container assembly according to claim 26, wherein the accessory is selected from a cooking bag, a storage bag, a utensil, food item preparation instructions, a recipe, a paper product, a cleaning wipe, a coupon, a promotional item, a product sample, a toy, a game card or sweepstakes entry piece, a rebate form, and combinations thereof.
35. A method of packaging a food item, comprising:
providing a food container having a first compartment and a second compartment, wherein the first and second compartments are defined by first and second flexible sheets that are secured to each other;
inserting a food item into the first compartment; and
inserting an accessory for the food item into the second compartment.
36. The method of claim 35, wherein the inserting of the accessory includes directing pressurized air toward the opening of the second compartment.
Description
TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to a container for food and, more particularly, to a container that has a compartment for retaining a food item and a second compartment for retaining an accessory for the food item.

BACKGROUND

Food is often sold in sealed containers. For instance, a ham may be vacuum packed in a bag. The vacuum packed bag may be placed in an ornamental bag (e.g., a bag with decorative printing or decorative coloring) or a wrapping (e.g., a decorative film). The decorative bag or wrapping with the vacuum packed bag may be placed in a net along with a seasoning packet and/or cooking instructions. The net may be crimped or heat sealed to avoid loss of its contents. Also, the net may be arranged to form a handle or may be attached to a handle to facilitate carrying of the entire assembly.

The use of the above-described packaging arrangement involves the consumption of multiple packaging products, including the vacuum packed bag, the ornamental packaging, and the netting. The packaging arrangement also is labor intensive to assembly.

SUMMARY

To improve food packaging, there is a need in the art for a container that reduces material consumption while retaining both the main food product and an accessory for the main food product.

According to one aspect of the invention, a bag includes a first compartment for retaining a first item; and a second compartment for retaining a second item, wherein the first and second compartments are defined by first and second flexible sheets that are secured to each other.

According to another aspect of the invention, a food container includes a first compartment for retaining a food item; and a second compartment for retaining an accessory for the food item, wherein the first and second compartments are defined by first and second flexible sheets that are secured to each other.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the sheets are secured with a heat seal.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the sheets form a single web of material that is folded and the sheets join at a folded edge of the web.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the accessory is packaged in a package and the package is inserted into the second compartment.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the package includes one or more flaps that engage an interior surface of the second compartment to increase resistance against removal of the package from the second compartment.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the package includes an angled end to facilitate insertion of the package into the second compartment by sliding the package through an opening of the second compartment.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the first compartment includes an opening for receiving the food item into the first compartment.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the opening of the first compartment is sealed following reception of the food item into the first compartment.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the first compartment is vacuum sealed following reception of the food item into the first compartment.

According to one embodiment, the food container further includes a vacuum seal that seals the first compartment following reception of the food item into the first compartment.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the second compartment includes an opening for receiving the accessory into the first compartment.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the opening of the second compartment is sealed following reception of the accessory into the second compartment.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the food item is pre-packaged before insertion into the first compartment.

According to one embodiment, the food container further includes a resealable closure through which the first compartment is accessible.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the food item is inserted into the first compartment through the resealable closure.

According to one embodiment, the food container further includes a handle.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the handle is a portion of the first and second sheets adjacent a hole formed through the first and second sheets.

According to one embodiment, the food container further includes a pleat to facilitate expansion of the first compartment.

According to one embodiment, the food container further includes a third compartment for retaining a second accessory.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the second compartment is separated from the first compartment by a resealable closure.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the second compartment is further separated from the first compartment by a seal that secures the first sheet to the second sheet.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the second compartment is separated from the first compartment by a seal that secures the first sheet to the second sheet.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the food container is arranged as a portable bag for selling the food item together with the accessory.

According to one embodiment of the food container, the accessory is a sheet that is folded or rolled for insertion into the second compartment. According to yet another aspect of the invention, a food container assembly includes a food container having a first compartment and a second compartment, wherein the first and second compartments are defined by first and second flexible sheets that are secured to each other; a food item placed in the first compartment; and an accessory for the food item placed in the second compartment.

According to one embodiment of the food container assembly, the accessory is related to the preparation of the food item for consumption.

According to one embodiment of the food container assembly, the accessory is for combining with the food item for consumption or dispensing onto the food item.

According to one embodiment of the food container assembly, the accessory is one of a condiment, a sauce or a seasoning for the food item.

According to one embodiment of the food container assembly, the food container is arranged as a portable bag for selling the food item together with the accessory.

According to one embodiment of the food container assembly, the food item is selected from a meat item, a fish item, a bread item, a cheese item, nuts, chips, pretzels, salad, cereal, a baked item, a vegetable item, a fruit item, berries, soup, stew, yogurt, ice cream, batter, pasta, a mixed dry good, and combinations thereof.

According to one embodiment of the food container assembly, the food item is selected from a fresh item, a frozen item, a raw item, a cooked item, a seasoned item, a marinated item, a processed item and combinations thereof.

According to one embodiment of the food container assembly, the accessory is a condiment for the food item, a seasoning for the food item, a marinade for the food item, a gravy for the food item, a baste for the food item, a sauce for the food item, a dressing for the food item, a spread for the food item, a sweetener for the food item, a spice for the food item, an oil for use with the food item, an icing for the food item, an ingredient for use with the food item, a side dish to accompany the food item during consumption, a cheese product, a baked product, nuts, raisins, granola, and combinations thereof.

According to one embodiment of the food container assembly, the accessory is selected from a cooking bag, a storage bag, a utensil, food item preparation instructions, a recipe, a paper product, a cleaning wipe, a coupon, a promotional item, a product sample, a toy, a game card or sweepstakes entry piece, a rebate form, and combinations thereof.

According to still another aspect of the invention, a method of packaging a food item includes providing a food container having a first compartment and a second compartment, wherein the first and second compartments are defined by first and second flexible sheets that are secured to each other; inserting a food item into the first compartment; and inserting an accessory for the food item into the second compartment.

According to one embodiment of the method, the inserting of the accessory includes directing pressurized air toward the opening of the second compartment.

These and further features of the present invention will be apparent with reference to the following description and attached drawings. In the description and drawings, particular embodiments of the invention have been disclosed in detail as being indicative of some of the ways in which the principles of the invention may be employed, but it is understood that the invention is not limited correspondingly in scope. Rather, the invention includes all changes, modifications and equivalents coming within the spirit and terms of the claims appended hereto.

Features that are described and/or illustrated with respect to one embodiment may be used in the same way or in a similar way in one or more other embodiments and/or in combination with or instead of the features of the other embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of an exemplary food container in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the exemplary food container of FIG. 1 during insertion of a food product and an accessory item into corresponding compartments of the food container;

FIG. 3 is a front view of the exemplary food container of FIG. 1 following sealing of the food product and the accessory item in the container;

FIG. 4 is a front view of another exemplary food container in accordance with the present invention, the food container shown partially broken away;

FIG. 5 is a front view of another exemplary food container in accordance with the present invention, the food container shown partially broken away;

FIG. 6 is a front view of yet another exemplary food container in accordance with the present invention, the food container shown partially broken away;

FIG. 7 is a front view of still another exemplary food container in accordance with the present invention, the food container shown partially broken away;

FIG. 8 is a front view of one more exemplary food container in accordance with the present invention, the food container shown partially broken away;

FIG. 9 is a front view of another exemplary food container in accordance with the present invention, the food container shown partially broken away;

FIG. 10 is a front view of still another exemplary food container in accordance with the present invention, the food container shown partially broken away;

FIG. 11 is a front view of still another exemplary food container in accordance with the present invention, the food container shown partially broken away;

FIG. 12 is a front view of an exemplary package for an accessory item that may be inserted into a food container that is made in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 13 is a front view of another exemplary package for an accessory item that may be inserted into a food container that is made in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an exemplary sheet-type accessory item for insertion into a food container that is made in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

Representative embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to the drawings, wherein like reference numerals are used to refer to like elements throughout. It will be understood that the figures are not necessarily to scale.

Directional terms (e.g., front, rear, upper, lower, top, bottom and side) are used herein to indicate direction with respect to how the various container embodiments are oriented in the figures. It will be appreciated that these terms are used for descriptive purposes only and do not indicate a fixed orientation of the container embodiments. The directional terms may be changed or re-interpreted if the orientation of a container were to change or if the container were reconfigured (e.g., with a handle located at what is now referred to as a bottom of the container).

With initial reference to FIGS. 1 through 3, a food container 10 includes a first compartment 12 for receiving and housing a food item 14 and a second compartment 16 for receiving and housing an accessory 18 for the food item 14. As will be described below, the container 10 may include plural compartments 12 for food items 14 and/or plural compartments 16 for accessories 18. In most embodiments, the container 10 may be thought of as a bag with plural compartments. The bag is well-suited for use as packaging in the retail sales of food and food-related items.

The food item 14 may be a single unit, such as a ham, a turkey, a chicken, a cut of beef, a cut of fish, a loaf of bread, block of cheese, a pizza, dough, and so forth. Alternatively, the food item 14 may be plural units, such as cuts of meat or fish, nuts, chips, pretzels, salad greens, dried or processed meat products, cereal, waffles, baked goods, cut and/or whole vegetables, fruit and/or berries, and so forth. In other situations, the food item 14 may be a liquid or liquid-like item, such as soup, stew, yogurt, ice cream, batter, and so forth. Also, a combination of solid and liquid-like items 14 may be placed in the compartment 12, such as fruit in syrup, pasta in sauce, and so forth. The food item may be mixed dry goods, such as cake mix, pancake mix, and so forth. The food item 14 may be fresh (e.g., not frozen), frozen, raw, fully or partially cooked, seasoned, marinated, and/or processed. Also, the food item 14 may be placed in the compartment 12 in a loose configuration or may be prepackaged (e.g., bagged, vacuum packed, etc.) prior to insertion into the compartment.

The accessory 18 may be packaged or unpackaged, but will typically have some relationship to the food item 14. Accessories 18 may include a condiment or seasoning for the food item 14. For instance, meat related items 14 may be paired with a seasoning. The seasoning may be a dry seasoning (e.g., a dry rub, shake-on spices, or a base from which a liquid may be prepared by a consumer of the food item 14) or a liquid seasoning (e.g., a marinade, gravy, baste or sauce to be applied before, during or after cooking). In other embodiments, the seasoning may be embodied as a meltable sheet to be applied over the meat that liquefies or turns into a glaze during cooking.

Other exemplary accessories 18 include, but are not limited to, ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, cut onions, cheese (e.g., sliced cheese, shredded cheese or spreadable cheese), maple syrup, pepper or hot sauce, salsa, dipping sauce, salad dressing, crackers, croutons, nuts, raisins, granola, marinade, salt, pepper, spices, honey, sugar, sweetener, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, peanut butter, jelly, jam, preserves, fruit topping, butter, margarine, cooking oil, cake icing, and so forth. In other embodiments, the accessory 18 may be ingredients used in the preparation of a dish with the food item 14. In other embodiments, the accessory 18 may be a side item to accompany the food item 14. For instance, the accessory 18 may be stuffing or cranberry sauce when the food item 14 is a turkey.

The accessory 18 need not be edible. For example, the accessory may be a cooking bag (e.g., a bag in which meat such as a ham or a turkey may be placed for cooking in an oven), a storage bag for leftovers, a utensil or utensils (e.g., a fork, a knife, a spoon, chopsticks, a straw, a stirring stick, a baster, a brush, etc.), food preparation instructions, a recipe, a napkin, a paper or fabric towel, a cleaning wipe, and so forth. Also, the accessory may be an item that is unrelated to the eating or preparation of the food item 14, such as a coupon, a promotional item, a sample of another product, a toy, a game card or sweepstakes entry piece, a rebate form, and so forth.

The listed food items 14 are meant to be examples and not a limiting list of food items 14 that may be placed in the container 10. The listed accessories 18 are meant to be examples and not a limiting list of accessories 18. Also, the container 10 may have use in storing and/or selling items other than food or food related products.

The container 10 may be constructed from a front sheet (or layer) of material 20 and a back sheet (or layer) of material 22. Preferably, the sheets 20 and 22 are made from a flexible material. The sheets 20 and 22 may be of single-ply construction or multi-ply construction. An exemplary material construction for the sheets 20, 22 is 48 gauge polyethylene terephathatate (PET) that is flood-coated with flexographic ink and secured to a 2 mil layer of polyethylene with adhesive. Another exemplary material construction for the sheets 20, 22 is 48 gauge PET that is flood-coated with flexographic ink and secured with adhesive to 60 gauge metalized biaxially-oriented nylon that is, in turn, secured with adhesive to 4 mil linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE).

The sheets 20 and 22 may be secured to one another in selected areas to form the container 10. Securing the sheets 20, 22 may include, for example, heat sealing the sheets 20, 22 to one another, attaching the sheets 20, 22 with adhesive, and/or sonically welding the sheets 20, 22 to each other. The exemplary containers 10 described herein are made by heat sealing the sheets 20, 22 together. As will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art, heat sealing may be accomplished by placing the sheets 20, 22 together and using a heated bar (or bars) or a heated and patterned roller to apply force and heat to the sheets 20, 22 in selected areas. The sealing process also may be used to cut the sheets 20, 22 from larger webs of material and/or a separate cutting process may be employed.

In one embodiment, the sheets 20, 22 are derived from separate webs of material before being secured together. In another embodiment, the sheets 20, 22 are formed by folding a single web of material upon itself and securing the folded sections together. In the folded embodiment, the folded edge where the sheets 20, 22 join may be left as a folded crease or further secured, such as with a heat seal. Also, pleats and/or folds may be added to the sheets 20, 22 to allow for expansion of the container 10 when the food item 14 is placed in the compartment 12 and/or when the accessory 18 is placed in the compartment 16. An exemplary pleated embodiment is described below with respect to FIG. 5. In other embodiments, the sheets 20, 22 may be derived from tubular stock (e.g., an extruded tube) that is pressed flat to form respective sides.

With continuing reference to FIGS. 1 to 3, heat seals 24 are used along side edges of the sheets 20, 22 to seal the sheets 20, 22 together. Additional heat seals 26 may be used to form the compartment 16 by joining the sheets 20, 22 to form a pocket between the sheets 20, 22. In the illustrated example, an edge seal 24 and two additional seals 26 form the compartment 16 and a portion of one edge of the sheets 20, 22 is left unsealed so that an opening 28 remains and allows access to the compartment 16. The accessory 18 may be inserted into the compartment 16 through the opening 28. To facilitate insertion, pressurized air may be directed toward the opening 28 to separate the sheets 20, 22. After the accessory 18 is inserted into the compartment 16, the opening 28 may be sealed, such as with a heat seal 30 as shown in FIG. 3. Alternative, the opening 28 may remain unsealed and a friction fit between the accessory 18 and the compartment 16 may retain the accessory 18 in the compartment 16.

Left and right edge seals 24 may combine with a closure 32 to form the compartment 12. The closure 32 may be formed from interlocking members disposed on the interior surfaces of the sheets 20, 22. Such a closure is commonly referred to as a zipper. The opposing members of the closure 32 may be released from one another by pulling the sheets 20, 22 away from each other and may be re-engaged by pressing the opposing members of the closure 32 back together in an interlocking configuration. A slider (not shown) may be present to assist opening or closing of the closure. A seal to preserve the integrity of the compartment 12 while storing the food item 14 may be present to secure the sheets 20, 22 together in an area adjacent the closure 32 and on an opposite side of the closure 32 from the compartment 12. In the illustrated example, such a seal is formed by the lower one of the seals 26 that forms the compartment 16. In other embodiments, the closure 32 may be omitted.

A bottom edge of the sheets 20, 22 is initially left unsealed so that an opening 34 remains and allows access to the compartment 12. The food item 14 may be inserted into the compartment 12 through the opening 34. To facilitate insertion, pressurized air may be directed toward the opening 34 to separate the sheets 20, 22. After the food item 12 is inserted into the compartment 16, the opening 34 may be sealed, such as with a heat seal 36 as shown in FIG. 3. In one embodiment, air may be extracted from the compartment 12 and the compartment 12 may be sealed to vacuum pack the food item 12.

A tear notch 38 may be present between the lower seal 26 and the closure 32. The tear notch 38 may be made by cutting or scoring the sheets 20, 22. The tear notch 38 may be small enough to be located entirely within the edge seal 24. As will be appreciated, the tear notch 38 facilitates opening of the container 10 by providing a starting point for ripping the container 10 into two sections. In the illustrated example, a first section would include the closure 32 that selectively seals the compartment 12 and a second section would include the compartment 16. A second tear notch (not shown), such as on the top edge of the container 10 or on an edge adjacent the compartment 16, may be provided to facilitate opening of the compartment 16.

A hole (or holes) 40 may be formed through the sheets 20, 22 between the top edge of the container and the upper seal 26. The material of the sheets 20, 22 surrounding the hole 40 may form a handle 42 to facilitate carrying of the container 10. For instance, the handle 42 may be grasped by inserting one's fingers through the hole 40 and clenching the handle 42.

In one embodiment, a valve (not shown) may be added to the container 10 for forcing air out of the compartment 12 or the compartment 16.

FIGS. 4 through 10 show additional exemplary embodiments of the container 10. Portions of these contains are shown partially broken away to depict the corresponding compartments 12 and the compartments 16. The construction of these embodiments is similar to the construction of the embodiments of FIGS. 1 through 3. Therefore, for the sake a brevity, various seals 24, 26, closures 32, tear notches 38, holes 40 and handles 42 are illustrated and labeled, but will not be described in detail. Also, steps to insert food items 14 into the compartment 12, insert accessories 18 into the compartment 16, and seal the compartments 12 and 16 will not be described in detail.

With additional reference to FIG. 4, illustrated is another container 10 that includes two accessory compartments 16. The container 10 is shown partially broken away to show the interior of the compartments, labeled 16 a and 16 b. The rear sheet 22 is left in place in the illustrated cut-away. The compartments 16 a and 16 b respectively retain a first accessory 18 a and a second accessory 18 b.

The container 10 of FIG. 4 may be constructed in similar fashion to the container 10 of FIGS. 1 through 3. Thus, the details concerning the construction of the container 10 of FIG. 4 will not be described in detail. An additional seal 26 may be used to form the additional compartment 16. More compartments 16 and/or compartments 12 may be added using similar techniques.

The embodiment of FIG. 4 may be used, for example, to retain a meat product as the food item 14 in the compartment 12. In this example, the compartment 16 a may be used to retain a packet of sauce or marinade that may be applied to the meat before, during or after cooking. The other compartment 16 b may be used to retain one or more secondary accessories 18, such as cooking instructions, a recipe and/or a cooking bag for the food item 14, to name a few examples.

Turning to the embodiment of FIG. 5, a pleated food container 10 is shown. The embodiment of FIG. 5 is similar to the embodiments of FIGS. 1 through 4, but has a pleat 44 to facilitate expansion of the compartment 12 and/or accommodation of a greater volume of food product versus a similar sized container 10 that does not have the pleat 44. In the illustrated embodiment, the pleat 44 is positioned along the bottom edge of the container 10. However, the pleat may be positioned along one or both of the side edges or centrally located on the front or rear of the container 10.

The container 10 of FIG. 5 may be manufactured by folding a sheet of material over itself along an edge that will form the bottom of the container 10. The folding may include imparting the pleat 44. Thereafter, seals 24 along the side edges may be added and the food item 14 may be inserted into the resulting compartment 12 through the top end of the container 10 (e.g., through the closure 32). Then, the seals 26 to form the compartment 16 and any additional edge seals above the seals 26 and/or closure 32 may be added. Then, the accessory 18 may be inserted into the compartment 16. Alternative, the accessory may be placed between the layers of material that form the container 10 before the seals 26 are added.

In the embodiment of FIG. 6, a first accessory compartment 16 a is positioned along one edge of the compartment 12 and separated therefrom by a seal 46 a. A second accessory compartment 16 b is positioned along an opposite edge of the compartment 12 and separated therefrom by a seal 46 b. Similar to the other embodiments, the container 10 and the compartments 16 a and 16 b may be made from a front sheet 20 and a rear sheet 22 that are secured together. One or more additional compartments 16 may be added to the outside edge of one or both of the compartments 16 a, 16 b to form a series of compartments 16 connected to the side of the compartment 12. Also, one of the compartments 16 a or 16 b may be omitted.

The compartments 16 of the embodiment of FIG. 6 may vertically terminate and have openings below the closure 32, which is laterally coextensive with the compartment 12. A bottom edge and side edge of each compartment 16 may be sealed. Alternatively, the opening may be at the bottom of the compartments 16 and the top may be sealed or left open. A tear notch (not shown) may be provided for each compartment 16, such as a cut positioned on the bottom sealed edge of the compartments 16.

FIG. 7 shows a container 10 similar to the container of FIG. 6. In the embodiment of FIG. 7 an accessory compartment 16 is disposed along a side edge of a compartment 12 and the accessory compartment 16 vertically extends past the closure 32. While only one compartment is illustrated in FIG. 7, additional compartments may be added to either side of the container 10 of FIG. 7.

In the embodiment of FIG. 8, two accessory compartments 16 a and 16 b are located to the side of the compartment 12 and under the closure. As illustrated with respect to the first compartment 16 a, the compartment 16 a may terminate at the closure 32. In this exemplary embodiment of the compartment 16 a, when the closure 32 is opened and a portion of the container 10 located above the closure is removed, the compartment 16 a may be accessed through the closure 32. As illustrated with respect to the second compartment, the second compartment 16 b vertically terminates at a seal 48 that is vertically spaced apart from the closure 32. In other embodiments, the seal 48 may not be vertically spaced apart from the closure 32. As will be appreciated, one or more additional compartment(s) 16 may be added under the closure 32. In other embodiments, one or more compartments 16 a that terminate at the closure 32 may be present and no compartments 16 b that terminate below the closure 32 may be present, or vice versa.

In the embodiment of FIG. 8, an accessory 18 or accessories 18 may be inserted into corresponding compartments 16 and a food item 14 may be inserted into the compartment 12. Then, the entire bottom edge of the container 10 may be sealed to enclose the accessory 18 (or accessories) and the food item 14 in the container 10.

In the embodiment of FIG. 9, the container 10 is initially formed with a compartment that becomes subdivided into the food item compartment 12 and the accessory compartment 16. For instance, sheets 20 and 22 are secured to each other to form a bag-like assembly with an open bottom. Then, the food item is placed in the bag through the bottom opening and the bottom opening is sealed with a seal 50 that is spaced apart from the bottom edge of the container 10. The spacing of the seal 50 and the bottom edge of the container 10 creates the accessory compartment 16. The accessory 18 may be placed in the accessory compartment 16 and the container 10 may be sealed along the bottom edge with a seal 52. A tear notch 54 mat be added to facilitate opening of the compartment 16. In one embodiment, the seal 50 or the seal 52 may be replaced with an interlocking closure similar to the closure 32. Also, the accessory compartment 16 and the food item compartment 14 may be reversed (e.g., the accessory 18 may be located above the food item 14).

The embodiment of FIG. 10 is similar to the embodiment of FIG. 9, but an interlocking closure 56 is placed between the seal 50 and the seal 52 to allow for resealability of the accessory compartment 16. In an alternative to FIG. 10, the seal 52 and the seals above the closure 32 are omitted so as to form a multi-compartment food storage bag. Also, in the embodiment of FIG. 10, the handle 42 is reinforced by adding a heat seal around the opening 40. Such reinforcement may be added to handles that appear in other embodiments of the container 10.

The accessory compartments 16 of the various illustrated embodiments are relatively small compared to the food item compartments 12 of the various illustrated embodiments. It will be appreciated that the accessory compartment(s) 16 and food item compartment(s) 12 may be of any size suitable for the items to be placed in the respective compartments. For instance, in the embodiment of FIG. 8, the compartment 16 a that terminates at the closure 32 may be wider than illustrated. Also, the seal 46 a may be replaced by a closure (e.g., an interlocking closure or an adhesive closure) to form a food storage bag with a selectively subdividable compartment.

Other embodiments of the container 10 also may include multiple closures to form a food storage bag with a selectively subdividable compartment. For example, turning to the embodiment of FIG. 11, a container 10 may include one compartment 58 that is defined by the sheets 20 and 22. A bottom seal and edge seals enclose the compartment 58, which may be selectively closed along a top edge by a first closure 32 a. In the illustrated example, the first closure 32 a is an interlocking closure that includes a slide 60 to facilitate opening and/or closing of the closure 32 a. A second closure 32 b that is spaced apart from the first closure 32 a may be used to selectively subdivide the compartment 58 into a first compartment (e.g., compartment 12) and a second compartment (e.g., compartment 16). A top seal may be located above the first closure 32 a as shown in the illustrated embodiment, or the top seal may be omitted. In the illustrated example, a tear strip 62 is provided above the first closure 32 a to facilitate separating the top seal from the remainder of the container so that the compartment 58 may be accessed through the closure 32 a and/or the closure 32 b.

The illustrations and descriptions of various containers are but some of the arrangements for a container that fall within the scope of present invention. Other containers may mix accessory compartment arrangements. For instance, the compartment 16 of FIGS. 1 to 5 may be added to an embodiment of the container described in connection with any of FIGS. 6 through 11. Many of the embodiments contemplate insertion of the food item 14 through an opening 34 at the bottom of the container 10. As will be appreciated, the food item 14 may be inserted through an opening at the top of the container 10 or along a side of the container 10. Also, it may be possible to place the food item 14 between the sheets 20, 22 prior to formation of the container by securing the sheets 20, 22 to one another.

Also, one or more components may be added or omitted, and/or a component shown in one illustrated embodiment may be substituted for a similar component shown in a different illustrated embodiment. For instance, the hole 40 and handle 42 may be omitted, the closure 32 may be omitted (e.g., as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 6), and/or one or more seals may be omitted. As another alternative, a resealable adhesive closure may be added or used in place of an interlocking closure, or a slider may be added to an interlocking closure. As yet another example, additional tear notches may be added, a tear strip or strips may be added or used in place of a tear notch, and/or one or both of the sheets 20, 22 may be made frangible or perforated to facilitate opening of the container.

In one embodiment, a third sheet may be added over, under or in between the sheets 20, 22. The third sheet may divide one or more of the compartments 12, 16 from front to back, thereby creating one or more additional compartments.

As will be appreciated, a container that includes a first compartment for storing a food item an a second compartment for storing an accessory for the food item may be of convenience to food producers, food vendors and/or food purchasers. The container may reduce materials that would otherwise be consumed during the packaging of a food item and an accessory for sale as a single unit. Also, the container may facilitate vending of a food item and an accessory where it was previously difficult to package the items together due to conventional packaging techniques for the food item and/or the accessory.

With additional reference to FIGS. 12 and 13, illustrated are two exemplary packages for containing an accessory, such as seasonings, marinades, dressings, condiments, etc. The package with accessory may be inserted into the accessory compartment 16 of the container 10.

In the embodiment of FIG. 12, a packet 64 is formed from a polymer-based film. For instance, a sheet of material may be folded over itself along a side edge 66 and the remaining edges may be sealed using any of the sealing techniques described above to form seals 68. A tear notch 70 or tear strip may be provided to facilitate opening of the packet 64. In other embodiments, two layers of material may be brought together and sealed around all edges to form the packet 64.

In the embodiment of FIG. 13, a packet 72 is illustrated. The packet 72 is similar to the packet 64. For instance, the packet 72 may be formed by folding a sheet of polymer-based film over itself along a bottom edge 74. The remaining edges may be sealed. Seals 76 along opposing edges of the packet 72 may form flap structures that engage interior surfaces of a corresponding compartment 16 and assist in retaining the packet 72 in the compartment 16. For instance, as shown in FIG. 4, the accessory 18 a is inserted into the compartment 16 a using the packet 72.

The packet 72 has an angled end 78 that may help to guide the packet 72 into the corresponding compartment 16 during insertion of the accessory 18 (contained in packet 72) into the container 10. In the illustrated embodiment, the end 78 is angled along a straight line from one side to the other. However, the end 78 may be made to come to a point at the longitudinal axis of the packet 72 or the end 78 may be curved. The packet 64 (FIG. 12) or any other accessory 18 may have a similarly shaped end.

The packet 72 may be made to open along an angle, such as the angle indicated by dashed line 80. For instance, the packet 72 may include an angled tear notch or a tear strip, or may be made weaker along an angle. Alternatively, the packet 72 may be marked to be opened with a knife or scissors along an angle by a user. After opening of the packet 72 at an angle with respect to a longitudinal axis of the packet 72, it is contemplated that the angle may assist the user dispense the contents of the packet 72 in some circumstances. For example, the angle may assist a used spread liquid seasoning between slices of a spiral-cut ham that serves as the food item 14. The packet 64 may be made to open along a similar angle.

With additional reference to FIG. 14, illustrated is a sheet-type accessory 82. Examples of accessories 82 that may have sheet-like properties are a cooking bag, a piece of paper, a unit of heat-meltable seasoning or glaze and so forth. The sheet-type accessory 82 may include multiple layers. For instance, the accessory may be placed in an envelope or may include a peel-off backing layer. The sheet-type accessory 82 may be rolled to facilitate insertion of the accessory 82 into a corresponding compartment 16. Alternatively, the sheet-type accessory 82 may be folded, such as in a fan-folded arrangement.

Packaging for the accessory 18, packaging for the food item 14 and/or the sheets 20, 22 that form the container 10 may be printed. The printing may be ornamental and/or may describe the contents of the container 10.

Although the invention has been shown and described with respect to certain preferred embodiments, it is understood that equivalents and modifications will occur to others skilled in the art upon the reading and understanding of the specification. The present invention includes all such equivalents and modifications, and is limited only by the scope of the following claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7748904 *May 12, 2005Jul 6, 2010Illinois Tool Works Inc.Multicompartment evacuable storage bag
US8367400 *Mar 23, 2009Feb 5, 2013Corning IncorporatedCulture vessel allowing large in situ scale up
US20120125947 *Nov 24, 2010May 24, 2012Method Products, Inc.Refill Bag
US20120267264 *Apr 18, 2012Oct 25, 2012Paul Bernard NewmanAdaptive Packaging for Food Processing Systems
WO2013139539A1 *Feb 15, 2013Sep 26, 2013Unilever N.V.Packaged seasoning product
WO2014040868A1 *Aug 30, 2013Mar 20, 2014Unilever N.V.Method of preparing a cooked seasoned food product and packaged seasoning product for use therein
Classifications
U.S. Classification426/128, 383/6, 383/40, 426/130, 426/129, 426/392, 426/106
International ClassificationB65D30/22, B65D85/00, B65D85/78, B65D85/76
Cooperative ClassificationB65D81/3261, B65D33/08, B65D31/12, B65D85/72
European ClassificationB65D33/08, B65D81/32H, B65D31/12
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 6, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: CARROLL SALES AGENCY, INC., OHIO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:CARROLL, CHRISTOPHER;REEL/FRAME:018486/0287
Effective date: 20061106