US 3530917 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS  inventor Donald W. Donovan Glastonbury, Connecticut X N w 7 w 0 2 2 3,202,277 8/1965 Lewi......
3,303,964 2/1967 Luker....
Primary Examiner-George E. Lowrance Attorneys-James C. Logomasini and Michael J. Murphy  Patented Sept. 29, 1970  Assignee Monsanto Company St. Louis, Missouri a corporation of Delaware ABSTRACT: Improvements in a film covered package for items which include the use of a film coating which permits peelably open-  PACKAGE 7 Claims, 3 Drawing Figs. t
holding a plurality of adjacently positioned food A47g 19/00, ing the package without destroying it, an upper expanded por- B65d 21/02 tion of the receptacle to accommodate enlarged sections of 1 50/ .5; the enclosed contents and a plurality of stacking lugs for stably supporting closely nested container body portions within each other without wedging one within the other.
 Field 220/23.4, 23.6, 23.8, 901C,DF; 229/25:
Patented Sept. 29,1970
' 1 l JiNVENTOR. I DONALD W. DONOVAN PACKAGE This application is a continuation-in-part of co-pending application Ser. No. 696,296, filed Jan. 8, l968,now US. Pat. No. 3,483,908.
The present invention relates to packages for holding food substances and in particular to a plastic package for holding food substances which includes a unitary stackable container body covered with an easily removable'film.
In co-pending application Ser. No. 696,296, filed Jan. 8, 1968, now U.S. Pat. No. 3,483,908 and assigned to the assignee of the present invention, there is disclosed a food package which includes a container having a bottom which is axially flexible to a greater extent than that of its sides in order to aid in discharging the package contents in one piece. When such a container is thermoformed from sheet material, this bottom design requires that separate provisions be provided in the mold for its formation. It has now been found that for some types of food substances, a package can'be economically formed without incorporating 'these special provisions therein for discharging the contents, yet which satisfactorily protects the contents and permits removal thereof without damage in so doing. Other structural improvements have also been developed which facilitate trouble free denesting of the body portions of the package from a stack of plural units.
Accordingly, it is aprimary object of this invention to provide an improved package which includesa container body for protectively holding-a plurality of substantially solid food substances individually in'one piece.
It is another object of this invention to provide a stackable container body for holding a plurality of substantially solid food substances which is integrally formed from a single sheet of resilient thermoplastic and which has a substantially uniform wall thickness throughout.
It is a further object of this invention to provide an improved container body having plural recesses for holding substantially solid food substances.
Yet another object of this invention is to provide a package which is pleasing in appearance and displays the contents to consumers while also protecting the enclosed articles'from damage.
It isan additional object of this invention to provide a'film covered package which may be opened to expose the contents without destroying the body portion of the package.
' A further object of this invention is to provide a thermoformed container body for snugly holding a plurality of substantially solid food substances such as cupcakes, which is specially contoured to accommodate specific configurations ofthe food contents.
Other objects of this invention will in'part be obvious and will in part appear hereinafter.
These and other objects are accomplished by providing a package for holding a plurality of substantially solid foodsubstances comprising a one-piece container body made from thin thermoplastic material and including two adjacentlypositioned receptacles of circular shape, each receptacle being provided with a bottom wall and a side wall generally extending upwardly and outwardly therefrom and terminating in an open upper end,the'thickne'ss of the side wall of each receptacle being substantially equivalent to that of the bottom wall, the side wall of each receptacle having a lower portion integral with the base and an upper portion which includes the open upper end, the upperportion being shorter in'heightthan the lower portion and having a slightly greater diameter than the 'lower portion to accommodate enlarged portions of said'food substances, said receptacles having'adja'cent sectionsof their upper side wall portions joined toeach other by anintegral connecting web to'provide a unitary container'body, the upper side wall portions of each of said receptacles between said web and said upper ends beingdiscontinuous, said container body having a rigidifying flange integrally attached to the open upper end of each receptacle in surrounding relationship thereto and extending substantially normal to the axes of said receptacles, a plurality of reversely angled stacking lugs in the upper end of the side wallof each of the receptacles whereby one container body is supportable by its lugs within a like container body with the rigidifying flanges of each being spaced from each other when a plurality of such containerbodiesare stacked together, and a'thermoplastic cover peelably. securable to the rigidifying flange in a manner to overlie the open upper end of each receptacle and sealthe contentsthereof from the outside atmosphere.
In describing the overall invention reference willbe made to the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. I is a side view of a package constructedin accordance with the principles of this invention;
FIG. [I is a top view of the package of FIG. I having its cover partially in place and partially removed; and
FIG. III is a sectional side view taken along the line III-III of FIG I] showing a plurality of the container body portions of the package of FIGS. land II in stacked relationship, and typically showing the position of the contents therein when filled.
Referring to the drawings, wherein identical numerals refer to identical parts, there is shown in FIG. I, a package 10 for holding a plurality of substantially solid food substances or baked items, such as cupcake 12 (FIG. III). Package locomprises a one-piece container body 14 made from a thin transparent thermoplastic material such as biaxially oriented polystyrene. When polystyrene sheet or film having a thickness of between about 3 to 30 mils is stretched along its principal axes before molding, it has been found to produce an unusually strong container of this type at a relatively low cost per pound of material. Oriented polystyrene has been found to be unusually clear and dimensionally stable when molded into the shape of a container in the sense that it retains its molded shape once formed. Body 14 includes two adjacently positioned receptacles 16 of circular shape. Each receptacle 16 is provided with a bottom wall 18 and a side wall which generally extends upwardly and outwardly from the periphery of bottom wall 18 and terminates in an open upper end 20. The thicknesses of the side wall and the bottom wall of each receptacle 16 are substantially equivalent. The side wall of each receptacle 16 comprises a lower portion 22 integral with base 18 and an upper portion 24 which includes open upper end 20. Upper portion 24, as depicted in FIG. I, is shorter in height than lower portion 22 and has a slightly greater diameter than lower portion 22 in order to accommodate enlarged portions of food substances being held therein. This is typically depicted in FIG. Ill wherein the diameter of theupper portion of the side wall is such as to accommodate the frosting 26on the upper portion of cupcake 12, which would otherwise come in contact with the side wall in an undesirable manner, except for its enlarged configuration. Upper portion 24 represents approximately 25 percent of the overall height of the side wall.
Each receptacle 16, at the lower end of the upper side wall portions 24, has adjacent sections 28 joined to each other (FIG. II) by an integral connecting web30, therebyproviding a unitary one-piece container body. The upper side wall .portions-of each of the receptacles 16 between web '30 and upper ends-20 thereofare discontinuous, thereby providing communication between adjacent receptacles 16 as well as inhibiting the tendency'of the-receptacles to bend toward each other when-held, for example, along one endsBody '14 further includes a'rigidifying flange 32 integrally attached 'tothe open upper end 20of each receptacle 16in surroundingrelatiom ship-thereto and extending substantially normal to the axes of receptacles l6. Flange 32 is at least% and preferably not more than 1 inch in width in a direction perpendicular tothereceptacle axes, inorder to provide a sufficient surface area for supporting the film cover to be hereafter described. Positioned substantially opposite the discontinuous portion of the side wall of each'receptacle are two peripherally spaced reversely angled stacking lugs 34 in the upper end 20 of the side wall. As
illustrated in FIG. III each stacking lug 34 comprises a horizontally extending portion 36 merging into a vertically extending section 38 which makes a reverse angle toward the center of the container of between about 3 to 7 as measured by the angle in FIG. Ill. The upper end of section 38 joins rigidifying flange 32. Stacking lugs 34 permit stably supporting one container body relatively deeply within a like container body with rigidifying flanges 32 of each spaced from container when a plurality of such container bodies are stacked together. Positioning of the flanges 32 in the stack as shown in FIG. lll facilitates rapid removal of individual container body portions 14 from either the bottom or the top of the stack, since separating devices which may be mechanical fingers, camming mechanisms or human lingers may readily be inserted between the spaced flanges. This further facilitates use of the package on automated packaging lines in high volume production operations.
Package further comprises a film cover 40, which may be thermoplastic, thermosetting, pressure sensitive, etc. Cover 40 is preferably transparent and is peelably securable as indicated in FIG. ll to the rigidifying flange 32 of the package. Cover 40 has a coating 42 on its lower side which, when in place on the container body contacts the upper surface of rigidifying flange 32 in such a manner as to overlie the open upper end of each receptacle and seal the contents therein from the outside atmosphere. Adherence of cover 40 to flange 32 by means of an auxiliary coating material permits removal of the cover by rupturing the seal established by the coating without damaging the container body, since it may be desirable to preserve one of the two food substances therein for later consumption. Coating 42 must be compatible with both the film cover 40 and the material of the rigidifying flange 32. It likewise must be inert to the package contents with which it may come in contact, since the items being packaged by the present invention are primarily contemplated to be food materials. Otherwise the coating may be a hot melt chemical composition, lacquer, adhesive, etc.
Lower portion 22 of the side wall of each receptacle has outwardly projecting, vertically extending, peripherally spaced, strengthening ribs 44 formed therein in order to provide vertical load resistance to the package. The upper portion 24 of the side wall of each receptacle is smooth, as indicated in the drawings, except where stacking lugs 34 are located, in order to avoid rubbing off portions of the enlarged section or frosting of the contents therein. Also, since the container is thermoformed, the upper portion 24 of the side wall inherently will be slightly thicker than the lower portion 22 because of the drawing characteristics of the thermoplastic in a thermoforming process, thereby usually eliminating the need for strengthening ribs in this area. The outer surface of each strengthening rib 44 is substantially aligned with the outer surface 46 of the enlarged upper portion 24 of the side wall of each receptacle.
The location of stacking lugs 34 of the container body portion is preferably spaced apart in the peripheral portion of receptacle 16 which is opposite or furtherest removed from the central interconnecting web 30. Thus, if a container body is separated from a stack by grasping or acting on the short side of flange 32 the tendency of the walls of the receptacle on the opposite side to wedge together and interlock is avoided.
The number of such stacking lugs may vary, at least two and preferably four being required.
It should be understood that the embodiment of the invention as herein shown and described is for illustrative purposes only. Various changes in structure will no doubt occur to those skilled in the art, and are to be understood as forming a part of this invention insofar as they fall within the spirit and scope of the appended claims.
1. A package for holding a plurality of substantially solid food substances comprising a one-piece container body made from thin thermoplastic material and including two adjacently positioned receptacles of circular shape, each receptacle being provided witha bottom wall and a side wall generally extending upwardly and outwardly therefrom and terminating in an open upper end, the thickness of the side wall of each receptacle being substantially equivalent to that of the bottom wall, the side wall of each receptacle having a lower portion integral with the base and an upper portion which includes the open upper end, the upper portion being shorter in height than the lower portion and having a slightly greater diameter than the lower portion to accommodate enlarged portions of said food substances, said receptacles having adjacent sections of their upper side wall portions joined to each other by an integral connecting web to provide a unitary container body, the upper side wall portions of each of said receptacles between said web and said upper ends being discontinuous, said container body having a rigidifying flange integrally attached to the open upper end of each receptacle in surrounding relationship thereto and extending substantially normal to the axes of said receptacles, a plurality of reversely angled stacking lugs in the upper end of the side wall of each of the receptacles whereby one container body is supportable by its lugs within a like container body with the rigidifying flanges of each being spaced from each other when a plurality of such container bodies are stacked together, and a cover peelably securable to the rigidifying flange in a manner to overlie the open upper end of each receptacle and seal the contents thereof from the outside atmosphere.
2. The package of claim 1 wherein the thermoplastic cover has a coating on the surface thereof which contacts the rigidifying flange for adhering the cover to the flange in a manner to avoid destroying the package on removal of the cover.
3. The package of claim 1 wherein the reverse angle of the stacking lugs is between about 3 to 7.
4. The package of claim 1 wherein the stacking lugs of each receptacle are substantially opposite the discontinuous portion of each side wall.
5. The package of claim 1 wherein the container body is made of transparent, biaxially oriented polystyrene.
6. The package of claim 1 wherein the lower portion of the side wall of each receptacle'has outwardly projecting, vertically extending strengthening ribs and the upper portion of the side wall of each receptacle is smooth except at the stacking lugs.
7. The package of claim 6 wherein the outer surface of each strengthening rib is substantially aligned with the outer surface of the upper portion of the side wall of each receptacle.