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Publication numberUS3641916 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 15, 1972
Filing dateJan 26, 1970
Priority dateJan 26, 1970
Publication numberUS 3641916 A, US 3641916A, US-A-3641916, US3641916 A, US3641916A
InventorsVictor F Hildebrand, James Mcdevitt
Original AssigneeJames Mcdevitt, Victor F Hildebrand
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Fresh popcorn vending machine
US 3641916 A
Abstract
A fresh popcorn vending machine including a timed electrical control circuit initiated by insertion of coins into the machine and including an oil solenoid valve introducing a timed volume of butter flavored oil into an electrically heated popper, a raw corn solenoid valve functioning an apertured gate to admit a timed volume of fresh corn into the popper, timed controls to electrically cook the fresh corn and oil and a plurality of electric lamp indicators which visually indicate the various stages of the machine operation.
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United States Patent McDevitt et al.

[541 FRESH POPCORN VENDING MACHINE [72] Inventors: James McDevitt, 122 Carlyle Drive, Palm Harbour, Fla. 33563; Victor F. Hildebrand, PO. Box 3188, Clearwater, Fla. 33515 [22] Filed: Jan. 26, 1970 [21] Appl.No.: 5,527

[52] U.S. Cl ..99/238.3 [51] Int. Cl. ..A23l1/18 [58] field ofSearch .....99/238.l,238.2, 238.3, 238.4,

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1,808,758 6/1931 Bettandorff ..99/238.3

[ Feb. 15,1972

1,818,276 8/1931 Rossebo ..99/238.5 2,630,058 3/1953 Hawks ....99/238.4 2,907,264 10/1959 Bushway ..99/238.3

Primary ExaminerRobert W. Jenkins Attorney-Karl L. Spivak [57] ABSTRACT A fresh popcorn vending machine including a timed electrical control circuit initiated by insertion of coins into the machine and including an oil solenoid valve introducing a timed volume of butter flavored oil into an electrically heated popper, a raw corn solenoid valve functioning an apertured gate to admit a timed volume of fresh corn into the popper, timed controls to electrically cook the fresh corn and oil and a plurality of electric lamp indicators which visually indicate the various stages of the machine operation.

10 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures III/ll/IIIIIlI/I PATENTEUFEB 15 I972 IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII FIG.3

INVENTOR.

JAMES MC. DEVITT VICTOR F. HILDEBRAND BY W W ATTORNEY FRESH POPCORN VENDING MACHINE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a popcorn vending machine and more particularly, is directed to the type of machine capable of quickly producing fresh popcorn in response to the insertion of coins within the machine.

Popcorn vending machines have long been in use in locations where large numbers of persons congregate such as theatres, auditoriurns, bowling establishments, sports stadiums and similar establishments. All prior art models of which we are aware dispense popcorn which has been previously cooked at a central kitchen and then brought to the individual machines for resale at the various separate locations.

All of the prior art machines are quite voluminous in size due to the volume of previously popped corn which must be stored within the machine enclosure for resale at the site. Light bulbs or some other type of heating element is provided with the machine to keep the popcorn warm at the time of resale. Such devices are generally unsatisfactory in that the previously popped product is not adequately warmed at the time of resale and accordingly, quickly cools by the time it is ready for consumption. Additionally, most customers prefer popcorn to be buttered and provisions for introducing butter to the previously popped product have always caused problems.

The prior art models are also deficient in that a large storage reservoir is required by the necessity of storing the previously popped corn over an extended period of time, for example one week or more. After corn has been popped for several days, it loses its fresh, refreshing flavor and assumes a rubbery consistency which is most unsatisfactory from the consumers standpoint. Further, in busy locations where large volumes of popcorn may be dispensed, frequent servicing of the machine is necessary in order to assure a continuous supply at the locatron.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to a popcorn vending machine of the type suitable for remote location and installation, and more particularly, is directed to the type of vending machine capable of storing raw corn and then freshly popping the corn in response to initiation of the cooking cycle by the insertion of coins within the machine.

In order to overcome the shortcomings of the prior art popcorn vending machines, the present invention contemplates the use of raw corn at each remote location, the raw corn being cooked to fresh pop corn in a minimum period of time in response to initiation of the cooking action by the consumer. Raw corn is stored within a hopper contained in the machine which can be greatly reduced in size inasmuch as it has been found the ratios of volumes of raw corn to popped corn is approximately one to 30. Accordingly, a machine designed in accordance with the present disclosure can hold approximately 30 times the storage capacity of prior art models to thereby greatly reduce the service time requirements at each machine. Additionally, in locations where a large capacity is not a requirement, such as in waiting rooms, taverns, retail stores and similar establishments, the pop corn vending machines can be greatly reduced in size to thereby require much less floor space than in previously available models.

When a coin is inserted into the machine, a microswitch activates which in turn activates relays, timing motors, solenoids and other controls to automatically dispense a predetermined quantity of fresh raw corn and butter flavored oil into an electrical corn popper unit. The popper heats to a predetermined temperature until a heat sensor senses the temperature. At the time the sensor activates, the corn is fully popped and the sensor automatically stops the cooking operation and initiates control lamps to alert the user to dump the freshly popped corn into the delivery hopper. Control lights are provided at the front of the machine to thereby indicate the various phases of the cooking cycle to the operator. When the heat sensor terminates the popper operation, then all of the timers for solenoid operation are recycled to the initial position ready for the start of the next coin initiated cooking cycle.

It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide an improved fresh pop corn vending machine of the type set forth.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a novel fresh pop corn vending machine capable of producing freshly popped corn at remote locations.

It is another object of the present invention to provide an improved fresh pop corn vending machine of greatly reduced size.

It is a furtherobject of the present invention to provide an improved fresh popcorn vending machine capable of producing fresh popcorn which has been mixed with hot buttered oil prior to dispensing.

It is another object of the present invention to provide an improved fresh popcorn vending machine that is simple in design, rugged in construction and trouble-free when in use.

Other objects and a fuller understanding of the invention will be had by referring to the following description and claims of a preferred embodiment thereof, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein like reference characters refer to similar parts throughout the several views and in which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the invention.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1, looking in the direction of the arrows, partly broken away to show the interior construction.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along line 33 of FIG. 1, looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 3, looking in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 5 is a schematic equivalent electrical circuit diagram of the apparatus.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION Although specific terms are used in the following description for the sake of clarity, these terms are intended to refer only to the particular structure of my invention selected for illustration in the drawings, and are not intended to define or limit the scope of the invention.

Referring now to the drawings, we show in FIG. I a popcorn vending machine 10 including an enclosing sheet metal cabinet 12, upon the front of which mounts the coin slide 14 and the popped corn delivery door 16. A rotatable handle 18 and circuit indicating lights 20, 80, 84, 86 mount through the front 24 of the cabinet 12 to facilitate operation of the machine 10 as hereinafter more fully explained.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, the various components of the vending machine 10 are shown mounted interiorly of the sheet metal cabinet 12. A raw corn bin 26 positions near the top 28 of the machine and receives a charge of raw popcorn kernels (not shown) for gravity feed downwardly into the corn popper 30 through the solenoid operated gate 32. The bin 26 is preferably fabricated of stainless steel sheet material in the interests of complete sanitation and in reducing maintenance costs to a minimum.

The oil reservoir 34 stores a quantity of butter flavored oil (not show) near the top 28 of the vending machine 10 to permit gravity feed into the corn popper 30 through the solenoid valve 36 to thereby impart a desirable buttery flavor to the corn (not shown) being cooked in the corn popper 30. The reservoir 34 preferably is fabricated of suitable sanitary plastic or stainless steel sheet and feeds the buttery flavored oil by gravity into the funnel 38 at the top of the corn popper 30 through a length of plastic or stainless steel tubing 40 which may be bent as necessary to lead the fluid contents of the reservoir 34 into the top of the funnel 38. By precisely timing the operation of the solenoid valve 36, an accurately measured quantity of butter flavored oil thus feeds to the popper funnel 38. The bottom 42 of the raw corn bin 26 is provided with a corn discharging opening 44 to permit exiting of the raw corn from the corn bin 26 to the top of the funnel 38 by gravity feed. The gate 32 bottomly overlies the bottom 42 of the corn bin and is in horizontal, sliding engagement therewith. The bottom gate 32 is equipped with an opening 46 which is normally biased out of alignment with the corn discharge opening 44 by the spring 48 which biases between one end 50 of the gate 32 and the interior of the machine cabinet 12. The solenoid 52 affixes to the opposite end 54 of the gate 32 and when activated, transversely pulls the gate against the bias of the spring 48 until the gate opening 46 aligns beneath the corn bin opening 44 to thus permit gravity exiting of the raw corn through the aligned openings. By precisely timing the operation of the solenoid 52, an accurately measured quantity of raw corn may thus be introduced into the popper funnel 38 for cooking a measured amount of corn in response to coin operation of the coin slide 14.

The corn popper 30 is preferably electrically operated and is powered by a conventional heating element of approximately 1,000 watts capacity. The top 56 of the popper 30 hinges at one location 58 on the outer periphery thereof to permit gravity dumping of the fully popped corn (not shown) from the popper 30 into the delivery bin 60. The delivery bin 60 affixes within the cabinet 12 beneath the popper 30 and forwardly slopes to direct delivery of the finished product at the front delivery door 16. A funnel 38 affixes to the upper surface of the popper top 56 and widens upwardly to funnel raw corn from the corn bin 26 and buttery flavored oil from the oil reservoir 34 through the popper top opening 62 for cooking within the popper. An interior, frustoconical-shaped baffle 64 interiorly, peripherally affixes to the popper top 56 and is provided with a relatively small opening 66 at the apex thereof in vertical alignment with the top opening 62. Thus, the raw corn and oil feed into the popper 30 through the aligned funnel and baffle openings 62, 66 for cooking therein. The baffle 64 serves to prevent substantially off of the fully popped corn from upwardly exiting the popper 30 during the cooking cycle through the opening 66 which is sized to restrict such leakage.

The cone-shaped inside baffle 64 connects to the hinged top 56 in a manner to permit the top and the affixed baffle to swing clear of the popper body 30 upon completion of the cooking cycle so as not to interfere with the dumping operation. See FIG. 2. The popper 30 rotatably mounts within the vending machine by means of the front and rear shafts 68, 70 which journal through the front and rear cabinet supported bearings 72, 74. The front shaft 68 extends through the front 24 of the cabinet 12 and terminates in an affixed handle 18 which mounts upon the front of the cabinet to permit manual rotation of the popper 30 upon completion of the cooking operation. As illustrated in FIG. 2, upon rotation of the handle 18, the popper 30 rotatively displaces and the popper top 56 with the affixed funnel 38 and the interiorly affixed baffle 64 swings clear about the hinge 58 to thereby permit dumping of the cooked and popped corn directly into the inclined bin 60 which inclines forwardly to direct the popped corn toward the delivery door 16. The door 16 may be fabricated of clear plastic to permit visual observation.

The operation of the machine may best be illustrated by referring to the schematic diagram of FIG. 5 wherein an equivalent electrical operating circuit has been set forth. The coin receiving slide 14 initiates the action by activating the electrical programming circuit through the timer 76 in response to the insertion of the correct coins. In turn, the timer 76 times out the operation of the oil solenoid 36 and the corn bin gate solenoid 52 to permit measured supplies of raw corn grain and buttery flavored oil to feed into the popper 30 through the funnel 38. The timer 76 also activates the circuit indicating light 20 to indicate to the operator that action has been initiated in response to insertion of the coins. The light 20 may be red in color and may be provided with indicia to advise that the machine cycle is in operation and that further coins should not be inserted. Upon timing out the operation of the solenoids 36, 52, the timer 76 activates the popper heater 78 to initiate the cooking operation. If desired, an indicator light 80 may be provided at the front of the machine to indicate the duration of the corn popping operation. An electrical sensor 82 terminates operation of the heater 78 when sufficient time has elapsed to pop all of the corn within the popper by sensing a predetermined heat temperature. Upon terminating the heater 78 operation, the sensor 82 activates the dump light 84 to visually indicate to the operator that it is time to rotate the handle 18 to thus deliver the cooked and flavored corn to the delivery door 16 through the bin 60 for immediate consumption. When the heat sensor 82 terminates the popper operation, the sensor recycles all timers to the initial position ready to receive the next coin operated cycle. If desired, the sensor 82 may also be wired to activate a ready light 86 which preferably is green in color to indicate to the next user that the machine is again ready for the next cooking cycle.

We claim:

1. In a popcorn vending machine operable in response to the insertion of coins, the combination of A. an enclosing cabinet B. a raw corn bin mounted interiorly near the top of the cabinet,

1. said bin being provided with a bottom opening and gate means regulating gravity raw corn flow through the said opening;

C. a popper and popper assembly mounted within the cabinet beneath the said corn bin, the popper assembly including i. popper rotative means,

2. a hinged top arranged to hingedly separate from the popper upon imposition of rotative forces,

3. popped corn retaining means mounted upon the said top; and

D. electrical control means regulating the operation of the said gate means and the said popper.

2. The invention of claim 1 wherein the said gate means are provided with an aperture.

3. The invention of claim 2 wherein the said aperture is normally biased out of alignment with the said bottom opening by a spring.

4. The invention of claim 3 wherein a solenoid pulls the said aperture into alignment with the said bottom opening for a timed interval in response to the said electrical control means.

5. The invention of claim 1 wherein the said popper rotative means include a popper mounted shaft, the forward end of the shaft terminating exteriorly of the cabinet in a handle.

6. The invention of claim 1 wherein the popped corn retaining means include a baffle affixed to the said top.-

7. The invention of claim 6 wherein the baffle affixes to the underside of the top.

8. The invention of claim 6 wherein the baffle is frustoconical in shape, the apex of which spaces away from the said top.

9. The invention of claim 1 wherein the electrical control means include a solenoid positioned to horizontally pull the said gate means.

10. The invention of claim 1 wherein the electrical control means include a temperature sensor controlling the operation of the said popper.

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US2630058 *Apr 24, 1951Mar 3, 1953Clio G HawksAutomatic popcorn popping and dispensing machine
US2907264 *Dec 27, 1956Oct 6, 1959Bushway George HCorn popping machine
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US5590582 *Oct 10, 1995Jan 7, 1997Gold Medal Products Co.Oil supply for popcorn poppers
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Classifications
U.S. Classification99/323.7
International ClassificationA23L1/18, G07F9/10
Cooperative ClassificationA23L1/1815, G07F17/0078, G07F17/0085
European ClassificationG07F17/00F4B, G07F17/00F4, A23L1/18C6B