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Publication numberUS3768691 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateOct 30, 1973
Filing dateMar 6, 1972
Priority dateMar 6, 1972
Publication numberUS 3768691 A, US 3768691A, US-A-3768691, US3768691 A, US3768691A
InventorsCobb R, Lanigan R
Original AssigneeAmerican Hospital Supply Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Disposable flatware container
US 3768691 A
Abstract
A disposable container for single-use flatware, the container having a base section and a cover section formed of plastic material. The length of the base section is substantially less than that of the flatware contained therein; hence, when the cover section is removed, the ends of the flatware are exposed. Insertion of the base section into the recess of a conventional holder is achieved by gripping the cover section of the assembly and, after the base section is in place with its perimetric flange resting upon the mouth of the recess, the cover section may be disengaged and removed to expose the handles of the flatware.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 1 Cobb et al. v

[ Oct. 30, 1973 DISPOSABLE FLATWARE CONTAINER [73] Assignee: American Hospital Supply Corporation, Evanston, Ill.

[22] Filed: Mar. 6, 1972 [21] Appl. No.: 232,012

1,515,560 11/1924 Elwell 220/40 R Primary ExaminerGeorge E. Lowrence Assistant ExaminerAllan N. Shoap AttarneyDawson, Tilton, Fallon & Lungmus [57] ABSTRACT A disposable container for single-use flatware, the container having a base section and a cover section formed of plastic material. The length of the base section is substantially less than that of the flatware con tained therein; hence, when the cover section is removed, the ends of the flatware are exposed. Insertion of the base section into the recess of a conventional holder is achieved by gripping the cover section of the assembly and, after the base section is in place with its perimetric flange resting upon the mouth of the recess, the cover section may be disengaged and removed to expose the handles of the flatware.

7 Claims, 8 Drawing Figures SHEEI 1 [IF 2 FIGAI IOb DISPOSABLE F LATWARE CONTAINER BACKGROUND Self-service flatware dispensers are often used in cafeterias and other food service facilities and the flatware so dispensed is frequently formed of plastic material to permit disposal after use. Such plastic flatware is ordinarily marketed in bulk quantities in clean, sanitary condition. However, in order to make it available to the ultimate user, the flatware must be manually removed from the shipping cartons and placed into the opentopped receptacles of the dispensers. At the end of a meal service, unused flatware is often removed from the dispenser receptacles and returned to the bulk containers. The result is not only that considerable time and labor is expended in loading and unloading the selfservice dispensers, but that directhandling of the flatware in unpacking and re-packing the bulk containers, and in filling and emptying the dispensers, greatly increases the possibilities of contamination and cross contamination.

SUMMARY This invention has, as one of its important objects, the provision of a structure and system which eliminate the direct handling of items of disposable flatware in setting up counters for the dispensing of such flatware in cafeterias and the like and, as a result, which reduces the possibilities of contamination of the flatware by employees of such an establishment. Itis a further object to provide a flatware container equipped with means for insertion of such container into the receptacle of a flatware dispenser and for the removal of such container from such receptacle, such means also serving to protect the flatware during handling and storage.

In summary, the container comprises a generally cylindrical open-topped lower section adapted to contain a multiplicity of flatware items. Normally, any one such section will contain items of the same type, such as all spoons or all knives. The length of the lower or base section is less than the length of the flatware items contained therein; thus, the items of flatware extend upwardly beyond the open top of the base section. A perimetric flange around the open top of the section has a diameter larger than the opening of the receptacle into which such section is to be received and, therefore such flange serves as stop meansto limit the extent of insertion of the base section into such a receptacle.

The flange also provides attachment means for releasably coupling the lower section to a removable cover or upper section. The cover section is in turn dimensioned to fit easily within the hand and, consequently, by simply gripping the container by its cover a user may readily insert the base section into the opening of a dispenser unit. Thereafter, the cover is easily disengaged to expose the handles of the flatware items, such items being retained by the base section. The structural relationship of the container sections is such that the cover may later be used to extract the base section from the dispenser. Should such base section be empty then both sections, being formed inexpensively of plastic material, may be discarded; however, should flatware items remain in the lower section, then the recoupling of the parts serves to protect the flatware for later use during a subsequent meal service.

DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing aflatware container as it is being inserted into (or removed from) the opening of a conventional dispenser or container support;

' FIG. 2 is a side elevational view, shown partly in section, of the container;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the container sections in unlatched and separated condition;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged top plan view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a bottom view of the containers lower section;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged horizontal sectional view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken along line 77 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 8 is a still further enlarged vertical sectional view taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 7.

DESCRIPTION Referring to the drawings, the numeral 10 generally designates a two-piece flatware container having a lower or base section 10a and an upper or cover section 10b. Both sections are generally cylindrical in shape, the lower section having a cylindrical side wall 11 and an integral bottom wall 12, and the cover section having a cylindrical side wall 13 and an integral top wall 14. A flange 15 extends about the open upper end of the base section 10a and, in the embodiment illustrated, is provided with a plurality of circumferentiallyspaced lug portions 16 (FIG. 5). Four such lugs are shown in the drawings; however, it is to be understood that a smaller or greater number may be provided.

The largest outside diameter of the base section 10a below flange 15 is slightly smaller than the diameter of opening 17 ofa standard dispensing receptacle or support 18 (FIG. 1). Flange 15, on the other hand, is substantially larger in diameter than opening 17. Therefore, the lower section of the container may be received within any one of the openings 17 of the dispenser and will be supported or retained in that opening by its flange.

Except for the provision of lugs 16 and the distinctive configuration of flange 15, the lower section 10a, as so far described, is similar in shape to flatware containers currently in use. However, unlike conventional holders, lower section 10a is formed of relatively thin plastic material and is intended to be discarded after its con tents have been dispensed. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, such contents takes the form of a multiplicity of disposable flatware items 19 spoons, knives, or forks which may also be formed of plastic. Normally, any one container 10 will hold flatware items of the same type, i.e., all spoons, or all knives.

Cover section 10b is provided at its open lower end with a flange 20 of non-circular configuration. Flange 20 has a depending skirt portion 21. As shown most clearly in FIG. 4, flange 20 has enlarged corner portions 20a which are circumferentially spaced and which correspond in number to lugs 15 of the base section. FIG. 6 reveals that the internal dimensions of flange 20, as measured diametrically within enlarged areas 20a, is greater than that of lugs 16, whereas the inside dimensions of flange 20 measured at points intermediate enlargements 20a is less than lugs 16. Thus, the skirt portion 21 of cover flange 20 is capable of fitting over and completely enclosing lugs 16 only if the lugs are disposed in the corner portions of the generally rectangular flange 20.

Near each corner 20a of the flange 20, the skirt 21 of that flange is provided with a pair of horizontal slits 22. Each slit is adapted to receive a portion of one of the lugs 16 when the flange of the cover section is fitted over the flange of the base section and the cover is then rotated a short angular distance relative to the base. Such locking engagement is illustrated most clearly in FIGS. 7 and 8. Since a pair of slits are provided in each corner of flange 20, it is believed apparent that locking engagement between the cover and base may be achieved by either clockwise or counterclockwise rotation of the cover with respect to the base.

To facilitate attachment of the cover and base sections even when the base section is supported by its flange in a dispensing receptacle, flange 15 is preferably stepped to provide an annular shoulder 23 having an undersurface spaced below the undersurface of lugs 16 and having a size larger than that of opening 17. Slits 22 are in turn spaced above the bottom edge of skirt 21 a distance corresponding to the distance between the undersurfaces of lugs 16 and the undersurface of shoulder 23. Thus, the top wall of dispenser 18 may be used as a guide surface to support cover section b as that section is rotated into coupling engagement with base section 10a.

From the above, it is believed apparent that flatware. 19 may be packaged in containers 10 under sanitary conditions at packaging facilities provided by the manufacturer and that such flatware need not be touched until such container has been fitted into place as illustrated in FIG. 1, its cover 10b removed, and the desired items of flatware are removed by the consumer or customer. After all of the utensils have been removed, the bottom section is withdrawn from its receptacle opening 17 by either utilizing the cover 10b as an extracting device or by simply gripping the flanges with the fingers and removing the base section from the receptacle. Should flatware remain within the base section following completion of a meal service, cover 10b is again connected to the base and the assembly is then removed for storage in the manner indicated in FIG. 1. To assist in identifying the type of flatware in each container, both initially and during subsequent storage, the top walls 14 of the cover sections may be provided with appropriate indicia 24 depicting or describing the flatware items contained therein.

Cover section 10b is preferably formed of the same material as base section 10a and, like 10a, is adapted to be discarded after the container has been emptied. Any suitable plastic material may be used such as, for example, high impact polystyrene or polypropylene. Because the containers are disposable and are not packed or re-packed at the food service facility, the contamination and cross contamination that might occur in conventional operations, where dispensers are loaded by direct handling of the flatware at the place of food service, are clearly avoided.

While in the foregoing we have disclosed an embodiment of the invention in considerable detail for purposes of illustration, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that many of these details may be varied without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

We claim:

1. A flatware container having an open-topped base section and a cover section, said base section having a flange extending about its open top, said flange having a plurality of outwardly projecting lugs, said cover section having an open lower end and having a flange extending thereabout, said base and cover sections being formed of plastic material and together defining a chamber having an axial length greater than the length of the flatware adapted to be received therein, said base section having a length substantially less than the length of such flatware, and means provided by said cover releasably engaging said lugs for selectively connecting and disconnecting said sections, said base and cover sections being generally cylindrical in configuration, said flange of said cover section being generally rectangular in shape and having corner portions extending over said lugs, said means comprising a depending perimetric skirt portion of said flange of said cover section having slits releasably receiving said lugs.

2. The structure of claim 1 in which said slits extend horizontally and are disposed adjacent the corner portions of the flange of said cover section.

3. A flatware container having a open-topped base section and a cover section, said base section having a flange extending about its open top, said flange having a plurality of outwardly projecting lugs, said cover section having an open lower end and having a flange extending thereabout, said base and cover sections being formed of plastic material and together defining a chamber having an axial length greater than the length of the flatware adapted to be received therein, said base section having a length substantially less than the length of such flatware, and means provided by said cover releasably engaging said lugs for selectively connecting and disconnecting said sections, said flange of said base section being provided with an annular shoulder having an undersurface spaced beneath said lugs, said means comprising a depending skirt portion of the flange of said cover section, said skirt portion having horizontal openings releasably receiving said flanges, said openings being spaced above the bottom of said skirt portion a distance corresponding to the distance between the undersurface of said shoulder and said lugs.

4. A flatware dispenser comprising a plastic container having an open-topped base section and a cover section, said base section having a flange extending about its open top, said flange having a plurality of outwardly projecting lugs, said cover section having an open lower end and having a flange extending thereabout, a plurality of disposable flatware items disposed within said container, said base section having a length substantially less than the length of such flatware items, and means provided by said cover section releasably engaging said lugs for selectively connecting and disconnecting said sections, said means comprising a skirt portion of said cover flange, said skirt portion extending downwardly about the flange of said base section and having a plurality of horizontal slits releasably receiving said lugs.

5. A flatware dispenser comprising a plastic container having an open-topped base section and a cover section, said base section having a flange extending about its open top, said flange having a plurality of outwardly projecting lugs, said cover section having an open lower end and having a flange extending thereabout, a plurality of disposable flatware items disposed within said container, said base section having a length substantially less than the length of said flatware items, and means provided by said cover section releasably engaging said lugs for selectively connecting and disconnecting said sections, said base and cover sections being generally cylindrical in configuration, said flange of said cover section being generally rectangular in shape and having corner portions extending over said lugs, said means comprising a depending perimetric skirt portion of said flange of said cover section having slits releasably receiving said lugs.

6. The structure of claim 5 in which said slits extend horizontally and are disposed adjacent the corner portions of the flange of said cover section.

7. A flatware dispenser comprising a plastic container having an open-topped base section and a cover section, said base section having a flange extending about its open top, said flange having a plurality of outwardly projecting lugs, said cover section having an open lower end and having a flange extending thereabout, a plurality of disposable flatware items disposed within said container, said base section having a length substantially less than the length of such flatware items, and means provided by said cover section releasably engaging said lugs for selectively connecting and disconnecting said section, said flange of said base section being provided with an annular shoulder having an undersurface spaced beneath said lugs, said means comprising a depending skirt portion of the flange of said cover section, said skirt portion having horizontal openings releasably receiving said flanges, said openings being spaced above the bottom of said skirt portion a distance corresponding to the distance between the undersurface of said shoulder and said lugs.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1515560 *Nov 16, 1922Nov 11, 1924Elwell Vernon LClosure arrangement for containers
US1674962 *Apr 12, 1927Jun 26, 1928Fed Can CompanyReceptacle
US3081904 *Oct 23, 1959Mar 19, 1963Eaton Mfg CoDeformable closure device
US3344942 *Apr 5, 1966Oct 3, 1967Hedgewick PeterSafety cap and container
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4006837 *Oct 30, 1974Feb 8, 1977Wheeling Closure CorporationContainer closure
US4569459 *Feb 25, 1985Feb 11, 1986Kabushiki Kaisha Daikin SeisakushoFastening method for a casing
US4592376 *Apr 3, 1981Jun 3, 1986Wella AktiengesellschaftHair dye applicating apparatus
US6318578 *Mar 31, 2000Nov 20, 2001Augros Cosmetic PackagingSystem of closure for a pot presenting a non-circular neck
EP0007274A1 *Jul 6, 1979Jan 23, 1980ChanelMeans for positioning a stopper on a bottle, and method for closing a bottle provided with such means
Classifications
U.S. Classification220/293, 220/4.21
International ClassificationB65D41/04
Cooperative ClassificationB65D41/0471
European ClassificationB65D41/04E
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 30, 1990ASAssignment
Owner name: BAXTER INTERNATIONAL INC.
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:BAXTER TRAVENOL LABORATORIES, INC., A CORP. OF DE;REEL/FRAME:005050/0870
Effective date: 19880518
Mar 2, 1987ASAssignment
Owner name: BAXTER TRAVENOL LABORATORIES, INC. A CORP. OF DE
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:AMERICAN HOSPITAL SUPPLY CORPORATION INTO;REEL/FRAME:004760/0345
Effective date: 19870126