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Publication numberUS3845896 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 5, 1974
Filing dateJan 31, 1973
Priority dateJan 31, 1973
Also published asCA996895A1
Publication numberUS 3845896 A, US 3845896A, US-A-3845896, US3845896 A, US3845896A
InventorsCrabtree K
Original AssigneeKeyes Fibre Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Open bottom tray with multiple pedestal display platform
US 3845896 A
Abstract
A molded, open top tray for packaging products such as moist pieces of meat, fish or poultry in conjunction with a transparent wrapping which encloses both the tray and the product packaged thereon. The bottom of the tray is formed by a plurality of downwardly opening channel shaped ribs spaced from each other to provide a plurality of open viewing windows. Multiple hollow pedestals project upwardly from the ribs, the pedestals tapering to narrow crown portions which together define a spaced point "display platform" for supporting the product packaged on the tray with optimum visibility through the viewing windows of the bottom of the product.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 1 C rabtree 451 Nov. 5, 1974 [75] Inventor: Kenneth L. Crabtree, Fairfield,

Maine [73] Assignee: Keyes Fibre Company, Waterville,

Maine [22] Filed: Jan. 31, 1973 [21] Appl. No.: 328,426

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS Donovan et a1.

Reifers et a1 Reifers et a1 229/25 l t-l Reifers et a1 229/25 Reifers et al D9/2l9 Primary ExaminerHerbert F. Ross Assistant ExaminerBruce H. Bernstein Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Connolly and Hutz [5 7 ABSTRACT A molded, open top tray for packaging products such as moist pieces of meat, fish or poultry in conjunction with a transparent wrapping which encloses both the tray and the product packaged thereon. The bottom of the tray is formed by a plurality of downwardly opening channel shaped ribs spaced from each other to provide a plurality of open viewing windows. Multiple hollow pedestals project upwardly from the ribs, the pedestals tapering to narrow crown portions which together define a spaced point display platform for supporting the product packaged on the tray with optimum visibility through the viewing windows of the bottom of the product.

9 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures OPEN BOTTOM TRAY WITH MULTIPLE PEDESTAL DISPLAY PLATFORM BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION The claimed invention relates to open" bottom food containers, and more particularly to food containers for packaging products such as moist pieces of meat, fish or poultry in conjunction with a transparent wrapping enclosing both the tray and the product packaged thereon.

Molded wood and/or paper pulp food trays have served the food packaging industry well for'many years for the packaging of meat, fish, poultry and other such products, Such trays have the advantages, besides low price and low cost to the consumer, of being clean, sturdy and safe, of being biodegradable so as to minimize the solids pollution problem, and of being capable of accepting and absorbing the moisture and juices which exude from meat, fish and poultry. A prior design of a tray having the foregoing advantages is disclosed in Bixler U.S. Pat. No. 3,698,623 (October 1972), wherein the bottom of the tray is formed by a plurality of practically solid, narrow ribs of inverted V shaped cross section spaced from each other to provide a plurality of relatively large open viewing windows. Prepackaging trays utilizing outwardly and inwardly bulged portions to strengthen the sidewalls against the compression forces of the transparent wrappings are illustrated in Reny U.S. Pat. No. 3,221,971 (December I965) and Reifers U.S. Pat. No. 3,700,096 (October 1972 respectively, A combination of such bulged portions with downwardly opening channel shaped ribs spaced from each other to provide a plurality of somewhat smaller viewing windows is disclosed in Reifers, et al, U.S. Pat. No. 3,682,365 (August I972).

None of the tray designs of the aforesaid patents, however, solve the problems of providing optimum visibility of the bottom of the product packaged on the tray while at the same time maintaining the strength required for such trays. The narrow product support ribs of inverted V-shaped cross-section providing open viewing windows, as in Bixler U.S. Pat, No. 3,698,623, for instance, provide fairly good visibility of the bottom of the product supported on the ribs, but the visibility is less than optimum and the narrower the ribs for bet ter viewing the weaker the rib structure. The downwardly opening channel shaped product support ribs providing smaller opening viewing windows, as in Reifers U.S. Pat. No. 3,682,365, for instance, are of the type which has long been recognized as providing good strength, but the inherent width of such ribs seriously limits the visibility of the bottom of the product supported on the ribs to the point where 70 percent visibility of the bottom of the product would be difficult to obtain.

Thus, the problem unsolved by the prior art is the provision of a molded packaging tray which has the heretofore irreconcilable combination of a visibility factor at least equal to and preferably greater than that provided by the tray of Bixler U.S. Pat. No. 3,698,623 plus a strength factor at least equal to and preferably greater than that provided by the tray of Reifers U.S. Pat. No. 3,682,365.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This'invention solves the foregoing problems and provides a tray for packaging productssuch as moist pieces of meat, fish and poultry in conjunction with a transparent wrapping enclosing both the tray and the product packaged thereon, the bottom of the tray being extremely strong and rugged by being formed of a plurality of downwardly opening channel shaped ribs spaced from each other to provide a plurality of opening viewing windows, and the visibility of the bottom of the product packaged on the tray being greater than about 90 percent by the provision of a plurality of hollow pedestals tapering upwardly from the ribs to narrow crown portions which together define a multiple point display platform for actually supporting the product packaged on the tray.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Numerous advantages of the present invention will become apparent to one skilled in the art from a reading of the detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein similar reference characters refer to similar parts, and in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the molded tray of this invention with a product such as a moist piece of meat,

fish or poultry packaged thereon and with a transparent wrapping enclosing both the tray and the product;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the molded tray of this invention, without any product thereon and without the transparent wrapping;

FIG. 3 is a partial sectional elevational view on line 3-3 of FIG. 2, with the product added and with the transparent wrapping illustrated on the left-hand portion thereof; and,

FIG. 4 is a greatly enlarged fragmentary sectional elevational view showing details of the downwardly opening channel shaped ribs and the upwardly tapering pedestals of the molded tray of this invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Referring in more particularity to the drawings, the molded open top tray 10 of this invention is useful for a wide variety of purposes, but it is particularly well suited for packaging consumer products 12 such as moist pieces of meat, fish, poultry and other bulky, slab-type produce. Such products are customarily packaged with a transparent wrapping l4 enclosing both the tray 10 and the product 12 packaged thereon,

- leaving all of the top of the product and most if not all of the sides of the product clearly visible for inspection by the purchaser. An example of such transparent wrapping is either non-elastic cellophane or elastic ther'moplasticwhicli may be applied and sealed in accordance with any well-known technique, including glueing or heat sealing and, if desired, heat shrinking to provide an attractive, compact and sanitary package.

The tray 10 is molded after the conventional fashion on open face suction dies to final shape from generally opaque, fibrous, biodegradable wood and/or paper pulp. A recognized advantage of such molding techniques is the provision of trays which,,in the empty condition, are capable of being nestably stacked with other like trays for economic shipment and convenient storage.

The tray 10 comprises at least two opposed beam portions 16 and I8 which define the overall shape of the tray. In the preferred embodiment illustrated in the drawings, the two opposed beam portions 16 and I8 define the sides, and two other opposed beam portions 20 and 22 define the ends, of a generally rectangular overall shape for the tray. The opposed beam portions l6, 18, 20 and 22 are joined at their ends to form an open center base, and in the preferred embodiment at least the outer corners are smoothly rounded rather than sharp. The aforesaid beam portions each include upwardly and outwardly flaring sidewall portions 24, 26, 28 and 30, respectively, which are joined together at smoothly rounded corners. The upper extremities of the sidewall portions 24, 26, 28 and 30 are characterized by a down-turned peripheral lip 32 surrounding the generally rectangular tray, which provides an attractive upper margin and strengthens the sidewalls against the compressive forces of the transparent wrapping 14 secured thereabout. In the preferred embodiment, the sidewall portions 24, 26, 28 and 30 are bowed outwardly at their mid-portions, which provides additional strength against the compressive forces of the transparent wrapping 14, which bow-out may be taken up to some extent when the transparent wrapping is tightly applied, such as may occur with heat shrunk films.

The bottom of the tray between the beam portions is formed by a plurality of downwardly opening channel shaped ribs 34 spaced from each other to provide a plurality ofopening viewing windows 36. The ribs are integrally joined to the beam portions to maintain them in properly spaced relationship. Each rib has a top portion 38 and downwardly and outwardly flaring channel sidewall portions 40, the bottoms of which define the lowermost base plane of the tray and accordingly serve to support it when placed on a flat surface. In the preferred embodiment, the upper surfaces 38 of the channel shaped ribs include shallow depressions 42 running along the ribs to collect moisture from the product packaged on the tray for gradual absorption by the molded pulp material of the ribs.

ln the embodiment illustrated in the drawings, the ribs 34 extend both laterally of the tray between opposed beam portions 16 and 18, as well as longitudinally of the tray between opposed beam portions and 22. The ribs 34 accordingly intersect each other to provide generally rectangularly shaped open viewing windows 36. The overall rectangular shape of the tray with outwardly bowed sidewalls, and the laterally and longitudinally arranged pattern of the ribs, are exemplary only of one embodiment of the tray according to this invention. Many other shapes and configurations plus many other straight and curved rib arrangements are possible, including without limitation each of the arrangements illustrated in the following Design US. Pat. Nos: 223,653, 223,654, 223,655, 223,656, 223,657, 223,658. 223,659, 223,998, 224,678 and 224,734. The ribs in each of the trays illustrated in the foregoing Design Patents of course are product support ribs, which do not include the multiple pedestal display platform of the present invention, described below, but

it is believed that each of these trays would benefit from the multiple pedestal display platform of the present invention.

The tray 10 further includes a plurality of hollow pedestals or mini-posts 44 projecting upwardly from the ribs 34, the pedestals tapering to narrow crown on top portions 46 which together define a spaced point display platform for supporting the product 12 packaged in the tray. The height of the pedestals 44 above the upper surfaces 38 of the channel shaped ribs 34,

and the distance between the pedestals, is arranged in a manner that a packaged product of average rigidity will not sag into substantial contact with the ribs. In this manner, the crown portions 46 of the pedestals 44 are the only part of the tray which obscure the view of the bottom of the product 12. The crown portions 46 of the pedestals, which define the display platform and support the product in a manner reminiscent of the fabled bed of nails, have a collective total area no greater than about 10 percent of the entire area of the bottom of the tray between the beam portions (in one instance, for example, this was computed to be 11.3 percent). The crown portions are approximately twice as thick as the average thickness of the material from which the remainder of the tray is molded, as shown in the drawings, and the upper surfaces of the crown portions are slightly rounded and of sufficient area so that they have the strength to support the product without actually puncturing the surface of the product. Since the open windows 36 provide a view of every portion of the bottom of the product supported on the display platform, except that portion actually contacting the crown portions, then about percent of the bottom of the product is visible through the windows (88.7 percent in the above-referenced instance).

In the embodiment illustrated in the drawings, the pedestals 44 are located at the intersections of the ribs, although it is to be understood that pedestals can readily be located on a single rib remote from the location where two ribs intersect. The pedestals 44 are generally conical in configuration, thus being circular in horizontal cross-section, although square, octagonal and other cross-sectional configurations manifestly are within the scope of the present invention.

As can be seen in FIG. 3, the display platform defined by the crown portions 46 of the plurality of pedestals optionally has a slightly upwardly convex configuration, being higher in the mid-portion than adjacent the opposed beam portions which define the overall shape of the tray. In the illustrated embodiment, this convex configuration is obtained by a bending of the ribs which contain pedestals of equal height. It is contemplated, however, that a similar convex configuration is obtainable by providing horizontally straight ribs with pedestals of varying height, the pedestals near the center of the tray being slightly higher than those adjacent the edges of the tray. The upwardly convex configuration of the display platform is believed to impart additional strength to the tray, and has the incidental advantage of displaying the packaged product in a most favorable attitude.

While the above described embodiment constitutes the presently preferred mode of practicing the invention, other embodiments or equivalents are within the scope of the actual invention, which is claimed as:

1. An open top tray for packaging products, such as moist pieces of meat, fish or poultry in conjunction with a transparent wrapping enclosing both the tray and the product packaged thereon, molded to final shape from generally opaque material which in the empty condition is capable of being nestably stacked with other like trays for shipment and storage, the tray comprising at least two opposed beam portions defining the overall shape of the tray, the bottom of the tray being formed by a plurality of downwardly opening channel shaped ribs spaced from each other to provide a plurality of open viewing windows and integrally packaged thereon without puncturing the surface of the product. v

2. A molded tray as in claim 1 wherein the crown portions are approximately twice as thick as the average thickness of the generally opaque material from which the remainder of the tray is molded.

3. A molded tray as in claim 1 wherein the generally opaque material from which the tray is molded is fibrous, biodegradable wood and/or paper pulp.

4. A molded tray as in claim I wherein the display platform defined by the crown portions of the plurality of pedestals has a slightly convex configuration.

5. A molded tray as in claim 4 wherein the display platform is slightly higher in the mid-portion than adjacent the opposed beam portions.

6. A molded tray as in claim 4 wherein the ribs are bent slightly to produce the slightly upwardly convex configuration of the display platform, and the pedestals are of substantially equal height above the ribs.

7. A molded tray as in claim 4 wherein there are two opposed beam portions defining the sides and two other opposed beam portions defining the ends of a generally rectangular overall shape for the tray, the beam portions each including upwardly and outwardly flaring sidewall portions which are joined together at rounded corners.

8. A molded tray as in claim 7 wherein the upper surfaces of the channel shaped ribs include depressions to collect moisture from the product packaged on the tray.

9. A molded tray as in claim 8 wherein the channel shaped ribs extend both laterally and longitudinally of the generally rectangular tray and intersect each other to provide generally rectangularly shaped open wintray between the beam portions.

l l l=

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3438507 *Jan 6, 1967Apr 15, 1969Kreuger Carl HMeat tray
US3485434 *Nov 20, 1967Dec 23, 1969Monsanto CoTray structure
US3718274 *Apr 24, 1972Feb 27, 1973Diamond Int CorpHigh strength open bottom packaging trays
US3756492 *May 24, 1972Sep 4, 1973Diamond Int CorpHigh strength open bottom packaging tray
US3764057 *Aug 14, 1972Oct 9, 1973Diamond Int CorpHigh strength open bottom packaging tray
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3894679 *Jun 21, 1974Jul 15, 1975Diamond Int CorpHigh strength open bottom packaging tray
US3902650 *Nov 13, 1973Sep 2, 1975Eiji KatoPaper box for wrapping refrigerated meat
US4152203 *Dec 15, 1977May 1, 1979Diamond International CorporationMethod of warpage control for molded fiber trays
US4442969 *Apr 28, 1983Apr 17, 1984Mobil Oil CorporationReinforced packaging tray
US5482724 *Oct 12, 1993Jan 9, 1996Morici, Dudley AssociatesPizza tray
US7225927Jul 17, 2003Jun 5, 2007Pactiv CorporationCup holder having frusto-conical cavities
Classifications
U.S. Classification229/407, D09/427, 206/45.3, 206/557
International ClassificationB65D1/34, B65D1/36
Cooperative ClassificationB65D1/36
European ClassificationB65D1/36