Title:
Lollipop stick, which enables packing thereof and a method of packing
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A bendable lollipop stick which enables the placing of the lollipop into a small container. Using such a packing method for lollipops enables the use of simple automatic or mechanical vending machines.



Inventors:
Lobl, Naftali (Ramat Gan, IL)
Application Number:
10/055026
Publication Date:
07/24/2003
Filing Date:
01/24/2002
Assignee:
LOBL NAFTALI
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
53/471
International Classes:
A23G3/00; A23G3/50; A23G3/56; B65B25/00; B65B63/04; B65D85/60; (IPC1-7): B65B61/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KIM, EUGENE LEE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz LLP (1500 Broadway 12th Floor, New York, NY, 10036, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. A lollipop stick, which can be bent at least 150 degrees and held in this bent configuration, and on release reverts to a substantially straight formation.

2. The lollipop stick as claimed in claim 1, wherein said stick comprises two rigid end sections separated by a middle flexible section.

3. The lollipop stick as claimed in claim 2, wherein said middle flexible section comprises a coil spring.

4. The lollipop stick as claimed in claim 2, wherein said three sections are retained in a flexible plastic tube.

5. The lollipop stick as claimed in claim 2, wherein said three sections are coated with a plastic.

6. A packaged lollipop comprising the lollipop candy, retained on a stick as claimed in claim 1, and being encapsulated in a plastic container said stick being held in its bent form while inside said container.

7. A packaged lollipop as claimed in claim 6, wherein said container is provided with a cover readily removable by a child.

8. A packaged lollipop as claimed in claim 6, wherein said container is transparent.

9. A packaged lollipop as claimed in claim 6, wherein said container is shaped substantially as a hollow sphere.

10. A method for automatic marketing of lollipops, comprising the steps of: providing a stick as claimed in claim 1; attaching a candy to an extremity of said stick to form a lollipop; optionally wrapping said candy; bending said stick and inserting said lollipop into a disposable plastic container sized and shaped for convenient handling in a vending machine; and loading a multitude of said filled containers into a vending machine.

Description:

FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to the automatic marketing of lollipops. More particularly, embodiments of the invention provide a bendable lollipop stick, a disposable container for the lollipop, and a method of packing for sale for same.

[0002] Vending machines have long provided an economic method for selling small consumer articles. Machines are in use for selling hot and cold beverages, cigarettes, sweets and chocolates and other foods, train tickets and many other items. The machines must reliably dispense the one item chosen by a customer after an appropriate coin, or a smart card, has been inserted into the machine. Vending machines offer their owner low labor cost, while 24-hour availability is beneficial to both owner and customer.

[0003] Before stock exhaustion, it is necessary to recharge the machine with a new supply of articles to be sold. There are three methods of loading a vending machine.

[0004] METHOD A The items to be sold, for example packets of cigarettes or bars of chocolates, are already arranged in a stack or other orderly maser and so they are easily loaded into the machine in a coherent array. The vending machine requires only a simple feed and escape mechanism to feed out a selected item in response to customer demand. The machine is not required to reorient the items to be sold.

[0005] METHOD B The articles to be sold, for example a small cube-shaped item, are poured into the machine in bulk, and the machine is provided with a feeder mechanism for orienting the item in a manner allowing reliable operation of an escape mechanism. The difficulty of doing so is related primarily to the shape of the article. For example, a spherical item (for example a chewing gum ball) is easiest for a machine to handle as it will roll under gravity in any direction and requires only an escape mechanism and requires no orientation at all. More difficult is an item shaped as a short cylinder where the length equals or is near the diameter. Some shapes, for example items that entangle with each other such as open compression coil springs, horseshoe shaped items, and irregularly shaped articles such as apples, items that may be sticky and light weight—these are difficult or almost impossible to feed in a reliable manner using method B.

[0006] METHOD C Items which cannot be handled by the previous methods, for example wrapped confectionery food articles, baked buns, or slices of cake are manually and individually loaded into suitable receptacles provided in the machine. Individual loading is time consuming and is acceptable for high-value articles but is not an economic option for small low-cost articles.

[0007] From the point of view of the vending machine, a lollipop is a light-weight item which may be sticky and is covered by a paper wrapping which may be of irregular configuration. In U.S. Pat. No. 5,485,939 Tucker discloses a lollipop dispensing apparatus using method C. Clearly, loading such a vending machine is time consuming and the dispensing mechanism required is complex.

[0008] Method B mechanisms for dispensing lollipops are also known. Such mechanisms are very complex and expensive, obviously due to the difficulties inherent in reliably feeding all article of this shape and of low weight.

OBJECTS AND SCOPE OF THE INVENTION

[0009] It is therefore one of the objects of the present invention to obviate the disadvantages of prior art lollipop sticks and to provide a stick which can be folded and will regain its original straight form when released.

[0010] It is a further object of the present invention to provide a lollipop container which accepts the lollipop after its stick has been bent, the container later being available to the consumer for serving as a holder for a partly-consumed lollipop.

[0011] Yet a further object is to provide a method for packing and marketing lollipops by means of a vending machine.

[0012] It is yet a fewer important object of the present invention to provide a packing which enables the use of common known Vending machines.

[0013] The present invention achieves the above objects by providing a lollipop stick, which can be bent at least 150 degrees and held in this bent configuration, and on release reverts to a substantially straight formation.

[0014] In a preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a packaged lollipop comprising the lollipop candy, retained on a stick as described, and being encapsulated in a disposable plastic container shaped for convenient handling in a vending machine, the stick being held in its bent form by inner walls of the container.

[0015] In a most preferred embodiment of the present invention there is provided a method for packing and automatic marketing of lollipops, comprising the steps:

[0016] step 1: providing a lollipop stick, which can be bent at least 150 degrees and held in this bent configuration, and on release reverts to a substantially straight formation;

[0017] step 2: attaching a candy to an extremity of the stick to form a lollipop;

[0018] step 3: optionally wrapping the candy;

[0019] step 4: bending the stick and inserting the lollipop into a disposable plastic container sized and shaped for convenient handling in a vending machine; and

[0020] step 5: loading a multitude of the filled containers into a vending machine.

[0021] Yet further embodiments of the invention will be described hereinafter.

[0022] It will thus be realized that if a substantially spherical container were to be fitted around a prior-art lollipop, such container would be unreasonably large and expensive, and also too large for economic handling by a vending machine. In the novel packing and marketing method of the present invention, a much smaller plastic container is used which is suitable for a vending machine. Such container can be provided with a removable and replaceable cover and retained by the consumer for hygienic storage, and possible storage and transport of a partially-consumed lollipop. A known need for this purpose is thus served, and the packaging container thus obviates the need for the type of container disclosed by Jones in U.S. Pat. No. 5,702,742.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0023] The invention will now be described further with reference to the accompanying drawings, which represent by example preferred embodiments of the invention. Structural details are shown only as far as necessary for a fundamental understanding thereof. The described examples, together with the drawings, will make apparent to those skilled in the art how further forms of the invention may be realized.

[0024] In the drawings:

[0025] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the stick according to the invention;

[0026] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of the stick;

[0027] FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a lollipop packaged in a spherical disposable container according to an embodiment of the invention; and

[0028] FIG. 4 is a view of as FIG. 3 showing a reusable container according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0029] There is seen in FIG. 1 a lollipop stick 10.

[0030] Tie stick 10 comprises two rigid end sections 12, 14 separated by a middle flexible section 16.

[0031] The end sections 12, 14 can suitably be made of a stiff thermoplastic, for example polyimide, or of a glass-fiber reinforced low-cost thermoplastic, or of a thermoset plastic such as a phenolic. The end sections can of course be stiffened by slightly increasing their outer diameter.

[0032] The flexible section 16 may be made of a thermoplastic elastomer such as a polyurethane, or a copolyester or a similar elastomer resistant to compression-set beyond the time period typical between manufacture and consumption. Given the dimensions typical for a lollipop stick, these materials can be bent 150 degrees and held in the bent configuration for several weeks without causing permanent set.

[0033] On release, the flexible section 16 reverts to its original, substantially-straight formation.

[0034] With reference to the rest of the figures, similar reference numerals have been used to identify similar parts.

[0035] Referring now to FIG. 2, there is seen a further embodiment of a lollipop stick 18 wherein the middle flexible section comprises a closely wound coil spring 20. The spring, and therefor the stick can easily be bent and will retain its original straight form even after an extended period in its bent configuration.

[0036] Preferably, as seen in the figure, all three sections 20, 22, 24 are enveloped in a single length of a flexible plastic tube 26. The tube 26 improves the appearance of the stick and is helpful in preventing inadvertent disassembly. Furthermore, the steel coil spring 20 will require less rust protection, and if some rust does develop the consumer is not adversely affected thereby. The increased outer diameter also provides a more comfortable grip when held in the hand of the consumer. Instead of using a tube for enveloping the stick could be coated with suitable plastic coating, or other materials may be used.

[0037] FIG. 3 illustrates a packaged wrapped lollipop 28 comprising the lollipop candy 30, retained on a stick 18.

[0038] The lollipop 28 is seen encapsulated in a disposable plastic container 32 shaped for convenient handling in a vending machine (not shown). The stick 18 is held in its bent form while inside the container 32.

[0039] Advantageously the container 32 is transparent, at least in part. The container can suitably be made of polystyrene or of other suitable materials.

[0040] The container 32 is shaped substantially as a hollow sphere, preferably made of two parts.

[0041] In one embodiment the container 32 requires no lid, as it is provided with a break line 34 for convenience of opening, or made of two parts.

[0042] Seen in FIG. 4 is a packaged lollipop 28, wherein the container 36 is provided with a flexible plastic cover 38 readily removable by a child. The cover 38 may have a ledge 40 for ease of opening. The container 36 is reusable, and can serve for storage of a partially consumed lollipop at home, at school and while traveling. Even though the container 36 may not be a perfect sphere, this shape is easily handled by the escape mechanism of the vending machine (not shown).

[0043] The present invention also provides a method for packing and automatic marketing of lollipops, an embodiment of which comprises the following steps.

[0044] STEP 1. Providing a stick which can be bent at least 150 degrees and held in this bent configuration, and on release reverts to a substantially straight formation.

[0045] STEP 2. Attaching a candy to an extremity of he stick to form a lollipop. This operation is carried out in standard prior-art manner.

[0046] STEP 3: Optionally wrapping the candy. Adding the wrapping has several advantages, but is not mandatory as with prior art lollipops because the lollipop will be encapsulated in a container in the following step.

[0047] STEP 4. Bending the stick and inserting the lollipop into a disposable plastic container sized and shaped for convenient handling in a vending machine. Typically such a container is between 4-6 cm diameter.

[0048] STEP 5. Loading a multitude of filled containers in bulk into a vending machine. The containers are poured into a receiving hopper in the machine, and can easily be released one at a time by a simple mechanically or electrically-activated escape mechanism operationally linked to a coin receipt mechanism or to a smart card reader.

[0049] In alternate embodiments other series of steps may be used.

[0050] The scope of the described invention is intended to include all embodiments coming within the meaning of the following claims. The foregoing examples illustrate useful forms of he invention, but are not to be considered as limiting its scope, as those skilled in the art will readily be aware that additional variants and modifications of the invention can be formulated without departing from the meaning of the following claims.