Title:
System and method for packaging and transporting food
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system and method for packaging, protecting and transporting food items, such as wedding cakes, from the production location to the site of use includes a primary transportation box into which one or more tier boxes are placed. One cake tier or level is placed within each tier box, and each cake tier is maintained in position within the tier box by a stabilizing member having an aperture sized to receive therein the base of the cake tier. In addition, a vertically adjustable locking pin is inserted through the top of the tier box and downwardly into and through the cake tier for further fixing the cake tier in position within the tier box. The cake tier boxes are removed from their respective primary transportation boxes by the last in first out principle so that the wedding cake can be assembled, cake tier by cake tier, at the wedding reception site.



Inventors:
Horton, Kevin H. (Erie, PA, US)
Application Number:
10/428188
Publication Date:
11/11/2004
Filing Date:
05/05/2003
Assignee:
HORTON H. KEVIN
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D5/50; B65D77/04; B65D85/36; (IPC1-7): B65D85/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LUONG, SHIAN TINH NHAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WAYNE L. LOVERCHECK (2222 West Grandview Boulevard, Erie, PA, 16506-4508, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A system for packaging and transporting the tiers of a wedding cake, comprising: at least one primary packaging and transportation box; a square-shaped insert for disposition within the primary box so that the insert is spaced inwardly from the side walls of the box thereby forming open spaces between the insert and the side walls of the box; one or more tier boxes for successive stacked placement within the insert for enclosure by the primary box; and a locking pin for insertion into and through the top of the tier box and into and through the cake tier for holding the cake tier in position within the tier box during transportation.

2. The system for packaging and transporting the tiers of the wedding cake further comprising: a plurality of stabilizing collars with each collar adapted for placement within each respective tier box, and the collars having a central opening for receiving therein the base of the cake tier so that the collar can prevent the cake tier from sliding within the tier box during transportation.

3. The system for packaging and transporting the tiers of a wedding cakes of claim 2 wherein the tiers of the wedding cake to be packaged and transported are pre-marked with the proper locations for the insertion of pillars for support of the tiers and the tiers include a cardboard base affixed to the bottom thereof.

4. The system for packaging and transporting the tiers of a wedding cakes of claim 3 wherein the locking pin is selectively vertically adjustable for insertion through tier boxes having varying sizes and cake tiers having varying thicknesses.

5. The system for packaging and transporting wedding cakes of claim 4 wherein the locking pin includes a shank having a threaded end and an opposite pointed end for insertion into and through the top of the tier box and the cake tier contained therein.

6. The system for packaging and transporting wedding cakes of claim 5 wherein the locking pin includes a disc having a centrally threaded aperture for mateable engagement with the threaded end of the shank so that rotation of the disc adjusts the distance the shank is inserted into the tier box and cake tier.

7. The system for packaging and transporting wedding cakes of claim 6 wherein paraphernalia and decorations associated with the wedding cake can be stored in the spaces formed between the insert and the side walls of the primary box.

8. The system for packaging and transporting wedding cakes of claim 7 wherein a sheet of foam or similar material is placed under the stabilizing collars within each tier box.

9. A system for packaging, protecting and transporting food items such as wedding cake tiers, cakes, and pies, comprising: at least one primary packaging and transporting box; a square-shaped insert for removable disposition within the primary box so that the insert is spaced inwardly from the side walls of the box thereby forming storage spaces between the insert and the side walls of the box; one or more tier boxes for successive stacked placement within the insert and for enclosure by the primary box, each tier box including a floor and capable of holding therein at least one food item; and a locking pin for insertion into and through the top of the tier box and into and through the food item disposed within the tier box for holding the food item in position during transportation of the primary box.

10. The system for packaging, protecting and transporting food items of claim 9 further comprising: one or more stabilizing collars with each collar adapted for placement on the floor of each tier box, and each collar having a central opening for receiving therein the food item whereupon the collar prevents the food item from shifting and sliding within the tier box during transportation in the primary box.

11. The system for packaging, protecting and transporting food items of claim 10 wherein the food item includes a base affixed to the bottom thereof and adapted to be received within the stabilizing collar.

12. A system for packaging, protecting, and transporting food items such as pies and cakes comprising: a packaging and transportation box including a floor; and a locking pin for insertion into and through the top of the box and into and through the food item disposed within the box for holding the food item in position during transportation.

13. The system for packaging, protecting, and transporting food items of claim 12 further comprising: a stabilizing collar adapted for placement on the floor of the packaging and transportation box and having a central opening for receiving therein the food item whereupon the collar prevents the food item from shifting and sliding within the box during transportation.

14. The system for packaging, protecting and transporting food items of claim 13 wherein the food item includes a base affixed to the bottom thereof and adapted to be received within the stabilizing collar.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention pertains to food container, packaging and delivery systems and methods, and, more particularly, pertains to a system and method for storing, protecting and transporting food items such as cakes, pies, and other meal and dessert items.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The storage, packaging and transportation of food items for special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and graduations, presents the problem of both the timely delivery of the food item and also the delivery of a food item perfectly intact in so far as the item itself, as well as any decorative features and embellishments, must not be damaged in the conveyance of the food item from the store or bake shop to the reception hall or outdoor pool party.

[0003] The above concerns are especially critical regarding the packaging and delivery of wedding cakes to reception halls or church auditoriums that may be many miles from the site where the wedding cake was produced. The production of a wedding cake is an expensive and time-intensive activity that must be undertaken with exquisite care as it is a primary highlight in the signal event of the lives of two individuals. In general a local specialty shop, bakery, or even a grocery store is employed to produce the cake. The cake may have a number of tiers as well as all manner of flourishes and embellishments. After the wedding cake is produced, a representative or employee of the shop or store carefully travels to the site, with the wedding cake components in some sort of boxes or containers, and then constructs the cake, tier by tier.

[0004] The wedding cake business has been generally untouched by national food companies and chains despite their dominance of the national food market. Although the national food companies and chains can easily produce—and outproduce—wedding cakes in quantities local specialty shops and bakeries cannot match, the national food companies and chains face a major barrier to capitalizing on this market: the national food companies have no proven way of transporting the wedding cake—fully intact and pristine—from the baking site to the wedding reception site. Thus, in the wedding cake business, it is not the ability to manufacture wedding cakes in large volumes that is critical, but the ability to package, transport, and then construct the wedding cakes, unmarred and perfectly intact, at the wedding site that is crucial. It goes without stating that there is an extremely low tolerance for defects or imperfections; even the slightest defect or imperfection could result in the immediate loss of any potential future business from that customer, as well as the customer's family members, friends, relatives and acquaintances.

[0005] Thus, the prior art discloses a number of systems and structures for containing, packaging and transporting food or other items.

[0006] For example, the Tulkoff patent, (U.S. Pat. No. 6,386,440) discloses a pizza packaging system and method that include a generally standard pizza box having a bottom section, side panels, and a hinged lid with the bottom section receiving thereon one pizza. In addition, an insert can be placed within the pizza box that is elevated above the bottom section and on which a second pizza can be placed. Nonetheless, the pizzas can still be jostled and shaken during transport and delivery.

[0007] The Lundstrom et al. patent (U.S. Pat. No. 6,533,117) discloses a candle packaging system that includes a clear candle box, top and bottom caps that are also clear for enclosing a candle therein, and a printed insert visible from outside the box. The candle box allows access to the candle by prospective buyers while the insert sets forth the purpose and design of the candle.

[0008] With particular respect to packaging for cakes, pies, and the like, applicant is unaware of any prior art that addresses the need to provide a package which securely holds the item in place to allow transport without damage. Reference may be made to the following U.S. patents which generally disclose packaging for cakes or similar items: Dahl, U.S. Pat. No. 6,076,676; Ebrahim, U.S. Pat. No. 4,684,024; Beckerman, U.S. Pat. No. 4,867,303; and Beckerman, U.S. Pat. No. 4,776,459.

[0009] However, despite the ingenuity of the above devices, there is still a definite need for a system and accompanying structure to package, protect and transport wedding cakes, and other frangible food and confectionary items, from the baking location to the site for which the wedding cake or other food item was produced. There is a further need for such a system which will allow anyone at the site of the celebration to construct the wedding cake by following simple instructions accompanying the cake, rather than having the baker or baker's representative perform that task.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] The present invention comprehends a system and method for storing, safeguarding and transporting food items, with an especial emphasis on the packaging and transportation of wedding cakes, from the bakery location to the wedding site.

[0011] The system and method includes a primary storage and transportation box into which a parallelogram-shaped insert is placed. Placed within the insert is one or more tier boxes, and each tier box has a generally flat cake stabilizing member placed on the bottom of the tier box. The cake stabilizing member includes a central opening for receiving the base of the cake, and placement of the cake base in the central opening prevents the cake from sliding around within the tier box. After the tier box is closed with the cake tier enclosed therein, a vertically adjustable locking pin is inserted down through the top of the tier box and into and through the cake tier until the locking pin contacts the cake base. The insertion of the adjustable locking pin through the tier box and the cake tier further fixes the cake tier in position to hinder any jostling of the cake tier that may occur during transport to the wedding site. The other accouterments of the wedding cake, such as the several cake stands, pillars, and decorations, can be stored in the space that exists between the walls of the primary storage and transportation box and the walls of the insert.

[0012] It is an objective of the present invention to provide a system and method for safely and reliably packaging, protecting and transporting wedding cakes and other food items from their site of manufacture to their delivery destination.

[0013] It is another objective of the present invention to provide a system and method for packaging, protecting and transporting wedding cakes or other food items that provides for their quick unpacking and assembly, as in the case of wedding cakes, at the delivery site.

[0014] Yet another objective of the present invention is to provide a system and method for packaging, protecting and transporting wedding cakes and other food items that is lightweight, durable, and easy to assemble and disassemble.

[0015] These and other objects, features and advantages will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon a perusal of the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] FIG. 1 is an exploded assembly view of the system and method for packaging and transporting wedding cakes illustrating the disposition of the tier boxes relative to the primary transportation box;

[0017] FIG. 2 is a top plan view showing the placement of a tier box within the primary transportation box;

[0018] FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the cake stabilizing member that is placed within the tier boxes as first shown in FIG. 1;

[0019] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the parallelogram-shaped insert that is placed within the primary transportation box as first shown in FIG. 1;

[0020] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a locking pin that is used to fix and hold the position of a cake tier when the cake tier is placed within a tier box;

[0021] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a representative wedding cake and the cake pillars and cake platforms that are used to support the several tiers of the wedding cake;

[0022] FIG. 7 is a top plan view of one cake stand first shown in FIG. 6 illustrating the location of the cake pillars; and

[0023] FIG. 8 is a side elevational view of one cake tier box showing the containment of one cake tier within the cake tier box and also the use of the locking pin to fix and hold the cake tier in position during transport and delivery.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0024] Illustrated in FIGS. 1-8 is a system and method for packaging, protecting, temporarily storing, and transporting various types of food items such as cakes, pies and other dessert and confectionary items, with a particular use for packaging and transporting wedding cakes.

[0025] As shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, a wedding cake 10 typically includes two or more cake tiers 12 stacked on top of each other with each tier 12 supported by a circular cake stand or platform 14 supported by spaced-apart removable pillars 16 that fit into sockets 18 located on the lower side of the cake stand 14. In addition, the upper surface of each cake tier 12 is has marking or indentations 20 thereon to align and indicate the location of the cake pillars 16 for each level, and these markings 20 are shown in FIG. 6. The markings or indentations 20 are made at the place of manufacture to facilitate the assembly of the wedding cake 10 when the cake 10 reaches its destination. Also, during the manufacture of the wedding cake 10, a cardboard base or plate 22 is affixed onto the bottom surface of the respective cake tier 12 and generally has the same diameter as the cake tier 12 on which it is placed. The cake pillars 16 are aligned with the markings 20 on the subjacent cake tier 12 and extend through that subjacent cake tier 12 until the pillars 16 contact the cardboard base 22 of that cake tier 12. The wedding cake 10 arrives disassembled at the wedding reception and must be carefully assembled tier 12 by tier 12—and it is to assure the safe, intact, pristine transportation and arrival of the wedding cake 10 to the reception that the present invention is directed.

[0026] Illustrated in FIGS. 1-5 and 8 are the elements that comprise the present invention of a packaging, protecting and transportation system and structure 24. FIGS. 1 and 2 show a primary wedding cake transportation box or container 26 that is typically a cardboard box with side walls 28, a floor surface 30 and flaps 32 attached to each side wall 28. Disposed within the primary box 26 is a parallelogram-shaped insert 34 whose corner edges 36 project past each other at right angles. The insert 34 can be four interlocked cardboard sheets. When the insert 34 is placed within the primary box 26, the corner edges 36 abut the inner surfaces of the box side walls 28 and space the insert 34 from the box side walls 28 so that four gaps 38 are created where cake stands 14, cake pillars 16, and decorations can be stored, as shown in FIG. 2.

[0027] As shown in FIG. 1, the primary box 26 is adapted to receive therein one or more tier boxes 40. The tier boxes 40 fit snugly within the insert 34 and preferably the tier boxes 40 open by a side flap so that the upper surface of each tier box 40 is a smooth surface, thereby allowing each tier box 40 to be stacked level and contiguously on top of each other when placed within the primary box 26. Generally two tier boxes 40 would be placed within one primary box 26, and since the four-tiered wedding cake 10 of FIG. 6 is standard, two primary boxes 26 with each primary box 26 holding therein two tier boxes 40 would be required to package and transport the entire wedding cake 10 to the reception site.

[0028] In order to prevent the wedding cake 10 from shifting or sliding when enclosed within the respective tier box 40, a stabilizing collar or member 42 is placed on the bottom surface of each respective tier box 40. The stabilizing member 42 is generally a square-shaped cardboard piece having a central opening or aperture 44. Because each cake tier 12 has a different diameter, as illustrated by the representative wedding cake 10 of FIG. 6, several stabilizing members 42 will be used, with the aperture 44 of each stabilizing member 42 varying in diameter to snugly and securely encompass the cake base 22 having the corresponding diameter. The thickness of the stabilizing members 42 will be generally the same, or close, to the thickness of the cake base 22. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the stabilizing member 42 will abut the walls of the insert 34 thereby preventing the stabilizing member 42 from shifting or sliding when disposed within the primary transportation box 26. A thin piece of foam or similar material could be placed on the bottom surface between the bottom surface of the tier box 40 and the stabilizing collar 42 to further prevent any sliding or jostling of the cake tier 12 placed therein.

[0029] In addition, as shown in FIGS. 1, 5 and 8, a further means to maintain the disposition of the cake tier 12 is used in conjunction with the stabilizing member 42 that is disposed circumjacent the cake base 22 for each cake tier 12. The means to maintain the disposition of each cake tier 12 that is placed within one tier box 40 includes a vertically adjustable locking pin 46 that comprises an elongated shank 48 having a threaded end 50 and an opposite pointed end 52. A disc or washer 54 having a centrally threaded aperture 56 is engaged to the threaded end 50 of the shank 48 and the depth that the shank 48 is inserted into and through the tier box 40 and the cake tier 12 is adjustable by rotating the disc 54 clockwise or counter-clockwise. As shown in FIG. 8, the shank 48 of the locking pin 46 passes through the top of the tier box 40 and the body of the cake tier 12 and descends until the pointed end 52 contacts the cake base 22. If the user desires extra protection for the locking pin 46 to stay in place during transport, the disc 54 can also be glued to the surface of the tier box 40, or taped, or rubber banded into place on the outer surface of the tier box 40.

[0030] Thus, with reference to the representative four-tier wedding cake 10 of FIG. 6, two primary boxes 26 would be required with each primary box 26 holding two tier boxes 40. Disposed within each tier box 40 would be one cake tier 12, and the cake base 22 would fit within the aperture 44 of the stabilizing member 42. The cake tier 12 would be further held in place by the downwardly inserted locking pin 46. It should be noted that the wedding cake 10 would probably be frozen and transported in the frozen condition to increase the shelf-life of the wedding cake 10. After the wedding cake 10 arrives at the reception destination, the tier boxes 40 would be removed from their respective primary transportation boxes 26. The locking pin 46 would be removed from each tier box 40 and the pointed end 52 would be used to gently pry and lift the cake base 22 of the cake tier 12 up and slightly out of the aperture 44 of the stabilizing member 42 so that the cake tier 12 could be removed from the tier box 40. The wedding cake 10 would then be constructed by placing the largest cake tier 12 on either a serving tray or cake stand. The pillars 16 for the appropriately sized cake stand 14 would be aligned with the corresponding markings 20 on this lowest cake tier 12 and then the pillars 16—already attached to the cake stand 14—would be gently pressed through the subjacent cake tier 12 at and in alignment with the markings 20 as shown in FIG. 6. The successive cake tiers 12 would then be added by pressing the pillars 16 for each level or tier 12 through the subjacent cake tier 12 in alignment with the indentations 20 on that cake tier 12. The hole in the center of each cake tier 12 left by the insertion of the locking pin 46 therethrough is barely noticeable and if necessary can be easily concealed with a layer of icing, frosting or a decoration. This aligning and stacking of cake tiers 12 would continue until the smallest and top cake tier 12 was mounted thereon, and then the wedding cake 10 would be successfully assembled for the occasion.

[0031] Additional embodiments of the invention are also possible, though not shown in the drawings. For instance, it would be possible to forego use of the stabilizing member 42 and rely solely on the locking pin 46 to secure the food item. Yet another embodiment for single food item packaging, for example a single cake or a pie, is possible without the primary box 26 or insert 34, and with or without the stabilizing member 42.

[0032] While the invention has been described with respect to a specific embodiment and several alternatives, it is to be understood that the invention can accommodate numerous changes, modifications, and alterations without departing from the scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.