Title:
Straw holder for a beverage container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A straw holder for supporting a drinking straw in the mouth of a can having a pull tab and made of a flexible sheet material includes a straw support portion dimensioned for placement above the mouth of a can and comprising an aperture designed to receive a straw therethrough and to vertically support the straw with respect to the support portion and a retaining portion proximate the straw support portion comprising a first edge engageable with the pull tab of the can for retaining the straw holder in an installed position on the can. The straw support portion is attached to the retaining portion by at least one connection.



Inventors:
Greenberg, Alex M. (New York, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/156748
Publication Date:
10/20/2005
Filing Date:
06/20/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/217, 206/308.1
International Classes:
A47G19/22; (IPC1-7): B65D85/57
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HYLTON, ROBIN ANNETTE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Alfred W. Froebrich, Esq.;Cohen, Pontani, Lieberman & Pavane (Suite 1210, 551 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, 10176, US)
Claims:
1. A straw holder for supporting a drinking straw in the mouth of a can having a pull tab, the straw holder being formed of a flexible sheet material and comprising: a straw support portion dimensioned for placement above the mouth of a can and comprising an aperture designed to receive a straw therethrough and to vertically support said straw with respect to said support portion; and a retaining portion proximate said straw support portion comprising a first edge engageable with the pull tab of the can for retaining the straw holder in an installed position on the can, said straw support portion being attached to said retaining portion by at least one connection.

2. The straw holder of claim 1, wherein said straw support portion and retaining portion are formed as one piece.

3. The straw holder of claim 1, wherein said first edge portion is formed by a first slit in said sheet of flexible material, said first slit separating said straw support portion from said bottle retaining portion.

4. The straw holder of claim 3, wherein said slit is rectilinear.

5. The straw holder of claim 3, wherein said edge portion is curved and faces said straw support portion concavely.

6. The straw holder of claim 3, wherein one end of said slit extends through a side of the flexible sheet material.

7. The straw holder of claim 1, further comprising a second edge portion, wherein said first and second edge portions are spaced apart for engaging a mouth of a bottle.

8. The straw holder of claim 7, wherein each of said first and second edge portions is individually engageable with the pull tab of the can for retaining the straw holder in an installed position on the can.

9. The straw holder of claim 7, wherein said first and second edge portions are formed by parallel substantially rectilinear slits.

10. The straw holder of claim 7, wherein said first and second edge portions are curved edge portions which face each other concavely.

11. The straw holder of claim 7, wherein said first and second edge portions are formed by slits, each of said slits having one end extending through a side of the flexible sheet material.

12. The straw holder of claim 1, wherein said straw holder substantially covers a top of the can.

13. The straw holder of claim 1, wherein said edge portion is formed by a cutout in said flexible sheet.

14. The straw holder of claim 13, said cutout being open to one side of said flexible sheet so that the pull tab is insertable through the one side of the flexible sheet into the region of the cutout.

15. The straw holder of claim 13, said cutout being circular.

16. The straw holder of claim 1, a distance between said aperture and said first edge is dimensioned such that when a straw inserted through said aperture abuts one of the pull tab and a side of the can opening facing the pull tab, the first edge remains engaged with the pull tab.

17. The straw holder of claim 1, said straw holder further comprising a plurality of removable tabs for indicating ownership of a straw holder.

18. A straw holder for supporting a drinking straw in the mouth of a can or bottle, the straw holder being formed of a flexible sheet material and comprising: a straw support portion dimensioned for placement above the mouth of a can and comprising an aperture designed to receive a straw therethrough and to vertically support said straw with respect to said support portion, whereby a straw that is too short is prevented from falling into the can or bottle by said straw support portion; and a retaining portion comprising an adhesive for adhereing to the can or bottle.

19. A straw holder for supporting a drinking straw in the mouth of a can or bottle, the straw holder being formed of a flexible sheet material and comprising: a first straw support portion dimensioned for placement above the mouth of a can and comprising a first aperture designed to receive a straw therethrough and to vertically support said straw with respect to said first support portion; and a second straw support portion dimensioned for placement above the mouth of a can and comprising a second aperture designed to receive a straw therethrough and to vertically support said straw with respect to said second support portion, said flexible sheet material being bendable or foldable to an install position so that a single straw is receivable through said first and second apertures, whereby a straw that is too short is prevented from falling into the can or bottle.

20. The straw holder of claim 19, wherein the flexible sheet material includes a first holding element and a second holding element engageable with said first holding element for holding said flexible sheet material in the install position.

21. The straw holder of claim 19, further comprising an adhesive arranged on said flexible sheet proximate said first aperture such that said straw holder adheres to said can or bottle in the install position.

22. The straw holder of claim 19, further comprising a retaining portion proximate said straw support portion comprising a first edge engageable with the pull tab of the can for retaining the straw holder in an installed position on the can, said straw support portion being attached to said retaining portion by at least one connection.

23. The straw holder of claim 22, wherein said first edge portion is formed by a first slit in said sheet of flexible material, said first slit separating said straw support portion from said bottle retaining portion.

24. The straw holder of claim 22, further comprising a second edge portion, wherein said first and second edge portions are spaced apart for engaging a mouth of a bottle.

25. The straw holder of claim 24, wherein each of said first and second edge portions is individually engageable with the pull tab of the can for retaining the straw holder in an installed position on the can.

26. The straw holder of claim 24, wherein said first and second edge portions are formed by slits.

27. The straw holder of claim 19, further comprising flaps for receiving edges of a promotional item.

28. The straw holder of claim 27, wherein the promotional item is one of a CD and DVD.

29. The straw holder of claim 19, wherein said straw holder is arranged and dimensioned for receiving a promotional item in the install position.

30. The straw holder of claim 29, wherein the promotional item is one of a CD and DVD.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a Continuation-in-Part of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/888,681 filed Jul. 9, 2004, which is a Continuation-in-Part of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/684,882, filed Oct. 14, 2003. The entire contents of U.S. application Ser. Nos. 10/888,681 and 10/684,882 are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to a straw holder for supporting and orienting a drinking straw in an opening of a beverage container such as a bottle or can.

2. Description of the Related Art

Consumers of canned beverages under certain circumstances may prefer to drink directly from a can through a straw. While driving a car, for example, use of a straw to drink liquid decreases the likelihood of spillage and obviates the requirement for tipping the can which interrupts a driver's view of the road. Furthermore some consumers prefer to drink through a straw to avoid contact with the top of the can which may include a layer of dirt, grime or other impurities that have settled on the can during transport and storage.

Use of a straw addresses the above problems, but presents a problem when a too-short straw falls into a too-long bottle. In addition, carbon dioxide bubbles from a carbonated beverage may accumulate on the straw and cause it to rise out of the bottle. It would, therefore, be desirable to support the straw vertically in the bottle so that it cannot fall in or rise out. At the same time, it would be desirable to stabilize the angular position of the straw so that it cannot rotate within the mouth of the can. A device addressing this problem could also be used by invalids who may not have full use of their hands.

Beverage cans typically have a pop-top tab or pull tab which are manipulated by a user to open the can. The pull tab on a can is sometimes used to hold a straw by pivoting the pull tab approximately 180 degrees such that the end of the pull tab is positioned over the hole. However, the hole in the pull tab may not hold the straw with an interference fit. In addition, the manipulation of the pull tab for holding a straw requires manual dexterity and strength which may exceed the capabilities of some users such as the elderly, disabled people and young children. Another problem with the use of the pull tab as a straw holder it that the pop-top has a propensity to break under the required manipulation and it therefore not reliable.

The problem of stabilizing a straw with respect to the lip of a cup is addressed by U.S. Pat. No. 5,823,493, which discloses a straw holder cut from a sheet material such as paper. The holder includes a retaining portion having an aperture which receives a standard drinking straw therethrough, and a pair of wings having ends which are clipped together and fitted against the outside of the cup.

The problem of stabilizing the position of a straw in a bottle by means of a simple fabricated device does not appear to have been solved. U.S. Pat. No. 3,606,156 discloses a drinking straw formed with an intake portion received in a bottle, a helical portion fitted around the neck of the bottle, and an outlet to which suction is applied by a consumer. The object is to stabilize the position of a straw for use by small children, but the circuitous path of the straw requires considerable effort to draw liquid. Further, the specially formed straw is a three dimensional object which is relatively expensive to manufacture and inconvenient to store and transport in any quantity. As such it is not suitable for use as a “give-away” item with a bottled beverage.

Other prior art describes straw holders for positioning a straw with respect to the lip of a cup. See, e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,070,495 and 5,823,493. The latter discloses a straw holder which can be cut from a sheet material and relies on the straw itself to position the holder on the cup.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,961,510 discloses a cover for a can. This solves two problems of protecting a user from the dirt accumulated on the can cover and preventing inadvertent spills. However, this reference merely disclose a cover having through holes and does not disclose supporting a straw.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An object of the present invention is to provide a simply and economically manufactured device for stabilizing the position of a straw received in the mouth of a beverage container such as a bottle or can.

The object of the present invention is achieved by a straw holder for supporting a drinking straw in the mouth of a can having a pull tab, the straw holder being formed of a flexible sheet material and including a straw support portion dimensioned for placement above the mouth of a can and comprising an aperture designed to receive a straw therethrough and to vertically support the straw with respect to the support portion. The straw holder also includes a retaining portion arranged proximate the straw support portion. The retaining portion includes a first edge for engaging with the pull tab of the can for retaining the straw holder in an installed position on the can. The straw support portion is attached to the retaining portion by at least one connection.

The first edge is formed by a slit or a cutout portion of the flexible sheet material. The slit may be rectilinear or curved. The flexible sheet material may comprise paper, cardboard, or plastic such as polyurethane. The sheet material is preferably die-cut to form the slits or cutouts which define the aperture and the first edge portion. The straw holder is preferably two-dimensional when not in use, and may be stacked to provide considerable economy of space. Since the straw holder may be manufactured cheaply, the straw holder according to the present invention may be given away with a straw at the point of sale of the beverage container.

The straw holder, being relatively planar and facing the user when installed on a beverage container, may have advertising or other information presented thereon. Instead of or in addition to the advertising, the straw holder may have indications to facilitate identifying an owner of the can. For example, the straw holder may have a plurality of break-off or tear-away tabs with numbers such that an owner of one can tears off a tab with the number one and another user tears off a tab with a number two so that they can identify the owner of each of the cans.

The straw holder may also be bendable or foldable to form a three-dimensional object and include a second aperture for receiving the straw. In this embodiment, the straw in received through one aperture on one side of the folded straw holder and passes through the second aperture on another side of the straw holder. The flexible sheet material from which the straw holder is formed may include holding elements engageable with each other for maintaining the straw holder in the folded position.

The three-dimensional object formed by folding the straw holder may be in the shape of a cartoon character or other character for promotional purposes and/or for amusement. The straw holder of this embodiment has the function of preventing too short a straw from falling into the can or bottle. This embodiment may further comprise adhesive applied to the flexible sheet material proximate one of the apertures so that the straw holder adheres to the can or bottle.

Other objects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed solely for purposes of illustration and not as a definition of the limits of the invention, for which reference should be made to the appended claims. It should be further understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale and that, unless otherwise indicated, they are merely intended to conceptually illustrate the structures and procedures described herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings, wherein like reference characters denote similar elements throughout the several views:

FIG. 1 is a plan view of a straw holder according to an embodiment of the present invention having a retention slit;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a can on which the straw holder of FIG. 1 may be used;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the straw holder of FIG. 1 arranged in the installed state on the can of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a sectional elevation view of the straw holder of FIG. 1 arranged on the can of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a plan view of another embodiment of a straw holder having a retention cutout;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of the straw holder of FIG. 5 in a partially installed state on a can;

FIG. 7 is a plan view of the straw holder of FIG. 5 in a fully installed state on the can;

FIG. 8 is a plan view of another embodiment of a straw holder;

FIG. 8a is a plan view of a further embodiment of a straw holder having slits extending to a side of the straw holder;

FIG. 9 is an elevation view of the straw holder of FIG. 8 fitted on a bottle;

FIG. 10 is a plan view of a further embodiment of a straw holder having two straw-receiving apertures;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the straw holder of FIG. 10 in a folded state;

FIG. 12 is a plan view of the straw holder of FIG. 10 arranged on a promotional CD; and

FIG. 13 is a plan view of the straw holder of FIG. 10 with additional flaps for connection to a promotional CD.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 depicts a first embodiment of a straw holder 10 according to the present invention. The straw holder includes a straw support portion 12 with an aperture 13 dimensioned to receive a straw therethrough in an interference fit, and a retaining portion 14 separated from the straw support portion 12 by slit 15. The slit terminates at a pair of holes 17 which relieve strain so that a tear will not readily propagate through the retaining portion 14. An edge portion 16 of the slit 15 on the retaining portion 14 faces the straw supporting portion 12 and is arranged to engage a pull tab 3 of a can 1 (see FIG. 2). In this and other embodiments described herein, the straw holder is made of a flexible sheet material such as cardboard or plastic, wherein the slits and other defining features are preferably formed by die-cutting.

When the edge portion 16 is engaged with the pull tab 3, the aperture 13 is aligned with an opening 5 of the can as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. In the installed state, the edge portion 16 is engaged under the pull tab 3 of the can 1. Once a straw 19 is inserted through the aperture 13 and enters through the opening 5, the straw 19 has limited lateral movement because of the interaction of the straw with the sides of the opening 5 which prevents the straw holder 10 from becoming disengaged from the from the pull tab 3, thereby securing the straw holder 10 on the can. As further shown in FIG. 3, the straw holder 10 covers the top of the can 1. This feature helps prevent insects such as bees from entering the can. The straw holder 10 also prevents other airborne debris from entering the can.

FIG. 5 shows a straw holder 110 according to another embodiment of the present invention. Straw holder 110 includes a straw support portion 112 having an aperture 113 for receiving a straw, and a retaining portion 114 separated from the straw support portion by a cutout 115. The cutout 115 is open in that a channel 125 extends from the cutout 115 to the side of the straw holder 110 between section 124 of the retaining portion 114 and section 122 of the straw support portion 112. This embodiment allows a different insertion process than the embodiment of FIGS. 1-4. The straw holder 110 may be slid into place such that the connection 121 between the pull tab 3 and the top of the can slides through the channel 125 until the connection 121 is located within the cutout 115. FIG. 6 shows the partially inserted straw holder 110 which is inserted along arrow A. FIG. 7 shows the fully inserted straw holder 110.

FIG. 5 further shows a plurality of break-away or tear-off tabs 135 which may be used as identification of the can or bottle on which the straw holder 110 is placed by removal of one of the tabs. As shown in FIG. 5, the tabs may have number printed thereon to facilitate identification. Alternatively, the tabs could form part of a pattern design which facilitates identification when one or a subset of the tabs is/are removed.

FIG. 8 shows a straw holder 210 according further embodiment including a straw support portion 212 and a retaining portion 214 separated from the straw support portion by a pair of slits 215 having respective mutually facing edge portions 216 which are spaced to engage a bottle adjacent to its mouth. In this embodiment, the edge portions are curved edge portions which face each other concavely. Rectilinear slits may also be used. Each of the edge portion 216 is individually engagable with a pull tab 3 similarly to the edge portion 6 of FIG. 1, as described above.

FIG. 9 shows the straw holder 210 fitted to a bottle 2 having a mouth 4, ramps 6 which serve to retain a screw-on cap (not shown) and a flange 8. The straw holder 210 is fitted to the bottle with the straw support portion 212 against the mouth for supporting a straw 19 received in the aperture 213 (FIG. 8), and the bottle retaining portion 214 is flexed out of the plane of the straw support portion 212 so that the curved edge portions 216 engage the ramps 6 to retain the straw holder on the bottle. The straw retaining portion may also engage the flange of a conventional bottle which does not have ramps, e.g. a beverage bottle with a crimped-on cap.

FIG. 8a shows an alternative embodiment of the straw holder 210′ which is similar to the straw holder 210 of FIG. 8, with the exception that one end of the each of the slits 215′ extends to the side of the straw holder 210′.

FIGS. 10 and 11 show yet another embodiment of a straw holder 300 according to the present invention. The straw holder 300 is made from a flexible sheet material such as cardboard or plastic, wherein the slits and other defining features are preferably formed by die-cutting. However, the straw holder includes two apertures 313, 314 designed to receive a straw therethrough with an interference fit. The straw holder 300 further includes a tab 302 arranged at one end thereof and a slot 304 arranged at another opposing end thereof. The straw holder 300 may be folded along fold lines 308 and 306 and the tab 302 inserted into the slot 304 to form the three-dimensional figure shown in FIG. 11. In this configuration, a straw 19 is inserted through both the apertures 313 and 314. An adhesive may be applied to the bottom of the figure, i.e., in the base area 316 arranged between the two fold lines 308. The adhesive may be applied as an adhesive backing with a peel-off layer which can be removed prior to use. The straw support portion may thereby be firmly adhered to the mouth of the can (as shown in FIG. 11) or a bottle. This embodiment of the inventive straw holder may be used for preventing a short straw from falling into a bottle or can.

Instead of being folded into a three-dimensional figure, a straw holder may be arranged as a flat material with an aperture such as aperture 313 for receiving a straw therethrough with an interference fit. This alternative embodiment may also include an adhesive to firmly adhere to the mouth of the can or bottle. This simple device may be used for preventing too short a straw from falling into the can or bottle. Instead of being folded as shown in FIG. 11, a straw holder may include any number of apertures and be folded in various configurations. For example, the straw holder may have three or more apertures and be folded, e.g., in an S-shaped, spiral, or other configuration so that the straw passes through a plurality of apertures.

As shown in FIG. 10, the straw holder 300 may also include one or two slits 315 which are arranged on the base area 316. These slits 315 may be used to engage the beverage can or bottle to hold the straw holder 300 thereon, as described above with reference to slits 15, 215, and 215′. Instead of slits 315, the straw holder 300 may have a cutout such as the cutout 115 for connecting the straw holder to a beverage can.

The straw holder 300 may be arranged about a promotional item 319 such as a CD or DVD as shown in FIG. 12. For example, the straw holder could be designed in the shape of a character in an upcoming movie and the promotional item could include promotional song or video clips/trailers for the upcoming movie. According to this embodiment, the straw holder 300 is folded around the promotional item and provided with a drink purchase. Instead of having a tab 302 and slot 304, the straw holder may be permanently connected using an adhesive. If the promotional item is too big to fit within the folded straw holder, the straw holder may include flaps 321 formed by slits for holding the promotional item as shown in FIG. 13. Instead of being formed by slits, the flaps may comprise folded flaps on opposing ends of the straw holder.

Thus, while there have shown and described and pointed out fundamental novel features of the invention as applied to a preferred embodiment thereof, it will be understood that various omissions and substitutions and changes in the form and details of the devices illustrated, and in their operation, may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention. For example, it is expressly intended that all combinations of those elements which perform substantially the same function in substantially the same way to achieve the same results are within the scope of the invention. Moreover, it should be recognized that structures and/or elements shown and/or described in connection with any disclosed form or embodiment of the invention may be incorporated in any other disclosed or described or suggested form or embodiment as a general matter of design choice. It is the intention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto.