Title:
Comestible product dispenser including a tensioned cover and method of using same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A product dispenser is provided and includes a housing defining an interior for receiving comestible product, where the housing defines an opening to dispense the comestible product. The product dispenser includes a cover connected to the housing and having a designated tension. The cover being bendable between a closed position, which secures the comestible product in the housing, and an open position which enables the comestible product to be dispensed from the housing, when a force applied to the cover is at least equal to the designated tension.



Inventors:
Rathbone, Jonathan Edward (Chicago, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/125898
Publication Date:
11/09/2006
Filing Date:
05/09/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D81/34
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Primary Examiner:
WEINSTEIN, STEVEN L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Bell, Boyd & Lloyd LLC (P.O. Box 1135, Chicago, IL, 60690-1135, US)
Claims:
The invention is claimed as follows:

1. A comestible product dispenser comprising: a housing defining an interior for receiving comestible product, said housing defining an opening to dispense the comestible product; and a cover connected to the housing and having a designated tension, said cover being movable between a closed position, which secures the comestible product in the housing, and an open position which enables the comestible product to be dispensed from the housing, when a force applied to the cover is equal to or greater than the designated tension.

2. The comestible product dispenser of claim 1, wherein the cover includes at least one tab extending from said cover.

3. The comestible product dispenser of claim 1, wherein the cover includes a plurality of tabs extending from said cover.

4. The comestible product dispenser of claim 1, wherein the housing and cover are integrally connected.

5. The comestible product dispenser of claim 1, wherein the cover is made of a rubber material.

6. The comestible product dispenser of claim 1, wherein the cover and the housing are made of the same material.

7. A comestible product dispenser comprising: a first member defining a receptacle for storing comestible products; and a second member movably connected to said first member, said second member having a designated tension, wherein the second member is movable from a closed position to an open position to dispense at least one of the comestible products when a force applied to the second member is at least equal to the designated tension.

8. The comestible product dispenser of claim 7, wherein the second member includes at least one tab extending from said cover.

9. The comestible product dispenser of claim 7, wherein the first and second members are integrally connected.

10. The comestible product dispenser of claim 7, wherein the second member is made of a rubber material.

11. The comestible product dispenser of claim 7, wherein the first and second members are made of the same material.

12. A method for dispensing comestible product comprising: providing a housing defining an interior for storing said comestible product, said housing defining an opening to dispense the comestible product, said housing including a cover having a designated tension; and dispensing at least one comestible product from the housing by applying a force to the cover that is at least equal to the designated tension of the cover to move the cover from an closed position to an open position.

13. The method of claim 12, which includes providing at least one tab extending from said cover.

14. The method of claim 12, which includes providing a plurality of tabs extending from said cover.

15. The method of claim 12, which includes integrally forming said housing and said cover.

16. The method of claim 12, which include manufacturing the cover and the housing with the same material.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates generally to packaging. More particularly, the present invention relates to packaging or dispensers for storing and dispensing comestible products.

The packaging for comestible products is very important to the look, marketing and storage of the product. Very often, in addition to text on the packaging, the packaging also attempts to visually convey a message about the type of product, the taste of the product or the purpose of the product. For example, packages for cinnamon or cherry tasting products are often red, grape tasting product packaging is often purple, etc. Once the consumer has identified a desired brand, the consumer can typically choose a product based solely on the color of the packaging.

In marketing the product, packaging can convey other information besides taste whereby the consumer can thereby associate the product with its effect by simply viewing the packaging.

There are also practical facets to packaging comestible products, namely, keeping the products from being damaged during shipping, keeping the products fresh, and in certain instances providing a reusable package. Some comestible products do not require that the packaging be robust, sturdy or reusable.

Other comestible products are packaged in pieces and may or may not be provided in a reusable package, as desired by the manufacturer. If it is felt that only a portion of the products may be consumed in one sitting, the manufacturer may wish to provide a box having a hingedly connected lid.

With certain comestible products, the consumer tears open a package and removes a product or piece of the product. One problem with this type of packaging is that the remaining product tends to fall out of the package after the consumer removes one or more pieces from the package. Another problem with these packages is that it becomes difficult, especially with a newly opened package, to remove a piece without ripping open a significant portion of the package.

Attempting to provide a package that holds the product even after the removal of one or more pieces of the product can make removing the comestible product more difficult. Tightly packing the product may aid in holding the product at the expense of gaining access to the product.

SUMMARY

The present invention provides multiple apparatuses and methods for dispensing products, such as products that are individually unpackaged. The products in one embodiment are comestible products. The teachings of the present invention, however, are not dependent upon the products being any particular type as long as the products can fit within the product dispensers described herein. The dispensers herein, regardless of what product is being dispensed, are configured to be highly functional, to have an aesthetic element, and to provide a suitable tactile feel for the user and consumer.

It is believed that users of these products, and in particular younger users, find certain features desirable and undesirable in the packaging of products consumed on a daily basis, such as comestible products. Specifically, it is believed that consumers desire a compact shape for easy, everyday storage. It is an added benefit to the manufacturer if the shape is also innovative and/or sleek looking. Such a shape gains customer attention. Furthermore, it is desirable to have a dispenser that is intuitive and easy to determine how to use. Still further, consumers, especially young consumers, desire the dispenser to be quiet and to not require too much manipulation, so that the products can be dispensed in an easy and discrete manner.

Moreover, control over product dispensing is important. That is, consumers want to be able dispense only a desired amount of product. To that end, especially in the case of individually unpackaged products, it is desirable that the products do not stick or clump together. One-handed operation is also desirable.

One embodiment of the present product dispenser is provided where the product dispenser includes a housing defining an interior for receiving comestible product, where the housing defines an opening to dispense the comestible product. The product dispenser includes a cover connected to the housing. The cover having a designated tension, where the cover is movable between a closed position, which secures the comestible product in the housing, and an open position which enables the comestible product to be dispensed from the housing, when a force applied to the cover is equal to or greater than the designated tension.

In an embodiment, the cover includes at least one tab extending from the cover.

In an embodiment, the cover includes a plurality of tabs extending from the cover.

In an embodiment, the housing and cover are integrally connected.

In an embodiment, the cover is made of a rubber material.

In an embodiment, the cover and the housing are made of the same material.

Another embodiment of the product dispenser is provided. The product dispenser including a first member defining a receptacle for storing comestible products and a second member movably connected to the first member. The second member having a designated tension, where the second member is movable from a closed position to an open position to dispense at least one of the comestible products when a force applied to the second member is at least equal to the designated tension.

In an embodiment, the second member includes at least one tab extending from the cover.

In an embodiment, the first and second members are integrally connected.

In an embodiment, the second member is made of a rubber material.

In an embodiment, the first and second members are made of the same material.

In another embodiment, a method for dispensing comestible products is provided. The method including providing a housing defining an interior for storing the comestible product, where the housing defines an opening to dispense the comestible product. The housing including a cover having a designated tension. The method including dispensing at least one comestible product from the housing by applying a force to the cover that is at least equal to the designated tension of the cover to move the cover from an closed position to an open position.

In an embodiment, the method includes providing at least one tab extending from the cover.

In an embodiment, the method includes providing a plurality of tabs extending from said cover.

In an embodiment, the method includes integrally forming the housing and the cover.

In an embodiment, the method includes manufacturing the cover and the housing with the same material.

It is therefore an advantage of the present invention to provide a product dispenser for dispensing individually unwrapped products, where the products do not stick to one another or clump.

It is another advantage of the present invention to provide dispensers that are compact and easily stored.

It is a further advantage of the present invention to provide innovative dispensers that are enjoyable to operate and gain customer attention.

Moreover, it is an advantage of the present invention to provide dispensers that are quiet both when being transported and when dispensing comestible product.

Still further, it is an advantage of the present invention to provide product dispensers that are controllable to dispense only a desired amount of product.

Yet further, it is an advantage of the present invention to provide product dispensers that dispense products via gravity alone without agitation.

Furthermore, it is an advantage of the present invention to provide product dispensers that can be maneuvered and manipulated with one hand.

Additional features and advantages of the present invention are described in, and will be apparent from, the following Detailed Description of the Invention and the figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 illustrates an enlarged perspective view of one embodiment of the product dispenser of the present invention.

FIG. 2 illustrates an enlarged perspective view of the embodiment of the product dispenser of FIG. 1 showing the method of operation of the product dispenser to dispense one of the products.

FIG. 3 illustrates a fragmentary perspective view of the product dispenser of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 illustrates a partial perspective view of the embodiment of the product dispenser of FIG. 1, where one end of the product dispenser includes a access cover.

FIG. 5 illustrates a top view of the embodiment of the product dispenser of FIG. 1, wherein the bottom view is a mirror image of this view.

FIG. 6 illustrates a left side view of the embodiment of the product dispenser of FIG. 1, wherein the right side view is a mirror image of this view.

FIG. 7 is a front view of the embodiment of the product dispenser of FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 is a rear view of the embodiment of the product dispenser of FIG. 1.

FIG. 9 illustrates a partial perspective view of another embodiment of the product dispenser of the present invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates a partial perspective view of a further embodiment of the product dispenser of the present invention.

FIG. 11 illustrates a cross section view taken substantially along line 11-11 shown in FIG. 10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The present invention provides a comestible product package and dispenser. In the embodiments described, the comestible products are illustrated as tablets of products, such as generally pillow-shaped, rectangular pieces of comestible product. The products to be dispensed from the dispensers discussed herein can have any suitable types of shapes, such as a block shape, a flat stick shape, a round shape, an oval shape, a rectangular shape, a triangular shape and any combination of same.

The embodiments described below are generally made of a plastic material. The present invention expressly includes any of the embodiments being made of any material such as any suitable paper, cardboard, paperboard material, foil, plastic, composite or other suitable material. Furthermore, while the packages and dispensers discussed herein are sized to be transported readily by a person (for example, in a person's pocket, purse, backpack, or the like), the embodiments described are expressly not limited to any particular size and shape.

Referring now to the drawings, and in particular to FIGS. 1 through 8, one embodiment comestible product package or dispenser is illustrated as dispenser 100a. Dispenser 100a is a non-refillable dispenser having a first member, housing or body 101 and a second member, flexible cover or flap 116 which is connected to the housing. The cover or flap 116 includes a designated tension and is movably connected to the housing 101 so that the flap can be pushed inward or pulled outward with respect to the housing when a force is applied to the cover or flap which is equal to or greater than the designated tension of the cover. As illustrated in FIGS. 1 through 3, a user moves the flap or cover 116 from a closed position shown in FIG. 1 to an open position shown in FIG. 2 using a force applied by one of their fingers. In the closed position shown in FIG. 1, the cover or flap 116 is tensioned so when the cover is in the closed position, the cover holds or maintains the product 30 in the product dispenser 100a. In the open position shown in FIG. 2, a user may now manipulate the housing such as by tilting or shaking the housing to dispense one or more of the products contained within the housing. FIG. 3 illustrates one of the products being dispensed by the product dispenser as described above.

In another embodiment, an access member or door 119 is connected to at least one end of the housing 101. The access member or door 119 enables a user to access the interior of the product dispenser to refill or insert additional product in the housing of the product dispenser. Therefore, in this embodiment, the product dispenser is a refillable dispenser that enables a user to refill or insert additional product in the product dispenser.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, the housing or body 101 is generally a six-sided housing structure having a top surface or wall 102, side walls or side surfaces 106, 108, 110 and 112, and a bottom wall or bottom surface 104. The walls of the housing or body 101 form or define a receptacle or interior compartment for receiving comestible product. In the illustrated embodiment, the housing or body 101 and the cover 116 are separately manufactured and connected together to form the housing. In another embodiment, the housing 101 and the cover 116 are integrally formed as a one piece part. In the illustrated, embodiment, the front surface or front wall 106 includes a semi-circular or arcuate portion 114. The arcuate portion 114 defines an opening to enable a product to dispensed from the product dispenser. It should be appreciated that the arcuate portion 114 and the opening may be defined by any of the walls or surfaces of the housing 101. As stated above, the product dispenser 100a can be discarded after one or more uses or refilled as desired.

The cover or flap 116 is manufactured of a flexible durable material which is flexible enough to bend under tension and thereby be moved between the closed position as shown in FIG. 1 and the open position shown in FIG. 2 when a force applied to the cover is at least equal to the designated tension of the cover. The cover or flap 116 may be manufactured of any suitable material such as rubber, plastic, or any other suitable material. It should be appreciated that the body and cover may be made of the same material or different materials.

In one embodiment, the cover or flap 116 includes at least one and preferably two tabs 28a and 28b. Tabs 28a and 28b are connected to the top edge and bottom edge of the cover 116 and extend vertically from each edge. The tabs 28a and 28b have a generally round shape but may be any suitable shape or size. The tabs enable a user to move the cover or flap 116 between the closed position and the open position. At operation, a user places one of their fingers against one of the tabs 28a and 28b and pushes their finger against the tab to move the tab outward or away from the body 101 to move the flexible cover 116 from a closed position to an open position. To move the cover 116 to the closed position, a user uses their finger to push against the opposite side of the tabs 28a or 28b until the designated tension of the cover is achieved so as to move the cover 116 back to the closed position.

In another embodiment illustrated in FIG. 9, the cover 116 is connected in position at a corner of the housing 101. The cover 116 is pulled out or away from the housing 101 (shown in phantom) to dispense one or more of the products from the housing as described above. Alternatively, the cover 116 is pushed inward towards the body 101 to close the cover and maintain the product within the housing. It should be appreciated that the opening of the body and the corresponding cover 116 may be positioned or located at any suitable location or position on the housing 101.

Referring now to FIG. 10, another embodiment of the product dispenser of the present invention is illustrated where the product dispenser 100b includes a housing 121. The housing 121 is a five sided structure having a top wall or top surface 122, side walls or side surfaces 126, 128 and 130, and a movable cover member or door 132 which is hingedly connected to the body or housing 121. The front wall 122, the rear wall 124 and the side walls 126, 128 and 130 form or define an interior for receiving comestible product. Therefore, the product dispenser 100b may be discarded after dispensing one or more products or refilled as needed.

The cover member or door 134 includes living hinges 136a, 136b and 136c. The hinges 136a and 136b are spaced apart to define a cover or flap. The cover or flap portion of the door is sized and dimensioned to fit within the semi-circular openings or arcuate portions of the body 138a and 138b. The cover or flap may be manufactured of the same material as the housing and door or of a different material. It should be appreciated that the cover or flap may be manufactured of any suitable material such as rubber, plastic or any other suitable material. The door includes a snap member 140 which secures the door to the housing when the door is in a closed position or moved adjacent to the housing. The cover or flap includes two tabs 142a and 142b positioned on opposite sides of the cover. The tabs enable a user to push or pull against the tabs to push or pull the cover or flap between an open position and a closed position. The tabs may be any suitable size or shape.

In operation, the cover is positioned against the arcuate portions of the body to prevent any of the product from falling out of the product dispenser. A user pushes or pulls the tabs to equal or exceed the designated tension of the cover and move the cover away from the housing and exposed the opening to the interior of the housing. A user may then dispense one or more of the products from within the housing. To close the product dispenser, a user pushes against the tabs or the cover itself so that the force applied to the cover at least is equal to the designated tension to move the cover back against the arcuate portions of the housing to close the opening to the housing and maintain the product within the product dispenser.

It should be understood that various changes and modifications to the presently preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Such changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention and without diminishing its intended advantages. It is therefore intended that such changes and modifications be covered by the appended claims.