Title:
Two-piece nested inverted dome cup
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A multiple cup container device for separately storing two consumables to be later consumed together, has a first cup for storing a first consumable and a second cup for storing a second consumable. Each cup has a flange about its open end. The first cup's flange has a recess therein within which the second cup flange is nested. The nested flanges provide a continuous flat surface there across without any gaps between the flanges. A removable cover seals the container device and removably secures the second cup within the first cup. After removal of the cover, the second cup can be removed from the first cup. The second consumable may then be dispensed within the first cup to allow both consumables to be consumed from the first cup.



Inventors:
True, Christopher (Bartlett, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/395997
Publication Date:
10/04/2007
Filing Date:
03/31/2006
Assignee:
The Quaker Oats Company (Chicago, IL, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/217
International Classes:
B65D25/08; B65D77/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GEHMAN, BRYON P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BANNER & WITCOFF, LTD.;and ATTORNEYS FOR CLIENT NO. 006943 (10 SOUTH WACKER DR., SUITE 3000, CHICAGO, IL, 60606, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A multiple cup container device for separately storing two consumables to be later consumed together, comprising: a first cup for storing a first consumable, said first cup having a first sidewall with a top end and an opposite bottom end with a closed bottom, said first sidewall having a first flange formed around said top end of said first sidewall, said first flange defining an opening to the interior of said first cup, said first flange having top surface and a recess formed in said top surface along the inner periphery of said first flange, said recess having a bottom surface and edge wall surface; a second cup for storing a second consumable, said second cup having a second sidewall with a first end and a opposite end with a closed bottom, said second sidewall having a second flange formed around said first end of said second sidewall of said second cup defining an opening to said second cup, said second flange extending outwardly from said second sidewall of said second cup, and said second flange having a top surface and a outer peripheral edge, said second flange of said second cup removably positioned within said recess of said first cup with said peripheral edge of said second flange abutting said edge wall surface of said recess of said first flange, a cover for said container device, said cover removably positioned over said first and second flanges to seal said container device and removably secure said second cup within said first cup, said second cup being removable from said first cup to allow said second consumable to be dispensed from said second cup into said first cup for consumption of said first and second consumables from said first cup.

2. The container device of claim 1 wherein said top surface of said first flange and said top surface of said second flange provide a continuous flat surface, and said cover is attached to said top surfaces of said first and second flanges.

3. The container device of claim 1 wherein said first sidewall of said first cup has an inner surface and an outer surface, said first sidewall having an outwardly extending shoulder located between said bottom end of said first sidewall and said top end of said sidewall, said first sidewall having a top section of said first sidewall above said shoulder and bottom section of said first sidewall below said shoulder, said first cup having an upper compartment and a lower compartment below said upper compartment, said upper compartment having a first opening at one end to provide said container device opening and a second opening at the other end to provide an opening to said lower compartment, said lower compartment defined at least in part by the bottom of said first cup and the inner surface of said lower section of said first sidewall, said upper compartment defined at least in part by said inner surface of said upper section of said first sidewall, said outer surface of said lower section of said first sidewall of said first cup having a circumference which is smaller than the circumference of said outer surface of said upper section of said first sidewall, said smaller circumference of said lower section facilitating the holding of said first cup and providing a first cross sectional area for said lower compartment, said larger circumference of said upper section providing a second cross sectional area for said upper compartment which is greater than said first cross sectional area of said lower compartment to facilitate said dispensing of said second consumable into said first cup and to facilitate removing said first and second consumables from said first cup during consumption.

4. The container device of claim 3 wherein said second cup is mounted within said upper compartment of said first cup.

5. The container device of claim 4 wherein said second cup acts to seal said first cup when mounted therein.

6. The container device of claim 4 wherein said second flange has a thickness which is approximately equal to the depth of said recess formed in said first flange.

7. The container device of claim 6 where in said first cup and said second cup are formed by thermoforming a plastic material.

8. The container device of claim 7 wherein said cover comprises a relatively thin, flexible metalized plastic.

9. The container device of claim 1 wherein said cover is adhered to said first and second flanges.

10. The container device of claim 4 wherein said upper compartment provides a space into which said second consumable can be dispensed after removal of said second cup from said first cup, said increased diameter of said upper compartment acting to reduce the likelihood of spilling from said first cup during mixing of said first and second consumables and during consumption of said first and second consumables from said first cup.

11. The container device of claim 4 wherein said first cup has at least one compartment with a generally frusta-conical shape, and said second cup has a generally frusta-conical shape.

12. The container device of claim 11 wherein said first cup and said second cup are of a thermoformed plastic material.

13. A container device for at least two separate consumables comprising: a first cup for storing a first consumable, said first cup having a hollow interior and a open top end; a second cup for storing a second consumable, said second cup having sidewall with a top end and a bottom end, a closed bottom at said bottom end of said sidewall, and an open end at said top end of said sidewall, said sidewall having a outer surface and a inner surface forming a hollow interior in said second cup, said second cup sidewall having a lower section and an upper section, said second cup having a lower compartment for said storing of said second consumable, said lower compartment defined at least in part by said inner surface of said lower section of said sidewall, said second cup having an upper compartment, said upper compartment defined at least in part by said inner surface of said upper section of said sidewall, said first cup removably mounted within said upper compartment, said upper compartment having a first cross sectional area and said lower compartment having a second cross sectional area which is less than said first cross sectional area, p1 said lower section of said sidewall of said second cup having a periphery about its outer surface which allows convenient gripping within a human hand, said first cup mounted in said upper compartment and removable therefrom to allow dispensing said first consumable into said upper compartment for consumption with said second consumable from said second cup, a removable cover for sealing said first and second cups, said cover also removably securing said first cup within said upper compartment of said second cup.

14. The container device of claim 13 wherein said first cup has a second sidewall with a first flange around said second sidewall at said open top end, said flange extending outward from said second sidewall and having a top surface and a peripheral edge, said second cup sidewall having a second flange adjacent said open end, said second flange extending outwardly from said sidewall and having a top surface, and a recess appearing in said top surface of said second flange, said recess having a bottom surface and an edge wall, said first cup first flange being mounted into said second cup second flange recess.

15. The container device of claim 14 wherein said peripheral edge of said first flange abuts against said second flange recess edge wall when said first cup is mounted within said second cup.

16. The container device of claim 15 wherein said cover is removably adhered to said top surfaces of said first and second flanges.

17. The container device of claim 16 wherein said first and second top surfaces form a generally flat and generally continuous surface across the top of said container.

18. The container device of claim 14 wherein said first cup has a generally frusta-conical shape, and said second cup has at least one compartment with a generally frusta-conical shape.

19. The container device of claim 18 wherein said first cup and said second cup are of a thermoformed plastic material.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a container device having two containers for separately containing two consumables therein, wherein one container is removable from the other container to allow the dispensing of its contents into the other container for mixing with the other consumable and to thereafter provide a container from which the consumables can be consumed.

2. Description of the Related Art

It is increasingly common for foods to be purchased in containers from grocery stores, convenience stores and fast food outlets in packages that also act as the container from which the foods are consumed. As a result of this general trend, a particular need exists for multiple compartment containers that allow the packaging of two consumables which are intended to be consumed together, but cannot be packaged together in direct contact with each other, because to do so would compromise the freshness, crispness or texture of one or both of the consumables.

The need also exists for a multiple compartment container which is easy to grip, provides a space convenient for mixing the consumables together without spilling, and is convenient to eat from once the consumables are mixed together. Moreover, such a container needs to be relatively compact, attractive, simple and inexpensive to manufacture. A further need of the multiple compartment container is that it must be capable of efficient filling of each of the separate consumables during mass processing, and thereafter be provided with a reliable and secure seal to close the container.

A need exists for a multiple container device wherein the containers are positioned together in a manner which does not create any voids or crevices into which food or foreign products might enter. When this occurs, it results not only in an unsightly appearance, but also presents the possibility of the development an unhealthy or unsanitary condition.

A number of multiple container packages have been disclosed in the prior art, each with its own particular short comings. For example, YoFarm Co., of Naugatuck, Conn., has a yogurt and granola combination separately contained and sold in one package. The package has two separate containers stacked in a piggy back arrangement. The yogurt is filled in a lower plastic container and the granola is packaged in a separate second plastic container. The granola container is removably mounted on top of, and outside of, the lower yogurt container. Such a container device has at least two drawbacks. First the piggy back arrangement adds to the overall height of the container, and thus the container takes up additional space during shipping and storage. Secondly, the lower container, when filled with yogurt, may lack adequate head space above the yogurt packaged therein to minimize spilling when the granola is dispensed by the consumer into the lower container. The possibility of spillage is also an issue when the yogurt granola combination is later consumed from the container.

Other examples of multiple container packages are U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,237,610 and 3,349,941. U.S. Pat. No. 2,237,610 discloses an upper container for holding cream, with the upper container being removably mounted within a larger lower container for holding cream cheese. U.S. Pat. No. 3,349,941 discloses an upper container suitable for storing fresh fruit and removably mounted within a larger lower container suitable for storing cottage cheese. Neither of these patents however, provides a lower container which has two distinct compartments in which the lower container has a significantly reduced diameter lower compartment for the purpose of allowing the container to be conveniently gripped during the consumption of its contents. They also do not provide a container having an upper compartment of increased diameter relative to the lower compartment for conveniently receiving and mixing the food product from the removed upper container. Also, those container devices do not provide an upper container that nests within the uppermost top surface of the rim of a bottom container, with a single cover that contacts and seals both the bottom and top containers.

The need exists for a multiple container device for storing two consumables that is convenient to grip and minimizes spilling when the two consumables are combined and consumed from the container device. The multiple container device also needs to have one container removably secured to the other container in a manner which does not create voids or crevices in places that might allow unwanted food or foreign products to accumulate.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the one aspect of the present invention, a container device is provided which has a bottom cup for storing a first consumable and a top cup for storing a second consumable. The bottom cup has a lower compartment and an upper compartment. The lower compartment of the bottom cup has an outer periphery of a diameter which allows convenient and sure gripping within the hand of a typical consumer. The lower compartment also provides a chamber for storing the first consumable, while the upper compartment provides a space for the removable mounting of the top cup within the bottom cup. After removal of the top cup, the upper compartment provides a space into which the second consumable can be dispensed to rest above the first consumable in the lower compartment. The upper compartment is provided with an increased diameter relative to the lower compartment to provide a chamber in which the second consumable can be conveniently dispensed and mixed with the first consumable, and to reduce the chance of spilling. Also, the increased diameter of the upper compartment provides a more convenient space from which the mixed consumables may be accessed by the consumer. It also reduces the likelihood of spilling when the contents are eaten with a spoon since the increased diameter allows the spoon to be removed at a more shallow angle from the lower cup.

In another aspect of the present invention the lower cup is provided with a flanged rim at its open end which has an annular recess therein, and the top cup is provided with an annular flange formed about its open end. The top cup flange is positioned within the recess of the lower cup flange to removably mount the top cup within the bottom cup. The annular flange of the top cup is formed of a diameter and thickness that closely matches the diameter and depth of the bottom cup's annular recess to provide a continuous flat surface across the top of the flanges. This allows for effective mounting of the container's cover which to seals the bottom and top cups, while also removably securing the top cup within the bottom cup. Moreover, by closely matching the size and shape of the top cup flange and bottom cup flange recess, no voids or crevices occur between the mating surfaces which could allow entrance therein of food particles during the filling of a food product by the manufacturer. If this did occur, the food products trapped in the container would likely be spilled out when the top cup is removed from the lower container. Such voids and crevices, if present, also would increase the opportunity for foreign particles to lodge therein, resulting in an increased possibility that unsanitary or unhealthy conditions might occur.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the container device, showing in broken lines the cover of the container device.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a separated top cup and bottom cup.

FIG. 3 is a perspective side view of the lower cup.

FIG. 4 is a vertical sectional view of on line 4-4 of FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 a container device, generally indicated as 10, has an upper or top cup 12, nested within a lower or bottom cup 14. A top or cover 16 closes and seals container device 10. Cups 12 and 14 may be formed from a variety of known materials and in a number of known ways, but preferably are thermoformed of a plastic material, such as polypropylene, polyester or polystyrene, and cover 16 is preferably formed of a thin flexible plastic material, for example, a lamination of polypropylene or polyester with or without metallization, and a suitable heat-sealable layer.

Bottom cup 14 has sidewall 18 with an integrally formed bottom end 20, and an annular flange 22 at its top end 24. Flange 22 defines opening 26 providing access to the hollow interior of container device 10. As best seen in FIG. 4, sidewall 18 has a lower section 28 of a generally frusta-conical shape, and an upper section 30, also is of a generally frusta-conical shape. The lower section 28 of sidewall 18 transitions in into upper section 30 at shoulder, or flange 32, radially extending outward from top end 34 of lower section 28 of sidewall 18 to the bottom end 36 of the upper sidewall section 30.

Top cup 12 has a sidewall 38 and is closed at the bottom end by an integrally formed bottom 40 providing top cup 12 with an inverted dome shape. On the top end of sidewall 38 there appears an annular flange 42. Annular flange 42 of top cup 12 has a generally flat top surface 44, a generally flat bottom surface 46, and a generally vertical outer peripheral edge 48. Flange 22 of bottom cup 14 has a top surface 50 and a bottom surface 52, and formed within the innermost region of flange 22 is an annular recess 54.

As best seen in FIG. 2, annular recess 54 has a general flat bottom surface 56, and a generally vertical and generally flat edge wall 58. It is noted that annual flange 42 of the cup 12 is formed to have an outer diameter that is approximately the same as the diameter of recess 54 at vertical edge 58 of annual recess 54. Also, the thickness of top cup flange 42 is approximately the same as the thickness of the depth of bottom cup flange recess 54. Thus, it can be appreciated that when top cup 12 is nested within bottom cup 14, outer vertical edge 48 of top cup flange 42 abuts against the inner vertical edge 58 of recess 54 in bottom cup flange 22. Also, since the thicknesses of top cup flange 42 and bottom cup annular recess 54 are substantially the same, the top surfaces 44 and 50 of flanges 42 and 22, respectively, provide a continuous flat surface across the top surface of container device 10.

Thus, when cups 12 and 14 are nested together there are no voids or open spaces along the top surface of container device 10 into which food particles might enter upon the filling or packaging processes, especially as may occur during the filling of top cup 12. Moreover, it is noted that when cups 12, 14 are nested, the continuous level top surfaces 44, 50 of flanges 42 and 50, respectively, is advantageous for attaching and sealing container cover 16 to surfaces 40,50. The flat continuous surface also reduces the possibility that thin cover 16 might be punctured at the juncture of flange edges 48, 58 during shipping and handling of container device 10.

While container 10 may be utilized for a variety of applications, it is especially adaptable for the packaging of two separate food products which are to be packaged separately in a single container device 10, and that are intended for later combining and consumption from within container 10. For purposes of illustration, container 10 is described as packaging a yogurt as a first consumable 76 contained in bottom cup 14, and granola flakes as a second consumable 78 separately contained in top cup 12.

Before further discussing utilization of container 10, it is noted that container 10 provides, in effect, three distinct compartments or chambers. Lower cup 14 has a lower compartment 60 defined by the inner surface 62 of sidewall lower section 28, and by the inner surface 64 of bottom end 20. Bottom cup 14 also has an upper compartment 66 defined by the inner surfaces 68 of upper sidewall section 30 and by the inner surface 69 of annular flange 32. Lower compartment 60 is open at its top end adjacent to the bottom end opening of upper compartment 66. Upper compartment 66 is also open to the exterior through top opening 26. A third compartment 70 is provided for container 10 by top cup 12, and is defined by the inner surface 72 of top cup bottom wall 40 and the inner surfaces 74 of the top cup sidewall 38. Prior to attachment of cover 16, compartment 70 is open to the exterior at opening 80.

In the packaging process, an empty bottom cup 14 is positioned at a typical filling station (not shown), such as that is known in the art. At the station, bottom cup 14 is filled with yogurt 76 to substantially fill the bottom cup lower compartment 60. Normally, yogurt 76 would not be filled to a level which would extend into lower cup upper compartment 66. After the filling of the yogurt 76, top cup 12 is positioned within the upper compartment 66 of bottom cup 14 with flange 42 nested within annular recess 54. This may be accomplished at the same filling station, or at another station to which the bottom cup 14 has been transported.

In any event, when top cup 12 is positioned on bottom cup 14, top cup 12 acts to seal opening 26 and thus also seals lower compartment 60 containing the previously filled yogurt 76. At this point, the container device 10 is ready for filling with a second consumable 78 such as granola flakes 78. After filling, foil top cover 16 is positioned over the top surfaces 42, 50, of flanges 22 and 42, respectively, and sealed thereto by any suitable means known in the art, such as, for example, by adhesive. Once so positioned, top 16 seals top opening 57 of top cup 12 and also acts to further seal bottom cup opening 26, as well as to removably secure top cup 12 within bottom cup 14. The filling of top cup 12, and securing of cover 16, may take place at separate stations dedicated for those processes, with container device 10 being transported between such stations. Thus, yogurt 76 and granola 78 can be separately packaged in a single container device 10 to maintain freshness and crispness of those products until later consumption together.

At the time for consumption, a consumer removes foil cover 16 by gripping flap 82, shown in FIG. 1, to peel cover 16 away from flanges 22 and 42. Thereafter, top cup 12 is removed from its position within bottom cup 14. To aid this procedure, top cup 12 may be provided with a removal aid (not shown), which may be, for example, a pull tab secured to top cup 12, or a depression or cut-out section formed within top cup sidewall 38 to better provide a grip for the removal of top cup 12. Once so removed, the consumer dispenses granola 78 into container 10 through opening 26 into upper compartment 66 of bottom cup 14 to contact yogurt 76.

The novel container 10 of the present invention has been designed with a number of user friendly features. First, the lower section sidewall 28 of bottom cup 14 has a periphery which is of a shape and size which may be conveniently gripped in the hand of a wide range of consumers. Also, the upper compartment 66 of bottom container 14 is of an increased cross sectional area relative to lower compartment 60. Whereas, the outer peripheral size of bottom compartment 66 is designed with the ability to grip in mind, the larger diameter size of upper compartment 66 is designed for the easy dispensing of second consumable 78 into lower cup 14, and for also providing an increased diameter area for conveniently mixing consumables 76 and 78 together by means of a spoon (not shown), or other suitable utensil. In this regard, the increased diameter of opening 26 for upper compartment 66, relative to the diameter of opening 82 for lower compartment 60, also provides more room for the entrance of a spoon or other utensil used to consume the food products. It also provides a more convenient space to initially scoop the consumables from the container 10.

Stated another way, an advantage of the increased diameter upper compartment 66 relates to the angle at which a spoon needs to be disposed to initially scoop a consumable from container 10. Generally speaking, the more narrow a container, the steeper the angle at which a spoon needs to be positioned to gain access to the food stored therein. For example, a bowl shaped container allows a shallow angle for scooping food therefrom, while on the other extreme, a more narrow “test tube” like shaped container would require a relatively steep angle. One problem with a steeper angle is that the product scooped by a spoon is more likely to spill from the spoon if the user withdraws the spoon at a steep angle. A consumer may attempt to compensate for this effect by tilting the container as the consumer scoops food content from within the container. A tilted container however, is more likely to cause spilling of the contents, especially initially when the container is more fully filled with food product.

The present invention, with an increased diameter upper compartment, allows for a more shallow angle for initially scooping food products. Furthermore, as the volume of food content is reduced, the consumer may tilt the container to scoop the remaining contents from within container 10, with the increased head space of the larger diameter top compartment 66 acting to prevent spilling of the contents from container 10. Moreover, the above advantage is accomplished without increasing the diameter of lower section 28 to a point where the ease of gripping the container would be compromised.

Another advantage of container device 10 of the present invention lies in the fact that the increased diameter upper compartment 66 of bottom cup 12 provides an illusion of greater volume for the container overall. This aids the manufacturer in marketing its product, and aids a diet conscious consumer by providing a serving portion which appears larger than it actually is.

While the present invention has been described in conjunction with a yogurt and granola combination, the container may be used with countless other combinations. It may also have more than one consumable placed in an individual compartment, either in a layered arrangement or mixed together, as long as those consumables can be compatibly stored together. Moreover, the consumable need not be limited to edible consumables, and other types of materials may be advantageously stored in container device 10. Also, other shapes maybe employed for the cups rather than the inverted domed shape shown for top cup 12 and the frusta-conical shaped compartments of the bottom cup 14.

Where used in the various figures of the drawing, the same numerals designate the same or similar parts. Furthermore, when the terms “top,” “bottom,” “first,” “second,” “upper,” “lower,” “height,” “width,” “length,” “end,” “side,” “horizontal,” “vertical,” and similar terms are used herein, it should be understood that these terms have reference only to the structure shown in the drawing and are utilized only to facilitate describing the invention.

Modifications may be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concepts thereof. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited to the particular embodiments nor to the theoretical description disclosed, but is intended to cover all modifications that are within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.