Title:
BACKPACK MEAL CONTAINER SYSTEMS AND METHODS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Containers or kits are shaped to fit within interior voids or spaces of a backpack. Containers resist crushing or other damaging forces that may be present within the backpack interior space. Containers provide for the efficient and effective transport of food and other items within a soft sided carrier, and are easily opened for convenient access to the contents contained therein. Containers can be shaped so that they fit on top of books and other items being held in a backpack. The containers or kits may be designed for a standard adult backpack, a standard child backpack, or any other desired backpack or carrier configuration.



Inventors:
Hansen, Lisa (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/697002
Publication Date:
10/09/2008
Filing Date:
04/05/2007
Assignee:
Del Monte Foods Incorporated (San Francisco, CA, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45F4/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20080237281Portable sheltered environmentsOctober, 2008Robinson
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20050236448Detachable tote for crutchesOctober, 2005Reader
20090206115BACKPACK WITH SIDE BOLSTERSAugust, 2009Gleason
20070084892Belt buckle for holding valuablesApril, 2007Korlath
20040052622Powered moveable stowageMarch, 2004Chisnall
20080314945COLLAPSIBLE CARGO CARRIER FOR MOTORIZED OR NON-MOTORIZED TRANSPORTATION DEVICESDecember, 2008Gibson
20070045373Scabbard for dual cellphonesMarch, 2007Stewart Sr.
20090173762Detachable Fastening ApparatusJuly, 2009Wang et al.
20060289575Carrying aid deviceDecember, 2006Chou



Primary Examiner:
DEMEREE, CHRISTOPHER R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DILWORTH PAXSON LLP (2 Research Way Suite 103, Princeton, NJ, 08540, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A container for transporting an item within an interior space of a backpack, comprising: a lower portion having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of an object contained in the interior space of the backpack; and an upper portion having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack.

2. The container according to claim 1, wherein the upper portion comprises an openable flap defined at least in part by a perforation.

3. The container according to claim 1, wherein the lower portion comprises an openable flap.

4. The container according to claim 1, further comprising a side portion having an openable flap.

5. The container according to claim 1, wherein the container provides a crush resistant structure.

6. The container according to claim 1, wherein the upper portion and the lower portion comprise a cellulosic fiber material.

7. The container according to claim 6, wherein the upper portion and the lower portion comprise a fiberboard material.

8. The container according to claim 1, wherein the upper portion and the lower portion comprise a plastic material.

9. The container according to claim 1, wherein the upper portion and the lower portion comprise a blister card material.

10. The container according to claim 1, further comprising a food item disposed within the container.

11. A method of transporting an item within an interior space of a backpack, comprising: placing a container containing the item within the interior space of the backpack, such that the container rests upon an object contained in the interior space of the backpack; and transporting the backpack so as to transport the item; wherein the container comprises a bottom panel having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of the object contained in the interior space of the backpack, and an upper profile having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack.

12. The method according to claim 11, further comprising placing the item within the container prior to transporting the backpack.

13. The method according to claim 11, further comprising placing the container within a shell prior to transporting the backpack.

14. The method according to claim 11, wherein the item comprises a food item.

15. A method for preparing an item for transport within an interior space of a backpack, comprising: placing the item within a container; and placing the container within the interior space of the backpack, such that the container rests upon an object contained in the interior space of the backpack; wherein the container comprises a bottom panel having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of the object contained in the interior space of the backpack, and an upper profile having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack.

16. The method according to claim 15, wherein the item comprises a food item.

17. A method for making a container for transporting an item in a backpack, comprising: providing a container blank; and folding the container blank to form a container body; wherein the container body comprises a bottom panel having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of an object contained in an interior space of the backpack, and an upper profile having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack.

18. The method according to claim 17, further comprising placing the item within the container body.

19. The method according to claim 18, wherein the item comprises a food item.

20. The method according to claim 17, further comprising placing the item within the container body and then sealing the container body.

21. A prepackaged container for transporting an item within an interior space of a backpack, comprising: a lower portion having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of an object contained in the interior space of the backpack; an upper portion having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack; and an item contained within an interior space of the container.

22. The prepackaged container according to claim 20, wherein the item comprises a food item.

23. The prepackaged container according to claim 20, wherein the container is sealed.

24. A container for transporting an item within an interior space of a backpack, comprising: a quadrilateral bottom panel having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of an object contained in the interior space of the backpack; a quadrilateral top panel opposing the lower panel; a quadrilateral first end panel; a quadrilateral second end panel opposing the first end panel; a trapezoidal first side panel having an upper base that joins the top panel and a lower base that joins the bottom panel; and a trapezoidal second side panel opposing the first side panel, the trapezoidal second side panel having an upper base that joints the top panel and a lower base that joins the bottom panel; wherein the top, end, and side panels provide a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack.

25. A container blank for forming a container body, comprising: a trapezoidal first side panel; a quadrilateral top panel coupled with the first side panel; a quadrilateral first end panel coupled with the top panel; a quadrilateral second end panel coupled with the top panel; a trapezoidal second side panel coupled with the top panel; and a quadrilateral bottom panel coupled with the second side panel.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention relate to systems and methods for transporting items, primarily food, and in particular to containers for carrying such items in a backpack.

Backpacks and other soft-sided carriers are increasingly being used as a convenient and effective apparatus for transporting personal items. In fact, backpacks are becoming the accessory of choice among many adults and children, replacing brief cases and handbags. An individual will often find it necessary or desirable to carry a meal with them to work, school, or another location. Yet standard lunch boxes or lunch pails often do not easily fit into a backpack. Similarly, although brown paper bags can be placed into a backpack, the typical bagged lunch is susceptible to being smashed by other items such as books which are contained in the backpack. Moreover, the shapes of many commonly available pre-packaged meal systems are not amenable for efficient placement within a backpack, and instead lead to a waste of valuable carrying space.

What is needed are improved systems and methods for transporting food items in a backpack. Relatedly, such meal container systems should be sturdy and provide for an efficient use of space within a backpack. Embodiments of the present invention useful solutions to at least some of these needs.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Advantageously, embodiments of the present invention provide improved approaches for transporting meals and other items, in carriers such as backpacks or other accessories. Systems and methods include containers that are suitably shaped to effectively maximize space management within a backpack. For example, meal containers can be shaped for placement within a backpack void that would otherwise be unoccupied when books and other items are carried in the backpack. What is more, meal containers or cartons are sturdier than a typical bagged lunch that may get smashed when carried in a backpack.

In a first embodiment, embodiments of the present invention provide a container for transporting an item within an interior space of a backpack. The container can include, for example, a lower portion having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of an object contained in the interior space of the backpack, and an upper portion having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack. The upper portion can include an openable flap defined at least in part by a perforation. The lower portion can include an openable flap. In some cases, a side portion includes an openable flap. The container may provide a crush resistant structure. In some cases, the upper portion, the lower portion, or both the upper portion and lower portion, include a cellulosic fiber material. In some cases, the upper portion, the lower portion, or both the upper portion and lower portion, include a fiberboard material. In some cases, the upper portion, the lower portion, or both the upper portion and lower portion, include a plastic material. In some cases, the upper portion, the lower portion, or both the upper portion and the lower portion, include a blister card material. The container may also include a food item disposed therein. In some cases, the container may be sealed, with the food item disposed within the container.

In another aspect, embodiments of the present invention provide a method of transporting an item within an interior space of a backpack. The method may include placing a container containing the item within the interior space of the backpack, such that the container rests upon an object contained in the interior space of the backpack. The method may also include transporting the backpack so as to transport the item. The container can include bottom panel having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of the object contained in the interior space of the backpack, and an upper profile having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack. The method may also include placing the item within the container prior to transporting the backpack. In some cases, the method includes placing the container within a shell prior to transporting the backpack. The item may include a food item.

In another aspect, embodiments of the present invention provide a method for preparing an item for transport within an interior space of a backpack. The method may include placing the item within a container, and placing the container within the interior space of the backpack, such that the container rests upon an object contained in the interior space of the backpack. The container can include a bottom panel having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of the object contained in the interior space of the backpack, and an upper profile having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack. The item may include a food item.

In a still further aspect, embodiments of the present invention provide a method for making a container for transporting an item in a backpack. The method may include providing a container blank, and folding the container blank to form a container body. The container body may include a bottom panel having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of an object contained in an interior space of the backpack, and an upper profile having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack. In some cases, the method can also include placing the item within the container body. The item may include a food item. In some cases, the method may also include placing the item within the container body and then sealing the container body.

In another aspect, embodiments of the present invention provide a prepackaged container for transporting an item within an interior space of a backpack. The prepackaged container may include, for example, a lower portion having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of an object contained in the interior space of the backpack, an upper portion having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack, and an item contained within an interior space of the container. In some cases, the item includes a food item. In related instances, the container is sealed or sealable.

In a further aspect, embodiments of the present invention provide a container for transporting an item within an interior space of a backpack. The container may include a quadrilateral bottom panel having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of an object contained in the interior space of the backpack, a quadrilateral top panel opposing the lower panel, a quadrilateral first end panel, a quadrilateral second end panel opposing the first end panel, a trapezoidal first side panel having an upper base that joins the top panel and a lower base that joins the bottom panel, and a trapezoidal second side panel opposing the first side panel, the trapezoidal second side panel having an upper base that joints the top panel and a lower base that joins the bottom panel. The top, end, and side panels can provide a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack. In another aspect, embodiments of the present invention provide a container blank for forming a container body. The container blank may include, for example, a trapezoidal first side panel, a quadrilateral top panel coupled with the first side panel, a quadrilateral first end panel coupled with the top panel, a quadrilateral second end panel coupled with the top panel, a trapezoidal second side panel coupled with the top panel, and a quadrilateral bottom panel coupled with the second side panel.

For a fuller understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention, reference should be had to the ensuing detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A illustrates a meal container and a backpack according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 1B illustrates a meal container according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 2A and B show a meal container kit according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 3A and B illustrate a meal container according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 4 depicts a meal container according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIGS. 5A to 5E illustrate a meal container and method of construction according to embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 6 depicts a meal container and shell according to embodiments of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Systems and methods disclosed herein provide meal containers or kits that are shaped to fit within interior voids or spaces of a backpack. Meal container embodiments are constructed so as to avoid crushing or other damaging forces that may be present within the backpack interior space. Such containers provide for the efficient and effective transport of food and other items within a soft-sided carrier, and are easily opened for convenient access to the contents contained therein. Containers can be shaped so that they fit on top of books and other items being held in a backpack. In some cases, container openings may include perforated flap or tab openings, or zipper re-closures. Relatedly, a container may include an opening that removably seals or couples with a lid, a panel, or a portion of a panel to access items within the container. The containers or kits may be designed for a standard adult backpack, a standard child backpack, or any other desired backpack or carrier configuration.

Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1A illustrates a meal container 100 for transporting food, or other items within a backpack 200. As shown here, container 100 is disposed within an interior space 210 of backpack 200. Container 100 includes a lower portion 110 having a flat or substantially flat surface 112 configured to fit above or against an object 300 contained within interior space 210. Object 300 can be a book, binder, pencil box, or any other item that may commonly be carried in a backpack. Often, object 300 will present a flat or substantially flat surface against which surface 112 of container 100 is disposed. Container 100 also includes an upper portion 120 having a contour 122 configured to fit against an upper portion 220 of backpack 200. Container 100 therefore can occupy a target space 230 of backpack 200, for example a dead spot or void, that exists between backpack upper portion 220 and object 300. Upper portion 220 may present a variety of contour shapes, including inverted domes, hemispheres, and the like. In some embodiments, upper portion 220 presents a concave shape wherein the open portion of the concavity faces downward. Similarly, upper portion 220 may present a hollow curved or vaulted shape. The shape may be oval, oblong, elliptical, rectangular, trapezoidal, and the like. The contour 122 of the container upper portion 120 may present a shape that fits against or within a backpack upper portion 220 contour shape. It is appreciated that backpack upper portion 220 may have a shape or contour that is a complementary or substantially complementary with any of the container upper portion shapes or contours described herein. FIG. 1B illustrates a close-up view of meal container 100, which includes lower portion 110 and upper portion 120. Container 100 presents a half-moon shape or a shallow half cylinder shape. Lower portion 110 includes a flap or opening 114 whereby container can be opened or closed during use. Container 100 includes a top panel 130, a bottom panel 140, and two opposing side panels 150a, 150b. Top panel 130 and bottom panel 140 are each rectangular in shape. Opposing side panels 150a, 150b are each semi-circular in shape. In some embodiments, the present invention provides a method of transporting food, or other items within an interior space 210 of the backpack 200. These items can be placed within the container 100, and the container can be placed within the interior space 210, such that the container rests upon an object contained within the interior space 210. The object 300 can be, for example, a book or a stack of books. The method may also include transporting or carrying the backpack 200, so as to transport the items within the container 100 to a desired location. In some instances, container 100 may be pre-packaged so as to enclose or contain food, or other items. Thus, embodiments may provide a pre-packaged container or kit for transporting food, or other items within an interior space of a backpack. The container 100 may include a lower portion having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of an object contained in the interior space of the backpack, and an upper portion having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack.

FIGS. 2A and 2B depict a prepackaged meal kit 400 according to embodiments of the present invention. Prepackaged meal kit 400 includes a container 405 and food contents 490. The prepackaged meal kit 400 shown in FIG. 2A is in the upright position, and includes a lower portion 410 and an upper portion 420. Container 405 is configured to fit within an interior space of a backpack, such as an empty space or void that is created between an upper portion of the backpack and the top of an object when the object is placed within the backpack interior space. Lower portion 410 of container 405 includes a flat or substantially flat surface 412 configured to fit above or against an object contained within the backpack interior space. The object or objects, which may include a stack of one or more books, can present a flat or substantially flat surface against which surface 412 of container 405 is disposed. Container upper portion 420 has a contour 422 configured to fit against an upper portion of a backpack. Container 405 therefore can occupy a target space of backpack, for example a dead spot or void, that exists between a backpack upper portion and one or more objects contained in the backpack. As shown here, contour 422 presents a substantially convex or arched shape that fits within an inverted concave or vaulted shape provided by the upper portion of a backpack or other soft-shell carrier. Lower portion 410 includes one or more side tabs 414 and one or more end tabs 415 whereby a bottom panel 440 of the container can be opened or closed during use. Container 405 includes a top panel 430, bottom panel 440, two opposing side panels 450a, 450b, and two opposing end panels 460a, 460b. Top panel 430, bottom panel 440, and end panels 460a, 460b are rectangular in shape. Side panels 450a, 450b are trapezoidal in shape, whereby panel top edges or seams 451a, 451b are shorter in length than panel bottom edges or seams 452a, 452b.

FIG. 2B illustrates container 405 in an inverted position. Here, bottom panel or flap 440 is opened to provide easy access to one or more food items 490 contained therein. Food items 490 can include any of a variety of snacks, beverages, entrees, and the like. In some embodiments, food items 490 can include a drink box, a fruit cup, a sandwich, a can of tuna, a package of cheese and crackers, a granola bar, a bag of potato chips, or the like. Container 400 can be constructed of a sturdy crush-resistant material, such as cellulosic fiber or plastic. In some embodiments, container 405 may include a clear or transparent portion that allows the contents of the container to be viewed from the outside. Container 405 may be any desired color or combination of colors. In some embodiments, container 405 is presented as an empty container that can be filled by a consumer or other end user. In some embodiments, container 400 is part of a pre-packaged meal kit that includes food items 490 disposed within a sealed or otherwise closed container 405. In use, container 405 can be transported within a dead spot of a backpack while oriented in the upward position shown in FIG. 2A. When the end user or other person wishes to remove the contents of container 405, it can be taken out of the backpack, and inverted and opened as depicted in FIG. 2B. In some embodiments, the present invention provides a method of preparing a food item 490 for transport within an interior space of a backpack. The method may include placing the food item 490 within a container 405, and placing the container 405 within an interior space of the backpack, such that the container 405 rests upon an object contained within an interior space of the backpack.

FIGS. 3A and 3B depict a meal container 500 according to embodiments of the present invention. Meal container 500 includes a container body 505 and a detachable panel 590. The meal container 500 shown in FIG. 3A is in the upright position, and includes a lower portion 510 and an upper portion 520. Container 500 is configured to fit within an interior space of a backpack, such as an empty space or void that is created between an upper portion of the backpack and the top of an object when the object is placed within the backpack interior space. Lower portion 510 of container 500 includes a flat or substantially flat surface 512 configured to fit above or against an object contained within the backpack interior space. Here, flat surface 512 is defined at least in part by detachable panel 590. The object or objects, which may include a stack of one or more books, can present a flat or substantially flat surface against which surface 512 of container 500 is disposed. Container upper portion 520 has a contour 522 configured to fit against an upper portion of a backpack. Container 500 therefore can occupy a target space of backpack, for example a dead spot or void, that exists between a backpack upper portion and one or more objects contained in the backpack. As shown here, contour 522 presents a substantially convex or arched shape that fits within an inverted concave or vaulted shape provided by the upper portion of a backpack or other soft-shell carrier. Lower portion 510 includes detachable panel 590 which may encompass an easily opened flush lid or the like. Detachable panel 590 can be removed or attached during use. Container body 505 includes a top panel 530, a bottom opening or rim 515 adapted to receive or sealably couple with detachable bottom panel 590, two opposing side panels 550a, 550b, and two opposing end panels 560a, 560b. Top panel 530, detachable bottom panel, and end panels 560a, 560b are substantially rectangular in shape. Side panels 550a, 550b are substantially trapezoidal or arched in shape, whereby panel top edges or seams 551a, 551b are shorter in length than panel bottom edges or seams 552a, 552b.

FIG. 3B illustrates container 500 in an inverted position. Here, detachable bottom panel is removed to provide easy access to one or more items, such as food items, contained therein. Container 500 can be constructed of a sturdy crush-resistant material, such as cellulosic fiber or plastic. In some embodiments, container 500 may include a clear or transparent portion that allows the contents of the container to be viewed from the outside. Container 500 may be any desired color or combination of colors. In some embodiments, container 500 is presented as an empty container that can be filled by a consumer or other end user. In some embodiments, container 500 is part of a pre-packaged meal kit that includes food items disposed within a sealed or otherwise closed or packaged container 500. In use, container 500 can be transported within a dead spot of a backpack while oriented in the upward position shown in FIG. 3A. When the end user or other person wishes to remove the contents of container 500, the container can be taken out of the backpack, and inverted and opened as depicted in FIG. 3B.

FIG. 4 depicts a meal container 600 according to embodiments of the present invention. Meal container 600 includes a container body 605 and a detachable panel 690. The meal container 600 is in an upright position as it would be carried in a backpack. Container 600 includes a lower portion 610 and an upper portion 620. Container 600 is configured to fit within an interior space of a backpack, such as an empty space or void that is created between an upper portion of the backpack and the top of an object when the object is placed within the backpack interior space. Lower portion 610 of container 600 includes a flat or substantially flat surface 612 configured to fit above or against an object contained within the backpack interior space. The object or objects, which may include a stack of one or more books, can present a flat or substantially flat surface against which surface 612 of container 600 is disposed. Container upper portion 620 has a contour 622 configured to fit against an upper portion of a backpack. Container 600 therefore can occupy a target space of backpack, for example a dead spot or void, that exists between a backpack upper portion and one or more objects contained in the backpack. As shown here, contour 622 presents a substantially convex or arched shape that fits within an inverted concave or vaulted shape provided by the upper portion of a backpack or other soft-shell carrier. Container body 605 includes a top panel 630, two opposing side panels 650a, 650b, and two opposing end panels 660a, 660b. Container body 605 also includes a side opening or rim 615 adapted to receive or sealably couple with detachable side panel 690. In some embodiments, detachable panel 690 includes an easily opened flush lid or the like. Detachable panel 690 can be removed or attached during use. Top panel 630, bottom panel 640, and end panels 660a, 660b are substantially rectangular in shape. Side panels 650a, 650b are substantially trapezoidal or arched in shape, whereby panel top edges or seams 651a, 651b are shorter in length than panel bottom edges or seams 652a, 652b. Detachable side panel 690 can be removed to provide easy access to one or more food items contained therein. Container 600 can be constructed of a sturdy crush-resistant material, such as cellulosic fiber or plastic. In some embodiments, container 600 may include a clear or transparent portion that allows the contents of the container to be viewed from the outside. Container 600 may be any desired color or combination of colors. In some embodiments, container 600 is presented as an empty container that can be filled by a consumer or other end user. In some embodiments, container 600 is part of a pre-packaged meal kit that includes food items disposed within a sealed or otherwise closed or packaged container 600. In use, container 600 can be transported within a dead spot of a backpack while oriented in the upward position shown in FIG. 4. When the end user or other person wishes to remove the contents of container 600, the container can be taken out of the backpack and opened. In some embodiments, container 600 may remain in the backpack when the container is opened.

In some cases, a container can be constructed from or include a folded fiberboard or similar material. As depicted in FIGS. 5A to 5E, a flat piece or die-cut blank that can be folded to create a container for holding food or other items according to embodiments of the present invention. FIG. 5A illustrates the interior side or face of a container blank 700 that includes a series of panels or portions, including a top panel 705, a bottom panel 710, a first side panel 715, a second side panel 720, a first end panel 725, and a second end panel 730. Blank 700 can also include one or more accordion flaps. The exterior side or face of blank 700 is on the side opposite to the interior side. As shown here, blank 700 includes accordion flaps 717, 734 disposed between first side panel 715 and second end panel 730, according flaps 719, 729 disposed between first side panel 715 and first end panel 725, accordion flaps 731, 724 disposed between first end panel 725 and bottom panel 710, and according flaps 722, 736 disposed between bottom panel 710 and second end panel 730. Blank 700 can also include one or more tabs. As shown here, blank 700 includes a first end panel tab 727, a second end panel tab 732, and a bottom panel tab 740. Panels, according flaps, tabs, and the like may include, form, or otherwise present various combinations of folds, seams, edges, score lines, or perforations. For example, top panel 705 may include edges 705a, 705b, 705c, and 705d. Likewise, first side panel 715 may include edges 715a, 715b, 715c, and 715d. In the embodiment shown here, top panel 705 is disposed adjacent to first side panel 715, such that edge 705a joins with edge 715c, thereby forming a seam 705a/715c which may be folded.

Top panel 705 is also disposed adjacent to second side panel 720, such that edge 705c joins with edge 720a, thereby forming a seam 705c/720a which may be folded. Further, top panel 705 is disposed adjacent to first end panel 725, such that edge 705b joins with edge 725d, thereby forming a seam 705b/725d which may be folded. Top panel 705 is disposed adjacent to second end panel 730, such that edge 705d joins with edge 730b, thereby forming a seam 705d/730b which may be folded. First side panel 715 is disposed adjacent to accordion flap 719, such that edge 715b joins with edge 719a, thereby forming a seam 715b/719a which may be folded. First side panel 715 is also disposed adjacent to accordion flap 717, such that edge 715d joins with edge 717a, thereby forming a seam 715d/717a which may be folded. First side panel 715 also includes edge 715a, which may include indents 715a′ and 715a″. Second side panel 720 is disposed adjacent to accordion flap 724, such that edge 720b joins with edge 724c, thereby forming a seam 720b/724c which may be folded. Second side panel 720 is also disposed adjacent to accordion flap 722, such that edge 720d joins with edge 722b, thereby forming a seam 720d/722b which may be folded. Bottom panel 710 is disposed adjacent to second side panel 720, such that edge 710a joins with edge 720c, thereby forming a seam 710a/720c which may be folded. Bottom panel 710 is also disposed adjacent to tab 740, such that edge 710c joins with edge 740a, thereby forming a seam 710c/740a which may be folded. Tab 740 also includes edges 740b, 740c, and 740d. Bottom panel 710 also includes edges 710b and 710d.

First end panel 725 is disposed adjacent to accordion flap 729, such that edge 725a joins with edge 729c, thereby forming a seam 725a/729c which may be folded. First end panel 725 is also disposed adjacent to accordion flap 731, such that edge 725c joins with edge 731a, thus forming a seam 725c/731a. First end panel 725 is disposed adjacent to tab 727, such that edge 725b joins with edge 727d, thereby forming a seam 725b/727d which may be folded. Tab 727 also includes edges 727a, 727b, and 727c. Second end panel 730 is disposed adjacent to accordion flap 734, such that edge 730a joins with edge 734b, thereby forming a seam 730a/734b which may be folded. Second end panel 730 is also disposed adjacent to accordion flap 736, such that edge 730c joins with edge 736a, thus forming a seam 730c/736a. Second end panel 730 is disposed adjacent to tab 732, such that edge 730d joins with edge 732b, thereby forming a seam 730d/732b which may be folded. Tab 732 also includes edges 732a, 732c, and 732d.

Accordion flap 719 is disposed adjacent to accordion flap 729, such that edge 719c joins with edge 729a, thereby forming a seam 719c/729a which may be folded. Accordion flap 719 includes edge 719b, and accordion flap 729 includes edge 729b. Accordion flap 731 is disposed adjacent to accordion flap 724, such that edge 731c joins with edge 724a, thereby forming a seam 731c/724a which may be folded. Accordion flap 731 includes edge 731b, and accordion flap 724 includes edge 724b. Accordion flap 717 is disposed adjacent to accordion flap 734, such that edge 717b joins with edge 734a, thereby forming a seam 717b/734a which may be folded. Accordion flap 717 includes edge 717c, and accordion flap 734 includes edge 734c. Accordion flap 736 is disposed adjacent to accordion flap 722, such that edge 736b joins with edge 722a, thereby forming a seam 736b/722a which may be folded. Accordion flap 736 includes edge 736c, and accordion flap 722 includes edge 722c.

Perforations or score lines 750a, 750b extend from top panel 705 to first side panel 715, traversing seam 705a/715c. As shown here, perforations 750a and 750b partition first side panel 715 into sections 715i, 715ii, and 715iii, and top panel 705 into sections 705i, 705ii, and 705iii. Perforation 750a spans from seam 705c/720a to indent 715a′. Perforation 750b spans from seam 705c/720a to indent 715a″. Accordion flaps 719, 729, 731, 724, 722, 736, 717, and 734 are triangular in shape.

As shown in FIG. 5B, edge 715a of first side panel 715 and edge 740c of bottom panel tab 740 can be drawn together as indicated by arrow A, so as to create or induce folds at one or more of seams 705a/715c, 730a/734b, 725a/729c, 705c/720a, 710a/720c, 730c/736a, 725c/731a, and 710c/740a. Tab 732 may include or be coupled with an adhesive member or substance 732a, such as a strip of double sided tape, glue, and the like. Tabs 727 and 732 may include similar adhesive members. In some embodiments, bottom panel tab 740 may include such an adhesive member 740i. FIG. 5C illustrates another step in a sequence of the container construction method. An interior face of first side panel tab 715a is fixed or attached with an exterior face of bottom panel tab 740. At the container first end 750, accordion flaps 719 and 729, as well as accordion flaps 731 and 724 (not shown in this Figure), can be collapsed by the inward folding of seam 719c/729a as indicated by arrow A and the inward folding of seam 731c/724a (not shown in this Figure). Edge 727b of tab 727 and edge 710b (not shown) of bottom panel 710 can be drawn together so as to create or induce a fold at seam 725b/727d, seam 705b/725d, or both, as indicated by arrow B. This may also be accompanied by the collapse of accordion flaps 729, 719, 731, and 724, and the folding of seams 715b/719a, 725a/729c, 719c/729a, and 725c/731a, as well as seams 720b/724c and 731c/724a (not shown in this Figure). Similarly, at container second end 760, edge 732d of tab 732 and edge 710d of bottom panel 710 can be drawn together so as to create or induce a fold at seam 730d/732b, seam 705d/730b, or both. This may also be accompanied by the collapse of accordion flaps 734, 717, 736, and 722 (not shown in this Figure), and the folding of seams 715d/717a, 717b/734a, 730a/734b, 730c/736a, 736a/722a (not shown in this Figure), and 720d/722b. An adhesive material or substance may be used to adhere or seal exterior faces of tabs 727 and 732 with interior faces of bottom panel edges 710b (not shown in this Figure) and 710d, respectively.

FIG. 5D illustrates a folded container blank 700 according to embodiments of the present invention. Container blank 700 is folded to form a container body 755. In some embodiments, the container body may be sealed and may contain food contents therein. Container body 755 includes a lower portion 760 and an upper portion 770. Container 755 is configured to fit within an interior space of a backpack, such as an empty space or void that is created between an upper portion of the backpack and the top of an object when the object is placed within the backpack interior space. Lower portion 760 of container body 755 includes a flat or substantially flat surface 762, formed at least in part by bottom panel 710, configured to fit above or against an object contained within the backpack interior space. The object or objects, which may include a stack of one or more books, can present a flat or substantially flat surface against which surface 762 of container body 755 is disposed. Container upper portion 770 has a contour 772 configured to fit against an upper portion of a backpack. Container body 755 therefore can occupy a target space of backpack, for example a dead spot or void, that exists between a backpack upper portion and one or more objects contained in the backpack. As shown here, contour 772 presents a substantially convex or arched shape that fits within an inverted concave or vaulted shape provided by the upper portion of a backpack or other soft-shell carrier. Lower portion 760 includes one or more side tabs 740 and one or more end tabs 727, 732. Container body 755 includes a top panel 705, bottom panel 710, two opposing side panels 715, 720, and two opposing end panels 730,725. Top panel 705, bottom panel 710, and end panels 727, 730 are rectangular in shape. Side panels 715, 720 are trapezoidal in shape, whereby panel top edge or seam 705a/715c is shorter in length than panel bottom edge or seam 710c/740a. For example, seam 705a/715c can have a length S within a range from about 3 inches to about 9 inches. In some embodiments seam 705a/715c has a length S of about 6 inches. Seam 710c/740a can have a length L within a range from about 4 inches to about 17 inches. In some embodiments, seam 710c/740a has a length L of about 9 inches. Relatedly, container 700 can have a depth D of any desired length. In some embodiments, seam 730d/732b can have a length D within a range from of about 1 to about 8 inches. Seam 730d/732b may also have a length D within a range from of about 3 to about 3.5 inches. Bottom or lower panel 710 can be defined by a quadrilateral shape, and has a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of an object contained in the interior space of a backpack, such as a stack of books. A top or upper panel 705 may be defined by a quadrilateral shape, and may present an opposing sidewall to the lower panel. First and second opposing end panels may be defined by quadrilateral shapes as well. First and second opposing side panels may be defined by trapezoidal shapes, whereby each side panel includes an upper base or edge that joins an upper or top panel, and each side panel includes a lower base or edge that joins a lower or bottom panel. The side, end, and top panels may provide a contour that is configured to fit against an upper portion of an interior space of a backpack.

As depicted in FIG. 5E, container body 755 can be opened by tearing or separating the body along perforations 750a and 750b. In this way, section 715ii can be separated from sections 715iii and 715i, and section 705ii can be separated from sections 705iii and 705i. Section 705ii, section 715ii, or both, may present an openable flap whereby the container body may be opened and closed. As shown here, arrow A indicates the opening of a flap defined by sections 715ii and 705ii. The flap may be defined at least in part by one or more perforations. It is appreciated that container blank 700 may be configured so as to provide an openable flap or panel on any desired face or portion of the container, such as the top face or portion, the bottom face or portion, an end face or portion, or a side face or portion. Adhesive 742a can be used to releasably adhere tab 740 with first side panel 715. Often, container blank 700 will be constructed of or include a crush-resistant material such as a fiberboard or a plastic so as to provide a crush resistant container body 755 or structure. In some embodiments, container body 755 presents a pre-packaged food container that includes one or more food items within an interior space of the container. Thus, in accordance with the techniques describe above with reference to FIGS. 5A to 5E, embodiments of the present invention provide a method for making a container that can be used for transporting a food item in a backpack.

Any of the container described herein or can be constructed of a sturdy crush-resistant material, such as cellulosic fiber or plastic. In some embodiments, containers may include a clear or transparent portion that allows the contents of the container to be viewed from the outside. Containers may be any desired color or combination of colors. Containers may include perforated flap or tab openings, or zipper re-closures. A container may include an opening that removably seals or couples with a lid, a panel, or a portion of a lid or panel. The lids or other re-closures may be placed on the top of the container, on the side of the container, on the bottom of the container, or any desired combination thereof. In some embodiments, a container may be formed of or include a blister card packaging or material. A blister card material may include plastic and fiber components. A container may include one or more peg holes or other apertures for hanging on a peg or support of a store shelf display. In some embodiments, a container may be constructed of reinforced mesh materials, or other materials or combinations of materials with a zipper or other closures.

In some embodiments, a container is presented as an empty container that can be filled by a consumer or other end user with food, beverages, or other items. In some embodiments, a container is part of a pre-packaged kit that includes one or more items disposed within a sealed or otherwise closed container. Relatedly, a container can be part of a pre-packaged meal kit that includes one or more food or beverage items disposed within a sealed or otherwise closed container. In some embodiments, a container may include or incorporate secondary stabilizing packaging that supports or holds items within the container. For example, secondary stabilizing packaging may hold or stabilize pre-packed food in place within the container while the container is transported or shipped. In some cases, stabilizing packaging can include plastic or cardboard material. Secondary stabilizing packaging can include barriers, tabs, flaps, loops, holders, and the like. Such stabilizing features can secure items, such as food or beverage items, within the container and prevent or inhibit unwanted movement of the items within the container during shipping or transport. In some pre-packaged format embodiments, items within a container may include, but are not limited to, a pouch of tuna, cheese, crackers, a bag of chips, beverages, cereal, a fruit cup, toy prizes, a granola bar, or the like. Containers may be shaped so that they fit on top of books or other items being held in a backpack. In some embodiments, a backpack container may have a width within a range from about 6 inches to about 12 inches, a depth at the lower section of the container within a range from about 2 inches to about 6 inches, and a height at the highest point of the upper portion contour shape within a range from about 2 inches to about 6 inches. In some cases, the dimensions can be based on or determined by the available space in a backpack design after being filled with books and other personal items.

As depicted in FIG. 6, embodiments of the present invention include a container system 800 having an outer insulated or protective shell 810 for holding a container 820. Shell 810 shell may be constructed of a fabric mesh or other material. The shell can provide a re-usable receptacle for carrying or storing containers and kits as described herein. In some cases, a shell may be sold or otherwise distributed as a promotional item. A shell may have branding or marketing insignia displayed thereon or attached thereto. As shown here, shell 800 includes coupling elements 830, such as fasteners, hood and loop closures such as Velcro®, and the like, for maintaining the shell in a closed configuration. Typically, such a shell will be slightly larger than the container, and have a similar shape or configuration. Accordingly, the shell can have a lower portion having a substantially flat surface configured to fit on top of an object contained in the interior space of the backpack; and an upper portion having a contour configured to fit against an upper portion of the backpack. For example, a shell can be shaped so that it fits on top of books or other items being held in a backpack. A shell may be designed for a standard adult backpack, a standard child backpack, or any other desired backpack or carrier configuration. In some cases, a shell may contain a prepackaged container, a container that is packed by the end user, or an empty container.

Embodiments of the invention have now been described in detail. However, it will be appreciated that the invention may be carried out in ways other than those illustrated in the aforesaid discussion, and that certain changes and modifications may be practiced within the scope of the appended claims. Accordingly, the scope of this invention is not intended to be limited by those specific examples, but rather is to be accorded the scope represented in the following claims.