Title:
Packaging For Pizza
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A package for a hot food item may include an enclosure adapted to receive the hot food item, and a barrier disposed within the enclosure. The barrier may include a moisture impermeable portion covering at least a first portion of the hot food item such that moisture from the first portion is at least partially retained therein. The package is adapted to retain moisture in the first portion of the hot food item, while reducing moisture accumulation in a second portion of the hot food item.



Inventors:
Fritz-jung, Cathryn (Grosse Pointe Farms, MI, US)
Thomas, Amanda B. (Livonia, MI, US)
Rebant, Jason E. (Holt, MI, US)
Kakish, Hiba (Dearborn, MI, US)
Application Number:
12/212197
Publication Date:
03/19/2009
Filing Date:
09/17/2008
Assignee:
LITTLE CAESAR ENTERPRISES, INC. (Detroit, MI, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
383/113
International Classes:
B65D81/26; B65D30/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GRANO, ERNESTO ARTURIO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Harness Dickey (Troy) (P.O. BOX 828, BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MI, 48303, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A package for a hot food item comprising: a moisture permeable enclosure adapted to receive said hot food item; and a barrier disposed within said moisture permeable enclosure, said barrier having a moisture impermeable portion covering at least a first portion of said hot food item such that moisture from said first portion is at least partially retained therein, wherein said moisture permeable enclosure inhibits moisture from accumulating on a second portion of said hot food item.

2. The package according to claim 1, further comprising a rigid insert supporting said hot food item.

3. The package according to claim 2, wherein said rigid insert wicks moisture away from a portion of said hot food item.

4. The package according to claim 1, wherein said moisture permeable enclosure is a flexible bag.

5. The package according to claim 1, wherein said moisture permeable enclosure includes gussets facilitating selective expansion and contraction of a volume defined by said moisture permeable enclosure.

6. The package according to claim 1, wherein said barrier includes an adhesive strip.

7. The package according to claim 1, wherein said barrier includes a pocket adapted to receive at least a portion of said hot food item.

8. The package according to claim 7, wherein said barrier is removable from said moisture permeable enclosure and a portion of said barrier is adapted to be folded over an opening of said pocket to contain said portion of said hot food item, thereby forming a secondary packaging for said portion of said hot food item.

9. The package according to claim 1, wherein said barrier includes a plurality of apertures aligned with said second portion of said hot food item.

10. The package according to claim 9, wherein said plurality of apertures allow water vapor to pass therethrough, while inhibiting condensed water from passing therethrough.

11. The package according to claim 1, wherein said barrier is removed from a common header having a plurality of barriers prior to assembly of said package.

12. The package according to claim 1, further comprising a spacer adapted to maintain a spaced-apart relationship between said hot food item and said barrier.

13. The package according to claim 12, wherein said spacer is a ring disposed around a periphery of said hot food item.

14. The package according to claim 12, wherein said spacer includes a plurality of legs and a plurality of support members forming a grid.

15. The package according to claim 1, wherein said barrier is a thin film.

16. The package according to claim 1, wherein said barrier is formed from high-density polyethylene.

17. A food package comprising: a bag having a first closed end and a second open end; an insert supporting a food item, said insert being receivable within said bag; a moisture barrier having a plurality of apertures, said moisture barrier covering at least a portion of said food item; and a spacer disposed between said insert and said moisture barrier, said spacer preventing direct contact between said food item and said moisture barrier, wherein said moisture barrier is formed from a moisture impermeable material, thereby retaining moisture in a first portion of said food item; and further wherein said plurality of apertures are disposed over a second portion of said food item, thereby reducing moisture absorption in said second portion of said food item.

18. The food package according to claim 17, wherein said bag is formed from a moisture permeable material.

19. The food package according to claim 17, wherein said bag includes gussets facilitating selective expansion and contraction of said bag.

20. The food package according to claim 17, wherein said insert wicks moisture away from a portion of said second portion of said food item.

21. The food package according to claim 17, wherein said insert is formed from a thermally insulative material.

22. The food package according to claim 17, wherein said moisture barrier includes an adhesive strip.

23. The food package according to claim 17, wherein said moisture barrier includes a pocket adapted to receive at least a portion of said food item.

24. The food package according to claim 23, wherein said moisture barrier is removable from said bag and a portion of said moisture barrier is adapted to be folded over an opening of said pocket to contain said portion of said food item, thereby forming a secondary packaging for said portion of said food item.

25. The food package according to claim 17, wherein said moisture barrier is removed from a common header having a plurality of moisture barriers prior to assembly of said food package.

26. The food package according to claim 17, wherein said moisture barrier is formed from a non-stick plastic film.

27. A package for transporting and containing a baked pizza comprising: an insert operable to receive and support said pizza; a covering portion having a first moisture permeability and adapted to cover toppings of said pizza; and a bag having a second moisture permeability greater than said first moisture permeability and operable to receive said insert and said covering portion.

28. The package according to claim 27, wherein said covering portion includes a film adapted to cover toppings of the pizza.

29. The package according to claim 28, wherein said film is formed from high-density polyethylene.

30. The package according to claim 27, wherein said covering portion includes a plurality of apertures extending through at least a portion of said covering portion.

31. The package according to claim 27, further comprising a spacer adapted to maintain a spaced-apart relationship between said pizza and said covering portion.

32. The package according to claim 27, wherein an open end of said bag is releasably fastened closed to further protect the pizza and facilitate heat retention within the bag.

33. The package according to claim 27, wherein said bag is formed from a perforated impermeable material.

34. The package according to claim 27, wherein said bag includes a first panel formed from a perforated impermeable material and a second panel formed from a permeable material.

35. A package comprising: a plurality of expandable side portions; a lower portion interconnecting first ends of said expandable side portions; an upper portion interconnecting second ends of said expandable side portions; a perforated moisture barrier disposed between said lower portion and said upper portion; a volume defined by said lower portion, said expandable side portions and said perforated moisture barrier, said volume being adapted to receive a food item; and a pocket at least partially defined by said upper portion and said perforated moisture barrier, wherein said pocket is adapted to receive water vapor and retain condensation, thereby thermally insulating said volume.

36. The package according to claim 35, further comprising a rigid insert adapted to support said food item.

37. The package according to claim 36, wherein said rigid insert and said lower portion cooperate to reduce moisture absorption in a crisp portion of said food item.

38. The package according to claim 35, further comprising a spacer disposed within said volume and maintaining a spaced-apart relationship between said perforated moisture barrier and said food item.

39. The package according to claim 35, wherein said lower portion is formed from paper.

40. The package according to claim 35, wherein said perforated moisture barrier is formed from a thin film.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/973,225, filed on Sep. 18, 2007 and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/021,439, filed on Jan. 16, 2008. The disclosures of the above applications are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD

The present disclosure relates to packaging for pizza and, more particularly, to a package that maintains the desirable characteristics of a cooked pizza.

BACKGROUND

This section provides background information related to the present disclosure which is not necessarily prior art.

Product packaging is an important feature for businesses that sell take-out, pre-cooked pizzas and/or other hot food items. Packaging for pizzas can provide convenience so that a customer can easily transport the pizza from the store to another location where the pizza will be consumed, protect the pizza during transit, and, for a limited time, keep the pizza warm.

In addition, pizza packaging can provide advertising for the business that provides the pizza. For example, the business's vital information, such as name, phone number, and address, can be printed on the outside of the packaging. For another example, the packaging can be physically unique such that a person who sees the pizza packaging automatically associates the packaging with the particular pizza business that made the pizza.

Typically, packaging for carry-out pizza is made from corrugated cardboard, paper, or some combination of corrugated cardboard and paper. A traditional corrugated cardboard pizza box, for example, provides a sturdy package for transporting the pizza, generally maintains the pizza at a warm temperature, and provides plenty of space for advertising. The cardboard box can wick moisture away from the pizza. Although the wicking effect can advantageously maintain the crust in a crisp state, it works against keeping the toppings moist. It also works against keeping the pizza warm by encouraging evaporative cooling.

Cardboard packaging also has cost disadvantages. For example, cardboard packaging can be more costly to manufacture than paper packaging. Further, cardboard boxes are often delivered to the pizza business in an unassembled or unfolded state. The boxes must be assembled or folded on-site by employees, thereby incurring additional labor costs. Also, cardboard boxes, whether folded or unfolded, can be bulky and require a lot of storage space. All of these disadvantages are magnified when the pizza business is a high-volume, carry-out pizza business.

A traditional paper package can be a more cost-effective and space-efficient packaging option than cardboard boxes. However, paper packaging is generally less effective at maintaining the temperature of the pizza and does not have the insulation properties of cardboard boxes. By allowing the moisture to escape, the crust can maintain the desired crispiness, but the toppings can lose desirable moisture and the temperature of the pizza can be rapidly reduced.

In addition, paper packaging generally does not provide a sufficiently rigid packaging structure conducive to transporting, stacking, and protecting the pizza. Often, a cardboard insert placed underneath the pizza and between the pizza and paper packaging is required to provide additional rigidity so that the customer can transport the pizza. Also, the top of the paper package, because it is pliable, is often free to contact the pizza toppings and can stick to and damage the appearance of the pizza.

It is desirable, therefore, to have a cost-effective and distinct pizza-packaging configuration that can, among other things, maintain the moisture content of the toppings while inhibiting moisture absorption by the crust, maintain the pizza at a desirable temperature for an extended time period, and protect the pizza during transport and storage.

SUMMARY

This section provides a general summary of the disclosure, and is not a comprehensive disclosure of its full scope or all of its features.

In one form, a package for a pizza or other food item may include a moisture permeable enclosure adapted to receive the food item; and a barrier disposed within the moisture permeable enclosure, the barrier having a moisture impermeable portion covering at least a first portion of the food item such that moisture from the first portion is at least partially retained therein. The moisture permeable enclosure prevents moisture from accumulating on a second portion of the food item.

In another form, a food package may include a bag having a first closed end and a second open end; an insert supporting a food item, the insert being receivable within the bag; a moisture barrier having a plurality of apertures, the moisture barrier covering at least a portion of the food item; and a spacer disposed between the insert and the moisture barrier, the spacer preventing direct contact between the food item and the moisture barrier. The moisture barrier may be formed from a moisture impermeable material, thereby retaining moisture in a first portion of the food item. The plurality of apertures may be disposed over a second portion of the food item, thereby reducing moisture absorption in the second portion of the food item.

In yet another form, a package for transporting and containing a baked pizza may include an insert operable to receive and support the pizza; a covering portion having a first moisture permeability and adapted to cover toppings of the pizza; and a bag having a second moisture permeability greater than the first moisture permeability and operable to receive the insert and the covering portion.

In still another form, a package may include a plurality of expandable side portions; a lower portion interconnecting first ends of the expandable side portions; an upper portion interconnecting second ends of the expandable side portions; a perforated moisture barrier disposed between the lower portion and the upper portion; a volume defined by the lower portion, the expandable side portions and the perforated moisture barrier, the volume being adapted to receive a food item; and a pocket at least partially defined by the upper portion and the perforated moisture barrier. The pocket may be adapted to receive water vapor and retain condensation, thereby thermally insulating the volume.

Further areas of applicability will become apparent from the description provided herein. The description and specific examples in this summary are intended for purposes of illustration only and are not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure.

DRAWINGS

The drawings described herein are for illustrative purposes only of selected embodiments and not all possible implementations, and are not intended to limit the scope of the present disclosure.

FIG. 1 is a partially exploded perspective view of a first embodiment of a pizza packaging according to the principles of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of a bag of the pizza packaging of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an alternate spacer for the pizza packaging of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view an another alternate spacer for the pizza packaging of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a partially exploded perspective view of another embodiment of a pizza packaging according to the principles of the present disclosure;

FIG. 6 is a graphical illustration of the heat retention of the pizza packaging of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a graphical illustration of the heat retention of the pizza packaging of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a graphical illustration of the heat retention of a conventional box-type pizza packaging;

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of a pizza packaging according to a further embodiment;

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of a pizza packaging according to a further embodiment;

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of a pizza packaging according to a further embodiment;

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of a pizza packaging according to a further embodiment;

FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view of a pizza packaging according to a further embodiment;

FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional view of a pizza packaging according to a further embodiment;

FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view of a pizza packaging according to a further embodiment;

FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view of a pizza packaging according to a further embodiment;

FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional view of a pizza packaging according to a further embodiment;

FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view of a pizza packaging according to a further embodiment;

FIG. 19 is a graphical illustration of the heat retention of the pizza packaging of FIG. 11;

FIG. 20 is a partially exploded perspective view of a first embodiment of a pizza packaging according to the principles of the present disclosure;

FIG. 21 is an assembled view of the pizza packaging of FIG. 20;

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of an insert and a moisture barrier for the pizza packaging of FIG. 20;

FIG. 23 is a top view of a moisture barrier having a pocket formed therein;

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of a bulk package arrangement for moisture barriers according to the principles of the present disclosure; and

FIG. 25 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a bulk package arrangement for moisture barriers according to the principles of the present disclosure.

Corresponding reference numerals indicate corresponding parts throughout the several views of the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Example embodiments will now be described more fully with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Example embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough, and will fully convey the scope to those who are skilled in the art. Numerous specific details are set forth such as examples of specific components, devices, and methods, to provide a thorough understanding of embodiments of the present disclosure. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that specific details need not be employed, that example embodiments may be embodied in many different forms and that neither should be construed to limit the scope of the disclosure. In some example embodiments, well-known processes, well-known device structures, and well-known technologies are not described in detail.

The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular example embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting. As used herein, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” may be intended to include the plural forms as well, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. The terms “comprises,” “comprising,” “including,” and “having” are inclusive and therefore specify the presence of stated features, integers, steps, operations, elements, and/or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, integers, steps, operations, elements, components, and/or groups thereof. The method steps, processes, and operations described herein are not to be construed as necessarily requiring their performance in the particular order discussed or illustrated, unless specifically identified as an order of performance. It is also to be understood that additional or alternative steps may be employed.

When an element or layer is referred to as being “on,” “engaged to,” “connected to,” or “coupled to” another element or layer, it may be directly on, engaged, connected or coupled to the other element or layer, or intervening elements or layers may be present. In contrast, when an element is referred to as being “directly on,” “directly engaged to,” “directly connected to,” or “directly coupled to” another element or layer, there may be no intervening elements or layers present. Other words used to describe the relationship between elements should be interpreted in a like fashion (e.g., “between” versus “directly between,” “adjacent” versus “directly adjacent,” etc.). As used herein, the term “and/or” includes any and all combinations of one or more of the associated listed items.

Although the terms first, second, third, etc. may be used herein to describe various elements, components, regions, layers and/or sections, these elements, components, regions, layers and/or sections should not be limited by these terms. These terms may be only used to distinguish one element, component, region, layer or section from another region, layer or section. Terms such as “first,” “second,” and other numerical terms when used herein do not imply a sequence or order unless clearly indicated by the context. Thus, a first element, component, region, layer or section discussed below could be termed a second element, component, region, layer or section without departing from the teachings of the example embodiments.

Spatially relative terms, such as “inner,” “outer,” “beneath,” “below,” “lower,” “above,” “upper,” and the like, may be used herein for ease of description to describe one element or feature's relationship to another element(s) or feature(s) as illustrated in the figures. Spatially relative terms may be intended to encompass different orientations of the device in use or operation in addition to the orientation depicted in the figures. For example, if the device in the figures is turned over, elements described as “below” or “beneath” other elements or features would then be oriented “above” the other elements or features. Thus, the example term “below” can encompass both an orientation of above and below. The device may be otherwise oriented (rotated 90 degrees or at other orientations) and the spatially relative descriptors used herein interpreted accordingly.

The pizza packaging configurations described herein include a moisture permeable bag and an impermeable moisture barrier aligned with a top of a pizza. The impermeable film portion has a low moisture permeability that inhibits the moisture radiating from the pizza toppings from escaping upward through the bag. The bag has a higher moisture permeability that allows some moisture to escape from the bag, thereby reducing the amount of moisture absorbed by the crust and helping maintain the crust in a desirable crisp state. The packaging configurations can also include an insert and a spacer that provide structural integrity and stackability to the bag and protect the pizza during transit.

It will also be appreciated that the packaging described herein is not limited in application to pizzas. The principles of the present disclosure may be applicable to packaging for any food item, particularly hot food items having a crisp portion and a moist portion.

As used herein the term “impermeable” refers to materials including plastic films (such as non-stick polyethylene and other plastic films), rubber, nylon, wax paper, aluminum foil and tin foil that exhibit little or no moisture permeability. Further, the term “permeable” refers to materials including paper, cloth or fabrics made from natural or synthetic fibers, woven and non-woven that exhibit moisture permeability. It will be appreciated that otherwise “impermeable” materials may be rendered “permeable” by apertures extending therethrough.

With specific reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, a first embodiment of a pizza packaging 20 is illustrated and can include a bag 22, an insert 24 that can support a pizza 26 and be received within bag 22, and an optional spacer 28 that can be disposed around pizza 26 to maintain a gap between the top of pizza 26 and bag 22. Bag 22 can include a lower, moisture permeable portion 30 that generally surrounds the bottom of the pizza 26 and an upper moisture impermeable barrier 32 secured to a top of the lower, permeable portion 30. The lower, permeable portion 30 can be multi-layered and can also include perforations therein.

The bag 22 can be configured to accommodate a wide range of sizes and shapes of pizza 26 and can have an opening 34 in one end and gussets 36 extending along opposing sides 38. The optional gussets 36 can be formed in the permeable portion 30 and can permit contraction of the bag 22 such that the bag 22 may be stored in a generally flat state, thereby encouraging stackability and reducing the storage space necessary to maintain an inventory of bags 22. The bag 22 can be expanded as necessary to receive pizza 26, insert 24, and optional spacer 28. A footprint of bag 22 and gussets 36 are preferably configured to reduce the empty, or dead, space existing within bag 22 after pizza 26, insert 24, and spacer 28 are inserted.

As best shown in FIG. 2, moisture impermeable barrier 32 can be secured at or near its outer edges to the permeable portion 30 and can include an upper impermeable portion 50 and an interior perforated impermeable portion 52. Perforated impermeable portion 52 and upper impermeable portion 50 are secured to permeable portion 30 using a suitable method, such as adhesion to create a pocket 56 therebetween. Moisture impermeable barrier 32 can be configured in various sizes and shapes to compliment pizzas 26 of various size and shape and can be sized to cover only the toppings portion of the pizza 26. Alternatively, moisture impermeable barrier 32 can be configured to compliment a size and shape of the lower permeable portion 30.

Upper impermeable portion 50 and perforated impermeable portion 52 can be made from a material having sufficient density to inhibit moisture transfer therethrough. For example, in the present embodiment, upper and perforated impermeable portions 50, 52 are made from a non-stick, high-density polyethylene suitable for use in food-grade applications. However, a person of ordinary skill will appreciate that upper and perforated impermeable portions 50, 52 could be made from other suitable impermeable materials, as discussed above. The person of ordinary skill will further appreciate that upper and perforated portions 50, 52 could each comprise different materials and still realize the advantages of the present disclosure. For example, upper portion 50 could comprise polyethylene and perforated portion 52 could comprise waxed paper. Further, a moisture permeable material 52′ could be utilized in place of perforated impermeable portion 52 as illustrated in FIG. 9 to make up bag 22′. Furthermore, as illustrated in FIG. 10, the upper impermeable portion 50 of FIG. 9 could also be replaced with a perforated impermeable material 50′, thus rendering the perforated impermeable material of the bag 22″ as moisture permeable. FIGS. 13 and 14 show the pizza packaging of FIGS. 9 and 10, respectively, with the bottom portion 30′ of the bag being formed from a perforated permeable material.

Perforated portions as discussed herein may refer to permeable or impermeable materials that include a plurality of apertures 54 extending therethrough. A size of apertures 54 can be selected to allow moisture in the form of steam, or water vapor, to pass through the perforated portion but inhibit moisture in the form of condensed water to pass back through the perforated portion. Apertures 54 having a diameter ranging from approximately 0.1 mm to approximately 3.5 cm and spaced apart in a grid-like configuration can be advantageously utilized to realize the advantages of the present disclosure. In addition, the quantity and arrangement of apertures 54 can be configured to affect the rate at which water vapor passes through the perforated portion.

Pizza packaging 20 can also include insert 24 configured to be received within opening 34 of bag 22 and sufficiently rigid to support a pizza 26 during transport. Insert 24 can also be configured in various sizes and shapes to accommodate varying sizes and shapes of pizza 26. Insert 24 can be made from flat, corrugated cardboard and has a perimetrical shape that can fit snugly inside bag 22. For example, as presently illustrated, insert 24 is a generally square insert having a length and width slightly larger than pizza 26 and slightly smaller than the length and width of bag 22. Radii 40 may be formed in two adjacent corners of insert 24 (FIG. 20) to create a transition between the front and sides of insert 24, which may facilitate insertion of insert 24 into bag 22. It will be appreciated, however, that radii 40 may be formed in each corner of insert 24 (FIG. 1). It will further be appreciated that radii 40 may be replaced with chamfers. For another example, insert 24 could be a round insert having a diameter slightly less than the length and width of bag 22 and slightly more than a diameter of pizza 26.

Pizza packaging 20 can also include optional spacer 28 formed from paperboard and configured to maintain pizza 26 in a spaced-apart relationship with bag 22. Spacer 28 can have a flat, elongated rectangular body 60 with first and second ends 62, 64 corresponding to the shorter sides of the rectangular body 60 and a top and bottom 66, 68 corresponding to the longer sides of the rectangular body 60. A first slot 70 extending from the top 66 of rectangular body 60 to an approximate center of rectangular body 60 can be formed inward of first end 62. A second slot 72 extending from the bottom 68 of rectangular body 60 to an approximate center of rectangular body 60 can be formed inward of second end 64. Configured in this manner, spacer 28 can be stored in a flat state until needed to assemble pizza packaging 20. To assemble the spacer 28, the first and second slots 70, 72 are engaged to one another while securing the spacer in a cylindrical configuration to form an annular spacer 28, as shown. A height of now-cylindrically-shaped spacer 28 may be greater than a height of pizza 26. Alternatively, spacer 28 may be stored in a flat state until needed to assemble pizza packaging 20, thereby reducing the storage space necessary to maintain an inventory of spacers 28. It will be appreciated that other methods of forming rectangular body 60 into the cylindrical configuration may be utilized, such as adhering, stapling, or otherwise securing first and second ends 64, 66. It will be further appreciated that spacer 28 could also be configured to compliment pizza 26 having other shapes, such as square or rectangular shape. The spacer 28 can also be provided with scoring to facilitate folding the spacer 28 into a square, rectangle, triangle or other shape for surrounding a corresponding square, rectangle or triangle shaped pizza.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, an alternative spacer 28′ can be made from a food-grade, plastic material and have a body 80 and a plurality of legs 82 extending from body 80 configured to communicate with pizza 26 and maintain body 80 in a spaced relationship with pizza 26. Body 80 can be a generally round body having a plurality of spokes 84 extending from a center hub 86 and connecting a plurality of rings 88 concentrically arranged about hub 86. Spokes 84, rings 88, and hub 86 can be generally planarly orientated to form a generally flat top face sufficient to support additional pizza packagings 20 when stacked on top of each other. While body 80 has been described as including spokes 84, rings 88, and hub 86, the skilled person will appreciate that body 80 could be any shape and structure combination. For example, body 80 could be a generally square body having spokes that form a grid-like pattern over pizza 26.

Legs 82 can be spaced radially outward from hub 86 and extend from the spokes 84 or rings 88. Legs 82 are preferably spaced apart to create a tripod base that can support multiple pizza packagings 20 when stacked on top of each other, yet have a small cross-section to limit damage to the pizza toppings when placed on top of pizza 26. A height of legs 82 is sufficient to maintain body 80 in a spaced relationship to the top of pizza 26. While spacer 28 is illustrated as having three legs 82, spacer 28 can have any quantity of legs that maintains body 80 in a spaced relationship with pizza 26.

As illustrated in FIG. 4, yet another alternative spacer 28″ can be a combination of insert 24 and spacer 28. Spacer 28″ can be configured to be received within opening 34 of bag 22 and can accommodate varying sizes of pizza 26. Spacer 28″ can be made from flat, corrugated cardboard and have a perimetrical shape that can fully support pizza 26 and fit snugly inside bag 22. Spacer 28″ can have a generally square body 90 with support ends 92 on opposing edges and forming a U-shaped cross-section. While spacer 28″ is illustrated as having a pair of support ends 92, one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that spacer 28″ can also be configured in other manners that provide sufficient structural support to stack multiple pizza packagings 20. For example, spacer 28″ could have support ends 92 on three sides or on all four sides.

With continuing reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, assembly and operation of pizza packaging 20 will now be described. After pizza 26 has been cooked in a pizza oven, pizza 26 can be placed on insert 24 such that pizza 26 is orientated in a generally centered relationship on insert 24 and the flat, bottom portion of the pizza crust abuts insert 24. The pizza 26 can be cut on the insert 24. Spacer 28 can then be formed into a circular shape, wherein first slot 70 can be engaged with second slot 72 to maintain the circular shape. Spacer 28, in the formed condition, can be placed on insert 24 such that spacer 28 encircles the perimeter of pizza 26. Pizza 26, insert 24, and spacer 28, now a single pizza unit 76, are then ready to be inserted into bag 22.

Insert 24, by providing support underneath pizza 26, allows an employee to handle pizza unit 76 and insert pizza unit 76 into bag 22. Optional gussets 36 allow bag 22 to expand and receive pizza unit 76 through opening 34. Because the size and shape of insert 24 may be generally the same size and shape as pizza 26 and may be configured to fit snugly within bag 22, pizza 26 can be covered by moisture barrier 32. Top 66 of spacer 28 can prevent moisture barrier 32 from contacting pizza 26 during and after insertion of pizza unit 76 into bag 22. After pizza unit 76 is inserted into bag 22, opening 34 can be closed and pizza unit 76 can be retained within bag 22. While not illustrated, opening 34 could be closed using any suitable method, such as folding bag 22 at opening 34 and/or securing folded bag 22 with staples, clips or other suitable fastening means. Alternatively, bag 22 could include an adhesive strip at the open end that seals flat side 41 to the opposing face.

Spacer 28 is sufficiently rigid to accommodate the weight of multiple pizza transport packages 20 stacked on top of each other and maintain the spaced relationship between each pizza 26 and bag 22. In this manner, pizza 26 is protected when other pizza transport packages 20 are maintained in a stacked relationship and a reduction in storage space requirements may be realized.

While contained within bag 22, pizza packaging 20 helps maintain pizza 26 in a desirable edible state for the customer by keeping the toppings moist, maintaining a crispy crust, and maintaining pizza 26 within a desirable temperature range. Moisture barrier 32, orientated directly above pizza 26, can utilize water vapor escaping from the pizza toppings to help slow evaporative cooling, thereby keeping the toppings warm and moist for a longer time period. However, while it is desirable to utilize the water vapor to maintain the temperature and moisture of pizza 26, it is not desirable for condensed water to come into contact with pizza 26.

Heat radiating from pizza 26 carries evaporated moisture from the toppings upward toward moisture barrier 32 of bag 22. Perforated portion 52 can slow evaporative cooling by initially trapping the water vapor emanating from pizza 26 between the toppings of pizza 26 and the perforated portion 52, thereby maintaining the toppings in contact with the warm and moist water vapor for an extended time period. In this manner, some of the trapped heat and moisture can be reabsorbed by the toppings to help maintain the pizza toppings within the desirable moisture and temperature ranges. Over time, the water vapor passes through apertures 54 where upper portion 50 traps the water vapor in pocket 56 and generally inhibits the water vapor from escaping from bag 22. In this manner, pocket 56 can create an insulative layer between the outside environment and the pizza 26 to further maintain the pizza toppings within the desirable temperature range.

When the evaporated moisture trapped within pocket 56 cools and turns into liquid water, apertures 54 can inhibit the liquid water from passing back through perforated portion 52. Trapped in pocket 56, the liquid water is isolated from pizza 26.

Insert 24 can also help maintain pizza 26 within the desirable temperature range by reducing the amount of heat escaping from the crust and lost through the bottom of bag 22, thereby helping to maintain the crust within the desirable temperature range.

While it may be desirable to trap some moisture in bag 22, it is not desirable for the moisture to be absorbed by the pizza crust because the absorbed moisture can make the crust less crispy. Paper portion 30 of bag 22 and insert 24 can help maintain the desired crispiness of the crust. Paper portion 30, having a moisture permeability greater than moisture barrier 32, allows some moisture trapped generally near and communicating with an outer edge of the pizza crust to escape from bag 22 before being absorbed. In addition, insert 24 can absorb some of the moisture directly in contact with insert 24. The portion of insert 24 in direct contact with the crust can also wick away some of the moisture that may already have been absorbed by the crust. In these ways, paper portion 30 and insert 24 can help maintain the crispiness of the crust.

With reference now to FIG. 5, a second embodiment of a pizza packaging is illustrated having a single-layer moisture barrier. It should be understood that throughout the drawings and specifications, equivalent reference numbers correspond to equivalent parts and features between the first and second embodiments. Further, reference numbers incremented by 100 indicate like or corresponding parts and features between the first and second embodiments. A pizza packaging 120 can include a bag 122 made completely from permeable material, a moisture impermeable barrier 132 disposed between bag 122 and the toppings of pizza 26, and insert 24 that can support pizza 26 and be inserted into bag 122.

Permeable bag 122 has an opening 34 in one end, gussets 36 extending along opposing sides 38, and a moisture barrier 132. Moisture barrier 132 can be a single layer of non-stick, high-density polyethylene and sized to accommodate the shape and size of pizza 26 such that moisture barrier 132 covers the toppings of pizza 26. Moisture barrier 132 can be secured to the upper interior surface of the permeable bag 122 using any suitable method. Alternatively, moisture impermeable barrier 132 could be secured to spacer 28, 28″ or laid on top of spacer 28′ or could be loose and placed directly on top of pizza 26. If the moisture impermeable barrier 132 is secured to the spacer 28, 28″ as illustrated in FIG. 11, adhesives or tape could be used to secure the barrier taut, so as not to contact a substantial portion of the pizza. As illustrated in FIG. 12, the moisture impermeable barrier 132′ can be perforated so as to allow some moisture to pass therethrough. FIGS. 15 and 16 show the pizza packaging of FIGS. 11 and 12, respectively, with the bag 122′ being formed from a perforated impermeable material. It should be further noted that the bottom panel 122a of the bag can be formed from a perforated impermeable material while the top panel 122b can be formed from a permeable material, as illustrated in FIGS. 17 and 18.

Assembly and operation of pizza packaging 120 is substantially the same as assembly and operation of pizza packaging 20. Packaged in this manner, moisture barrier 132 is limited in functionality compared to moisture barrier 32. Moisture barrier 132 can slow evaporative cooling by initially trapping the water vapor emanating from pizza 26 between the toppings of pizza 26 and the moisture barrier 132.

Testing of the foregoing embodiments and a traditional cardboard box packaging was conducted to monitor pizza temperature during the 45 minutes after a pizza is removed from the oven and placed in a suitable packaging. This time period simulates the maximum expected time span during which a pizza is stored before being eaten by the consumer. The test procedure included first inserting a temperature probe into a freshly baked pizza and inserting the pizza and probe into the appropriate pizza packaging. Pizza temperature, T, was recorded and the packaged pizza was placed into a storage unit (i.e., Crescor). While in the storage unit, pizza temperature was recorded in 1 minute intervals for 30 minutes, to through t30. After 30 minutes in the storage unit, the pizza was removed and stored at room temperature. Pizza temperature was recorded in 1 minute intervals for 15 minutes, t31 through t45. This time period simulates the time from when a pizza is purchased until it is consumed.

FIG. 6 is a graph of time and temperature data for a pizza packaged in pizza packaging 20, which includes a double-layered moisture barrier 32 and a spacer 28 having a width of 1¾ inches. The average T at t0 and t30 were 192.25° F. and 157.75° F., respectively, correlating to an average temperature loss of 34.5° F. while the pizza was stored in the storage unit. The average T at t45 was 137.5° F., correlating to an average temperature loss of 20.25° F. while the pizza was stored at room temperature. The average overall temperature loss over 45 minutes was 54.75° F.

FIG. 7 is a graph of time and temperature data for a pizza packaged in pizza packaging 120, which includes a single-layered moisture barrier 132 and a spacer 28 having a width of 1¾ inches. The average T at t0 and t30 were 188° F. and 151.5° F., respectively, correlating to an average temperature loss of 36.5° F. while the pizza was stored in the storage unit. The average T at t45 was 130.25° F., correlating to an average temperature loss of 21.25° F. while the pizza was stored at room temperature. The average overall temperature loss over 45 minutes was 57.75° F.

FIG. 8 is a graph of time and temperature data for a pizza packaged in a traditional cardboard box. T at t0 and t30 were 183° F. and 138° F., correlating to a temperature loss of 45° F. while the pizza was stored in the storage unit. T at t45 was 121° F., correlating to a temperature loss of 17° F. while the pizza was stored at room temperature. The overall temperature loss over 45 minutes was 62° F.

FIG. 19 is a graph of time and temperature data for a pizza packaged in a paper bag with an HDPE plastic sheet attached to the top of a 1¾ inch space collar in the manner illustrated in FIG. 11. T at t0 and t30 averaged about 192° F. and 160° F., correlating to a temperature loss of 32° F. while the pizza was stored in the storage unit. The average T at t45 was 144° F., correlating to a temperature loss of 16° F. while the pizza was stored at room temperature. The overall temperature loss over 45 minutes was 48° F.

As suggested by the graphs of FIGS. 6-8 and 19, pizzas packaged in pizza packaging 20 and pizza packaging 120 all exhibited less temperature loss over a 45 minute storage period than pizza packaged in a traditional cardboard box.

Referring now to FIGS. 20-25, yet another embodiment of the pizza packaging will be described and designated by the reference numeral 220. Pizza packaging 220 may include bag 22, insert 24 that may support pizza 26 and be received within bag 22, spacer 28, and moisture barrier 32 that may be secured to insert 24 and cover pizza 26. To help maintain pizza 26 in a desirable condition, bag 22 may be permeable and moisture barrier 32 may be impermeable.

Moisture barrier 32 may be made from a plastic film having sufficient density to inhibit moisture transfer therethrough (i.e., impermeable). For example, moisture barrier 32 of the present embodiment can be made from a non-stick, high-density polyethylene suitable for use in food-grade applications. It will be appreciated, however, that moisture barrier 32 could be made from other suitable impermeable materials, as discussed above. Moisture barrier 32 may be configured in various sizes and shapes to compliment pizzas 26 of various size and shape and, more particularly, may be sized to generally cover the pizza toppings. As presently shown in FIGS. 20 and 22, moisture barrier 32 may be rectangularly shaped having a width approximately equal to a width of the topping portion of pizza 26. A length of moisture barrier 32 may be sufficient to secure one end of moisture barrier 32 to a bottom of insert 24 and still extend across insert 24 when placed over pizza 26. Further, the length may be sufficient to fold the unsecured end of moisture barrier 32 into bag 22 when assembling pizza packaging 220, which will be discussed later in greater detail.

With particular reference to FIG. 22, moisture barrier 32 may include an adhesive strip 42 for securing moisture barrier 32 to insert 24 and an optional perforated portion 44, which may render part of moisture barrier 32 permeable. The moisture barrier 32 can also be provided with a pocket portion 69 as shown in FIG. 23. The pocket portion 69 can be formed by folding an end portion 71 to the sheet over upon itself and heat sealing the edges to define a pocket 69. With this pocket 69, leftover pizza or other foods can be stored by inserting the food in the pocket 69 and folding the sheet 32 so that the adhesive strip 42 can be used to seal the pocket shut.

Adhesive strip 42 may be disposed on and extend along one end of the moisture barrier 32. Adhesive strip 42 may be formed by applying and bonding adhesive material directly to moisture barrier 32. A peel-off cover 46 may be secured to adhesive strip 42 until moisture barrier 32 is needed to form pizza packaging 220. In this regard, peel-off cover 46 may be made from a material that may permit peel-off cover 46 to be removed from adhesive strip 42 without adversely affecting the original adhesive characteristics of adhesive strip 42. It will be appreciated, however, that adhesive strip 42 may be formed using other methods. For example, adhesive strip 42 may be a flat body having a permanent adhesive on one side for bonding to moisture barrier 32 and a non-permanent adhesive on the opposite side covered by peel-off cover 46. Further, it will be appreciated from subsequent portions of this disclosure that adhesive strip 42 may be formed onto or disposed on the insert 24 instead of the moisture barrier 32.

Optional perforated portion 44 may include a plurality of apertures 48 formed through moisture barrier 32 that generally align with the pizza crust when moisture barrier 32 is disposed over pizza 26. In other words, the non-perforated portion of moisture barrier 32 may align with the pizza toppings. Other perforated portions as discussed herein may refer to permeable or impermeable materials that include apertures 48 extending therethrough. A size of apertures 48 can be selected to allow moisture in the form of steam, or water vapor, to pass through the perforated portion. In this regard, apertures 48 having a diameter ranging from approximately 0.1 mm to approximately 3.5 cm and spaced apart in a grid-like configuration can be advantageously utilized to realize the advantages of the present disclosure. If desired, the size of apertures 48 can be further advantageously selected to inhibit moisture in the form of condensed water from passing back through the perforated portion. In this regard, apertures nearer the 0.1 mm size may be more desirable. In addition, the quantity and arrangement of apertures 48 can be configured to affect the rate at which water vapor passes through the perforated portion.

Referring now to FIGS. 24 and 25, moisture barrier 32 may be configured to be stored in bulk yet readily accessible as needed to form pizza packaging 220, which may reduce storage space, improve efficiency in assembling pizza packaging 220, and reduce cost. As shown in FIG. 24, for example, moisture barrier 32 may include a pair of spaced-apart apertures 54 that may align with complimentary hanging portions 57 of a hook 58. Hanging portions 57 may receive a plurality of moisture barriers 32 through respective pairs of apertures 54, and hook 58 may be configured for mounting on a wall or other convenient and accessible location. Accordingly, an employee can tear or otherwise remove individual moisture barriers 32 from hook 58 as needed.

In another example shown in FIG. 25, a plurality of moisture barriers 32 may be staple-packed (i.e., sandwiched between two headers that are stapled or otherwise secured), wicketed (i.e., secured by a U-shaped wire through apertures in the moisture barrier 32), or otherwise secured to each other to form a common header 61, which may further be adapted for hanging in a convenient and accessible location. Accordingly, the employee can tear moisture barrier 32 along perforations 63 or otherwise remove individual moisture barriers 32 from header 61 as needed.

Referring again to FIGS. 20-22, assembly and operation of pizza packaging 220 will now be described. In a first operation, moisture barrier 32 may be secured to insert 24 via adhesive strip 42. Moisture barrier 32 may be secured to a bottom of insert 24 and between radii 40 (FIG. 22). Moisture barrier 32 could alternatively be secured to a top of insert 24, as it may be desirable that the insert 24, and not moisture barrier 32, directly contact the bottom crust of pizza 26. It will be appreciated that inserts 24 and moisture barriers 32 may be pre-assembled and stored in the assembled condition until needed, which may reduce assembly time of pizza packaging 20 during high volume production periods.

After pizza 26 has been cooked in a pizza oven, pizza 26 may be placed on insert 24 such that pizza 26 is orientated in a generally centered relationship on insert 24 and a bottom of the pizza crust abuts insert 24. Optional spacer 28 may then be formed into the generally cylindrical shape and placed on insert 24 such that spacer 28 encircles the perimeter of pizza 26. Moisture barrier 32 may then be folded back over spacer 28, pizza 26, and insert 24 to form a single pizza unit 86.

Insert 24, by providing support underneath pizza 26, allows an employee to handle pizza unit 86 and insert pizza unit 86 into bag 22 through opening 34. Radii 40 may help guide pizza unit 86 into the opening 34 while optional gussets 36 may provide added convenience by permitting opening 34 to expand for receiving pizza unit 86. Radii 40 may also generally prevent insert 24 from snagging and tearing bag 22 during insertion of pizza unit 86. Opening 34 may be closed and folded to retain pizza unit 86 within bag 22. An end of moisture barrier 32 may optionally be folded along with opening 34 of bag 22 to keep moisture barrier 32 and inhibit moisture barrier 32 from contacting pizza 26 during storage and transit. It is noted that moisture barrier 32 can be made from a non-stick material so that contact with the pizza may be permitted or possibly desired. The non-stick material may prevent or minimize cheese and/or other toppings from bonding to moisture barrier 32.

Opening 34 of bag 22 may be secured using a variety of different methods. A particularly desirable method may be staple-less stapling, which may secure opening 34 without requiring additional materials, such as staples or adhesive. Accordingly, staple-less stapling may be more efficient and cost effective than other securing methods, such as traditional stapling and adhesion, which may require additional materials, such as staples and adhesive. Staple-less stapling involves puncturing the paper bag 22 and simultaneously folding the punctured paper in a manner that simulates a staple. It will be appreciated, however, that other methods may still be utilized for securing the folded portion of bag 22.

After bag 22 is closed and secured, pizza packaging 20 can be placed into a rack-like storage unit (i.e., CresCor) to help maintain pizza 26 at a desirable temperature. Insert 24 can provide sufficient structural strength to support pizza packaging 220 in the storage unit until purchased by a consumer. Additionally, spacer 28 is sufficiently rigid to accommodate the weight of multiple pizza transport packages 220 stacked on top of each other while still maintaining the spaced relationship between each pizza 26 and bag 22. In this manner, pizza 26 can be protected when multiple pizza packagings 220 are maintained in a stacked relationship during storage or transport.

During storage and transport of pizza 26, pizza packaging 220 helps maintain pizza 26 in a desirable edible state for the customer by keeping the toppings moist, maintaining a crispy crust, and maintaining pizza 26 within a desirable temperature range. Moisture barrier 32, orientated directly above pizza 26, can utilize water vapor escaping from the pizza toppings to help slow evaporative cooling, thereby keeping the toppings warm and moist for a longer time period.

Evaporative cooling occurs as heat radiating from pizza 26 carries evaporated moisture from the toppings upward toward moisture barrier 32. Moisture barrier 32 can slow evaporative cooling by initially trapping the water vapor emanating from pizza 26 between the toppings of pizza 26 and the moisture barrier 32, thereby maintaining the toppings in contact with the warm and moist water vapor for an extended time period. In this manner, some of the trapped heat and moisture can be reabsorbed by the toppings to help maintain the pizza toppings within the desirable moisture and temperature ranges. As heat from the water vapor is reabsorbed by pizza 26, the cooling water vapor can escape around the edges of the moisture barrier 32 as it is replaced by warmer water vapor emanating from the pizza.

Some of the water vapor may escape around the edges of the moisture barrier 32, thereby reducing contact between the water vapor and the upper pizza crust and helping to maintain the desired crispiness of the crust. It should be noted, however, that moisture barrier 32 may undesirably trap water vapor above the upper pizza crust because moisture barrier 32 extends all the way across insert 24 and pizza 26. In this regard, optional perforated portion 44, which may generally align with the upper pizza crust, may permit the water vapor to escape through apertures 48, thereby reducing contact between the water vapor and the upper pizza crust.

It should also be noted that some of the cooling water vapor may condense and collect on the moisture barrier 32 in the form of liquid water. Under some conditions, such as sudden movement of the pizza packaging 20, the liquid water may undesirably fall onto pizza 26. Accordingly, bag 22 and moisture barrier 32 can cooperate to form pocket 56, as described above with reference to FIG. 2, for example. Water vapor trapped between moisture barrier 32 and pizza 26 may eventually pass through apertures 48, where moisture barrier 32 traps the water vapor in pocket 56 and generally inhibits the water vapor from escaping from bag 22. In this manner, pocket 56 can create an insulative layer between the outside environment and pizza 26 to further maintain the pizza toppings within the desirable temperature range.

When the evaporated moisture trapped within pocket 56 cools and turns into liquid water, apertures 48 may be sufficiently small to inhibit the liquid water from passing back through permeable layer 50. Trapped in pocket 56, the liquid water is isolated from pizza 26.

Insert 24 can also help maintain pizza 26 within the desirable temperature range by reducing the amount of heat escaping from the crust and lost through the bottom of bag 22, thereby helping to maintain the crust within the desirable temperature range.

While it may be desirable to trap some moisture above the pizza toppings, it is not desirable for the moisture to be absorbed by the pizza crust because the absorbed moisture can make the crust less crispy. Paper portion 30 of bag 22 and insert 24 can help maintain the desired crispiness of the crust. The moisture permeability of paper portion 30, which is generally greater than the moisture permeability of moisture barrier 32, allows some moisture trapped generally near and communicating with an outer edge of the pizza crust to escape from bag 22 before being absorbed. In addition, insert 24 can absorb some of the moisture directly in contact with insert 24. The portion of insert 24 in direct contact with the crust can also wick away some of the moisture that may already have been absorbed by the crust. In these ways, paper portion 30 and insert 24 can help maintain the crispiness of the crust.

The foregoing description of the embodiments has been provided for purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention. Individual elements or features of a particular embodiment are generally not limited to that particular embodiment, but, where applicable, are interchangeable and can be used in a selected embodiment, even if not specifically shown or described. The same may also be varied in many ways. Such variations are not to be regarded as a departure from the invention, and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the invention.