Title:
SMART DISPENSER PACKAGING SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A food package having a base (12) forming a cavity (16) for holding a first food such as a salad, and having a cover or dome (14) that covers the base and that has recess walls that form a recess (32) in the cover top. The recess holds a fluid food (30) such as a salad dressing. A mechanism (22) that is manually operable from the outside the cover, releases the salad dressing. In one system, a top of the cover can be manually depressed to depress a button (60) on a lid (24) that lies under the recess to unlatch a lid side or end (50) so the lid can pivot down and release the salad dressing In another system, a person can depress a first side of the recess walls to open a first lid part (124, FIG. 11) that releases half the salad dressing, and can also depress a second side of the recess wall to open a second lid part (126) to release the other half of the dressing.



Inventors:
Vovan, Terry (Upland, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/328686
Publication Date:
06/11/2009
Filing Date:
12/04/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/200, 206/221
International Classes:
A47G19/00; B65D25/08; B65D43/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
POOS, MADISON LYNN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEON D. ROSEN;FREILICH, HORNBAKER & ROSEN (Suite 1220, 10960 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90024, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A food package which includes a base forming a base cavity for holding a first food, and a cover that releasably covers the base cavity, wherein: said cover has recess walls that form a recess that holds a flowable second food; a mechanism that is manually operable from the outside of the cover, to release said flowable second food to fall out of said recess into said cavity and onto said first food in said cavity.

2. The food package described in claim 1 wherein: said recess opens downwardly, and said mechanism comprises a lid that is pivotally mounted on said recess walls and that lies under said recess and closes said recess, and said mechanism is manually operable to pivotally open said lid and enable said flowable second food to flow down out of said recess onto said first food in said cavity.

3. The food package described in claim 2 wherein: said lid has a mounted end (40) that is pivotal about a horizontal axis on said cover, said lid has a second end (50) that moves primarily vertically when said mounted end pivots, and said lid has an upper surface with said mechanism holding said lid upper surface so it initially extends at a downward incline of a plurality of degrees toward said lid second end when said lid closes said recess.

4. The food package described in claim 2 wherein: said lid has first and second opposite sides, said first side being pivotally mounted on said cover and said second side being releasably latched in an upward position to said cover wherein said lid closes a bottom of said recess, said second side moving down to release said fluid second food when said second side is unlatched; said lid has a lid button that extends upward from said lid through said cavity to a top of said recess, said button being depressable to unlatch said lid second side from said cover so said lid second side can pivot down.

5. The food package described in claim 3 wherein: said cover has a cover push part (62) lying over said lid button, said cover push part being depressable to depress said lid button; said cover has a top with a radially outer portion that extends around said lid button and said cover has an annular recess (72, 70) in its upper surface that lies between said push button region and said outer region, whereby to facilitate downward deflection of said outer portion and therefore said lid button.

6. The food package described in claim 1 including: a cup assembly comprising a cup forming a cup cavity and also comprising a removable cup covering, said cup assembly mounted in said cover recess with said cup covering lowermost; said mechanism is constructed to at least partially remove said cup covering from said cup, to thereby allow said flowable second food to fall onto said first food in said base hollow.

7. The food package described in claim 6 wherein said removeable cup covering is a peelable sheet that is peelable off a top of said cup, and wherein: said mechanism comprises means responsive to operation of said mechanism for peeling off a portion of said cup cover.

8. The food package described in claim 1 wherein: said recess has first and second horizontally spaced and separated regions and said mechanism has first and second lid parts (124, 126) that each covers only one of said regions, said mechanism being operable to open only a selected one of said lid parts, to thereby dispense only part of said second food.

9. A food package which includes a base that forms a base cavity that holds a first food, and a cover that releasably covers the base cavity, wherein: said cover has recess walls that form a downward-opening recess that holds a flowable topping for applying to said first food; a mechanism that includes a lid that is mounted on said cover and that is moveable from a raised position wherein it closes the bottom of said recess, to a depressed position wherein the lid part releases said topping to fall onto the first food in said base cavity; said lid has a first end that is pivotally mounted on said cover, and said lid has a second end with a first latching part; said cover forms a second latching part; one of said latching, parts forms an undercut (52) and the other latching part (53) forms a protrusion that fits into the undercut.

10. The food package described in claim 9, wherein: said undercut forms a continuous curve that is free of steps.

11. The food package described in claim 9 wherein: said cover forms a push button that has a depressing part that is depressable from a top of said dome and including a vertical extension that extends through said recess to an upper face of said lid part with said depressing part being depressable to move down said lid part second end and unlatch said lid part from said dome.

12. The food package described in claim 9 wherein: said recess has first and second recess parts that each holds an isolated quantity of said salad dressing with each isolated quantity isolated from the other quantity; said lid forms first and second lid parts that lie under different ones of said recess parts, with each lid part having a first end pivotally connected to said dome and a second end that is releasably latchable to said dome; means for depressing a selected one of said lid parts to control the application of said salad dressing onto said salad.

13. A food package which includes a base forming a base cavity for holding a first food, and a cover that releasably covers the base cavity, wherein: said cover has recess walls that form a recess that opens downward and that holds a fluid second food; and including a lid that is pivotally mounted on said recess walls and that lies under said recess and closes said recess, said lid having a depressable lid part; a mechanism that is manually operable by moving a moveably cover surface on the outside of the cover, to pivot open said lid and release said flowable second food to fall out of said recess into said cavity and onto said first food in said cavity, said mechanism including means forming a vertical extension (60, 120, 122) that extends from the height of said moveable cover part to the height of said depressable lid part.

14. The food package described in claim 13 wherein: said lid part has a pivotal end and an opposite lid latchable part, and said cover has a cover latch part (51) that holds said lid part latchable end from moving downward, one of said latchable parts forming an undercut and the other forming a protrusion that fits into the undercut.

15. The food package described in claim 13 wherein: said lid includes a plate lying a distance below said moveable cover surface, and including a vertical extension (60, 120, 122) that has a vertical height more than twice said plate thickness, extending between said cover and said lid.

16. The food package describe in claim 13 wherein: said means forming a vertical extension forms a primarily vertical post (120, 122) with an upper end that is joined to said cover by a plurality of reverse bends (140) that extends in rings around an upper end of said post.

17. A food package which includes a base forming a base cavity for holding a first food, and a cover that releasably covers the base cavity and that includes a cover mount (42), wherein: said cover has recess walls that form a recess that holds a flowable second food and that has a recess open lower end; and including a lid that lies under said recess open lower end to close it, said lid having a lid first part (41) that is pivotal on said cover and a lid second part (50) that is latchable to said cover to keep said recess closed until said lid second part is unlatched; said lid having a fixed end (40) that is fixed to said cover mount (42) and said lid having a plurality of bends of at least 90° each (200-210) that join said lid second end to said lid second part to allow said lid second part to pivot.

18. The food package described in claim 17 wherein: said lid fixed end (40) and said cover mount (42) are formed with one having an enlargement and the other being captured by said enlargement.

19. A food package which includes a base forming a base cavity for holding a first food, and a cover that releasably covers the base cavity, wherein: said cover has an upper part (102) and a cover mount (104) that form a plurality of recess regions (112, 116) between them that hold a second food, said cover mount having a plurality of lid parts (124, 126) that each closes a bottom of a selected one of said recesses; means manually operable from said cover upper part for opening a selected one of said lid parts to dispense the contents of only one of said recess regions onto said first food.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE

This is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/998,582 filed Nov. 30, 2007.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Some combinations of foods are best combined immediately before the combination is eaten. For example, it is often desirable to pour salad dressing onto a salad a short time (e.g. within one-half hour) before the salad is eaten, to prevent the salad from becoming “soggy”, or to pour ketchup onto French fries shortly before they are eaten. Also, it is often desirable to dispense syrup onto pancakes shortly before they are eaten. Some people prefer to not handle the salad dressing or other topping when it is poured onto the salad or other first food to avoid getting the dressing onto their hands, while others prefer to pour the dressing themselves. It is often desirable to package the salad dressing with the salad so the dressing is not forgotten.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, a food package is provided which includes a base that forms a cavity to hold a first food such as a salad, and a cover or dome that covers the base, wherein the cover has a recess that holds a fluid second food such as salad dressing. The food package also includes a release mechanism that is operable from the outside of the cover, to release the salad dressing.

In one food package, the mechanism includes a lid that lies under the recess in the cover, and that has a first lid side that is pivotally mounted on the cover and a second lid side that is latched in an upward position wherein it prevents the release of the salad dressing. When the release mechanism is operated, the lid second side is unlatched so the lid can pivot down and the salad dressing can flow down onto the salad.

In another food package, the lid includes first and second lid parts that each lies under a separate quantity of only one-half of the salad dressing. Operating one side of the release mechanism releases only a first lid part to release only one-half of the salad dressing. Also operating a second side of the release mechanism also releases a second half of the salad dressing.

In another food package, the salad dressing is contained in a cup that is held to the top of the inside of the cover. When the mechanism is operated, the cup is released to fall onto the salad, or onto a table if the dome has first been removed from the base. A person then peels off a film on the cup and pours the salad dressing by hand onto the salad.

In another food package, the salad dressing is contained in a cup that lies upside down and is held to the top of the inside of the cover. When the mechanism is operated, it peels away part of a film lid that originally closed the cup, thereby allowing salad dressing to flow down onto the salad.

The novel features of the invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention will be best understood from the following description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top isometric view of a food package of a first embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded isometric view of the food package of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a sectional side view of the food package of FIG. 1, with the salad dressing held by a cup lid that has not yet been released.

FIG. 4 is a partial sectional view similar to that of FIG. 3, but after the lid has been released to allow the salad dressing to flow down.

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of area C-C of FIG. 3.

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of area E-E of FIG. 3.

FIG. 7 is a partial sectional, top isometric view of a food package of another embodiment of the invention wherein the fluid second food is held in a cup that is releasable from the cover.

FIG. 8 is a partial sectional isometric view of the food package of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a bottom isometric view of a food package of another embodiment of the invention wherein a person can control the amount of salad dressing that is dispensed.

FIG. 10 is an exploded bottom isometric view of the food package of FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a sectional view taken on line 11-11 of FIG. 9, with phantom lies showing one of the lid parts open.

FIG. 12 is a sectional view taken on line 12-12 of FIG. 9.

FIG. 13 is a sectional side view of a food package of another embodiment of the invention wherein the fluid second food is contained in a cup lying upside-down, and with a mechanism for peeling off the cup lid.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 2 shows a food package 10 which includes a base 12 that forms a base cavity 16 for holding a first food such as a salad, and a cover or dome 14 that releasably covers the base and its cavity. The base and cover are each formed of deformed plastic sheeting, with the cover preferably being transparent. The cover is installed by placing it on the base and turning the cover opposite to the direction of arrows 20. A mechanism 22 on the cover can be operated to release a lid 24 and allow a fluid second food such as salad dressing to be released so it flows onto the salad in the cavity. By placing the salad dressing in the top of the cover or dome 14, by the factory or merchant each day, applicant assures that the salad dressing will not be forgotten. Where the salad dressing can be dispensed without opening the food package, this avoids spreading salad dressing onto the diner's hands or clothes. As mentioned above, the flowable second food that is stored in the cover, can be ketchup for dripping onto French fries, syrup for applying to pancakes, yoghurt for dripping onto fruit, and a variety of other combinations. Whenever applicant uses the term “salad dressing”, it should be understood that applicant is referring to any flowable (liquid or powder) second food that serves as a topping that is placed on a first food that lies in the base cavity.

FIGS. 3-6 show salad dressing 30 lying in a recess 32 formed by recess walls 34 in the dome, over a salad 35 in the base cavity. The recess has an open bottom 36, and the lid 24 closes the recess bottom to keep in the salad dressing. The lid 24 has an upper surface 37 that initially extends at a downward incline of a plurality of degrees (e.g. 5° but preferably less than 30°) away from a mounted end 40 of the lid. This promotes rapid dispensing of the dressing when the lid opens.

As also shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the mounted side 40 of the lid has a part 39 that is snapped in place over an enlargement 42 on the recess walls, with that side of the lid having a bend region 44 that form a pivot hinge joint that makes the lid part 41 pivotal. The lid has a plurality of 90° bends 200, 202, 204, 206, 208, 210 that make the bend region 44 easily pivotal. The opposite second end 50 of the lid forms a concave curve to form a slight undercut 52. The second end 50 is held by a latching wall 51 that forms a convex curve projection 53 that projects into the undercut 52 and that forms a latch 54 on the recess wall. The projection 53 is continuously curved, so it is free of steps. FIGS. 3 and 4 show that the lid forms a post in the form of a lid button 60 that can be depressed by a person applying a downward force to a dome push part 62. If the lid button is depressed sufficiently, the undercut 52 (FIG. 5) is released from the latch 54 and a depressable lid part 63 moves down to pivot down the lid to the position of FIG. 4 (wherein lid upper surface 37 extends at a downward incline of 10° and the lid second end is open). Most of the salad dressing then flows and then drips out of the recess onto the salad. Even though the pivot angle of 10° of FIG. 4 is limited, almost all of the salad dressing flows down the inclined lid upper wall 64 onto the salad.

As discussed above, a person releases salad dressing by depressing a depressable cover part at 62 (FIG. 4) so as to depress a lid part 64. In FIG. 4 the depressing forces are transmitted by a lid button 60 that extends upward from the lid upper wall. In FIG. 11 the depressing forces are transmitted by posts 120, 1222 formed in a dome part 102. In either case, one of parts forms a vertical extension (60, 120, 122) that is a plurality (preferably at least five times) of times as tall as the lid thickness. If there is a need, then a part on the dome can be moved horizontally to cause depression of the lid through a cam.

The recess walls 34 (FIG. 4) include annular depressions 70, 72 in the upper surface of the cover that form bends and that connect the push part 62 to a cover outer region 76. These depressions and bends facilitate downward movement of the cover push part 62 so the lid button 60 can be depressed far enough to open the lid.

FIGS. 7 and 8 show another food package 80, where a cup 82 with a peelable lid 84 is held in the inside of the dome. The entire cup is releasable to drop down onto the salad, by operating a mechanism 86 on the top of the dome. FIG. 8 shows that a person depresses a raised rib 90 to move a flange 92 down and radially outward away from the package axis 94 to release the cup flange 96. After the cup has dropped down, the person peels open the cup lid and pours the salad dressing onto the salad. The person may prefer to remove the food package dome and place it over a table top, when the salad dressing cup is released to fall out.

FIGS. 9-12 illustrate a food package where recess walls 100 include an upper part 102 that is preferably part of the cover although it can be mounted on the cover. The package also includes a lower part in the form of a lid 104. A mechanism 110 can be operated to release only one-half of the salad dressing stored in an isolated first recess region 112 of the recess 114 onto a first side of the salad, or from an isolated second recess region 116 onto the opposite second side of the salad. The mechanism also can be operated to release the entire quantity of stored salad dressing, with half distributed onto each half of the salad for a more even distribution of dressing. In many cases, a person wants some salad dressing on his/her salad but prefers to limit the amount, as to limit the calories consumed, and the mechanism 110 allows for this.

FIG. 10 shows that the upper part 102 of the recess walls include two vertical extensions in the form of downward-projecting posts 120, 122. The lower part 104 of the recess walls form a pair of lid parts 124, 126 that are each hingedly joined by hinges 130, 132 to a center portion 134. Each lid part has an inner end 124E, 126E that presses firmly against the center portion 134 when the cover is closed to avoid leakage. The high viscosity of dressing also helps prevent leakage.

FIG. 11 shows that the upper ends of the posts 120, 122 are joined by reverse bends 140 that extend it circular rings in plastic sheeting that connects to the rest of the upper part 102, to allow the posts to be easily depressed. The center portion 134 of the lower part 104 serves to divide the space within the lower part into the two regions or spaces 112, 116 that are isolated from each other. Each space hold a quantity 152, 154 of salad dressing.

To dispense salad dressing, a person depresses one or both of the posts 120, 122. In FIG. 11, only one post 120 has been depressed, and this causes the first lid part 124 to move down far enough to unlatch from a latch 156. The first quantity 152 of salad dressing flows down the first lid at 124A onto one side of the salad. If the person also depresses the second post 122 then the second quantity 154 of salad dressing will be dispensed. The upper ends of the posts are narrow enough that a person can press a thumb T against the top of each post to depress it far enough to dispense a corresponding quantity of salad dressing. The lower part 104 of the recess walls are snapped to the upper part by latches 160.

FIG. 13 illustrate another embodiment of the invention wherein an ordinary salad dressing cup 170 is held in walls 172 of a dome cover 14B. The cup is of the type that has a peelable layer 174 that must be peeled off to release salad dressing. The device includes a band or string 176 that has a first end 180 fixed to the end of the peelable layer, and a second end 182 fixed to a shaft 184. A mechanism that is shown as including two wheels 190, 192, has an exposed upper end that can be turned to wind up the band 176 onto the shaft and thereby peel off the layer 174. This allows the salad dressing to flow onto the salad.

Thus, the invention provides food packages that facilitate the dispensing of a fluid second food such as salad dressing, onto a first food lying in the base cavity such as a salad. The salad dressing is held in a recess at the inside of the top of the dome of the cover, and a mechanism is operated to release the dressing. In one system, the mechanism includes a post which is manually depressed to depress a lid or one of a plurality of lid parts to release the dressing. In another system a cup the holds salad dressing is released to fall, so its peelable layer can be removed and the dressing manually applied to the salad. In another system, the cup is mounted upside down in the top of the dome and the peelable layer can be peeled open while the dome remains on the base.

Although particular embodiments of the invention have been described and illustrated herein, it is recognized that modifications and variations may readily occur to those skilled in the art, and consequently, it is intended that the claims be interpreted to cover such modifications and equivalents.