Title:
FOOD CONTAINER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container for food has a lid body and a base body, each of which has a side wall and a flange extending outwards from the periphery of the side wall. The lid flange and base flange contact each other around the periphery of the container when the lid body and base body are in contact. The lid flange or the base flange includes tabs on opposite sides of the container to retain the lid body and base body together while the base flange and lid flange are in contact.



Inventors:
Frankel, Jolyon Tobias (Edinburgh, GB)
Application Number:
14/603743
Publication Date:
07/30/2015
Filing Date:
01/23/2015
Assignee:
Vegware Limited
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/557
International Classes:
B65D43/02; B65D81/34
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100072218DISPLAY PACKAGE WITH INTEGRAL CLOSURE AND METHOD OF USEMarch, 2010Meyer et al.
20050087534Small trash receptacles that use plastic bags as linersApril, 2005Harris
20060283865Laminated copper article of cookwareDecember, 2006Cheng
20020063135Bottle keeperMay, 2002Brisendine
20080093366FOOD CONTAINER AND METHOD OF MANUFACTUREApril, 2008Mckahan et al.
20020066739Beverage insulatorJune, 2002Howell et al.
20090084801CHILD-RESISTANT COMPLIANCE PILL BOTTLEApril, 2009Coe
20030201273Sleeve apparatus for a gaming coin bucketOctober, 2003Reid
20080315534Lip Seal for a Cooking Appliance and a Cooking Appliance Provided with Said SealDecember, 2008Seurat Guiochet et al.
20050205573Hydraulic tank access cover with self-centering and anti-rotation deviceSeptember, 2005Fleenor
20090308373Portable Insulated GrillDecember, 2009Scott et al.



Primary Examiner:
VAN BUSKIRK, JAMES M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FAY SHARPE LLP (1228 Euclid Avenue, 5th Floor The Halle Building Cleveland OH 44115)
Claims:
1. A container for food comprising a lid body and a base body; the lid body comprising a lid, a side wall around the lid, and a lid flange extending outwards from a periphery of the side wall; the base body comprising a base, a side wall around the base, and a base flange extending outwards from a periphery of the side wall, the base flange and lid flange being dimensioned to contact each other around a periphery of the container when the lid body and the base body are in contact, wherein on opposite sides of the container, one of the lid flange and the base flange comprises a tab to retain the lid body and base body together while the base flange and lid flange are in contact.

2. A container according to claim 1, wherein on the opposite sides of the container, an outer edge of the one of the lid flange and the base flange that comprises the tab extends beyond an outer edge of the other of the lid flange and the base flange, whereby the other of the lid flange and the base flange is retainable between the one of the lid flange and the base flange and the tab, thereby retaining the lid body and base body together with the lid flange and base flange in contact.

3. A container according to claim 1, wherein opposite sides of the lid flange each comprise a tab and an outer edge of the lid flange extends beyond an outer edge of the base flange, whereby the base flange is retainable between the tabs and the lid flange on opposite sides of the container, thereby retaining the lid body and base body together with the lid flange and base flange in contact.

4. A container according to claim 1, wherein opposite sides of the base flange each comprise a tab and an outer edge of the base flange extends beyond an outer edge of the lid flange, whereby the lid flange is retainable between the tabs and the base flange on opposite sides of the container, thereby retaining the lid body and base body together with the lid flange and base flange in contact.

5. A container according to claim 3, wherein a width of the base body, measured between opposite tips of the base flange, is greater than a distance between inner tips of the respective opposite tabs in the lid flange and less than a distance between outer edges of the respective opposite tabs in the lid flange.

6. A container according to claim 4, wherein a width of the lid body, measured between opposite tips of the lid flange, is greater than a distance between inner tips of the respective opposite tabs in the base flange and less than a distance between outer edges of the respective opposite tabs in the base flange.

7. A container according to claim 1, wherein the tabs are each defined by a cut line in the one of the lid flange and the base flange.

8. A container according to claim 1, wherein the lid flange extends from the side wall of the lid body substantially parallel to a plane of the lid body and the base flange extends from the side wall of the base body substantially parallel to a plane of the base.

9. A container according to claim 1, wherein the base flange and lid flange extend from the side wall of the base body and lid body respectively at a same orientation so that the base flange and the lid flange lie against each other when the base body and lid body are retained together by the tabs.

10. A container according to claim 1, wherein when the tabs extend outwards from the lid flange, the base side wall or base flange comprises an aperture for receiving the tabs and wherein when the tabs extend outwards from the base flange, the lid side wall or lid flange comprises an aperture for receiving the said tabs.

11. A container according to claim 1, wherein the lid body comprises one or more locating formations which protrude in a direction away from the lid and which fit within the base body and cooperate with an inner side of the side wall of the base body on opposite sides of the base to restrict lateral movement of the lid body relative to the base body.

12. A container according to claim 11, wherein the one or more location formations comprise a recess formed in and extending around the side wall of the lid body.

13. A container according to claim 1, wherein the side walls of the base body and the lid body each define four sides of the base body and the lid body respectively, and each of the four sides of the one of the lid flange and the base flange comprises one of said tabs.

14. A container according to claim 1, wherein the side walls of the base body extends from the base at an external angle in the range of 45 to 90 degrees.

15. A container according to claim 1, wherein the lid body and the base body are made from an insulating biodegradable material.

16. A container according to claim 15, wherein the lid body and the base body are made predominantly of bagasse.

17. A container according to claim 1, wherein the lid body and the base body are retained together by the tabs, with the lid flange and base flange in contact, and with food in the container.

18. A method of making a container according to claim 1 comprising forming the lid body as an integral piece of material and cutting the material to form cut lines and thereby define the tabs.

19. A method according to claim 8 in which no material is discarded due to said cutting.

20. A kit of parts comprising a lid body and a base body configured to form a container according to claim 1.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to the field of food containers.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

In the fast food industry, food needs to be readily and reliably packaged in disposable containers. This is especially true where the food is served either hot or cold and the container must be able to insulate the food, whilst at the same time enabling it to be handled by the user.

For example, containers for foods such as baked potatoes, hamburgers and chips/French fries, for example, often comprise a lid connected to a base by a hinge. The base typically retains the food, and the lid is secured to the base to secure the food therein. However, the mechanisms used to secure the lid to the base, such as a tab extending from the lid into a hole in the base, are often not substantial and may not reliably keep the lid secured to the base, in which case the food within the container can be spilled or spoiled.

During manufacture of that type of container, the lid, base and hinge are typically formed by pressing a blank into shape such that the lid and base lie on the same plane in an open configuration, connected by the hinge. The containers are stacked in this orientation for transportation and storage. Once the containers are to be used, the lid must be closed over the base by pivoting the lid relative to the base around the hinge. As the container was formed in an open configuration, the hinge typically biases the lid into an open position, thereby resisting closure of the container, and resulting in undesirable opening of the container if the lid is not correctly secured to the base. If the hinge is formed from a resilient material it may also act, like a spring, to push the lid away from the base. Flexible hinges may also allow excessive horizontal movement of the lid relative to the base, which can lead to the containers opening too easily.

It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a container with a base and cooperating lid, which holds the lid reliably to the base, while enabling the lid to be removed easily when required, and which does not require a hinge.

Furthermore, containers for hot food are typically made of a plastics insulating material, such as polystyrene or similar. Whilst these plastics materials are thermally insulating and cheap to manufacture, they are typically made using products derived from fossil fuels and are not biodegradable. Some embodiments of the invention address the problem of providing a container for food which is suitable for manufacture using biodegradable materials.

Some embodiments employ products formed from bagasse which has the additional advantage that it is a by-product of sugar processing and would otherwise be a waste material. Bagasse is an inhomogenous fibrous material comprising predominantly cellulose and hemicellulose. Resilient sheets of bagasse can be formed, but it is difficult to form good hinges with such sheets.

Therefore, some embodiments of the invention address the problem of providing a container having a base and cooperating lid, which holds the lid reliably to the base, while enabling the lid to be removed easily when required, which is suitable for manufacture using a fibrous plant waste material such as bagasse.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a container for food comprising a lid body and a base body; the lid body comprising a lid, a side wall around the lid and a flange (the lid flange) extending outwards from the periphery of the side wall; the base body comprising a base, a side wall around the base and a flange (the base flange) extending outwards from the periphery of the side wall, the base flange and lid flange being dimensioned to contact each other around the periphery of the container when the lid body and base body are in contact, wherein, on opposite sides of container, either the lid flange or the base flange comprises a tab to retain the lid body and base body together while the base flange and lid flange are in contact.

The use of tabs on opposite sides of the container (e.g. tabs on opposite sides of the lid body or tabs on opposite sides of the base body or a tab on the lid body and a tab on the opposite side of the base body) to retain the lid body and base body together while the base flange and lid flange are in contact provides a reliable means of enclosing and insulating the contents of the container while resisting separation of the base body and lid body.

It may be that the lid flange comprises tabs on opposite sides of the lid body. It may be that the base flange comprises tabs on opposite sides of the base body. It may be that the lid flange comprises a tab and, on the opposite side of the container, the base flange comprises a tab.

Typically, the lid body is fully separable from the base body. That is, the lid body and base body are preferably separate units. This enables the lid body and the base body to be stored separately until use and avoids the use of a hinge connecting the lid body and the base body. This avoids problems such as the hinge biasing the lid body away from the base body in embodiments where the container is made from a resilient material, such as bagasse.

Preferably, the side walls of the base body and the lid body each define four sides of the base body and lid body respectively (and the container), and a said tab in either the lid flange or the base flange is provided on each of the four sides of the container. It may be that the lid flange comprises a said tab on each of four sides. It may be that the base flange comprises a said tab on each of four sides.

The container may be generally in the form of a rectangular cuboid. Nevertheless, a wide range of shapes may be used in food service.

Typically, the base body defines a bowl formed by the base and base side walls. Food is typically retained in the bowl. The invention extends to a said container with the lid body and base body retained together by the said tabs, with the lid flange and base flange in contact, and with food in the bowl. The food is typically above or below room temperature.

The base is typically planar. The base side walls extend from the base at an angle. This angle may for example be in the range of 45 to 90 degrees (external angle) to the plane of the base. Typically, this angle is less than 90 degrees. Typically, this angle is at least 60 degrees. For example, this angle may be 70 to 85 degrees.

The tabs are typically flexible.

It may be that on opposite sides of the container (or four sides of the container) the outer edge of the flange of whichever of the lid body or the base body that comprises a tab extends beyond the outer edge of the flange of the other of the lid body or the base body (when the lid body and base body are fitted together), whereby the flange of the other of the lid or base flange can be retained between the said lid or base flange and the tab, thereby retaining the lid body and base body together. For example, if the lid flange comprises the tabs, it may be that on opposite sides of the container (or four sides of the container) the outer edge of the lid flange extends beyond the outer edge of the base flange (when the lid body and base body are fitted together), whereby the base flange can be retained between the said lid flange and the tabs, thereby retaining the lid body and base body together. If the base flange comprises the tabs, it may be that on opposite sides of the container (or four sides of the container) the outer edge of the base flange extends beyond the outer edge of the lid flange (when the lid body and base body are fitted together), whereby the lid flange can be retained between the said base flange and the tabs, thereby retaining the lid body and base body together.

This is an advantageous arrangement because the tabs thereby resist movement of the base body and lid body away from each other (i.e. in a direction perpendicular to the lid and base).

The tabs may be resilient (for example they may be integral to the lid flange and the lid flange, or entire lid, may be formed from a resilient material). This makes it easier to fit the tabs and for the tabs to better retain the base body to the lid body, and a user may later pull the lid body away from the base body by application of sufficient force.

Preferably, the tabs are each defined by a cut line in the lid flange or base flange, as appropriate. The cut lines are typically formed by cutting the lid flange or base flange, as appropriate. In this case, each tab is integral with the lid flange or base flange, as appropriate. In this case, the tabs point inwards, towards the side walls. The cut lines may for example be crescent shaped, or formed from two or three straight line portions.

Where the lid flange comprises the tabs, the width of the base body, measured between opposite tips of the base flange, is preferably greater than the distance between the inner tips of the respective opposite tabs in the lid flange and less than the distance between the outer edges of the respective opposite tabs in the lid flange. Thus, the base flange is of the correct size to be retained by the tabs extending around the outer periphery of the base flange, on opposite sides of the container.

Where the base flange comprises the tabs, the width of the lid body, measured between opposite tips of the lid flange, is preferably greater than the distance between the inner tips of the respective opposite tabs in the base flange and less than the distance between the outer edges of the respective opposite tabs in the base flange. Thus, the lid flange is of the correct size to be retained by the tabs extending around the outer periphery of the lid flange, on opposite sides of the container.

The invention extends to a method of making a container according to the invention comprising the step of forming the lid body and/or the base body as an integral piece of material and cutting the material to form the said cut lines and thereby define the tabs.

Preferably, no material is discarded due to said cutting. This is an efficient use of materials.

The lid flange may extend from the side wall of the lid body substantially parallel to the plane of the lid body, for example, at an angle within 15 degrees, within 10 degrees, or within 5 degrees of the plane of the lid. The base flange may extend from the side wall of the base body substantially parallel to the plane of the base, for example, at an angle within 15 degrees, within 10 degrees, or within 5 degrees of the plane of the lid.

The base flange and lid flange may extend from the side wall of the base body and lid body respectively at the same orientation so that the base flange and lid flange lie against each other when the base body and lid body are retained together by the tabs. Increasing the contact area of the base and lid flanges in this way improves insulation and acts as a partial seal, reducing the risk of food spillage.

In an alternative embodiment, the said tabs extend outwards from the one of the lid flange or the base flange and the base side wall or base flange (in the case that the tabs extend outwards from the lid flange) or the lid side wall or lid flange (in the case that the tabs extend outwards from the base flange) comprises a corresponding aperture for receiving the said tabs.

This is another configuration by which the tabs can retain the lid body and the base body together while the base flange and lid flange are in contact.

It may be that the lid body comprises one or more locating formations which protrude in the direction away from the lid (e.g. downwards when the lid body is horizontal, with the lid on top) and which fit within the base body and cooperate with the inner side of the side walls of the base body on opposite sides of the base portion to restrict lateral movement of the lid body relative to the base body (when the lid body and the base body are retained together while the base flange and the lid flange are in contact).

The one or more location formations may be a recess formed in and extending around the side wall of the lid body. Thus the inner surface (and typically also the outer surface) of the side wall of the lid body may extend away from the lid to a maximum of distance from the plane of the lid and then closer to the plane of the lid as the side wall extends from the lid to the lid flange.

The one or more location formations resist lateral movement (movement parallel to the plane of the lid and base) when the lid body and the base body are retained together while the base flange and lid flange are in contact. This is especially helpful in combination with the tabs which prevent movement of the lid body away from the base body and the location formations and tabs on opposite side of the container together form a reliable mechanism for retaining the base body and lid body together.

The lid body is typically formed from an insulating material. The base body is typically formed from an insulating material, which is typically the same material. The insulating material is preferably biodegradable. The insulating material is preferably made from plant material. The insulating material may be fibrous. The insulating material may be predominantly (e.g. at least 90% by weight or at least 95%, 96%, 97% or 98%) bagasse.

The invention also extends to a kit of parts comprising a lid body and a base body configured to form a container according to the first aspect of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

An example embodiment of the present invention will now be illustrated with reference to the following Figures in which:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a container according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2a is cross section through a container according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2b is a cross section through a variant of the container of FIG. 2a;

FIG. 3 is plan view from beneath of a container according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 is plan view from beneath of a container according to one embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5a is a cross section through a container according to an alternative embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5b is a cross section through a variant of the container of FIG. 5a;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a container according to an embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 7 is a plan view of a container according to an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF AN EXAMPLE EMBODIMENT

With reference to FIGS. 1, 2a, 3 and 4, a container 1 comprises a lid body 2 and a base body 4, each of which is made of bagasse. The lid body comprises a flat lid 6, a side wall 7 extending around four sides of the lid, and a lid flange 8 which extends away from the side wall. The lid flange is substantially planar and extends away from the lid body. The lid flange comprises a first tab 10a, a second tab 10b, a third tab 10c, and a fourth tab 10d cut into the material of the lid flange. The tabs extend inwardly towards the lid body. The lid body comprises a recess 12 (functioning as the locating formation) between the lid and the first peripheral flange. The recess extends around the periphery of the lid body, and extends below the plane of the lid flange.

The base body is generally rectangular and comprises a base 14, a side wall 16, extending around the base and a flange 18 which extends outwards from the side wall (the base flange). The base and side wall together define a bowl within which food is retained in use.

The recess 12 in the side wall of the lid body fits cooperatively with the inner surface of the side wall of the base body.

The lid is generally rectangular and has a first side, a second side, a third side and a fourth side. The first side is opposite the second side, and the third side is opposite the fourth side. The first tab is located on the lid flange on the first side of the container, the second tab is located on the lid flange on the second side of the container, the third tab is located on the lid flange on the third side of the container and the fourth tab is located on the lid flange on the fourth side of the container.

Accordingly, the first tab and the second tab are on opposite sides of the lid body (and opposite sides of the container), and the third tab and the fourth tabs are on different opposite sides of the lid body (and opposite sides of the container).

The tabs are resilient and can flex out of the plane of the lid flange.

With reference to FIG. 2a it can be seen the width of the lid body measured between the opposite outer edges of the lid flange (A-A) is greater than the width of the base body measured between the opposite outer edges of the base flange (B-B). The distance between the outer edges of the tabs (C-C) is greater than the width of the base body measured between the outer edges of the base flange (B-B) but the distance between the tips of the tabs (D-D) is less than the width of the base body measured between the outer edges of the base flange (B-B) so that the tabs can fit around the edges of the base flange and retain the base flange against the lid flange.

During use, the base of the base body is placed on a horizontal surface, and food is placed within the bowl. The lid body is lowered onto the base body to encapsulate the food retained within the bowl. The lid flange rests on the base flange and both the lid flange and the base flange are in a horizontal plane and so are in contact around the container, forming a potential seal. The recess of the lid abuts the side wall of the base and so locates the lid body relating to the base body, resisting lateral motion therebetween. The lid flange extends beyond the base flange to overhang the base flange. The tabs are pushed beneath the lid flange around the edge of the base flange. The tabs thereby clip under the base flange, to securing the lid body to the base body.

Accordingly, the tabs of the lid body restrict motion of the lid body with respect to the base body in the vertical direction and the recess of the lid body restricts motion of the lid body with respect to the base body in the horizontal direction. The lid is thereby demountably secured to the base to form the container. The restrictions in motion work synergistically, as the restriction of horizontal movement resists deformation of the tabs and the restriction of vertical movement by the tabs restricts disturbance of the position of the recess.

As the lid and the base are formed from bagasse, which has thermal insulating properties, the temperature of the food retained within the container is maintained for a reasonable period of time.

When the user wishes to eat the food retained within the container, the tabs are flexed to release the base flange and the lid body is lifted away from the base body. Once the food has been removed and consumed, the container may be retained for future use, or the user may dispose of the container. As the lid body and base body are made with bagasse, the container will decompose when thrown away, and will not remain in garbage dumps, landfill sites or similar for a long period of time, in contrast to containers made from fossil fuels, such as polystyrene containers, for example.

Although in the examples of FIGS. 1 to 4, the lid flange comprises the tabs and extends beyond the outer edge of the base flange, the tabs could alternatively be in the base flange in which case the base flange will extend beyond the lid flange and the lid flange can be retained between the tabs and the base flange.

In a further variation shown in FIG. 2a, the lid flange and base flange extend at an angle (about 30 degrees in this example) to the plane of the lid and base.

In alternative embodiments, with reference to FIGS. 5a and 6 (which show a version with one pair of opposed tabs) and 7 (which shows a version with two pairs of opposed tabs), the tabs 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d extend away from the lid flange 8, and the base side wall 16 comprises apertures 20 configured to receive the tabs of the base. The apertures may be where the lid flange extends from the lid side walls. During use, when the lid body is placed upon the base body, the tabs are inserted into the apertures to thereby secure the lid body to the base body, to again resist movement of the lid body away from the base body.

In further alternative embodiments, with reference to FIG. 5b, the side wall of the lid body, or the lid flange, comprises apertures configured to receive tabs which extend from the base flange.

Due to the reasonably resilient connection formed between the lid body and the base body, it has been possible to provide a reliable container for food, made from an insulating material and dispensing with a hinge. The container is suitable for fabrication from bagasse which has environmental benefits as bagasse is a biodegradable material made as a waste product from the processing of sugar beet.

Further variations and modifications may be made within the scope of the invention herein disclosed.