Title:
Microwavable foodstuffs dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A foodstuffs dispenser including a flexible and resilient microwavable plastic bottle having an internal cavity adapted to closely receive either a stick or block of butter, cheese or similar substantially solid or semisolid foodstuffs. To use the dispenser, a user first removes a cap from the bottle and inserts the desired foodstuffs into the cavity and replaces the cap. The dispenser is then placed in a microwave oven and heated for a time sufficient to soften or liquefy foodstuffs whereby the user may then squeeze the bottle to dispense the foodstuffs from the cap and over a food of choice.



Inventors:
Phinn, Alex J. (Bristol, PA, US)
Application Number:
09/881079
Publication Date:
12/13/2001
Filing Date:
06/13/2001
Assignee:
PHINN ALEX J.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D1/02; B65D47/24; B65D81/34; (IPC1-7): B65D25/40
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
MEREK, JOSEPH C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John F. Letchford (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A foodstuffs dispenser comprising: a flexible and resilient bottle fabricated from microwavable plastic material and defining an internal cavity having a polygonal shape; and a cap fabricated from microwavable plastic material and having a discharge outlet; means for releasably connecting said cap to said bottle.

2. The foodstuffs dispenser of claim 1 wherein the outer periphery said bottle is polygonal in shape.

3. The foodstuffs dispenser of claim 1 wherein said polygonal shape is a square.

4. The foodstuffs dispenser of claim 1 wherein said polygonal shape is a rectangle.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/211,267, filed Jun. 13, 2000.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates in general to foodstuffs dispensers and in particular to a microwavable butter or cheese dispenser.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Squeezable condiment and other foodstuffs dispensers are commonplace. Such containers typically comprise flexible and resilient polyethylene or polypropylene bottles having releasable caps or lids that incorporate nozzles through which the fluids are dispensed. The design of the bottle may be fanciful and/or suggestive of the food material contained in the dispenser, e.g., a bear-shaped honey dispenser, a red ketchup dispenser, a yellow mustard dispenser, and the like. Otherwise, little or no consideration is given to the size, shape or composition of the bottle except the volume which is needed to contain a desired quantity of liquid or semisolid food material therein. Moreover, conventional polyethylene or polypropylene are not intended for exposure to microwave energy since the food materials they contain are dispensed at or below ambient temperature. Indeed, microwave energy typically warps or even destroys conventional flexible plastic food containers after a single or a few applications. Because of this and other reasons, the present inventor has discovered that conventional squeeze-type condiment and foodstuffs dispensers are unsuitable for dispensing butter which is stored in a substantially solid refrigerated state but which the user may wish to dispense in a warmed liquid state, such as over vegetables, pancakes, waffles, toast, or other foods.

[0004] Apart from being manufactured from plastics that are unsuitable for microwaving, presently available squeezable dispensers are not well adapted to receive solid butter in its customary rectangular prismoid quarter pound sticks and one pound blocks. Likewise, they cannot accommodate cheeses that are also sold in block shapes. Either their necks are too small to permit insertion of the sticks or blocks of butter or cheese, or if a bottle is large enough to receive the selected stick or block, the body of the bottle would be large and cumbersome, difficult to grip, and consume excessive refrigerator storage space.

[0005] An advantage exists, therefore, for a squeezable foodstuffs dispenser that is microwavable and compact in size for easy handling and storage.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] The foodstuffs dispenser according to the present invention comprises a flexible and resilient plastic bottle having a releasable plastic cap or lid that incorporates a nozzle through which liquefied foodstuffs may be dispensed. Any flexible plastic that can withstand long-term exposure to microwave radiation would be suitable for forming the bottle and cap. And, the cap may incorporate a push-pull, rotating or other conventional means for selectively permitting and preventing flow through the nozzle.

[0007] The bottle includes an internal cavity having a polygonal, e.g., square or rectangular, cross-section and a length adapted to closely receive either a quarter pound stick of butter, a one pound block of butter or a block of cheese. To minimize bulk, the outer periphery of the bottle is also correspondingly square or rectangular in cross-section. To use the dispenser, a user first removes the cap from the bottle and inserts, depending on the cross-sectional dimensions of the cavity, a quarter pound stick of butter, a one pound block of butter or a block of cheese into the cavity and replaces the cap. The dispenser is then placed in a microwave oven and heated for a time sufficient to liquefy the butter or cheese whereby the user may then squeeze the bottle to dispense the liquefied butter or cheese over a food of choice. If all of the butter or cheese is not used at a particular sitting, the user simply places the dispenser in the refrigerator for storage. When it is desired to use the remaining butter or cheese, the user removes the dispenser from the refrigerator and repeats the microwave heating process described above to liquefy the contents.

[0008] The present invention thus provides a convenient, compact, squeezable and microwavable foodstuffs dispenser. Although described as being useful in dispensing butter or cheese, it will be understood that the dispenser may also be to dispense margarine that is sold in conventional one quarter pound sticks and one pound blocks.

[0009] Other details, objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent as the following description of the presently preferred embodiments and presently preferred methods of practicing the invention proceeds.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] The invention will become more readily apparent from the following description of preferred embodiments thereof shown, by way of example only, in the accompanying drawings wherein:

[0011] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a butter or cheese dispenser constructed according to the invention;

[0012] FIG. 2 is an cross-sectional view of the dispenser taken along line A-A of FIG. 1; and

[0013] FIG. 3 is an cross-sectional of the dispenser taken along line B-B of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0014] As shown in the drawing figures, the foodsuffs dispenser according to the invention is identified generally by reference numeral 10 and comprises a flexible and resilient squeezable bottle 12 and releasable cap 14. Bottle 12 and cap 14 are fabricated from any plastic that can withstand long-term exposure to microwave radiation without experiencing significant damage such as talc or calcium modified polypropylene. The bottle and cap are releasably connectable to one another via any suitable quick release means 16 such as threading or, as illustrated in FIG. 2, a tongue in groove connection. The cap includes a nozzle 18 preferably incorporating means 20 for selectively permitting and preventing fluid flow through the nozzle discharge outlet 22. Means 20 may comprise a conventional push-pull structure as commonly used on squeezable liquid detergent or syrup bottles or a rotatable closure, as illustrated, of the kind commonly used on mustard or other squeezable condiment bottles.

[0015] When used to dispense butter, bottle 12 includes an internal cavity 24 having a polygonal cross section and a length adapted to closely accommodate the prismoidal shape of block-like foodstuffs that may initially be inserted into the cavity prior to heating. For example, cavity 24 may assume a substantially square cross-section and have a length sufficient to closely receive a full quarter pound stick of butter or it may be appropriately dimensioned to accommodate a one pound block of butter. The illustrated dispenser, as best appreciated by reference to FIG. 3, is sized to accommodate a quarter pound stick of butter. It will be understood that if cavity 24 of bottle 10 were sized to receive a one pound block of butter, the cross-sectional dimensions of the cavity would essentially be doubled in both directions. And, when used to dispense cheese, cavity 24 may be either square or rectangular depending on the shape of cheese block to be received therein. Alternatively, a large block of cheese may be easily cut to fit into the internal cavity of a dispenser 10 adapted to receive either a quarter pound stick or one pound block of butter. It will be understood that whipped or spreadable butter, cheese or margarine products may also be packed into cavity 24 for heating and dispensing as set forth herein. As shown in FIG. 3, it is preferred that the outer periphery of the bottle correspond in cross-section to that of cavity 24, e.g., square or rectangular, to minimize bulk and the amount of refrigerator storage space occupied by dispenser 10. In addition, the corners of the polygonal bottle 12 assist the user in gripping and squeezing the bottle, especially when greasy footstuffs such as melted butter or the like coat the outside of the bottle during use.

[0016] To use the dispenser, a user first removes cap 14 from bottle 12 and inserts, depending on the cross-sectional dimensions of cavity 24, a quarter pound stick of butter, a one pound block of butter or a desired quantity of cheese or other semisolid to substantially solid foodstuffs into the cavity and replaces the cap. The loaded dispenser is then placed in a microwave oven and heated for a time sufficient to liquefy the foodstuffs whereby the user may then squeeze bottle 12 to dispense the liquefied foodstuffs over a food of choice. If all of the liquefied foodstuffs is not used at a particular sitting, the user simply places dispenser 10 in a refrigerator for storage. When it is desired to use the remaining contents, the user removes the dispenser from the refrigerator and repeats the microwave heating process described above to liquefy the foodstuffs.

[0017] Additionally, although not illustrated, the outer periphery of bottle 10 may be permanently covered by a thermally non-conductive material or a removable sleeve of thermally non-conductive material to reduce the risk to a user of burning his or hands when removing the heated dispenser from a microwave oven and using the dispenser to dispense hot, liquefied foodstuffs over food.

[0018] Although the invention has been described in detail for the purpose of illustration, it is to be understood that such detail is solely for that purpose and that variations can be made therein by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as claimed herein.