Title:
Pizza separator
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pizza separator for use with a pizza box of the type having an upper and lower panel, includes a separator member dimensioned for positioning within a pizza box. The separator member includes a base having at least one compartment for accommodating seasonings and upper and lower support surfaces for respectively positioning adjacent upper and lower covers of the pizza box. The upper and lower support surfaces define a height sufficient to maintain the upper and lower covers at a predetermined spacial distance. The base preferably includes a plurality of compartments, with each compartment dimensioned to accommodate a different seasoning. At least one leg may depend from the base for positioning on the pizza. Preferably, a plurality of legs are provided.



Inventors:
Depoortere, Thomas (Green Village, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/110621
Publication Date:
02/06/2003
Filing Date:
04/15/2002
Assignee:
DEPOORTERE THOMAS
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/507, 206/511
International Classes:
B65D81/05; B65D81/32; B65D85/36; (IPC1-7): B65D85/00; B65D21/032; B65D25/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
ELKINS, GARY E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael E Carmen (Uniondale, NY, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A pizza separator for use with a pizza box of the type having an upper and lower cover, which comprises: a separator member dimensioned for positioning within a pizza box, said separator member including a base having at least one compartment for accommodating seasonings, said separator having upper and lower support surfaces for respectively positioning adjacent upper and lower covers of the pizza box and defining a height between said support surfaces sufficient to maintain the upper and lower covers at a predetermined spacial distance.

2. The pizza separator according to claim 1 wherein said base includes a plurality of said compartments, each compartment dimensioned to accommodate respective seasonings.

3. The pizza separator according to claim 2 wherein said separator member includes at least one leg depending from said base, said one leg defining said lower support surface.

4. The pizza separator according to claim 3 including a plurality of said legs.

5. The pizza separator according to claim 1 further including a separator cover connected to said base, said separator cover having at least one dispensing port to permit dispensing of the seasonings from said one compartment.

6. The pizza separator according to claim 2 further including a separator cover connected to said base, said separator cover having at least one dispensing opening to permit dispensing of the seasonings from said components.

7. The pizza separator according to claim 6 wherein said separator cover is movable relative to said base to permit alignment of said one dispensing port with a selected compartment.

8. The pizza separator according to claim 6 wherein said separator cover includes a plurality of dispensing port, for permitting dispensing of seasonings from respective compartments.

9. The pizza separator according to claim 5 wherein said separator cover includes a lid mounted adjacent said dispensing port, said lid movable between a closed position substantially closing said dispensing port and an open position exposing said dispensing port.

10. A method for use of a pizza box of the type having a top cover and a bottom cover, comprising the steps of: placing a pizza in the pizza box; providing a pizza separator including a base having at least one compartment for accommodating seasonings and upper and lower support surfaces for respectively positioning adjacent upper and lower covers of the pizza box and defining a height between said support surfaces sufficient to maintain the upper and lower covers at a predetermined spacial distance; positioning a pizza in the pizza box; and positioning said pizza separator in said pizza box, with said lower support surface disposed adjacent the pizza and said lower cover, and with said upper support surface positioned adjacent said upper cover.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 60/225,166, filed Aug. 14, 2000, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Disclosure

[0003] The present invention relates to a pizza separator for use with a conventional pizza box, and, more particularly, to a pizza separator which provides the dual function of maintaining a desired spacial distance between upper and lower panels of the box as well as providing a container for housing various seasonings to be applied to the pizza.

[0004] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0005] Pizza boxes for enclosing pizzas made at local pizza parlors, restaurants, etc. lack sufficient stability to maintain the upper and lower panels of the box in spaced relation, particularly, when in a stacked relation. As a consequence, the upper cover contacts the top of the pizza and sticks to the cheese contents.

[0006] Accordingly, it would be desirable to provide a device which would preserve the dimensioning of the box to preserve the integrity of the pizza. In addition, it would be further advantageous to provide such a device which would be capable of storing various seasonings to be applied to the pizza by the consumer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] In view of the foregoing, a pizza separator for use with a pizza box of the type having an upper and lower panel is provided. The pizza separator includes a separator member dimensioned for positioning within a pizza box. The separator member includes a base having at least one compartment for accommodating seasonings, and upper and lower support surfaces for respectively positioning adjacent upper and lower panels of the pizza box. The upper and lower support surfaces define a height sufficient to maintain the pizza panels at a predetermined spacial distance. The base preferably includes a plurality of compartments, with each compartment dimensioned to accommodate a different seasoning. At least one leg may depend from the base for positioning on the pizza. Preferably, a plurality of legs are provided.

[0008] The pizza separator may also include a separator cover connected to the base. The separator cover has at least one dispensing port which permits dispensing of the seasonings from the one compartment. The separator cover may be movable relative to the base to permit alignment of the one dispensing port with a selected compartment. Alternatively, the separator cover may include a plurality of dispensing ports one for each compartment. The separator cover preferably includes a lid mounted adjacent the dispensing port and movable between a closed position substantially closing the dispensing port and an open position exposing the dispensing port.

[0009] A method for use of a pizza box with the separator is also disclosed. The method includes the steps of:

[0010] placing a pizza in the pizza box;

[0011] providing a pizza separator including a base having at least one compartment for accommodating seasonings and upper and lower support surfaces for respectively positioning adjacent upper and lower panels of the pizza box, and defining a height between the support surfaces sufficient to maintain the upper and lower covers at a predetermined spacial distance;

[0012] positioning a pizza in the pizza box; and

[0013] positioning the pizza separator in the pizza box, with the lower support surface disposed adjacent the pizza and the lower panel, and with the upper support surface positioned adjacent the upper panel.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] Preferred embodiment(s) of the invention will be better appreciated by reference to the drawings wherein:

[0015] FIG. 1 is a side plan view of the pizza separator of the present invention illustrating the separator base and the separator cover;

[0016] FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the separator base;

[0017] FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the separator cover;

[0018] FIG. 4 is a side cross-sectional view taken along the lines 4-4 of FIG. 3 illustrating the dispenser lid of the separator cover;

[0019] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a conventional pizza box with the pizza separator disposed therein;

[0020] FIG. 6 is a side plan view of the pizza box with the pizza separator therein;

[0021] FIG. 7 is a side plan view of an alternate embodiment of the pizza separator including a plurality of stacked independent compartments for accommodating seasonings; and

[0022] FIG. 8 is a side plan view illustrating a preferred mounting mechanism for connecting the compartments of the pizza separator of FIG. 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0023] Referring now to the drawings wherein like reference numerals identify similar or like reference numerals throughout the several views, FIGS. 1-4 illustrate the pizza separator of the present invention. Pizza separator 10 includes two basic components, namely, a disc-shaped base 12 and a cover 14 which is mounted to the base 12. The base 12 has a plurality of legs 16 extending from its lower surface, which define lower support surfaces 18. Support surfaces 18 are intended to engage the top of the pizza when appropriately positioned in a pizza box. The base 14 of the separator includes a plurality of compartments 20. Each compartment 20 is intended to house a different seasoning, e.g., garlic, parsley, grated cheese and/or red pepper for the pizza. Four compartments 20 are shown; however, it is appreciated more or less compartments 20 may be provided as well. The compartments 20 are defined between adjacent interior walls 22 of the base 14.

[0024] Cover 14 is mounted to the upper surface of the base 12. Cover 14 defines upper support wall surface 24 and annular portion 26 depending from the wall surface 24. Wall surface 24 engages the inside of the top panel of the pizza box. Preferably, cover 14 is mounted to base 12 through a friction or interference fit whereby the inner diameter of annular portion 26 is slightly greater than the outer diameter of the base 12 to engage the wall of the base 12 when positioned therein. Cover 14 preferably has a port 28 which can be selectively positioned above each compartment 20 to dispense a particular seasoning as desired. In one embodiment, cover 14 rotates relative to base 12 in either direction as indicated by directional arrows A, B (FIG. 3) to position port 28 over the desired seasoning. In an alternative embodiment, cover 14 may be stationary and the port 28 would rotate relative to the upper lid through a tongue and groove arrangement or a slide arrangement as appreciated by one skilled in the art. As depicted in FIG. 3 and FIG. 4, port 28 preferably has a spout 30 which can be selectively pivoted to an open (shown in phantom) and closed position like, for example, in a conventional salt package or sugar package. As a further alternative, each compartment 20 may have its own port 28 and spout 30 as shown in phantom in FIG. 3. In this embodiment, cover 14 is stationary. As a further embodiment, cover 14 would be devoid of a spout 30 whereby the cover 14 is removed to dispense the seasonings. Suitable lids and dispenser ports are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,210,618, 4,360,121 and 4,467,938, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

[0025] The components of pizza separator 10 may be manufactured from a suitable rigid polymeric material through conventional injection molding techniques. Other rigid materials are envisioned as well including cardboard, pressboard, metal, etc.

[0026] With reference to FIGS. 5 and 6, the use of the pizza separator will now be discussed. The pizza “P” is positioned in pizza box 100 having top panel 102 and lower panel 104. Pizza separator 10 filled with the appropriate seasonings is positioned on the pizza “P” with legs 16 engaging the pizza and wall surface 24 of cover 14 engaging the top panel of the box. As appreciated, pizza separator 10 is sufficiently rigid to maintain the pizza panels 102, 104 in spaced relation. Thus, the apparatus provides a dual function of 1) providing desired seasonings to a consumer and 2) supporting the pizza box by preventing engagement of the upper panel of the box with the pizza, particularly when several pizzas are stacked one on top of each other. Subsequent to delivery of the pizza “P”, the consumer can utilize pizza separator 10 to dispense the appropriate seasonings from the separator.

[0027] FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate an alternate embodiment of the present invention. In accordance with this embodiment, pizza separator 50 includes a plurality of stackable independent compartments 52. Each compartment 52 includes a seasoning as desired. Adjacent compartments 52 may be connected through an interference fit in which the lower surface of one compartment 52 includes a circumferential collar 54 receivable in a corresponding circumferential recess 56 of an adjacent compartment 52. Each compartment 52 may have ports 58 extending through an upper surface in communication with the interior of the compartment 52 to permit dispensing of the seasonings. Pizza separator 50 may be positioned in pizza box 100 in a similar manner described in connection with the pizza separator 10 of FIG. 1, i.e., with the axis “z” of the separator extending upwardly to intersect the pizza panels 102, 104 Alternatively, pizza separator 50 may be attached to the outside of the box thereby serving only as a provider of the seasoning.

[0028] It is appreciated that the present invention is not limited to the particular designs shown in the accompanying drawings but rather may include a square shape, rectangular shape, triangle shape, etc., nor is the apparatus limited to the particular number of compartments shown. It is envisioned that more or fewer compartments can be provided to include the particular seasonings desired. The apparatus is also not limited to the particular size that is shown, but may be larger or smaller, depending on the needs of the consumer. It is contemplated that the apparatus may be provided as an after-market item and supplied with the pizza upon delivery to the consumer.

[0029] While the above description contains many specifics, these specifics should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the disclosure, but merely as exemplifications of preferred embodiments thereof. Those skilled in the art will envision many other possible variations that are within the scope and spirit of the invention