Title:
Food and beverage container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a carrier which includes a handle, a first support and a second support. The first and second supports are attached to each other and to the handle. Each support has a food aperture and beverage aperture which are located on the same sides of the first and second supports. The handle has a carrying aperture for carrying the carrier and an inside cavity for receiving promotional items. The carrying aperture of the handle is formed on the handle such that a center of the beverage aperture crosses the carrying aperture. The inside cavity is sized and configured to receive a three or five inch compact disk.



Inventors:
Hunter, Anthony L. (San Clemente, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/367476
Publication Date:
08/19/2004
Filing Date:
02/14/2003
Assignee:
HUNTER ANTHONY L.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/162, 206/217
International Classes:
B65D71/62; (IPC1-7): B65D75/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ACKUN, JACOB K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STETINA BRUNDA GARRED & BRUCKER (Aliso Viejo, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A carrier for food and beverages, the carrier comprising: a) first and second supports, each support defines a top panel, an opposed bottom panel, a right portion and a left portion, each top panel has a food aperture and a beverage aperture, the food and beverage apertures of each of the supports are located on the right and left portions of each top panel, respectively; and b) a handle defines a center, a bottom edge, a right side, a left side, a carrying aperture having a center and at least one inside cavity, the handle is attached to the first and second supports at the bottom edge, the center of the carrying aperture is offset from the center of the handle toward the left side.

2. The carrier of claim 1 wherein a first inside cavity is formed on the right side of the handle.

3. The carrier of claim 2 wherein a second inside cavity is formed on the left side of the handle.

4. The carrier of claim 3 wherein the first inside cavity is capable of holding a five inch compact disk.

5. The carrier of claim 3 wherein the second inside cavity is capable of holding a three inch compact disk.

6. The carrier of claim 5 wherein each inside cavity has a viewing hole.

7. The carrier of claim 1 wherein: a) the handle defines an outboard surface; and b) promotional indicia is positioned at the right side of the handle on the outboard surface of the handle.

8. The carrier of claim 7 wherein: a) the first and second supports each define a side panel and an outboard surface; and b) promotional indicia is positioned on the outboard surfaces of the side panels of the first and second supports.

9. The carrier of claim 8 wherein: a) the food apertures define opposed lateral edges; and b) each top panel further comprises at least one support panel attached to at least one of the lateral edges of the food apertures.

10. The carrier of claim 9 wherein promotional indicia is positioned on the support panels.

11. The carrier of claim 10 wherein perforations encircling the promotional indicia on the side panels and support panels form promotional cards.

12. The carrier of claim 11 wherein the promotional cards further comprise finger tabs attached to the promotional cards at an edge of the promotional card.

13. The carrier of claim 9 wherein the support panel(s) and top panel of the first support is formed from a unitary material, and the support panel(s) and the top panel of the second support is formed from a unitary material.

14. The carrier of claim 9 wherein: a) the support panels define a first distal end and an opposed second distal end; b) the first distal ends of the support panels are attached to respective lateral edges of the food apertures; and c) the support panels further comprise locking tabs which are attached to the support panels at the second distal ends of the support panels, the locking tabs engage respective locking holes formed on the bottom panels of the first and second supports.

15. The carrier of claim 14 wherein the locking tab(s) of the first support has a L-shaped locking tab(s), and the locking tab(s) of the second support has a T-shaped locking tab(s).

16. The carrier of claim 1 wherein the beverage apertures of the first and second supports have a round configuration.

17. The carrier of claim 16 wherein: a) the beverage aperture defines a center and an inner periphery; and b) at least one of the beverage aperture of the first and second supports has a plurality of friction tabs directed toward the center of the beverage aperture and attached to the inner periphery of the beverage aperture(s).

18. The carrier of claim 17 wherein the friction tabs have a castellated configuration.

19. The carrier of claim 1 wherein the handle further comprises a protective covering attached to the carrying aperture.

20. The carrier of claim 1 wherein the carrier is fabricated from material selected from the group consisting of solid bleached sulfate paperboard, solid unbleached sulfate paperboard and corrugated paper.

21. The carrier of claim 20 wherein the paperboard is at least 0.020 inches thick.

22. The carrier of claim 21 wherein the corrugated paper is E-flute, F-flute or micro-flute.

23. A blank for forming a carrier which may be loaded with food and beverages, the carrier having a handle with first and second supports on opposing sides of the handle, the blank having a width and length with the length extending along a longitudinal axis and the width being perpendicular thereto, the blank comprising: a) nine panels and at least eight fold lines, including in a sequence beginning from a first distal end of the blank: i) a first panel having a free edge forming the first distal end of the blank and having an interior edge extending across the width of the blank to form a first fold line; ii) a second panel defining a first side panel of the handle of the carrier and having an aperture therein sized to allow fingers of a hand to enter the aperture and grip the handle, a centerline of the aperture being offset from the longitudinal axis, the second panel sharing the first fold line with the first panel and having a second fold line opposite thereto; iii) a third panel defining a second side panel of the handle of the carrier, the third panel sharing the second fold line with the second panel and having a third fold line opposite thereto, the handle being formed when the second and third panels are folded and fastened together, the handle forming an inside cavity which is sized to fit the removable promotional material, the third panel having an aperture sized and located to align with the aperture in the second panel when the second and third panels are folded onto each other, the inside cavity is offset from the longitudinal axis opposite the aperture; iv) a fourth panel defining a top panel of the first support of the carrier, the fourth panel having a beverage aperture, a food aperture, and at least one support panel with locking tab, the beverage aperture being located on the same side of the longitudinal axis as the aperture of the second and third panels, the fourth panel sharing the third fold line with the third panel and having a fourth fold line opposite thereto; v) a fifth panel defining a side panel of the first support of the carrier, the fifth panel sharing the fourth fold line with the fourth panel and having a fifth fold line opposite thereto; vi) a sixth panel defining bottom panels of the first and second supports of the carrier, the fifth panel having at least a corresponding number of locking hole(s) as support panels formed on the fourth panel, at least some of the locking hole(s) being sized and located to receive respective support panel locking tabs, the sixth panel sharing the fifth fold line with the fifth panel and having a sixth fold line opposite thereto; vii) a seventh panel defining a side panel of the second support of the carrier, the seventh panel sharing the sixth fold line with the sixth panel and having a seventh fold line opposite thereto; viii) an eighth panel defining a top panel of the second support of the carrier, the eighth panel having a beverage aperture, a food aperture, and at least one support panel with locking tab(s), with such locking tab(s) being received by locking hole(s) formed on the sixth panel, the food and beverage apertures of the eighth panel being located on the same side of the longitudinal axis as the food and beverage apertures of the fourth panel, the eighth panel sharing the seventh fold line with the seventh panel and having an eighth fold line opposite thereto; ix) a ninth panel having a free edge forming the second distal end of the blank and having an interior edge extending across the width of the blank to form an eighth fold line.

24. The blank of claim 23 wherein the second and third panels are sized such that the handle formed therefrom may form another inside cavity which is offset from the longitudinal axis on the same side as the aperture.

25. The blank of claim 24 wherein the inside cavity opposite the aperture is sized to hold a five inch compact disc.

26. The blank of claim 24 wherein the inside cavity at the same side as the aperture is sized to hold a three inch compact disc.

27. The blank of claim 24 wherein the handle has at least one opening to view the removable promotional materials contained within the inside cavities.

28. The blank of claim 23 wherein each support panel further comprises at least one push down tab attached adjacent the locking tab.

29. The blank of claim 23 wherein at least some portion of the aperture formed on the handle crosses the centerline of the beverage apertures parallel to the longitudinal axis.

30. The blank of claim 23 wherein the locking tabs of the support panels formed on the fourth panel have a L shaped configuration, and the locking tabs of the support panels formed on the eighth panel have a T shaped configuration.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates to a food and beverage container that is portable.

BACKGROUND

[0002] People purchase food and beverages at food serving establishments. Frequently, a single person may order food and beverages for a group of people. But a single person is often unable to carry the ordered food and beverages back to the group without aid. In response, food serving establishments provide as a courtesy a food and beverage carrier which would allow the person to carry more food and beverages compared to the amount of food and beverages the person could carry without the food and beverage carrier. These carriers are typically expensive and unstable.

[0003] Food and beverage carriers are known that have a foldable construction; however, these prior art devices have deficiencies. In the area of advertising, the carrier construction hinders the use of the carrier as an advertising medium. For example, prior art devices having a handle centers a gripping aperture along a vertical plane centered on the handle. The handle provides two surface areas on opposite sides of the gripping aperture, but the two surface areas may be too small for some promotional items, yet it is undesirable to make the handle bigger. Accordingly, there is a need for a carrier with improved promotional areas on the carrier.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] A carrier for loading food or beverages is provided wherein the carrier comprises first and second supports, and a handle. The carrier defines a front, back, right, left, top and bottom sides. The first and second supports are preferably attached to each other. Each support has a top panel and an opposed bottom panel. Each top panel of each support has a food aperture and a beverage aperture to receive the food and/or beverage(s). The food and beverage apertures of each supports are located on the right and left sides of each supports.

[0005] The handle has a bottom edge which is attached to the first and second supports. The handle defines a handle height extending above the supports. The handle has a gripping aperture having a center. The center of the gripping aperture is offset from a longitudinal axis of the handle toward the left side of the handle. The handle has at least one inside cavity. The height of the handle is sufficient such that the inside cavity may hold a removable promotional item. Optionally, the handle may have a handle cover. The beverage apertures are located below the gripping aperture in order to balance the weight carried by the carrier during use. The relocation of the beverage aperture causes the center of gravity of a loaded carrier to shift away from the geometric centerline of the carrier. Moving the beverage aperture (and thus the beverages held in the beverage aperture) allows more visible exposure to one side of the handle. Moving the gripping aperture to one side allows a larger promotional area. Further, moving the gripping aperture in a direction so it is closer to the beverage aperture helps place the gripping aperture over the beverages which is heavier than the food items so that the carrier is better balanced when it is loaded with food and beverages.

[0006] The promotional item is preferably a three inch compact disk, five inch compact disk or other flat item. The handle may have an opening to view the contents of the removable promotional item.

[0007] Each of the first and second supports has a square tubular construction which define a common inside panel, an outside panel and opposed top and bottom panels. The food and beverage apertures are sized and configured on the top panels of the first and second supports.

[0008] The beverage aperture may have a round configuration which includes a circular or slightly elliptical configuration. At least one of the beverage apertures preferably, but optionally, has a plurality of friction tabs directed toward the center of the beverage aperture at an inner periphery of the beverage aperture.

[0009] At least one of the food apertures of the first and second supports preferably, but optionally, has a rectangular configuration. Preferably, at least one edge of the food aperture of each of the supports is attached to a support panel(s) which engages locking holes formed on the bottom panels of the first and second supports. The support panels are formed by die cutting portions of the top panels of the first and second supports. The support panels are bent into the space between the respective first and second supports thereby simultaneously forming the food apertures and support panels. Additionally, the support panels may each have a locking tab which engages respective locking holes. The locking tabs of the second support may have a T shaped configuration, and the locking tabs of the first support may have a L shaped configuration. Additionally, each support panel may further comprise at least one push down tab attached adjacent the locking tab.

[0010] The side panels of each of the first and second supports may have at least one promotional card. Each promotional card preferably has a finger tab attached to the bottom of the promotional card.

[0011] The carrier may be fabricated from various materials. Preferred materials include solid bleached sulfate paperboard, solid unbleached sulfate paperboard and corrugated paper. Preferably, the paperboard is at least 0.020 inches thick, and the corrugated paper is E-flute, F-flute or micro-flute.

[0012] In another embodiment, a blank for forming a carrier for loading food and beverages is provided wherein the carrier has a handle with first and second supports on opposing sides of the handle. The blank defines a width, length, left side and a right side. The blank comprises nine panels and at least eight fold lines extending along a longitudinal axis, with the fold lines perpendicular to that axis. The following description of the panels and fold lines are in sequence beginning from a first distal end of the blank.

[0013] A first panel has a free edge forming the first distal end of the blank and has an interior edge extending across the width of the blank to form a first fold line.

[0014] A second panel defines a first side panel of the handle of the carrier and has a gripping aperture therein sized to allow fingers of a hand to enter the gripping aperture and grip the handle. A center of the gripping aperture is preferably located to the left side of the longitudinal axis. The longitudinal axis corresponds to a center of the handle. The second panel shares the first fold line with the first panel and has a second fold line opposite thereto.

[0015] A third panel defines a second side panel of the handle of the carrier. The third panel shares the second fold line with the second panel and has a third fold line opposite thereto. The handle is formed when the second and third panels are folded and fastened together. The handle may form at least one inside cavity which fits the removable promotional item. A first inside cavity may be formed to the right side of the longitudinal axis. A second inside cavity may be formed to the left side of the longitudinal axis. The third panel preferably has an gripping aperture sized and located to align with the gripping aperture in the second panel when the second and third panels are folded onto each other.

[0016] A fourth panel defines a top panel of the first support of the carrier. The fourth panel may have a beverage aperture, a food aperture, and at least one support panel with locking tab. The beverage apertures may be located toward the left side of the longitudinal axis, or on the same side of the blank compared to the gripping apertures. The fourth panel shares the third fold line with the third panel and has a fourth fold line opposite thereto. A center of the beverage aperture formed on the fourth panel crosses the gripping aperture formed on the third panel.

[0017] A fifth panel defines a side panel of the first support of the carrier. The fifth panel shares the fourth fold line with the fourth panel and has a fifth fold line opposite thereto.

[0018] A sixth panel defines bottom panels of the first and second supports of the carrier. The fifth panel has at least a corresponding number of locking hole(s) as support panels formed on the fourth panel. The locking hole(s) is sized and located to receive respective support panel locking tab(s). The sixth panel shares the fifth fold line with the fifth panel and has a sixth fold line opposite thereto.

[0019] A seventh panel defines a side panel of the second support of the carrier. The seventh panel shares the sixth fold line with the sixth panel and has a seventh fold line opposite thereto.

[0020] An eighth panel defines a top panel of the second support of the carrier. The eighth panel has a beverage aperture, a food aperture, and at least one support panel with locking tab(s), with the locking tab(s) being received by additional locking hole(s) formed on the sixth panel. The locking tabs of the support panels formed on the fourth panel may have a L shaped configuration, and the locking tabs of the support panels formed on the eighth panel may have a T shaped configuration. The food and beverage apertures may be formed on the right and left sides of the eighth panel, respectively, thereby having the same orientation as the food and beverage apertures formed on the fourth panel. The eighth panel shares the seventh fold line with the seventh panel and has an eighth fold line opposite thereto.

[0021] A ninth panel has a free edge forming the second distal end of the blank and has an interior edge extending across the width of the blank to form an eighth fold line.

[0022] The second and third panels may form an inside cavity which can hold a three or five inch compact disk. Two glue lines along the width of the third panel approximately 0.75 inches away from the second and third fold line may form the inside cavity. Additionally, the handle may have an opening to view the contents of the removable promotional item.

[0023] The support panels may further comprise push down tabs which are formed on a distal end of the support panels and adjacent the locking tabs.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0024] These as well as other features and objects of the invention will become more apparent upon reference to the drawings in which like numbers refer to like parts throughout, and in which:

[0025] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a food and beverage carrier;

[0026] FIG. 2 is a substantially similar representation of a right side planar view of the food and beverage carrier of FIG. 1;

[0027] FIG. 3 is the top view of the inboard surface of the carrier prior to the food and beverage carrier of FIG. 1 being folded or glued;

[0028] FIG. 4 is the right side planar view of the food and beverage carrier of FIG. 1 after the food and beverage carrier has been folded and glued; and

[0029] FIG. 5 is the right side front planar view of the food and beverage carrier as the carrier traverses the completely folded and glued carrier depicted in FIG. 4 to the completely assembled carrier depicted in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0030] Referring now to FIG. 1 for the purposes of illustrating the preferred embodiments of the present invention and not for limiting the same, FIG. 1 depicts a perspective view of a carrier 10. The carrier 10 is useful for loading food and/or beverages such that a user may carry more food and beverages compared to the amount of food and/or beverages a person may carry without the carrier 10.

[0031] The carrier 10 may be formed out of a sheet of thin material, such as paperboard, paper stock, corrugated, plastic, synthetic material or combinations thereof. Preferably, the carrier 10 is formed from solid bleached sulfate paperboard, solid unbleached sulfate paperboard or corrugated material wherein the paperboard material is greater than or equal to 0.020 inches thick, and the corrugated is E-flute, F-flute or micro-flute. Preferably, the material is coated on the outboard side 12 to be as water resistant as possible. The outboard side 12 of the material is the printable side. If the carrier 10 is manufactured from recycled material then the outboard side 12 is the side of the material which is exposed to the environment.

[0032] For convenience in describing the various features of the present invention, the carrier 10 has a handle 14 which resides in a vertical Y-Z plane and has two supports (i.e., first and second supports) 16, 18 which extend out from the handle 14 into a generally horizontal X-Y plane. During use, the weight of the food and beverages causes the supports 16, 18 to sag downward (i.e., negative Z-axis) and the handle 14 may bend or twist if the weight of the contents of the carrier 10 is not evenly distributed. Additionally, the material from which the carrier 10 is fabricated may have a memory or a tendency to spring back toward its flat form. As such, the handle 14 and supports 16, 18 may not perfectly reside in their respective planes. Nonetheless, for this description, the handle 14 will still be referred to as generally residing in the vertical Y-Z plane and the supports 16, 18 extending out from the handle 14 into the generally horizontal X-Y plane.

[0033] A longitudinal axis 19 of the handle 14 of the carrier 10 extends along the Z-axis (see FIG. 1). The longitudinal axis 19 is located at the centerline of the handle 14 in the Y-axis direction and is located at the intersection of the first and second supports 16, 18. A center plane 23 extends out from the longitudinal axis 19 into the Z-X plane. The portion of the carrier 10 that extends out into the positive Y-axis direction from the center plane shall be referred to as the left side of the carrier 10, and the portion of the carrier 10 that extends out into the negative Y-axis direction from the center plane shall be referred to as the right side of the carrier 10. For example, a beverage aperture 28 is formed on the left side of the center plane, and a food aperture 30 is formed on the right side of the center plane. The positive Z-axis direction shall be referred to as the top of the carrier 10 or the upper portion of the carrier 10, and the negative Z-axis direction shall be referred to as the bottom of the carrier 10 or the lower portion of the carrier 10. For example, as shown in FIG. 1, the handle 14 forms the upper portion of the carrier 10 and the supports 16, 18 form the bottom portion of the carrier 10.

[0034] A vertical plane perpendicular to the center plane extends out from the longitudinal axis 19 into the Y-Z plane. The portion of the carrier 10 that extends out into the positive X-axis direction from the vertical plane refers to the rearward or back portion of the carrier 10. For example, the second support 18 of the carrier 10 resides in the back of the carrier 10. The portion of the carrier 10 that extends out into the negative X-axis direction from the vertical plane refers to the forward or front portion of the carrier 10. For example, the first support 16 of the carrier 10 resides in the front of the carrier 10.

[0035] The carrier 10 includes the first support 16. The first support 16 may have a tubular configuration with a square shape. In other words, a hollow, box-like construction with open ends. In particular, the first support 16 defines opposed top and bottom panels 20, 22, a side panel 24 and an inside panel 26, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The top panel 20 has a beverage aperture 28 and a food aperture 30. The top panel 20 has two pairs of opposed longitudinal and lateral peripheral edges 32, 34.

[0036] As shown in FIG. 3, the beverage aperture 28 has a round configuration which defines an outside diameter 36. The round configuration includes an oval, elliptical and circular configuration. The beverage aperture 28 is provided for holding beverage containers such as the typical cups of soda or beer, although the shape could vary to accommodate beverages of various shapes. The outside diameter 36 of the beverage aperture 28 may be selected to accommodate the particular size of the drink container used by the food-serving establishment using carrier 10, such as 12 ounce, 16 ounce, or 24 ounce (or larger) beverage containers.

[0037] As shown in FIG. 1, the beverage aperture 28 may be located at the midpoint of the top panel 20 of the first support 16 along the X-axis. Preferably, but optionally, the center of the beverage aperture 28 is offset from the midpoint of the top panel 20 as close as possible to the handle 14 while still allowing easy insertion and removal of the beverage from the beverage aperture 28. The beverage container placed in the beverage aperture 28 is heavy and the close spacing relative to the longitudinal edge 32 closer to the handle 14 allows the use of lighter and less expensive materials for the first support 16.

[0038] The beverage aperture 28 may be located on the left side of the carrier 10. The beverage aperture 28 may be located completely on the left side of the vertical plane, or the beverage aperture 28 may partially be located on the left side of the vertical plane.

[0039] The beverage aperture 28 is sized such that a sufficient amount of material remains between the outside diameter 36 of the beverage aperture 28 and adjacent longitudinal and lateral peripheral edges 32, 34 of the top panel 20. A sufficient amount of material would allow a person to assemble the carrier 10 from a folded and glued carrier 10 (see FIG. 4) without damaging the top panel 20. As shown in FIG. 1, in particular, portions 37 would tend to twist and bend in comparison with the rest of the top panel 20 because there is less material there when the folded and glued carrier 10 (see FIG. 4) transitions from a partially assembled carrier 10 (see FIG. 5) to a fully assembled carrier 10 (see FIG. 1). Additionally, a sufficient amount of material would allow a person to carry food and beverages without spilling the beverage or dropping the food that are carried in the carrier 10. It is preferable that the outside diameter 36 of the beverage aperture 28 is not more than about 1.5 inches from the longitudinal and lateral peripheral edges 32, 34 of the top panel 20, and more preferably is between about 0.625 to about 1.25 inches from longitudinal and lateral peripheral edges 32, 34.

[0040] At the inner periphery of the beverage aperture 28, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3, a plurality of friction tabs 40 are attached thereto. The friction tabs 40 may have a castellated configuration. For example, the friction tabs 40 may be formed such that there is a space between each friction tab 40. The spacing between friction tabs 40 are preferably, but optionally, evenly distributed around the periphery of the beverage aperture 28. Preferably, the friction tabs 40 are of a unitary construction with the top panel 20 of the first support 16. The friction tabs 40 at the outside diameter 36 of the beverage aperture 28 may have a perforation or preferably a crease. The friction tabs 40 define an inside diameter 42 which may have a round configuration. The round configuration includes oval, circular and elliptical configurations. Preferably, the inside diameter 42 matches the configuration of the beverage. Advantageously, the friction tabs 40 produce an evenly distributed force about the circumference of the beverage.

[0041] The friction tabs 40 create a friction force against a beverage that may be inserted into the beverage aperture 28. Initially, as shown in FIG. 1, prior to the beverage being inserted into the beverage aperture 28, the friction tabs 40 reside in the same plane (i.e., X-Y plane) as the top panel 20 of the first support 16. As the beverage, which typically has a conical configuration, is being inserted into the beverage aperture 28, the friction tabs 40 begin to bend in the negative Z-axis direction at the outside diameter 36. Since the friction tabs 40 are preferably fabricated as a unitary structure in conjunction with the top panel 20, the material from which the friction tabs 40 are fabricated has a memory in that they want to spring back to the plane (i.e., X-Y plane) of the top panel 20. The inside diameter 42 of the friction tabs 40 provide a evenly distributed force about the circumference of the beverage. Additionally, the distributed force is directed inward in the negative Z-axis direction. Hence, the friction tabs 40 exert a force on the beverage that pushes the beverage down and into the beverage aperture 28.

[0042] The outside diameter 36 of the beverage aperture 28 is sized such that it does not necessarily have to contact the beverage to retain the beverage within the beverage aperture 28. The outside diameter 36 of the beverage aperture 28 restricts the beverage in the X-Y plane, and the bottom panel 22 of the support 16 and gravity restricts the beverage in the Z-axis. Additionally, the friction tabs 40 restrict movement of the beverage in the X-Y-Z axis. The amount of force which the friction tabs 40 exert on the beverage depends on the size of the outside diameter 36, inside diameter 42 and carrier material (e.g., type and thickness). Additionally, the distance between the top panel 20 and the bottom panel 22 is set such that the friction tabs 40 exert a sufficient amount of force on the smallest-sized beverage, which the food serving establishment serves liquids, to encourage retainment of the beverage within the beverage aperture, and such that the largest-sized beverage, which the food serving establishment serves liquids, may or may not contact the outside diameter 36 of the beverage aperture 28. Preferably, when the distance between the top and bottom panel 20, 22 is about two inches, the outside diameter 36 of the beverage aperture 28 is about 3.6875 inches, and the inside diameter 42 of the friction tabs 40 is about 2.9375 inches.

[0043] The center of the food aperture 30 may be located at the midpoint of the top panel 20 of the first support 16 along the X-axis. Preferably, but optionally, the center of the food aperture 30 is offset from the midpoint of the top panel 20 as close as possible to the handle 14 while still allowing easy insertion and removal of food items from the food aperture 30. The food placed in the food aperture 30 is heavy and the close spacing relative to the longitudinal edge 32 closer to the handle 14 allows the use of lighter and less expensive materials for the first support 16.

[0044] The food aperture 30 is located on the top panel 20 at the right side of the center plane. The food aperture 30 may be located completely on the right side of the center plane, or the food aperture 30 may partially be located on the right side of the center plane.

[0045] The food aperture 30 has a generally square or rectangular configuration which is defined by two opposed pairs of longitudinal and lateral peripheral edges 44, 46. The corners of the food aperture 30 are filleted. A 0.25 inch fillet radius is believed to be suitable. The food aperture 30 is sized to fit food containers. Preferably, packaged foods, such as, hot dogs, candy and popcorn. The centerline of the food aperture 30 in the X-axis may be aligned with the centerline of the top panel 20 of the first support 16. The food aperture 30 is sized such that a sufficient amount of material remains between the food aperture 30, adjacent longitudinal and lateral peripheral edges 32, 34 of the top panel 20, and the adjacent beverage aperture 28.

[0046] Preferably, the opposed pair of lateral peripheral edges 44, 46 of the food aperture 30 each have a support panel 48a, 48b attached thereto (see FIG. 2). Preferably, the support panels 48a, 48b are fabricated as a unitary unit in conjunction with the top panel 20 of the first support 16 (see FIG. 3). As shown in FIG. 2, the support panel 48a has a width 50 and a height 52. The width 50 preferably traverses the length of the lateral edge 46 (see FIG. 1) of the food aperture 30. The intersection of the support panels 48a, 48b and the opposed lateral edges 46 have fold lines. The fold lines may be creases or perforations. At the opposed distal end of the support panels in relation to the lateral edges 46 of the food aperture 30, at least one push down tab 54 (see FIGS. 1 and 3) and one locking tab 56 (see FIG. 2) is attached thereto.

[0047] The locking tabs 56a, 56b may have a L or T shaped configuration, as shown on the first and second supports 16, 18 in FIG. 2. The L and T shaped locking tabs 56a, 56b have a neck 58 and head 60. The neck 58 of the locking tabs 56a, 56b define a width 62 and height 64. The head 60 defines a width 66. The head 60 of the T shaped locking tab 56b is configured to have two protrusions 68a, 68b which equidistantly extend out from bilateral sides of the neck 60. In other words, the protrusions 68a, 68b have the same length. The head 60 of the L shaped locking tab 56a is configured to have only one protrusion 68c which extend out toward one side of the neck 58. Preferably, the support panels 48a, 48b of the first support 16 have L shaped locking tabs 56a. More preferably, the protrusion 68c of the head 60 of the L shaped locking tab 56a is directed toward the positive X direction. A T shaped locking tab 56b may be used on the first support 16; however, it is not required or needed.

[0048] Referring now to FIG. 3, preferably, there are two push down tabs 54 attached to each support panel 48. The push down tabs 54 are located adjacent to the locking tabs 56. Preferably, the push down tabs 54 are as wide as possible without interfering with the functionality of the locking tabs 56. The push down tabs 54 have fold lines 70 where they intersect the support panels 48.

[0049] Referring now to FIG. 2, the side panel 24 is attached to longitudinal edge 32 of the top panel 20 of the first support 16. The side panel 24 is generally perpendicular in relation to the top panel 20. As shown in FIG. 1, the side panel 24 defines two opposed pairs of longitudinal and lateral peripheral edges 72, 74. The upper longitudinal edge 72 of the side panel 24 shares the same longitudinal edge 32 of the adjacent top panel 20.

[0050] At least one promotional card 76 is attached to the side panel 24. Preferably, the promotional card 76 is fabricated as a unitary structure in conjunction with the side panel 24. For example, the promotional card 76 would be formed by impressing perforations 78a, 78b in the shape and size of a business card and locating the impressed perforations 78a, 78b to encircle promotional indicia printed on the side panel 24. A portion of the perforations 78a may share the same edge as the opposed pair of longitudinal edges 72 of the side panel 24. Additionally, the perforations 78b may extend from one longitudinal edge 72 of the side panel to the other opposed longitudinal edge 72. A person may remove the promotional card 76 from the carrier 10 by tearing the promotional card 76 at the perforation 78. In other words, the promotional card 76 is made removable or detachable from the side panel 24 in that the perforation 78a, 78b encircles the promotional card 76. To further aid the removal of the promotional card 76 from the side panel 24, a finger tab 80 may be placed or formed at the lower longitudinal edge 72 of the side panel 24 on the promotional card 76. Alternatively, the promotional card 76 may be removably fastened to the side panel 24 (not shown). A typical promotional card 76 is about the same size as a credit card, which is about 3.25 inches by 1.875 inches (8 cm by 4.8 cm). But the shape of the promotional card 76 can vary. These promotional cards 76 can be used to make phone cards, limited credit cards, discount cards, etc.

[0051] Promotional cards 76 may additionally be formed on the support panels 48a, 48b. Promotional indicia may be printed on the support panels 48a, 48b of the first support 16. Perforations 78a, 78b may be formed on the support panels 48a, 48b which encircle the promotional indicia thereby forming additional promotional cards 76. The user may tear off the promotional card 76 at the perforations 78a, 78b. Alternatively, the support panels 48a, 48b may be sized and configured to be similar to a business card such that the person may tear off the support panels 48a, 48b at the fold lines located at the intersection of the support panel 48a, 48b and the lateral edges 46 of the food aperture 30.

[0052] The bottom panel 22 is attached to the side panel 24. The bottom panel 22 defines two opposed pairs of longitudinal and lateral peripheral edges 82, 84. One of the longitudinal edges 82 shares the same edge as one of the longitudinal edge 72 of the side panel 24. The bottom panel 22 is parallel to the opposed top panel 20 and generally perpendicular to the side panel 24.

[0053] The bottom panel 22 has two locking holes 86a, 86b which are better depicted in FIG. 3. FIG. 3 illustrates a total of four locking holes 86a, 86b, 86c, 86d; however, the additional two locking holes 86c, 86d are discussed below in relation to the second support 18. The locking holes 86a, 86b are sized, configured and positioned to receive the locking tabs 56a of the support panels 48a, 48b formed as a unitary structure in conjunction with the opposed top panel 20. The engagement of the locking holes 86a, 86b and locking tabs 56a is better depicted in FIG. 2. The locking holes 86a, 86b(see FIG. 3) are located such that the support panels 48a, 48b are perpendicular to the bottom panel 22 when the locking tabs 56a and locking holes 86a, 86b are engaged together.

[0054] The height 52 of the support panels 48a, 48b are sized such that the opposed top and bottom panels 20, 22 are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the side panel 24, as shown in FIG. 2. The height 52 of the support panels 48a, 48b are approximately the same length as the lateral edges 74 of the side panel 24. These are only approximate sizes because the carrier 10 must take into allowance the material used and processes used to manufacture the carrier 10.

[0055] Referring now to FIG. 2, when the locking tabs 56a engage the locking holes 86a, 86b, the heads 60 of the locking tabs 56a are inserted into the locking holes 86a, 86b (not shown in FIG. 2) and hooked onto the locking holes 86a, 86b. In other words, the bottom panel 22 is placed between the head 60 and the support panels 48a, 48b at the necks 58 of the locking tabs 56a. The engagement between the locking tabs 56a and locking holes 86a, 86b restricts relative movement between the top and bottom panels 20, 22 and helps maintain the expanded configuration of the carrier 10. As shown in FIG. 1, the push down tabs 54 push or apply a normal force on the bottom panel 22 and opposed top panel 20. The locking tab 56a is more securely engaged to the bottom panel 22 compared to support panels 48a, 48b which does not have push down tabs 54 because the push down tabs 54 pushes the head 60 of the locking tab 56 onto the bottom panel 22 thereby creating a greater friction force.

[0056] The bottom panel 22 may further be used to form the finger tabs 80 of the promotional card 76. As shown in FIGS. 4, 5 and 2, the finger tab 80 will follow the plane of the side panel 24 as the carrier 10 is being assembled. The finger tabs 80 provides an area for a person to grab so as to dislodge the promotional cards 76 from the carrier 10.

[0057] As shown in FIG. 1, the inside panel 26 of the first support 16 completes the first support 16. The inside panel 26 defines two opposed pairs of longitudinal and lateral peripheral edges 90, 92. One longitudinal edge 90 shares one of the longitudinal edge 32 of the top panel 20, and the other longitudinal edge 90 of the inside panel 26 shares one of the longitudinal edge 82 of the bottom panel 22. The lateral edge 92 of the inside panel 26 has the same length as the lateral edge 74 of the side panel 24. As shown in FIGS. 4, 5 and 2, the top panel 20, bottom panel 22, side panel 24 and inside panel 26 forms a collapsible parallelogram. When the locking tabs 56a of the support panels 48a, 48b engage the locking holes 86a, 86b, the formed parallelogram is not collapsible (see FIG. 2).

[0058] The second support 18 is substantially the same structure as the first support 16. The following discussion will focus on differences between the first and second supports 16, 18. Additionally, the following discussion of the second support 18 as being compared to the first support 16 does not limit alternative variations of the second support 18 in comparison with the first support 16 within the spirit and scope of the present invention.

[0059] The second support 18 resides at the rear of the carrier 10; whereas, the first support 16 resides at the front of the carrier 10.

[0060] The second support 18 also has opposed top and bottom panels 20a, 22a, a side panel 24a, and an inside panel 26a. The inside panel 26a of the second support 18 may be attached to the inside panel 26 of the first support 16. Preferably, the inside panels 26, 26a of the first and second supports 16, 18 may be of unitary construction. In other words, the inside panels 26, 26a are the same panel 26, 26a. The food and beverage apertures 30a, 28a of the second support 18 may be located on the same side of the carrier 10 as the food and beverage apertures 30, 28 of the first support 16. The common orientation of the food and beverage apertures 30, 30a, 28, 28a is better seen in FIG. 3. In other words, the food and beverage apertures 30, 30a, 28, 28a of the first and second supports 16, 18 are generally located at the right and left sides of a blank 38, respectively. The right side being the top of the drawing, and the left side being the bottom of the drawing. The sizes of the food and beverage apertures 30, 28, 30a, 28a of the first and second supports 16, 18 may be independently sized and configured based on the needs of the food serving establishment.

[0061] The support panels 48c, 48d of the second support 18 may have T or L shaped locking tabs 56a, 56b. Preferably, the support panels 48c, 48d will have T shaped locking tabs 56b. The locking tabs 56a, 56b and finger tabs 80 (if formed) may be sized to slightly offset the bottom panels 22, 22a of the first and second supports 16, 18 from the surface on which the carrier 10 rests during use, as shown in FIG. 2. As shown in FIG. 2, the offset is identified by reference numeral 93.

[0062] As shown in FIG. 1, the handle 14 generally resides in the center plane and is centered in relation to the longitudinal axis 19. The handle 14 defines opposed top and bottom edges 94, 96 and opposed left and right side edges 98a, 98b. The intersection between the opposed side edges 98a, 98b and the top edge 94 may be filleted. A fillet of about one inch or less is believed to be suitable. The handle 14 at its bottom edge 96 may be attached to the first and second supports 16, 18 at the longitudinal edges 32, 72 shared by the top panels 20 and inside panel(s) 26 of the first and second supports 16, 18. The handle 14 has a carrying aperture 100 and first and second inside cavities 102, 102a.

[0063] The carrying aperture 100 is an elongated hole. The carrying aperture 100 is sized and configured to fit a hand of a person to allow lifting and movement of carrier 10. The carrying aperture 100 is located at the top of the handle 14. A sufficient amount of material remains between the top edge 94 of the handle 14 and the carrying aperture 100 such that a maximum amount of the food and beverages may be transported in the carrier 10 without the handle 14 breaking and specifically without tearing the material between the carrying aperture 100 and the top edge 94. The carrying aperture 100 of the handle 14 may be located along the Y-axis such that the carrying aperture 100 is generally partially located toward the left side of the center plane. Alternatively, the carrying aperture 100 may be completely located on the left side of the center plane. Preferably, the centerline of the beverage apertures 28 in the Y-axis may cross the carrying aperture 100 of the handle 14. Since the centerline of the carrying aperture 100 is offset from the center plane, the handle 14 has a greater continuous surface area onto which promotional indicia may be printed onto the outboard surface 12 of the handle 14 compared to the same handle 14 where the centerline of the carrying aperture 100 is centered with the longitudinal axis 19.

[0064] The handle 14 may further have a protective covering 104. The protective covering 104 is located on the upper side of the carrying aperture 100 of the handle 14. The protective covering 104 provides additional protection to the hand of the person carrying the carrier 10 from the force created from the carrier 10 loaded with food and beverages. The protective covering 104 substantially extends across one half of the carrying aperture 100 on its upper side when the carrier 10 is assembled.

[0065] The inside cavities 102, 102a are formed within the handle 14. The first inside cavity 102 is generally located on the right side of the handle 14 or opposite the carrying aperture 100. Since the carrying aperture 100 of the handle 14 is offset to the left of the longitudinal axis 19, an inside cavity 102 formed on the right side of the longitudinal axis 19 may be larger than an inside cavity 102 formed on the right side of the longitudinal axis 19 where the center of the carrying aperture 100 is aligned with the longitudinal axis 19, instead of offset from the longitudinal axis 19. The second inside cavity 102a is formed on the left side of the handle 14 and is located below the carrying aperture 100 when the carrier 10 is assembled. The size of the second inside cavity 102a is limited by the carrying aperture 100, the handle left side edge 98a, the handle bottom edge 96 and the first inside cavity 102.

[0066] The inside cavities 102, 102a may be sized and configured to fit a variety of promotional items. Preferably, the promotional items are flat. For example, the inside cavities 102, 102a may be sized and configured to fit a standard three or five inch compact disk. The handle 14 is preferably, but optionally, sized and configured such that the size of the inside cavities 102, 102a will be sufficient to fit compact disks or promotional items. The promotional items may be insertable into the first and second inside cavities 102, 102a through the left and right side edges 98a, 98b of the handle 14, respectively. The left and right side edges 98a, 98b of the handle 14 may be closed so as to retain the promotional item within the inside cavities 102, 102a with tape, staple, adhesive, flap or other similar means. The closing means may traverse the complete distance of the opening in the side edges 98a, 98b or may merely cross a portion of the side edges 98a, 98b to sufficiently retain the selected type of promotional item within the inside cavities 102, 102a. Alternatively, the promotional item may be inserted when the carrier 10 is manufactured.

[0067] Optionally, viewing holes 106 may be formed on the inside cavities 102, 102a such that the person may recognize the promotional item that is contained in the inside cavities 102, 102a. The viewing holes 106 are sized sufficiently small such that the promotional items will not exit the viewing holes 106 without any human intervention yet large enough for the person to recognize the contents therein. The viewing holes 106 may penetrate through the handle 14.

[0068] Generally, the carrier 10 defines a viewing surface which is maximized. The viewing surface is the surface area of the carrier 10 on which promotional material may be attached thereto or promotional indicia printed thereon. For example, the outboard surface 12 of the handle 14, first support 16 and second support 18. This description of the embodiments of the present invention describes the carrier 10 having fillets and apertures wherein increasing the fillet radius and aperture sizes reduces the viewing surface. The fillet radius and apertures are minimized to maximize the viewing surface yet sufficiently large to satisfy their respective purposes. Additionally, the center of the carrying aperture 100 of the handle 14 is offset from the longitudinal axis 19 thereby increasing the largest continues viewing surface on the front and back side of the handle 14 compared to a handle 14 where the center of the carrying aperture 100 is centered with the longitudinal axis 19. For example, as shown in FIG. 1, the viewing surface to the right and front side of the handle 14 is greater than a viewing surface that would exist if the center of the carrying aperture 100 was aligned with the longitudinal axis 19. Additionally, as shown in FIG. 1, the beverage aperture 28 of the first support 16 is located on the left side of the carrier 10 such that the beverages held by that beverage aperture 28 does not block the view of the viewing surface to the right and front side of the handle 14.

[0069] In another embodiment depicted in FIG. 3, the carrier 10 may be formed from a single unitary sheet of thin material or blank 38 that is scored, perforated, cut, or combinations thereof. There are various ways to form the carrier 10, one advantageous way of which is shown that uses nine panels (120, 122, 124, 126, 128, 129, 130, 132, 134) and eight generally parallel fold lines (136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146, 148, 150) (see FIGS. 2 and 3). FIG. 3 depicts an unassembled carrier 10; whereas, FIG. 1 depicts a fully assembled but unloaded carrier 10 of FIG. 3.

[0070] The blank 38 has a width 152 and length 154. The center plane runs the length 154 of the blank 38 (see FIG. 3). The blank 38 depicted in FIG. 3 is an unfolded and unfastened carrier 10 of FIG. 1 such that the center plane of FIG. 1 theoretically resides along the centerline of the width 152 of the blank 38. The side of the blank 38 which contains the beverage aperture 28 will now be referred to as the left side of the blank 38.

[0071] The first panel 120 has a free edge and forms a first distal end of the blank 38. The first panel 120 has an interior edge extending across the width 152 of the blank 38 to form a first fold line 136.

[0072] A second panel 122 defines a first side panel 156 of the handle 14 of the carrier 10. A carrying aperture 100a is formed therein and is sized to allow fingers of a hand to enter the carrying aperture 100a. The second panel 122 shares the first fold line 136 with the first panel 120 and has a second fold line 138 opposite thereto. The carrying aperture 100a is located on the left side of the blank 38. In other words, the carrying aperture 100a may be located completely or partially on the left side of the blank 38.

[0073] A third panel 124 defines a second side panel 158 of the handle 14 of the carrier 10. The third panel 124 shares the second fold line 138 with the second panel 122 and has a third fold line 140 opposite thereto. A carrying aperture 100b is formed therein and sized to allow fingers of the hand to enter the carrying aperture 100b. The carrying aperture 100b is additionally sized and located to align with the carrying aperture 100a on the second panel 122 when inboard surfaces 162 of the second and third panels 122, 124 are folded upon each other at the second fold line 138 and fastened to each other. FIG. 3 depicts the inboard surface 162 of the carrier 10 when unfolded flat. The carrying aperture 100b of the third panel 124 is also located on the left side of the blank 38 and closer to the second fold line 138 compared to the third fold line 140. When the second and third panels 122, 124 are folded and fastened to each other, the second and third panels 122, 124 collectively form the handle 14 and the carrying aperture 100.

[0074] First and second inside cavities 102, 102a are formed within the handle 14 when the second and third panels 122, 124 are folded upon each other on its inboard surface 162 and fastened to each other. The first and second inside cavities 102, 102a may be sized to fit a variety of promotional items. Preferably, promotional items that are flat such as three or five inch compact disks. The second and third panels 122, 124 are sized such that the inside cavities 102, 102a may fit the promotional items to be fitted therein. Additionally, the carrying apertures 100a, 100b of the second and third panels 122, 124 are sized and located such that the promotional items may fit within the first and second inside cavities 102, 102a.

[0075] The first inside cavity 102 is formable within the handle 14 at the right side of the blank 38. To form the first inside cavity 102, the second and third panels 122, 124 are fastened to each other with a first, second and third fastening lines 160a, 160b, 160c. The first and second fastening lines 160a, 160b may extend across the width 152 of the blank 38 approximately 0.75 inches away from the second and third fold lines 138, 140 on the third panel 124. Preferably, the first fastening line 160a is located between the second fold line 138 and the carrying aperture 100b of the third panel 124. The third fastening line 160c extends from the first fastening line 160a to the second fastening line 160b. Additionally, the third fastening line 160c is located to the right side of the carrying aperture 100b. The first inside cavity 102 is bounded by the first fastening line 160a, second fastening line 160b, third fastening line 160c and the right side edge of the second and third panels 122, 124. Alternatively, the second and third panels 122, 124 may be fastened to each other with a fourth fastening line 160d which is positioned parallel to and close to the right side edge of the second and third panels 122, 124. By way of example and not limitation, the fastening lines 160 may be velcro, staples, weld, adhesive or other fastening means suitable for the present invention.

[0076] The second inside cavity 102a is formable within the handle 14 at the left side of the blank 38. If the first fastening line 160a does not extend across the complete width 152 of the blank 38 then a fifth fastening line 160e fastens the second and third panels 122, 124. The fifth fastening line 160e is located parallel to the second fold line 138 between the carrying aperture 100b of the third panel 124 and the third fold line 140. The fifth fastening line 160e is positioned as close to the carrying aperture 100b of the third panel 124 as possible. The fifth fastening line 160e does not protrude into the first inside cavity 102. The fifth fastening line 160e is located on the left side of the blank 38.

[0077] When the carrying apertures 100a, 100b of the second and third panels 122, 124 are centered with the center plane, the first fastening line 160a may be aligned with the fifth fastening line 160e or the third fastening line 160c is shifted to the right in conjunction with the carrying aperture 100. In either scenario, the first inside cavity 102 on the right side of the blank 38 or carrier 10 will be smaller in size compared to the first inside cavity 102 discussed above. In the former scenario, the length of the first inside cavity 102 is reduced. In the latter scenario, the width of the first inside cavity 102 is reduced. The length and width of the first inside cavity 102 corresponds to the length 154 and width 152 of the blank 38. Hence, the carrying apertures 100a, 100b has been shifted to the left of the center plane such that a larger promotional item may fit within the inside cavities 102, 102a formed in the handle 14. Additionally, the shifting of the carrying apertures 100a, 100b to the left of the blank 38 creates more continuous surface area on the right side of the outboard surface 12 on the second and third panels 122, 124. Hence, a larger picture may be printed on or promotional item may be attached to the outboard surface 12 of the second and third panels 122, 124.

[0078] The above described pattern of first, second, third, fourth and fifth fastening line 160a, 160b, 160c, 160d, 160e is only one pattern of fastening lines 160 that may be used to fastened the second and third panels 122, 124 and simultaneously create at least one inside cavities 102, 102a. Depending on the variety of promotional items that may be inserted between the second and third panels 122, 124, a pattern of fastening lines 160 may be placed between the second and third panels 122, 124 so as to secure the promotional items between the second and third panels 122, 124.

[0079] A handle cover 104 may be attached to the carrying aperture 100a formed on the second panel 122. Preferably, the handle cover. 104 has a unitary construction in conjunction with the second panel 122. The handle cover 104 is attached to substantially half of the inner periphery of the carrying aperture 100a of the second panel 122. During use of the carrier 10, the handle cover 104 is pushed through the carrying aperture 100a of the third panel 124. The unitary construction and the pushing through action of the handle cover 104 through the third panel 124 provides a round edge which contacts the hand that grips the handle 14 thereby providing a greater contact surface area between the carrying aperture 100 and the hand. The attachment of the handle cover 104 to the inner periphery of the carrying aperture 100 is substantially half of the carrying aperture 100 so long as the handle cover 14 contacts the fingers that fits through the carrying aperture 100 when the carrier 10 is assembled and in use. Alternatively, the handle cover 104 may be attached to the carrying aperture 100b of the third panel 124 (not shown).

[0080] On the third panel 124, a viewing hole 106 may be formed at the location of the first inside cavity 102. The viewing hole 106 should be sized such that it is large enough for a person to recognize the promotional item inside the first inside cavity 102 yet small enough such that the promotional item cannot come out of the viewing hole 106 without human intervention. Alternatively, the viewing hole 106 may be formed on the second panel 122.

[0081] In relation to the second inside cavity 102a, a viewing hole may be formed on the second or third panel 122, 124 at the location of the second inside cavity 102a. The viewing hole should be sized such that it is large enough for a person to recognize the promotional item inside the second inside cavity 102a yet small enough such that the promotional item cannot come out of the viewing hole without human intervention.

[0082] The fourth panel 126 defines the top panel 20 of the first support 16 of the carrier 10. The beverage aperture 28, food aperture 30 and at least one support panel 48 are formed on the fourth panel 126, with the food and beverage apertures 28, 30 and panel(s) 48 having the same attributes discussed above. For example, the centerline of the beverage aperture 28 parallel to the center plane 19 crosses the carrying aperture 100 of the handle 14. Additionally, promotional cards 76 may be formed on the support panels 48. The fourth panel 126 shares the third fold line 140 with the third panel 124 and has a fourth fold line 142 opposite thereto.

[0083] The fifth panel 128 defines the side panel 24 of the first support 16 of the carrier 10. The fifth panel 128 shares the fourth fold line 142 with the fourth panel 126 and has a fifth fold line 144 opposite thereto. The fifth panel 128 may have promotional cards 76 formed thereon having the same structure as the promotional cards 76 discussed above. For example, promotional indicia is printed on the outboard surface 12 of the blank 38 to form the promotional cards 76. Subsequently, perforations are impressed on the fifth panel 128 in the desired shape. Preferably, the shape of the perforations will match that of a business card thereby allowing a person to remove the promotional card 76 and insert the promotional card 76 into their wallet conveniently. To assist removal of the promotional cards 76, finger tabs 80 may be attached to the bottom edges of the promotional cards 76. The support panels 48 of the fourth panel 126 may have promotional cards 76 formed thereon.

[0084] The sixth panel 129 defines the bottom panels 22, 22a of the first and second supports 16, 18 of the carrier 10. The locking holes 86 are formed on the sixth panel 129. The sixth panel 129 has a corresponding number of locking holes 86 compared to the number of locking tabs 56 on the fourth panel 126. The locking holes 86 are sized and located so as to receive the locking tabs 56. The locking holes 86 are aligned with the lateral edges 46 of the food aperture 30. In this way, when the support panels 48 are bent downward into the space of the respective support 16, 18, the support panels 48 will generally be perpendicular to the bottom panel 22 of the support 16, 18. The locking holes 86 are additionally aligned with the width 62 of the neck 58 of the locking tab 56 such that the locking tab 56 may engage respective locking holes 86. The sixth panel 129 may form the finger tabs 80 of the promotional cards 76. The sixth panel 129 shares the fifth fold line 144 with the fifth panel 128 and has a sixth fold line 146 opposite thereto.

[0085] A portion of the second panel 122, fourth panel 126, fifth panel 128 and a portion of the sixth panel 129 forms the first support 16.

[0086] The seventh panel 130 defines the side panel 24a of the second support 18 of the carrier 10. The seventh panel 130 may have promotional cards 76 formed thereon. In particular, promotional indicia may be printed thereon and subsequently perforations are impressed onto the seventh panel 130 so as to encircle the promotional indicia thereby forming the promotional card 76. The perforations allow a user to dislodge the promotional card 76 from the seventh panel 130. To further assist dislodging the promotional cards 76, finger tabs 80 may be formed on the edge of the promotional cards 76 at the sixth fold line 146. Additionally, the finger tabs 80 may be formed on the sixth panel 129. The seventh panel 130 shares the sixth fold line 146 with the sixth panel 129 and has a seventh fold line 148 opposite thereto.

[0087] The eighth panel 132 defines the top panel 20a of the second support 18 of the carrier 10. The beverage aperture 28a, food aperture 30a and at least one support panel 48a with locking tab(s) 56 are formed on the eighth panel 132. The beverage aperture 28a is located on one side of the eighth panel 132 and is located on the same side as the beverage aperture 28 formed on the fourth panel 126. In other words, the beverage apertures 28, 28a are generally located on one side of the longitudinal axis 19, and the food apertures 30, 30a are located on the other side of the eighth panel 132. Additional locking holes 86 are formed on the sixth panel 129 to receive the locking tabs 56 formed on the eighth panel 132. The eighth panel 132 shares the seventh fold line 148 with the seventh panel 130 and has an eighth fold line 150 opposite thereto.

[0088] The beverage apertures 28, 28a of the fourth and eighth panels 126, 132 have been shifted to the left of the blank 38 such that the beverages contained therein will not block the view of the images printed on or the promotional items attached to outboard surfaces 12 of the second and third panels 122, 124 when the carrier 10 is in use. Otherwise, the view of the images or promotional items will be blocked by the beverages.

[0089] The ninth panel 134 has a free edge which forms the second distal end of the blank 38 and has an interior edge extending across the width 152 of the blank 38 to form an eighth fold line 150.

[0090] During manufacturing of the carrier 10, the following fold lines are folded and the following fastening lines 160 are located on the inboard surface 162 of the blank 38 unless otherwise stated. The panels (120, 122, 124, 126, 128, 129, 130, 132, 134), fold line (136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146, 148, 150), and fastening lines 160 are depicted in FIG. 5. The fastening lines 160 are shown by the circle with attached reference numeral 160. In particular, first and second fastening lines 160a, 160b are placed on third panel 124 approximately 0.75 inches away from the second and third fold lines 138, 140. The second fold line 138 is folded such that the inboard surfaces 162 of the second and third panels 122, 124 contact each other. A third fastening line 160f is placed approximately at the center of the sixth panel 129 which contacts the outboard surface 12 of the first panel 120 when the third, fourth and fifth panels 124, 126, 128 are folded about the fifth fold line 144 such that its inboard surface 162 faces the inboard surface 162 of the sixth panel 129. The seventh fold line 148 is folded such that the inboard surfaces 162 of the sixth and seventh panels 129, 130, and the inboard surfaces 162 of the eighth and ninth panels 132, 134 are facing each other. Additionally, a fastening line 160g is placed on the outboard surface 12 of the ninth panel 134 which is fastened to the outboard surface 12 of the second panel 122. The previously mentioned panels (120, 122, 124, 126, 128, 129, 130, 132, 134) and fold lines (136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146, 148, 150) are folded and fastened in the above described manner until a person is ready to load the carrier 10 with food and/or beverages. The folded and fastened state of the carrier 10 is depicted in FIG. 4. At which time, the carrier 10 is propped up so as to form the carrier 10 as shown in FIG. 1. FIG. 5 depicts the intermediate step where the panels (120, 122, 124, 126, 128, 129, 130, 132, 134) and fold lines (136, 138, 140, 142, 144, 146, 148, 150) are being unfolded.

[0091] Referring now to FIG. 2, if the carrier 10 is fabricated from materials such as paper, when the carrier 10 is propped up, the carrier 10 has a memory or tendency to go back to its original folded form. As such, the locking tabs 56 of the first support 16 preferably has a L shaped locking tab 56, and the locking tabs 56 of the second support 18 preferably has a T shaped locking tab 56. In relation to the second support 18, the protrusion 68 of the T shaped locking tab 56 closest to the side panel 24 of the second support 18 retains the locking tab 56 and support panel 48 engaged to the sixth panel 129 when the carrier 10 is not loaded with food or beverages. When the carrier 10 is loaded with food and beverages, the second support 18 twists such that the other protrusion 68 of the T shaped locking tab 56 (i.e., the protrusion directed toward the inside panel) engages the sixth panel 129. The protrusions 68 of the locking tabs 56 of the second support 18 must be sized such that the locking tabs 56 do not disengage the sixth panel 129 as the carrier 10 is being loaded and unloaded. Preferably, the width 66 of the head 60 should be greater than the length of the locking holes 86. The locking tab 56 is inserted into the locking holes 86 at an angle. In this way, the locking tabs 56 will not disengage the locking holes 86 as the two protrusions 68 alternatively engage the sixth panel 129 in response to the loading and unloading of the carrier 10.

[0092] The above description is given by way of example, and not limitation. Given the above disclosure, one skilled in the art could devise variations that are within the scope and spirit of the invention, including various ways of locating the promotional cards 76. For example, beverage items could be placed in all of the food and beverage apertures 28, 30, or food items could be placed in all of the food and beverage apertures 28, 30. It is preferably, however, that the shape of the food and beverage apertures 28, 30 generally conform to beverages or food. Further, the various features of this invention can be used alone, or in varying combinations with each other and are not intended to be limited to the specific combination described herein. Thus, the invention is not to be limited by the illustrated embodiments but is to be defined by the following claims when read in the broadest reasonable manner to preserve the validity of the claims.