Title:
Cover assembly for a food container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cover assembly for a food container providing separate compartments for different items. The cover assembly includes a lid and a dome that may be attached to the food container either together or separately. The lid and dome may also be removed from the food container as one unit, providing a unique storage container.



Inventors:
Maciag, Daniel A. (Midland, MI, US)
Osentoski, Jason Matthew (Gladwin, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/087040
Publication Date:
10/27/2005
Filing Date:
03/22/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/550, 220/23.86, 220/366.1, 220/367.1, 206/541
International Classes:
B65D51/16; B65D51/18; (IPC1-7): B65D51/18; B65D51/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20050187492Specimen cup holderAugust, 2005Geibel et al.
20080116213CONTAINER WITH AN IN-MOLD LABELMay, 2008Schlaupitz et al.



Primary Examiner:
ELOSHWAY, NIKI MARINA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HUSCH BLACKWELL LLP (KANSAS CITY, MO, US)
Claims:
1. A cover assembly for a food container having a rim defining a container opening, the cover comprising: a lid having a base ring adapted to mate with the container rim for removable attachment therewith; and a dome having a base ring adapted to mate with at least one of the container rim and the base ring of the lid for removable attachment therewith.

2. The cover assembly of claim 1, wherein at least the base ring of the lid and the base ring of the dome are formed of polypropylene.

3. The cover assembly of claim 1, wherein the dome has at least one vent formed in the base ring thereof such that when the dome is attached with the container, a pathway is formed from an interior of the container to the environment surrounding the container.

4. The cover assembly of claim 1, wherein the lid has at least one vent formed in the base ring thereof such that when the lid is attached with the container, a pathway is formed from an interior of the container to the environment surrounding the container.

5. The cover assembly of claim 4, wherein the lid further comprises a body section peripherally bounded by the base ring, and wherein the base ring comprises: a raised channel defined between an inner wall and an outer wall thereof, the inner wall extending from the body section and interconnected with an outer wall having a bight portion extending radially inward such that an interference fit is formed when the rim of the container is inserted into the raised channel to thereby accomplish removable attachment of the lid with the container.

6. The cover assembly of claim 5, wherein the at least one vent comprises a series of vents formed into the raised channel and alternatingly positioned on the outer wall with the bight portion.

7. The cover assembly of claim 5, wherein the dome further comprises a body section peripherally bounded by the base flag, and wherein the base ring comprises: a shoulder extending from the body section; a skirt extending downwardly from the shoulder section, the skirt including an upper circumferential lip extending radially inward to define an upper channel between the upper circumferential lip and the shoulder, and a lower circumferential lip extending radially inward to define a lower channel between the upper and lower circumferential lips, wherein an interference fit is formed when the rim of the container is inserted into the upper channel of the dome to thereby accomplish removable attachment of the dome with the container, and wherein an interference fit is formed when the raised channel of the lid is inserted into the lower channel of the dome to thereby accomplish removable attachment of the dome with the lid.

8. The cover assembly of claim 7, wherein attachment of the dome with the lid forms an upper containment region between the dome and the lid and attachment of the lid with the container forms a lower containment region between the lid and the container, and wherein a series of vents are formed into the dome skirt to form a pathway from the upper containment region to the environment surrounding the container when the dome is attached with the lid, and from the lower containment region to the environment surrounding the container when the dome is attached with the container.

9. A cover for a disposable paperboard food container wherein said container has a rim defining a container opening, the cover comprising: a plastic dome having a base adapted to mate with said container rim; and at least one vent formed in the base of said dome such that when the dome is attached with the container, a pathway is formed from the interior of the container to the environment surrounding the container.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/555,242; filed Mar. 22, 2004.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Food containers generally in the shape of a bucket have long been used for holding foods such as pieces of chicken, etc. While this configuration for a container has enjoyed widespread popularity, typical configurations for lids covering the opening in the container have a number of disadvantages. First, the most common material used for a lid is paper, which often has the configuration of a rounded disk that merely sits down in the container and is sometimes not securely attached thereto in any way; this kind of lid is hard to remove because it is difficult to grab the lid and pull it upward out of the container, and furthermore, may allow food to be spilled out of the container if such container is turned on its side. Additionally, it would be advantageous if other food items that may be sold by an eating establishment along with the food item typically sold in the bucket (e.g., biscuits or other bread items sold with chicken) could be placed within the container for ease in carrying the items. However, with a typical food bucket-type container, there is no compartmentalization. Therefore, varying food items would have to be stored together, which is less than ideal because moisture from one food type may adversely affect the quality or appeal of another food type.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a cover assembly for a food container that is unique in that it not only provides a secure covering for food within the container, but also allows for compartmentalization to separately store food items with the container. The assembly comprises a lid and a dome, each of which have a base ring configured for attachment to the container and for attachment with each other. By attaching the dome to the lid, and the lid and dome assembly—via the base ring of the lid—with a rim of the container, upper and lower containment or compartment regions are formed in an integral food storage package. For example, chicken may be stored within the lower containment region formed within the container below the lid, and bread items may be stored within the upper containment region formed above the container between the lid and the dome, both being sealed off from one another by the lid. Both the lid and the dome may be formed with vents to allow moisture and/or excessive heat to escape the lower and upper containment regions, respectively. The configurable nature of the food storage package allows for removal of the lid and attachment of the dome alone to provide for extra storage for food items extending above the rim of the container.

The cover assembly provides a number of advantages, including: having a better seal with the container than typical cover designs; venting to prevent foods within the container from getting soggy; providing a lid and dome combination that can be made transparent such that food items within the upper and/or lower containment regions may be viewed without having to remove a lid; compartmentalization for keeping food items segregated such that the moisture or other properties of each may not adversely affect the other; being easy to manufacture as the lid and dome may be molded with features thereof (e.g., vents, etc) preformed thereon without extra fabrication steps or attachment of separate parts; and removal of the lid and dome assembly from the container without separating the two allows for the dome to be turned upside down and function as a serving bowl for the items within the upper containment region and constructing the lid/dome assembly of polypropylene so that it may become a reusable food storage device which adds value to the entire package in the minds of the purchasing public. Furthermore, because the lid spans over the bucket opening, residual heat from the contents in the lower containment region will provide a degree of warming conducted through the lid onto the contents in the upper containment region.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to the several views of the drawing, there is shown in FIG. 1 a cover assembly 10 for a food container 100. The container 100 may be any type of container with an open top, but the specific embodiments of the present invention shown are particularly well suited for use with the known “bucket” style of food container 100 that has a circular or oval upper rim 102 and is typically used for holding chicken or other foods. One container type is a paperboard container, but other types (polypropylene, etc.) may also be used with the present invention.

The cover assembly includes a lid 12 and a dome 14 designed to be removably attached with one another. Preferably, both the lid 12 and the dome 14 are designed for removable attachment with the upper rim 102 of the container 100 as well. Thus, a lower containment region 104 is formed within the container 100 below the lid 12 when attached therewith, and an upper containment region 106 is formed between the lid 12 and the dome 14 when the two are attached together.

As seen in more detail in FIGS. 2 and 3, where an exemplary #8 flat lid and a #6 flat lid, respectively, are provided, the lid 12 comprises a body section 16 that generally has a disk-like shape and a base ring 18 formed at the periphery of the body section 16. The base ring 18 is formed of a raised channel 20 having an inner wall 22 extending upwardly from the body section periphery and interconnected via a bend 24 with an outer wall 26 in opposing relation. A lower section of the outer wall 26 has a curved bight portion 28 extending radially inward towards a center axis of the lid 12. Thus, the inner wall 22, bend 24, and outer wall 26 form the channel 20 to fit over, and have an interference fit with, the rim 102 of the container 100 such that the channel 20 and/or the rim 102 may deform as the two are pushed together in a “snap” fit. The interference thus secures the lid 12 with the container 100 until it is desired to remove the lid 12, whereupon the lid and container may be pulled apart with sufficient force to overcome the interference fit.

Alternately spaced circumferentially on the raised channel 20 with the bight portion 28 are vents 30. The vents 30 are formed of raised, angled walls 32 extending upwardly from the bend 24 and outwardly from the outer wall 26 to form, when attached with the container rim 102, a pathway between the interior of the container 100 (i.e., the lower containment region 104) and the environment 200 surrounding the container. In this way, excess heat and moisture (or in the combination thereof, steam) given off by food items may escape from the lower containment region 104. A flange 34 may also extend radially outward from the raised channel 20 to provide a surface that can be grasped to more easily pull the lid 12 off of the container 100.

FIG. 4 shows more detail of the dome 14. The dome 14 has a body section 36 formed of a roof 38 and set of flat walls 40 extending downwardly from the roof 38. A base ring 42 is formed at the lower periphery of the body section 36 at the base of the walls 40. The base ring 42 is comprised of a shoulder 44 and a skirt 46 extending downwardly from the shoulder. Formed on the skirt 46 are upper and lower circumferential lips 48, 50 each extending radially inward to define an upper channel 52 between the upper circumferential lip 48 and the shoulder 44, and a lower channel 54 between the upper and lower circumferential lips 48, 50. The upper channel 52 is thereby arranged to have an interference fit with the rim 102 of the container 100 in the same way as the raised channel 20 of the lid 12, such that the dome 14 may be attached to the container as shown in FIG. 5. Similarly, the lower channel 54 is arranged to have an interference fit with the raised channel 20 of the lid 12, more specifically with a portion of the outer wall 26 above the bight portion 28 such that the dome 14 may be attached with the lid 12, as shown in FIG. 6 where the lid 12 is also attached with the container 100, to thereby form the lower and upper 104, 106 containment regions. A flange 56 may also extend radially outward from the skirt 46 to provide a surface that can be grasped to more easily pull the dome off of either the lid 12 or the container 100. Preferably the base ring 42 and/or the flange 56 of the dome 14 are configured such that when the entire cover assembly 10 is in place on the container 100, an upward force applied to the flange 56 will first remove the cover assembly 10 from the container 100, and then while supporting the lid 12, a continued force applied to the flange 56 will separate the dome 14 from the lid 12. This allows the assembly 10 to be removed as one unit when food items are held in the upper containment region 106, and then if desired, the assembly 10 may be flipped over and the lid 12 removed from above to hold the food items within the dome 14 serving as a bowl-type container.

Similar to the lid 12, the dome 14 has vents 58 alternately spaced circumferentially on the base ring 42 with the upper and lower circumferential lips 48, 50. The vents 56 are formed of raised walls 60 extending upwardly from the shoulder 44 and outwardly from the skirt 46 to form, when attached with the container rim 102, a pathway between the lower containment region 104 and the environment 200 surrounding the container, or alternatively when attached with the raised channel 20 of the lid 12, a pathway between the upper containment region 106 and the environment 200. Preferably, the spacing of the vents 30, 58 around the perimeters of the lid 12 and the dome 14, respectively, are designed to align the vents 30, 58. Thus, the vents 58 of the dome 14 are larger than the vents 30 of the lid 12 to allow them to fit over one another and vent moisture from the respective containment regions when both are simultaneously utilized with the container 100.

The cover assembly 10 and/or individual components thereof are preferably formed of a synthetic material such as polypropylene, polyethylene or other material having similar mechanical properties, such as being lightweight and pliable. More preferably, at least the base ring 18 of the lid 12 and the base ring 42 of the dome 14 are formed of polypropylene, because the pliable nature thereof provides a good seal between the lid 12 and the container 100, and the dome 14 and the lid 12 and/or the container 100, thus keeping food items securely within the lower and upper containment regions 104, 106. Furthermore, the lid 12 and dome 14, in one embodiment, are transparent to enable viewing within the lower containment region 104 and/or the upper containment region 106.

Thus, the present invention provides for a cover assembly 10 for a food container 100 that is multi-functional to provide for food storage in various compartments using a common type of food container, and can serve as a separate container all its own.





 
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