Title:
Waist-mounted tray assembly and method of making same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to waist-mounted tray assembly and, more particularly, to a waist-mounted paperboard tray assembly having a tray, which includes a waist support, and a belt, for use at social gatherings and functions to support food and drink.



Inventors:
Housman, Donald A. (Mountain Lakes, NJ, US)
Application Number:
10/961989
Publication Date:
04/13/2006
Filing Date:
10/08/2004
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
224/681
International Classes:
A45F3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SKURDAL, COREY NELSON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DONALD A. HOUSMAN (MOUNTAIN LAKES, NJ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tray assembly adapted to be worn around a waist of a wearer and constructed of a light-weight foldable material which is durable enough to support objects so that the wearer is free to use both hands, the tray assembly comprising: a tray adapted to receive and support at least one object; a waist support proximate to and in a substantially perpendicular orientation to the tray and adapted to be disposed in a facing relationship with the waist of the wearer, wherein the tray and the waist support are formed from a foldable blank and having at least one fold line adapted to receive a fold; and a belt that is supported by the waist support and adapted to affix the tray assembly to the waist of the wearer.

2. The tray assembly of claim 1, wherein the tray comprises a recessed well adapted to receive and support a container and wherein the recessed well is formed from scoring, cutting and folding the blank.

3. The tray assembly of claim 2, wherein the recessed well is substantially polygonal.

4. Tray assembly of claim 2 wherein the container is a food container.

5. The tray assembly of claim 1, wherein the foldable blank is paperboard that can be scored, cut, folded and adhesively secured.

6. The tray assembly of claim 1, wherein the foldable blank is folded so that the tray comprises: a top wall; a front wall that is substantially perpendicular to the top wall; and a bottom wall that is substantially perpendicular to the front wall and is in opposing relationship to the top wall; wherein the top wall, the front wall, and the bottom wall define a substantially rectangularly-shaped tray.

7. The tray assembly of claim 6, wherein the tray further comprises opposing side walls that are substantially-perpendicular to the top wall and the bottom wall and wherein the top wall, the front wall, the bottom wall and the opposing side walls define a chamber that provides structural integrity to the tray.

8. The tray assembly of claim 6, wherein the tray further comprises an aperture for receiving and supporting containers, wherein the aperture is formed by scoring and cutting the blank and wherein the aperture has a circumference that is adapted to adjust so that the aperture can accommodate containers of various sizes and shapes.

9. The tray assembly of claim 8, wherein the container is a beverage container that the wearer desires to dispose within the tray assembly.

10. The tray assembly of claim 1, wherein the belt is adapted to encircle the waist of the wearer.

11. The tray assembly of claim 1, wherein the belt is made of a flexible material.

12. The belt of claim 11, wherein the flexible material is fabric.

13. The tray assembly of claim 1, wherein the waist support comprises at least one mounting aperture for receiving the belt therethrough so that the tray can be affixed to the waist of the wearer.

14. The tray assembly of claim 1, wherein the waist support comprises one or more mounting slits located near an end of the waist support wherein the one or more mounting slits provide a flexible mounting area that is designed to curve towards the waist of the wearer in order to provide a more custom fit when the tray assembly is affixed to the waist.

15. A method for constructing a combination tray and waist support adapted to be worn around a waist of a person constructed of a light-weight foldable material capable of being creased and formed, the method comprising: providing a foldable tray assembly blank, wherein the foldable tray assembly blank comprises a bottom wall portion, a front wall portion proximate the bottom wall portion, a top wall portion proximate the front wall portion, opposing side wall portions, wherein each side wall portion is proximate the top wall portion, a mounting wall portion proximate the top wall portion and opposing the front wall portion, and a rear wall portion proximate the mounting wall portion, and wherein the tray assembly blank comprises a plurality of scoring points, including a front wall portion score contiguous to and defining bottom wall portion and front wall portion, a top wall portion score contiguous to and defining front wall portion and top wall portion, opposing side wall portion scores each of which is contiguous to one of the opposing side wall portions and the top wall portion, a mounting wall portion score contiguous to and defining top wall portion and mounting wall portion, and a rear wall portion score contiguous to and defining rear wall portion and mounting wall portion; creasing the bottom wall portion along the front wall portion score in a direction substantially perpendicular to the front wall portion; creasing the front wall portion along the top wall portion score in a direction substantially perpendicular to the top wall portion so that bottom wall portion and top wall portion are opposing; creasing the first side wall portion along the first side wall portion score in a direction substantially perpendicular to the top wall portion so that first side wall portion is substantially perpendicularly contiguous to bottom wall portion and front wall portion; creasing the second wall portion along the second wall portion score in a direction substantially perpendicular to the top wall portion so that the second side wall portion is substantially perpendicularly contiguous to the bottom wall portion and front wall portion and so that second side wall portion and first side wall portion are opposing; creasing the mounting wall portion along the mounting wall portion score in a direction substantially perpendicular to the top wall portion and in a direction opposite the bottom wall portion; and creasing the rear wall portion along the rear wall portion score in a direction substantially 180° to the mounting wall portion so that rear wall portion is substantially perpendicularly contiguous to top wall portion, bottom wall portion and first and second side wall portions.

16. The method according to claim 14, wherein the foldable tray assembly blank is constructed of paperboard.

17. The method according to claim 14, wherein the top wall portion comprises at least one circular aperture which correspond to a circular tray portion aperture for receiving a beverage container in an assembled combination tray and waist support.

18. The method according to claim 14, wherein the top wall portion comprises an aperture which corresponds to a tray portion aperture for receiving objects in an assembled combination tray and waist support.

19. The method according to claim 14, further comprising adhesively securing an edge of the bottom wall portion to an edge of the rear wall portion.

20. The method according to claim 14, further comprising adhesively securing an edge of the first side wall portion to an edge of the bottom wall portion.

21. The method according to claim 14, further comprising adhesively securing an edge of the second side wall portion to an edge of the bottom wall portion.

22. The method according to claim 14, wherein the mounting wall portion and the rear wall portion comprise at least one mounting aperture for receiving a mounting device in an assembled combination tray and waist support.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a waist-mounted tray assembly and, more particularly, to a waist-mounted tray assembly for use at social gatherings and functions to support food and drink.

2. Description of Related Art

Social gatherings and functions, such as, for example, tailgate parties and backyard barbecues, rarely have sufficient seating or tables for everyone attending the gathering. As a result, a person attending such a gathering may have to balance multiple food containers while eating and drinking, i.e., balance both a plate of food and a beverage with just two hands. Oftentimes balancing multiple food containers is difficult and can result in accidental spills.

Currently available portable tray assemblies, such as the torso-mounted holder tray assembly disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,221,032 to Bott, et al., are manufactured from rigid plastic materials and, therefore, can be heavy, unwieldy and expensive to manufacture.

One of the problems associated with the currently available tray assemblies is the strict security regulations imposed by managers of venues. For example, the National Football League (“NFL”) for safety reasons does not allow attendees to bring plastic food containers or receptacles into NFL stadiums. Furthermore, the materials, for example, rigid plastic, used to manufacture the currently available tray assemblies can increase the costs of the tray assembly, which are then passed on to consumers. Accordingly, the currently available tray assemblies are not optimal for use at venues in which strict security regulations are enforced or at gatherings in which there is a high risk of misplacing, disposing of or damaging the tray assemblies. Thus, there exists a need to provide a waist-mounted tray assembly for use at social gatherings that is less expensive, easy to manufacture and disposable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention satisfies the foregoing and other needs. The present invention relates to a waist-mounted tray assembly for use at social gatherings and functions to support food and drink. In one embodiment of the present invention, the waist-mounted tray assembly is constructed of paperboard blank folded and adhesively secured together to form a tray that is designed to support objects, including food items, and a belt that is designed to encircle the wearer's waist. The tray has a waist support that supports the belt and is disposed approximately perpendicularly to the waist of a wearer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The particular features and advantages of the invention as well as other objects will become apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view illustrating a waist-mounted tray assembly constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front plan view illustrating a foldable paperboard blank to be used to form a waist-mounted tray assembly in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 3 is a front plan view illustrating a foldable paperboard blank to be used to form a waist-mounted tray assembly in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 4a-4g are left side plan views illustrating the foldable paperboard blank of FIGS. 2 and 3 constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a front plan view of the foldable paperboard blank of FIGS. 3 and 4 constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 6a and 6b are left side plan views of the foldable paperboard blank of FIGS. 3 and 4 constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a front plan view of the foldable paperboard blank of FIGS. 3 and 4 constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS

Certain exemplary embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to the drawings. In general, such embodiments relate to a waist-mounted tray assembly comprising a tray having a waist support and a belt and manufactured using paperboard or other less permanent material.

Turning to FIG. 1 (a front perspective view), according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention, a tray assembly 10 includes a tray 12 and a belt 14, which is intended to encircle the waist of the wearer. Tray 12 includes a receptacle portion 13 and a waist support 15 for receiving and holding belt 14.

Considering a substantially rectangular-shaped receptacle portion 13 for illustration purposes only, and noting that any shape and/or size receptacle portion, if used, can be, but need not be, identical in construction, receptacle portion 13 comprises opposing front and rear walls 16 and 18, respectively, opposing side walls 20 and 22, and opposing bottom and top walls 24 and 26. Front wall 16 and opposing side walls 20 and 22 support bottom and top walls 24 and 26.

Top wall 26 defines chambers for receiving and retaining objects, such as, for example, food items. In one embodiment of the present invention, top wall 26 can include a beverage aperture 28 for receiving a drinking glass, cup, bottle or other beverage container. Top wall 26 can further comprise beverage aperture slits 30 which surround the circumference of beverage aperture 28 and which are designed to provide flexibility in top wall 26 so that upon compressing top wall 26 proximate beverage aperture slits 30, i.e., upon receiving a beverage container which has a circumference greater than the circumference of beverage aperture 28, the circumference of beverage aperture 28 increases. In this manner, beverage apertures 28 can accommodate various sizes of containers. While a substantially circular beverage aperture is depicted, the present invention can be used with any size and/or shape beverage aperture.

Top wall 26 can also include a food aperture 32 which, along with a portion of bottom wall 24 and a plurality of supporting walls 34, defines a chamber for receiving and retaining objects such as, for example, a plate of food. While a substantially wedge-shaped food aperture 32 is depicted, the present invention can be used with any size and/or shape food aperture.

As will be shown in greater detail below, rear wall 18 of tray 12 defines waist support 15, which supports belt 14 and which is disposed substantially perpendicular to the waist of the wearer. Rear wall 18 has a height (not shown in FIG. 1) greater than the height (not shown in FIG. 1) of front wall 16. Accordingly, rear wall 18 extends substantially perpendicularly through the plane of top wall 26 so that rear wall 18 defines waist support 15, which facilitates mounting tray assembly 10 to the wearer.

Waist support 15 can include mounting apertures 36 that are adapted to receive belt 14 therethrough for affixing tray 12 to the wearer. Waist support 15 can also include mounting slits 38 which define flexible mounting portions so that when belt 14 encircles the waist of the wearer the flexible mounting portions defined by mounting slits 38 are adapted to bend towards the waist of the wearer to provide a closer and more custom fit.

Tray 12 can be made from any light-weight, semi-flexible material such as, for example, paperboard or cardboard. In one embodiment of the present invention, tray 12, as discussed below, is produced by folding and adhesively securing paperboard.

Belt 14 can be made from any soft and flexible, or elastic, material that can be used to encircle a wearer's waist. Belt 14 can be fastened around the wearer's waist via any number of means including, for example, tying or loop and hook fasteners. In one embodiment of the present invention, belt 14 is made of fabric which is tied around the wearer's waist.

Turning to FIGS. 2 and 3 (a front plan view of a foldable paper blank), and with reference to FIG. 1, in one embodiment of the present invention, tray 12 can be formed from a blank 100 which comprises a single piece of paperboard that is cut, scored, folded and adhesively secured. Blank 100 comprises a bottom wall portion 102, a bottom wall portion tab 104, a top wall portion 106, a front wall portion 108, front wall portion tabs 110, side wall portions 112, side wall portion tabs 114, rear wall portion 116, mounting wall portion 118, and rear wall portion tabs 120.

Blank 100 of the present invention further comprises a plurality of folds lines which define boundaries for the foregoing portions of blank 100 and which are adapted to receive a fold, or crease, thereby creating the desired shape, i.e., tray 12. More specifically, as shown in FIG. 3, in one embodiment of the present invention, blank 100 comprises bottom wall portion score 103, top wall portion score 107, front wall portion score 109, front wall portion tab scores 111, side wall portion scores 113, side wall portion tab scores 115, rear wall portion score 117, mounting wall portion score 119 and rear wall portion tab scores 121.

With reference to FIG. 4a (a left side plan view), bottom wall portion tab 104 is folded along bottom wall portion score 103 in the direction of arrow X, so that bottom wall portion tab 104 is substantially perpendicular to bottom wall portion 102. As shown in FIG. 4b, bottom wall portion 102 is then creased along front wall portion score 109 in the direction of arrow X, so that bottom wall portion 102 is substantially perpendicular to front wall portion 108 and bottom wall portion tab 104 is parallel to front wall portion 108. As shown in FIG. 4c, front wall portion 108 is then creased along top wall portion score 107 in the direction of arrow X so that front wall portion 108 is substantially perpendicular to top wall portion 106. Bottom wall portion 102 is now positioned opposite top wall portion 106 so that bottom wall portion 102 and top wall portion 106 correspond to opposing bottom and top walls, 24 and 26 of FIG. 1, respectively.

Referring now to FIG. 4d, together rear wall portion 116 and mounting wall portion 118 are folded along mounting wall portion score 119 in the direction of arrow Y so that rear wall portion 116 and mounting wall portion 118 are substantially perpendicular to top wall portion 106. As shown in FIG. 4e, rear wall portion 116 is then folded substantially 180° along rear wall portion score 117 in the direction of arrow Z so that rear wall portion 116 and mounting wall portion 118 are in a facing relationship as shown in FIG. 4f. Rear wall portion 116 is now contiguous with bottom wall portion tab 104. Accordingly, rear wall portion 116 and bottom wall portion tab 104 can be adhesively secured using, for example, glue, tape or staples.

As shown in FIGS. 4g (left side plan view) and 5 (front plan view), side wall portion tabs 114 are folded along side wall portion tab scores 115 in the direction of arrow so that side wall portion tabs 114 are substantially perpendicular to side wall portions 112.

As shown in FIG. 6a (a left side plan view), front wall portion tabs 110 are folded along front wall portion tab scores 111 so that front wall portion tabs 110 are substantially perpendicular to front wall portion 108. Likewise, as shown in FIG. 6b, rear wall portion tabs 120 are folded along rear wall portion tab scores 121 so that rear wall portion tabs 120 are substantially perpendicular to rear wall portion 116.

As shown in FIG. 7, side wall portions 112 are then folded along side wall portion scores 113 so that side wall portions 112 are substantially perpendicular to top wall portion 116. Side wall portion tabs 114 are then contiguous with bottom wall portion 102 and can be disposed within bottom wall portion 102 and top wall portion 106. Accordingly, side wall portion tabs 114 can be adhesively secured to bottom wall portion 102 using, for example, glue, tape or staples. Likewise side wall portions 112 are contiguous to front wall portion tabs 110 and rear wall portion tabs 120 such that side wall portions 112 can be adhesively secured to front wall portion tabs 110 and rear wall portion tabs 120 using, for example, glue, tape or staples.

In one embodiment of the present invention, rear wall portion 116 and mounting wall portion 118 include rear wall portion apertures 122 and mounting wall portion apertures 124, respectively (shown in FIGS. 3 and 4). The construction of blank 100 is such that once assembled as tray 12, rear wall portion apertures 122 and mounting wall portion apertures 124 are contiguous and together form mounting apertures 30 (shown in FIG. 1) of waist support 15 (shown in FIG. 1). Rear wall portion 116 and mounting wall portion 118 can also include rear wall portion slits (not shown in FIGS. 3 and 4) and mounting wall portion slits (not shown in FIGS. 3 and 4), respectively, so that, once blank 100 is assembled as tray 12, rear wall portion slits and mounting wall portion slits are contiguous and together form mounting slits 38 (shown in FIG. 1) of waist support 15 (shown in FIG. 1).

In one embodiment of the present invention (as shown if FIGS. 3 and 4), top wall portion 106 of blank 100 comprises beverage apertures 126, beverage aperture scores 127 and beverage aperture slits 128 so that, once blank 100 is assembled as tray 12, the foregoing correspond to beverage apertures 28 (shown in FIG. 1) and aperture slits 30.

In addition, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, top wall portion 106 can include a wedge-shaped aperture 130 and supporting wall portions 132 which, once blank 100 is assembled into tray 12, define and correspond to the chamber for receiving and retaining objects which is defined by food aperture 32, bottom wall 24 and supporting walls 34 (all shown in FIG. 1). More specifically, top wall portion 106 comprises supporting wall portion slits 134 and supporting wall portion scores 135 which define supporting wall portions 132. In constructing blank 100 to form tray 12, supporting wall portions 132 are creased along supporting wall portion scores 135 in a direction substantially perpendicular to top wall portion 106. Supporting wall portions 132, in one embodiment of the present invention, can include tabs which are disposed within bottom wall portion apertures 136 (shown in FIGS. 3 and 4).

The dimensions of tray 12 and any components thereof can be varied as desired to provide trays of any size or shape. While a substantially rectangular-shaped receptacle portion 15 is depicted, the present invention can be used with any size and/or shape receptacle portion including, for example, a square. Accordingly, it should be understood that the dimensions and proportions shown in FIGS. 1 through 7 are provided for illustration purposes only and do not limit the invention to any particular dimensions or proportions. As shown in FIGS. 1 through 7, in one embodiment of the present invention, opposing top and bottom walls 26 and 24, respectively, have a width of about 10⅛ inches and a length of about 15 inches. Front wall 16 has a width of about 1½ inches and a length of about 15 inches. Side walls 20 and 22 have a width of about 1½ inches and a length of about 10⅛ inches. Rear wall 18 has a width of about 9 11/32 inches, with a mounting portion having a width of about 4 inches, and a length of about 15 inches.

As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, tray assembly 10 of the present invention provides for an easily manufactured and less expensive waist-mounted tray assembly for use at social gatherings. According to one embodiment of the present invention, tray assembly 10 is constructed from a lightweight paperboard which is less expensive and which is more likely to be permitted in venues that impose strict security regulations. In addition, the present invention can be disposable.

Those skilled in the art will recognize that the apparatus and method of the present invention has many applications, may be implemented in many manners and, as such, is not to be limited by the foregoing exemplary embodiments and examples. In this regard, any number of the features of the different embodiments described herein may be combined into one single embodiment. Moreover, the scope of the present invention covers conventionally known and future developed variations and modifications to the apparatus described herein, as would be understood by those skilled in the art.