Title:
Method and apparatus for full sheet cake snap-on package
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cake package for packaging full sheet cakes is shown with a cake base and a cake cover. The base tray is comprised of a combination of a one-ply plastic sheet and a two-ply corrugated cardboard. To assemble the present invention, a full sheet cake is first mounted to the cake base in the conventional manner. Food grade glue is applied at strategic points along a groove of the plastic tray base. Then, the cover is attached to the cake base by an interlocking snapping mechanism. The glue temporarily adheres the cover to the base, preventing separation. The rigid plastic three-ply base, together with the adhesive snap-seal eliminates the need for a cake board and allows for easy stacking without crushing. Ridges are located in the cake base and cake cover for increased strength.



Inventors:
Dahl, Robert S. (Ocala, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/989749
Publication Date:
05/18/2006
Filing Date:
11/16/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D90/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRADEN, SHAWN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Gunn, Lee & Cave, P.C. (San Antonio, TX, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly comprising: a cake base having two layers whereby a first layer is positioned adjacent to, and adhered to, a second layer, said second layer providing reinforcing for said first layer; a cake cover having an outward flaring flange member removeably attached to said cake base; and a first adhesive disposed in a groove surrounding said first layer of said cake base whereby said first adhesive temporarily secures said cake cover to said cake base via said outward flaring flange member.

2. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly as recited in claim 1, wherein said first layer is of a thin flexible material.

3. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly of claim 2, wherein said first layer is a one-ply plastic sheet and wherein said groove traverses along the peripheral portions of said one-ply plastic sheet; said one-ply plastic sheet having a centrally located annular rib connected to radially disposed raised reinforcing ribs whereby said one-ply plastic sheet provides support, strength, and structural integrity to said cake base.

4. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly of claim 3, wherein said groove protrudes vertically downward into said one-ply plastic sheet defining a cavity on the bottom of said one-ply plastic sheet.

5. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly of claim 4, wherein an outer surface of said groove is flared.

6. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly as recited in claim 1, wherein said first adhesive is a food grade glue.

7. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly as recited in claim 1, wherein said second layer is of a rigid lightweight material.

8. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly of claim 7, wherein said second layer is at least two-ply corrugated cardboard.

9. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly of claim 8, further comprising a second adhesive applied to the top surface of second layer.

10. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly of claim 9, wherein said second adhesive adheres said second layer to the inside of a cavity under said first layer.

11. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly of claim 10, wherein said second adhesive is a food grade glue.

12. A full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly as recited in claim 1, wherein said cake cover further comprises: a top having a first plurality of reinforcing ribs wherein said first plurality of reinforcing ribs are circular and horizontal in shape; a plurality of sides having a second plurality of reinforcing ribs, in which said second plurality of reinforcing ribs are vertically extending, whereby said sides being connected to said top; and corners defining an arcuate surface, wherein said corners being connected to said top and sides.

13. A method of packaging full sheet cakes comprising the steps of: gluing a second layer into a cavity of a first layer to create a cake base; placing a cake onto said cake base; applying an adhesive in a groove which traverses along the peripheral portions of said cake base; placing a cake cover of clear plastic over said cake, said cake cover having an outward flaring flange for securing to said adhesive in said groove; and attaching said cake cover onto said cake base via said outward flaring flange, adhesive and groove.

14. The method of packaging full sheet cakes of claim 13 wherein said first layer is a one-ply plastic sheet and said second layer is a two-ply corrugated cardboard.

15. The method of packaging full sheet cakes of claim 14 wherein said gluing step is performed with a food grade glue.

16. The method of packaging full sheet cakes of claim 15 wherein said applying step comprises dabbing a small amount of said adhesive in said groove along said peripheral portion of said cake base.

17. The method of packaging full sheet cakes of claim 16 wherein said attaching step comprises snapping said outward flaring flange member of said cake cover underneath a flared portion of an outer surface of said groove thereby locking in place said cake cover with said cake base.

18. The method of packaging full sheet cakes of claim 17 wherein said applying step further comprises using a food grade glue.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

Applicant's invention relates to the field of food packaging, and more specifically to a method and apparatus of packaging full sheet cakes on a reinforced tray under a high strength clear plastic cover.

2. Background Information

Trays for a full sheet cake are flexible. Therefore, in consideration of the weight involved, the current practice among manufacturers in the industry is to put cardboard under the bottom and then cover the cake by using a plastic see-through cover releasably fastened to the base by either using glue or by using various combinations of interlocking grooves and flange-like extensions molded into the base and the plastic see-though cover. Otherwise, the flexibility of the plastic sheet allows the cover to come unsnapped and separated from the tray. Tray and base are used interchangeably in this application.

There exists in the prior art several related patents. U.S. Pat. No. 3,770,115 for packaging container for pies discloses a method of attaching a container cover to a base by means of a groove around the edge of the inside perimeter of the cover. The groove interfaces with the horizontally extending flange located at the upper lip of the base. To fasten the cover to the base, the practitioner simply guides the horizontally extending flange into the groove until the entire perimeter of the flange snaps into place and rests snugly against the inside surface of the groove.

The container disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 1,978,296 also uses similar means to fasten the cover to the base. In addition, U.S. Pat. No. 1,978,296 also discloses of a method for attaching the cover to the base by molding several beads or inwardly extending tabs to the cover. When the cover is affixed to the base, the beads or tabs rest snugly against the bottom side of the flange that forms the lip of the base, thereby preventing the cover from being lifted upward without the person first having to exert a certain amount of force on the cover. U.S. Pat. No. 3,837,526 also discloses similar means of attaching the cover to the base.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,246,695 uses a combination of grooves and beads to attach the cover to the base. The horizontally and outwardly extending flanges at the mouth of the base are snapped into a groove located near the bottom edge of the cover. For additional security, the edge of the cover forms an inwardly extending reinforcing bead such that, when assembled, the bead fits snugly against the bottom edge of the horizontally extending flange.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,690,902 uses yet another method to secure a cake cover to its base. Here, a horizontally and outwardly extending flange is attached to the mouth of the cover. The base, which is usually made of corrugated cardboard and which extends at least as far outward as the outer edge of the flange, is attached to the cover by means of staples.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,795,360 discloses of two additional methods of attaching cover to base. In the first method, four vertical indentations, one on each face of the cover, are formed in the sidewalls of the cover. At precisely the same height, each indentation contains a horizontal slot having the same thickness as the horizontally outwardly extending flanges of the base. To secure the cover to the base, the flange is slipped into the horizontal slots. In the second method disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,795,360, four small oval shaped indentations are located on each side of the cover so that the indentations can be slipped underneath the horizontal flanges, locking the cover to the base.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,375,862 discloses a means of attaching and detaching the cover to the base by rotating the cover clockwise or counterclockwise relative to the base. The method of attaching the cover to the base is essentially similar to the method disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 1,978,296 and 3,837,526, with the exception that certain parts of the base have no outward extending flange and certain portions of cover have no inward extending beads. Thus, when the portion with no outward extending flange and no inward extending bead is aligned, the cover easily fits over the base. Once the cover fits over the base, the cover can be turned clockwise or counterclockwise, locking the cover to the base by snugly fitting the bead underneath the flange.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,452,356 discloses an additional method of attaching cake cover to base. Here, food grade adhesive is applied between the outward extending flange of the cover and the corrugated cardboard cake base, thereby attaching the cake cover to the base.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,197,940 discloses of a method of attaching a cover to a base by redesigning the configuration of the base. The cover disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,197,940 has a simple, outward flaring flange. The base, however, is first connected to a vertically upwardly extending flange which is then connected to a horizontally inwardly extending flange. The cover is affixed to the base by slipping the outward extending flange of the cover underneath the inwardly extending flange of the base.

Finally, U.S. Pat. No. 6,076,676 discloses of a method of attaching a cover to a base by using a food grade glue and interlocking design built in the cake cover and/or base. The cover is then further secured to the base with the use of small clips.

The size of the tray used invariably depends on the size of the cake desired to be put into the tray. A full sheet cake is usually 18″×22″. Half sheet and quarter sheet cakes, 18″×11″ and 9″×11″, respectively, are also sizes commonly sold. The above-described methods of securing the cover to the base are usually adequate for smaller cakes and for some larger cakes. However, when the cake is large and heavy, such as with full sheet cakes, the tray alone is simply not sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the cake, and so the tray tends to sag and bend in the middle when the entire full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly is picked up. Additionally, the flexibility of the plastic tray allows for easy deformation of the base which tends to cause the cake cover to come unsnapped and pop off, despite the fact that the cover is attached to the base by the various fastening means described above.

The problem is not solved by simply placing a cardboard under the bottom of the tray. The cardboard can easily become separated from the tray as is when a consumer does not have a steady grip on the cardboard as well as the tray. Additionally, placing the cake on the cardboard which is then placed on the tray, still does not prevent the tray from bending underneath the cardboard. Moreover, the cake on the cardboard would have a tendency to slide around on top of the tray. Further, with this configuration, the tray does not offer any additional support to the cardboard. It would, in fact, be more of a hassle for the consumer than just the cardboard alone. The use of clips also are an added expense and may be ineffective to prevent the cover from popping off when the weight of the cake overcomes the resistance of the clips potentially causing serious injury.

Other problems include loss of time by the employee spent looking for or making a cardboard that fits in the tray, which in turn negatively impacts the employer because it must still compensate the employee for this task. Additionally, during times of high cake demands by consumers coupled with a low employee count, the employee's frustration builds in not having any cardboard readily at hand or if available, they are not of the correct size. Further, in this scenario, there is a lack of precision on the part of the employee should the decision be made to cut and use what cardboard is available. The cardboard might not fit the entire tray, thus lacking the extra support necessary to support the weight of the cake.

The two main features of the present invention that readily distinguish it from what is currently being used in the baking industry are (1) the completely integrated three-ply cake base, which combines a one-ply plastic sheet tray with a two-ply corrugated cardboard for exceptional strength and support; and (2) a removable temporarily attaching adhesive, which in one preferred embodiment is glue, strategically dabbed at points along the groove of the plastic sheet tray. Although the present invention is directed towards a full sheet cake, this is merely the preferred embodiment, such that this invention can easily be used to accommodate cakes of different shapes, e.g., round, or even of smaller sizes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a simple method of securing a cake cover to a base.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a simple method of quickly securing a cake cover to a base.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a method for enhancing the structural strength and rigidity of the cake base.

It is still another object of the present invention to reinforce the cake base such that it withstands the size and weight of a full sheet cake.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a method for enhancing the structural strength and rigidity of the cake cover.

It is still further an object of the present invention to provide for improved strength and rigidity in the cake cover such that these trays may be stacked one on top of the other without collapsing or crushing one another.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide an adhesive snap-seal to keep the cake cover from separating from the cake base.

In satisfaction of these related objectives, Applicant's present invention provides a method of packaging full sheet cakes on a reinforced tray, a completely integrated three-ply plastic base. The top of the clear plastic cover is strengthened with circular and horizontal reinforcing ribs. The sidewalls are strengthened with vertically extending ribs. The reinforcements on the top and along the sidewalls create a reinforced clear plastic cover able to withstand deformation and permit entire cake assemblies to be stacked on top of one another without collapsing or crushing. Additionally, to temporarily adhere the cover to the base and prevent their separation, the application of an adhesive is dabbed at strategic points along a groove in the plastic sheet tray. The cover is then attached to the cake base by an interlocking snapping mechanism.

The entire full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly comprises a cake base made of one-ply plastic sheet tray and two-ply corrugated cardboard and a cake cover (preferably plastic and see-through). The cake base can be round or rectangular and can be of any size. However, the preferred embodiment of the present invention is that of a cake packaging assembly for full sheet rectangular cakes. The cake base described in detail below is rectangular in shape. Although the cake base may be made of any generally stiff material, in the preferred embodiment, the cake base integrates the plastic sheet tray with corrugated cardboard.

To assemble the cake base, food grade glue is liberally applied to the top surface of a two-ply corrugated cardboard, the dimensions of which correspond to the area of the cavity underneath the one-ply plastic sheet tray. Then, the corrugated cardboard is placed into the cavity such that the top surface of the cardboard makes contact with the bottom surface of the plastic sheet tray with the glue adhering one surface to the other. Enough time is given to allow the glue to dry. This is now the reinforced, completely integrated, three-ply plastic cake base.

In its preferred embodiment, the cake cover is made of a plastic, see-through material preferably formed by vacuum or thermoforming operations on plastic sheets. The cake cover should be at least larger than the full sheet cake placed in the tray but smaller than the cake base. The cover is comprised of a horizontally extending outwardly flaring flange attached around the bottom perimeter of the base, four generally vertical sides, and a generally flat top. The horizontal peripheral flange at the bottom edge of the sidewalls fits snuggly into the groove which is found on the peripheral perimeter of the cake base.

Integral depending sidewalls are peripherally attached to the top wall and are of a height exceeding the height of the full sheet cake to be packaged. The top wall is strengthened with circular and horizontal reinforcing ribs. The sidewalls are likewise strengthened with vertically extending ribs. Additionally, the corners are defined by arcuate surfaces to maintain the structural integrity of the cake cover. The base of each corner is further supported by reinforcing protrusions. Also, intermediate to each corner are specially designed reinforcing ribs. The ribs on the top and sides of the cake cover, together with the arcuately defined corners, serve to reinforce the cover, enabling it to withstand the deformatory forces exerted by the weight of the cake onto the cake cover once the cover is affixed to the base.

The purpose of the groove found on the peripheral perimeter of the cake base is to aid in the prevention of separation of the cake cover from the cake base. The groove in the present invention occurs on the top surface of the plastic sheet tray and is approximately 10 mm wide and 3-5 mm deep. The groove surrounds the perimeter of the inserted corrugated cardboard. To temporarily adhere the cover to the base, dabs of adhesive are placed within and along the length of this groove. The side of the groove most distal to the center of the cake base is slightly flared and allows the horizontal peripheral flange of the cake cover to slide underneath the flare and snap the cake cover securely to the cake base. This interlocking snapping mechanism together with the adhesive prevent the separation of the cake cover from the cake base.

To assemble the present invention, a finished full sheet cake is first placed onto a cake base. Then, the cake cover is affixed to the base by using any one of the currently available adhesives and the interlocking snapping mechanism. By gluing together the cake base and cake cover, the cover is unlikely to pop off without a person having to exert a certain amount of force on the cover. The reinforcing ribs on the top and sidewalls of the cake cover, along with the arcuately defined corners and their corresponding reinforcing protrusions, are structurally designed to be able to withstand larger deformation forces and allow fully assembled full sheet cake packages to be stacked on top of each other without collapsing. In this manner, Applicant's invention permits its practitioner to handle large full sheet cakes without the plastic sheet tray folding or bending. The present invention prevents the cover from unsnapping and becoming separated from the tray.

Further objects and advantages of the invention will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the annexed drawings, on which is shown the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 1 along section lines 3-3.

FIG. 4 is an exploded cross-sectional view of FIG. 3.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The preferred embodiment of the present invention is illustrated in FIG. 1. FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly 10. FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the present invention. Full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly 10 generally consists of cake base 12 and cake cover 14. In the preferred embodiment, cake base 12 is generally rectangular and combines a one-ply plastic sheet tray with a two-ply corrugated cardboard (see FIG. 2) to make up the completely integrated three-ply cake base. Although the integrated three-ply cake base incorporates corrugated cardboard in the preferred embodiment, any stiff, lightweight material can be used.

In its preferred embodiment, cake cover 14 consists of a horizontal top containing a series of built in grooves, including a plurality of circular reinforcing ribs 16 and a plurality of reinforcing ribs 18. The reinforcing ribs 18 are of various lengths necessary to encompass the circular reinforcing ribs 16. This configuration provides strength and support for the top surface of cake cover 14.

Four generally vertical sidewalls (28, 30, 32, 34) are attached to the top of cake cover 14 and extend generally perpendicular to the top of cake cover 14. Each sidewall is made up of vertically extending ribs 22 that span the length of each sidewall. The corner portions of the cake cover 14 are formed of an arcuate horizontal configuration as indicated at 20. Towards the bottom of each arcuate horizontal configuration 20 there is a reinforcing protrusion 24 which enhances and maintains the structural integrity of cake cover 14. Intermediate to arcuate horizontal cross sectional configuration 20 are specially designed reinforcing ribs 26 which aid in maintaining the structural integrity of cake cover 14. The specially designed reinforcing ribs 26 are also located at approximately the middle of sidewall 30 and sidewall 34, the two longer sidewalls.

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the FIG. 1 and illustrates the way the individual components of the full sheet cake snap-on package are assembled. Bottom flange 36 is made of the same material as cake cover 14 and is molded as a part of cake cover 14. Bottom flange 36 extends generally perpendicular along the lower edge of the sidewalls 28, 30, 32, 34 of cake cover 14.

FIG. 2 also illustrates the two-ply corrugated cardboard 12b used in the present invention. The two-ply corrugated cardboard 12b is approximately 6 millimeters thick. Food grade glue 48 is liberally applied to top surface 46 of the two-ply corrugated cardboard 12b. The two-ply corrugated 12b is then place into the cavity 52 (not shown in FIG. 2) on bottom surface 44 of the one-ply plastic sheet 12a. The perimeter of the cavity 52, as illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, is defined by the inside surface 54 of groove 38.

Groove 38 traverses the peripheral perimeter of the one-ply plastic sheet 12a. Groove 38 is approximately 10 millimeters wide and 3 to 5 millimeters deep. The purpose of groove 38 is to aid in the prevention of separation of the cake cover 14 from cake base 12. Although groove 38 is on the top surface 40 of the one-ply plastic sheet 12a, groove 38 surrounds the perimeter of the inserted two-ply corrugated cardboard 12b. Side 56 of groove 38 is slightly flared and allows bottom flange 36 of cake cover 14 to slide underneath the flare, as illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, and snap the cake cover 14 securely to cake base 12.

At the center of top surface 40 of one-ply plastic sheet 12a is an elevated annular rib 58 with at least eight radially disposed reinforcing ribs 42 each connected to reinforcing rib 60 for additional support, strength, and structural integrity of cake base 12.

FIG. 3 shows a cross sectional view of FIG. 1 along section lines 3-3 after cake cover 14 has been properly attached to cake base 12. A dab of food grade glue 50 is placed at strategic intervals along groove 38. The food grade glue 50 in conjunction with the interlocking, snapping mechanism between cake cover 14 and the flared surface of side 56 of groove 38 prevents cake cover 14 from separating from cake base 12. FIGS. 3 and 4 also illustrate the cavity 52 which is filled by two-ply corrugated cardboard 12b. The two-ply corrugated cardboard 12b adheres to the bottom surface 44 of one-ply plastic sheet 12a using food grade glue 48.

To assembly the present invention, a finished full sheet cake is first placed onto the cake base 12. Then the cake cover 14 is affixed to cake base 12 by using any one of the currently available adhesives or the interlocking snapping mechanism built in the cake cover 14 and/or cake base 12. In the preferred embodiment and as illustrated in FIGS. 3 and 4, dabs of food grade glue placed at strategic intervals in groove 38 are used. By gluing together cake base 12 and cake cover 14, cake cover 14 is unlikely to pop off without a person having to exert a certain amount of force on cake cover 14. The plurality of circular reinforcing rib 16 and plurality of reinforcing rib 18, as well as arcuate horizontal configuration 20 and vertical extending rib 22, together with reinforcing protrusion 24 and specially designed reinforcing ribs 26 on the top and sidewalls of cake cover 14 are structurally designed to be able to withstand large deformation forces and allow fully assembled full sheet cake snap-on packages to be stacked on top of each other without collapsing. The enhanced strength and adhesive seal characteristics of the present invention also tolerate extreme cold temperatures. The entire assembly may be placed into the refrigerator or even the freezer to preserve and extend the full sheet cake's shelf life.

Other alternative embodiments of full sheet cake snap-on packaging assembly 10 exist. Although the preferred embodiment described above is for packaging rectangular cakes, the present invention can be adopted to package round cakes as well. Round cakes would also be packaged in an assembly consisting of a cake base and a cake cover as described above. The cake base and cake cover for packaging round cake would be circular in shape and can be made of any material, although two-ply corrugated cardboard in combination with one-ply plastic sheet is the preferred material for the base and see-through plastic is the preferred material for the cover. In its preferred embodiment, the circular cake cover is made of see-through plastic, with the cover's rigidity enforced by various grooves located at the top and sidewalls of the cover. A horizontal outward flaring flange would be attached perpendicularly along the perimeter of the mouth of the cake cover. Food glue would then be placed at strategic intervals along the groove. The horizontal outward flaring flange of the cake cover would then snap into place with the flared portion of the groove using the same interlocking mechanism as detailed above. The food glue placed in the groove then helps keep the cake cover secured to the cake base. Additionally, although the present invention suggest dabbing the glue at strategic intervals along the groove, a line of glue that runs the length of the groove may also be used.

Although the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments, this description is not meant to be construed in a limited sense. Various modifications of the disclosed embodiments, as well as alternative embodiments of the inventions will become apparent to persons skilled in the art upon the reference to the description of the invention. It is, therefore, contemplated that the appended claims will cover such modifications that fall within the scope of the invention.