Title:
Food products having handheld holders, food holders, and methods of serving foods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A chilled food product comprising a generally flat holder, a foldable food supported on the holder which food comprises a generally flat dough-based material supporting at least one edible filling or topping, and a removal wrap containing the holder and the food. The holder comprises a base, first and second sides adjacent the base, and a pair of lines of weakness between the base and the first and second sides, respectively, wherein the lines of weakness facilitate folding of the sides of the holder and the foldable food into a folded food product after cooking the unwrapped chilled product. The cooked folded food can be handheld in a comfortable manner via the holder. The holder also can incorporate means to aid increasing the exposure or repositioning of the cooked folded food while contained in the holder for eating convenience. Holders having flaps or slots to improve access to held foods also are provided. A method of serving packaged chilled food products incorporating the holder also is provided.



Inventors:
David, Nicholas F. (Chicago, IL, US)
Cogley, Paul A. (Chicago, IL, US)
Dodge, Angela N. (Schaumburg, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/080470
Publication Date:
09/21/2006
Filing Date:
03/16/2005
Assignee:
Kraft Foods Holdings, Inc. (Northfield, IL, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D81/32
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
THAKUR, VIREN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FITCH EVEN TABIN & FLANNERY, LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. Chilled food product comprising a generally flat holder, a foldable food comprising a generally flat dough-based material supporting at least one edible filling or topping wherein the foldable food is supported on said holder, and a removal wrap containing the holder and the food, wherein said holder comprises a base, first and second sides adjacent the base, and a pair of lines of weakness between the base and the first and second sides, respectively, and wherein the lines of weakness facilitate folding of the sides of the holder and the foldable food into a folded food product after cooking the unwrapped chilled product.

2. The chilled food product of claim 1, wherein said holder comprises a foldable paperboard blank having a peripheral shape selected from the group consisting of circular, semi-circular, oval, and polygonal, or a combination thereof.

3. The chilled food product of claim 2, wherein said holder comprises a sheet material selected from the group consisting of cardboard and paperboard.

4. The chilled food product of claim 1, wherein said holder has at least one pair of parallel lines of weakness formed therein, said pair of parallel lines of weakness extending adjacent a given diametrical axis of said holder, and wherein said pair of parallel lines of weakness comprise a first line of weakness arranged on one lateral side of the diametrical axis and a second line of weakness arranged on the opposite lateral side of the diametrical axis.

5. The chilled food product of claim 1, wherein the first and second sides are foldable via the pair of lines of weakness sufficient to make absolute angles greater than about 45° with the base.

6. The chilled food product of claim 1, wherein the lines of weakness are selected from the group consisting of crease scored lines, cut scored lines, and intermittent perforated lines.

7. The chilled food product of claim 1, wherein said holder has at least two pair of parallel lines of weakness formed therein, said two pair of parallel lines of weakness defining non-congruent diametrical axes of said holder to facilitate folding of said holder and said food in at least two different modes.

8. The chilled food product of claim 4, said holder comprises a first food holding portion and integral arched flap portion at one end thereof, which portions merge at an additional line of weakness which is arranged in an orientation generally perpendicular to and intersecting said parallel lines of weakness, whereby the arched flap portion is manually foldable allowing a food item contained in the holder to be manually pushable towards an opposite end of the holder to expose more of the food item held in the holder.

9. The chilled food product of claim 1, wherein said holder further comprises at least one perforated line arranged in an orientation generally perpendicular to and intersecting the parallel lines of weakness, said perforated line adapted to be manually rupturable to allow displacement of at least one flap portion of the holder sufficient to expose more of a folded food item held in the holder.

10. The chilled food product of claim 4, wherein said holder further includes a pair of parallel fold lines extending parallel to and further distanced from the diametrical axis than said pair of parallel lines of weakness, wherein at least one of said fold lines is adapted to allow an outer portion of a side of the holder to be bent in a direction away from the folded food to expose more of the food held in the holder.

11. The chilled food product of claim 4, wherein the lines of weakness comprise perforated lines adapted to be manually rupturable, whereby a holder portion located between the pair of lines of weakness is adapted to be manually curled towards a folded food item contained in the holder allowing the food item to be manually pushable towards an opposite end of the holder to expose more of the sandwich held in the holder.

12. The chilled food product of claim 4, wherein the food holder further comprises at least one slot opening in the blank which extends substantially parallel to the diametrical axis which is adapted to allow insertion of a finger to push a food item held in the container in a direction parallel to the diametrical axis.

13. The chilled food product of claim 12, wherein the slot is formed in a base portion of the blank located between the pair of lines of weakness.

14. The chilled food product of claim 12, wherein at least one side of the holder includes a slot opening which extends substantially parallel to the diametrical axis is adapted to allow insertion of a finger to push a food item held in the holder in a direction parallel to the diametrical axis to expose more of the food item held in the holder.

15. The chilled food product of claim 1, wherein said foldable food comprises a frozen food.

16. The chilled food product of claim 1, wherein said food is selected from the group consisting of a sandwich and a pizza.

17. The chilled food product of claim 1, wherein said holder comprises a microwave suscepting layer.

18. Food holder comprising a generally flat paperboard blank having at least one pair of parallel lines of weakness formed therein extending adjacent a given diametrical axis of said holder to define a base and first and second sides adjacent the base, wherein the sides are foldable via the pair of lines of weakness, and further including a pair of parallel fold lines extending parallel to and further distanced from the diametrical axis than said pair of parallel lines of weakness, wherein at least one of said fold lines is adapted to allow an outer portion of a side of the holder to be bent in a direction away from the folded food to expose more of a food when held in the holder.

19. Food holder comprising a generally flat paperboard blank having at least one pair of parallel lines of weakness formed therein extending adjacent a given diametrical axis of said holder to define a base and first and second sides adjacent the base, wherein the sides are foldable via the pair of lines of weakness, and further including at least one slot opening in the blank which extends substantially parallel to the diametrical axis which is adapted to allow insertion of a finger to push a food item held in the container in a direction parallel to the diametrical axis.

20. A method for serving food products, comprising: preparing food products comprising a generally flat, foldable corrugated paperboard holder and a foldable food supported on said holder, said foldable food comprising a generally flat dough-based material supporting at least one edible filling or topping, wherein said holder comprises a base, first and second sides adjacent the base, and a pair of lines of weakness between the base and the first and second sides, respectively, wherein the lines of weakness facilitate folding of the sides of the holder and the foldable food; packaging the food products in removal wrapping material, providing wrapped food products; chilling the wrapped food products to provide a plurality of chilled food products; removing the wrap from at least one said chilled food products to provide an unwrapped holder and chilled food; cooking the unwrapped holder and chilled food in an oven; and folding the holder along said plurality of lines of weakness sufficient to fold the holder and food into a folded food product from which the food is consumable.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the chilling comprises freezing the foldable foods.

22. The method of claim 20, wherein the cooking comprises heating the unwrapped holder and chilled food in a microwave oven.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to food products, food holders, and more particularly to food products having food holders to facilitate their consumption.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Sandwich products, such as pita bread sandwiches (e.g., gyro sandwiches), are popular handheld foods, which do not require eating utensils. Preassembled frozen sandwiches are often sold at retail locations and can be cooked or warmed up by customers on-site using a rapid heating oven, such as a microwave oven, provided at the same location. These retail locations include convenience stores having stand-up food preparation capabilities in which frozen foods can be sold, cooked onsite, and then eaten on-site or off-site by customers. Freezing the sandwiches increases the product's shelf life and helps preserve the freshness of the product until defrosted and cooked. Heating the sandwiches not only defrosts the food items but also makes them more savory for the customer.

Frozen folded sandwich products often do not have a uniform thickness, and thus can be difficult to efficiently store in shipping boxes or in retail freezers provided on-site at retail locations as their shapes are not conducive to vertical stacking. Also, a consumer may find it uncomfortable to directly grasp a heated sandwich. In addition, a warmed sandwich may contain juices, fillings, or condiments, which are more apt to transfer or drip onto the consumer's hand if directly held. These problems may be aggravated if a consumer wants to transport and eat the cooked sandwich outside the retail location where it was purchased and cooked.

There is a need for arrangements by which refrigerated or frozen sandwiches or other food items can be more conveniently stored and cooked, and, after being cooked, consumed by hand in a more tidy, comfortable and portable manner.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to food products and food holders useful with them. In one embodiment, a chilled food product comprises a generally flat holder, a foldable food comprising a generally flat dough-based material supporting at least one edible filling or topping wherein the foldable food is supported on the holder, and a removal wrap containing the holder and the food, wherein the holder comprises a base, first and second sides adjacent the base, and a pair of lines of weakness between the base and the first and second sides, respectively, and wherein the lines of weakness facilitate folding of the sides of the holder and the foldable food into a folded sandwich type product after cooking the unwrapped chilled product. The holder may be thermally insulative and may be made of an inexpensive disposable, recyclable material, such as corrugated paperboard. The foldable food item may be a pizza, or a sandwich, such as a gyros sandwich or other pita-based sandwich configured similarly to a frozen pizza in its unfolded flat position to facilitate storage, transport, handling and/or retail sale of both sandwiches and pizzas together.

The holder is adapted to be reconfigured from an initial flat orientation into a folded orientation. The initial flat holder orientation is advantageous as a support surface upon which an open sandwich may be assembled thereon and as a support during freezing, packaging, storage and cooking. The folded holder orientation is advantageous as it concomitantly effects folding of the cooked food item and acts as a container allowing the cooked food item to be handheld in a comfortable and convenient manner during consumption. The need for a consumer to directly contact a hot food is eliminated, and transfer or drippage of food filling or topping material(s) to consumer's hand or clothes is reduced. Also, the chilled (e.g., frozen or refrigerated) food products comprising the flat holder and open food item assemblies of embodiments herein have a convenient shape for packaging and stacking during handling, storage and retail display of the chilled food products.

In other embodiments, a holder is provided which can be used in the chilled food product, in which the holder has an integral flap portion and/or slot allowing a consumer to manually push or slide the folded food item towards the opposite end of the holder to increase the exposure of the food item while still held in the holder for added eating convenience. The holder also can have perforated fold lines which also can be manually torn, allowing a part or parts of the holder to be manually bent away from the folded food item, or manually removed from the holder, to increase the exposure of the folded food item contained in the remaining portion of the holder for added eating convenience.

A method of serving packaged frozen or refrigerated food products incorporating the food holder is also provided.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a food product and holder according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a food holder blank having fold lines according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a plan view of a food holder blank having multiple sets of fold lines according to another embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 4 is a plan view of a chilled food product according to an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of the food product of FIG. 4 taken along direction 5-5 thereof.

FIG. 6 is a plan view of a food holder blank having fold lines according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a plan view of food holder blank having fold lines according to yet another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a plan view of food holder blank having fold lines and tear away features according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a top view of a food item held with a food holder formed with the blank of FIG. 8 according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a side view of the food item held with the food holder according to FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a plan view of a food holder blank having fold lines according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is a side view of food product with a food holder formed with the blank of FIG. 11 according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a front view of folded food holder formed from the blank of FIG. 11 and holding a folded food item, which shows bent configurations of the holder sides according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 14 is a plan view of a food holder blank having fold lines according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a folded food holder formed from the blank of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of a folded food holder formed from the blank of FIG. 14 showing a torn flap portion displaced from the holder base portion according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 17 is a side perspective view of a folded food holder of FIG. 16 showing the manipulatable position of a folded food item using the torn flap portion and indicating the direction of movement imparted to the folded food item according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 18 is a plan view of food item holder blank having fold lines and finger slots according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 19 is a bottom perspective view of a folded food holder of FIG. 18 with the position of a folded food item being manipulatable with the slot in the holder base portion according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 20 is a side view of the folded food holder of FIG. 18 indicating the direction of movement imparted to the folded food item.

FIG. 21 is a plan view of food holder blank having fold lines and finger slots in sides thereof according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 22 is a side view of food holder blank having fold lines and finger slots according to FIG. 21.

FIG. 23 is a side view of a folded food holder of FIG. 21 with the position of a folded food item being manipulatable with the slot provided in a side of the holder according to another embodiment of the present invention.

The figures are not necessarily drawn to scale. Similarly numbered elements in different figures represent like features unless indicated otherwise.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Referring to FIG. 1, in one embodiment a ready-to-eat food product 10 includes folded food item 20 supported in a folded food holder 100. The holder 100 is bimodal structure in that it has a folded configuration, such as indicated in FIG. 1, and a flat (unfolded) configuration, such as indicated in FIG. 2.

Referring to FIG. 2, the holder 100 initially comprises a flat single circular blank 101. The blank has a unitary construction. The blank preferably is a foldable paperboard construction. Paperboard has the desired structural and thermal insulation properties, which are also attractive from cost and recycling standpoints. In this embodiment, the paperboard blank 101 has two fold lines 103 and 105 extending parallel to a diametrical axis 107 of the blank 101. These fold lines are chords in that they extend between two positions around the blank periphery 109. A base portion 111 is defined in the blank 101 between the two fold lines. The fold lines 103 and 105 form lines of weakness in the blank 101 about which the side portions 113 and 115 of the blank 101 can be folded in a hinged manner at and along the lines of weakness while supporting and folding a food item, e.g., an open sandwich assembly or a pizza (e.g., see FIG. 1). The fold lines 103 and 105 are locations where the paperboard is partly crushed or partly cut through its thickness, or intermittently perforated, and so forth, to form a line of weakness relative to the immediately adjoining untreated portions of the blank. The fold lines 103 and 105 may be formed by crease scoring, cut scoring, intermittent perforating, and so forth.

The scored blank 101 is particularly useful for holding a food item developed in a folded pita or pizza format, and the like. In one embodiment, the scored blank is generally circular in shape, although other blank shapes also may be used. The circular shape generally has a diameter suitable for retaining and folding of a food item supported thereon as described herein while being hand-held. The circular shape, for instance, may have a diameter of approximately 4 to 8 inches (102 to 203 mm). In a preferred embodiment, the shape of the blank generally corresponds to the peripheral shape of a food item to be supported and folded thereon. For instance, a square-shaped sandwich or pizza also may be supported upon a square-shaped blank having approximately the same dimensions.

Referring to FIG. 3, in another embodiment, a second pair of fold lines 117 and 119 are formed across a circular paperboard blank 501 extending parallel to a second diametrical axis 108 of the blank 501, in which fold lines 117 and 119 are oriented substantially perpendicular to the first diametrical axis 107, or at some other intersecting angle. Additional pairings of such score lines can be provided across the same blank. The provision of a plurality of score line pairings oriented at different directions across the blank increases the number of folding direction options available to a consumer.

Referring to FIG. 4, a chilled food product 400 is shown comprising a chilled food item 40 supported on a paperboard blank 101, which together are contained in a transparent sealed plastic package 48. It will be appreciated that the food item 40 alternatively may be an open (unfolded) sandwich assembly or a pizza, and so forth. The food item 40 may be frozen, or refrigerated at a non-frozen yet preservation-enhancing cooled condition.

Referring to FIG. 5, food item 40 has a generally flat construction including an upper food layer 42 containing at least one edible filling and/or topping which is supported an edible dough-based product layer 44, e.g., pita bread, pizza crust, etc., which in turn is supported on circular paperboard blank 101. Preferably, the dough-based layer 44 may be a prebaked bread (e.g., pita bread), or a prebaked or parbaked pizza crust, which will not need significant further baking, only warming, when a consumer cooks or heats the food item for consumption. The bread or crust 44 preferably has a diameter which is approximately the same or less in magnitude than the diameter of the blank 101 (shown slightly offset forward from its normal position in FIG. 4 merely to facilitate the illustration).

As indicated, at least one sandwich filling or pizza topping, as applicable, is deposited on the upper exposed surface 46 of the bread or crust layer 44. For example, in preparing gyros sandwiches, seasoned precooked meat slices, shredded lettuce, tomato slices, and Tzatziki (yogurt cucumber) sauce may be applied to the top exposed surface of pita bread. For preparing a pizza product, tomato sauce, cheese, vegetable topping, and/or a meat topping, and so forth, may be applied onto a flat pizza crust, which preferably is a circular or square-shaped crust having a diameter suitable for being held by hand when folded in half. These unfolded food assemblies 40 are also referred to herein as “open sandwiches.”

The food item 40 and supporting blank 101 are then packaged, such as by placing and enclosing the food item/blank assembly (40/101) within a plastic wrapping bag 48. The blanks and open sandwiches or other comparable food items can be conveniently packaged, for example, with conventional packaging equipment and arrangements used for packaging of frozen pizzas. The packaged food item and blank assembly (40/101) may then be frozen rapidly to provide a frozen food product, which is maintained under freezing conditions during handling and storage to preserve the food product until unwrapped and cooked for consumption.

After removing the packaging wrap of the frozen food product, the frozen food item and holder blank are placed in heating device, preferably a rapid heating oven, such as a microwave oven, and heated up while still supported on the blank. Once heated, the holder acts a container to aid holding of the food item as it is eaten and/or transported, and helps to protect the consumer's hand from the heated food product. In particular, after heating the food item on the flat holder, the combination is removed from the oven and the holder is manually folded from opposite sides at a pair of the parallel scores lines. This folds the blank and also the food item in a corresponding manner. The arrangement of fold lines assures that when folded, the blank will fold about both of the parallel fold lines, instead of about only one of them. The resulting folded blank provides a food holder having a generally horizontal base portion which separates the folded angled sides of the blank. The intervening spacing formed above the base portion and between the inner faces of the sides of the holder accommodates the folded food item. This arrangement permits the user to compress the sides of the holder from the outside of the holder by hand to grip the food item in place with a single hand while holding and eating it without unduly squeezing or distorting it (see FIG. 1). The folded food item can be eaten like a sandwich while held with the holder. The folded blank serves as a container to hold the hot food product while it is consumed, protecting the eater from the heat of food and/or food drippings, etc. This enhances the consumer's dining experience and comfort.

The food holder blank 101 is made of a foldable material, which is sufficiently heat-tolerant to withstand the thermal conditions associated with reheating the sandwich, pizza or other food item supported on it. For example, the foldable material may be paperboard, such a mono-layered paperboard, or corrugated paperboard (commonly referred to as cardboard). Corrugated paperboard is generally preferred because it sufficiently stiff, yet foldable, as well as being a relatively good thermal insulating material due to the fluted structure thereof defining interior air pockets. Also, the food holder blank 101 also may include a susceptor layer or film. That is, the blank 101 may have a multi-layer construction comprising a paperboard layer or cardboard portion, and a microwave susceptor layer (e.g., a thin metal layer) provided on an exposed side of blank which will face the food item, in order to facilitate heating of a food item supported on the blank when it is cooked or heated in a microwave oven.

Suitable corrugated paperboard or cardboard generally comprises a corrugated medium or fluted paper layer that is sandwiched between two generally flat paper liners. Methods of manufacturing corrugated paperboard are well known in the art. For instance, a corrugated medium typically is formed in a machine, which moistens or steams a generally flat paper web to soften and make it more pliable prior to passing it between a pair of toothed corrugating metal rolls geared to run in complement to each other. The corrugating rollers impress permanent parallel flutes in the paper perpendicularly to the machine direction. The flutes typically are defined by a regular pattern of alternating ridges and grooves. The flutes often are oriented straight and parallel to each other, but may be sinusoidal. In cross section, a flute may be S-shaped, C-shaped, Z-shaped, or have any other configuration known in the art. After a corrugated medium is formed, the tips of the flutes on one side of the medium are adhered or otherwise joined to the surface of a flat paper liner to produce single-faced corrugated paperboard. Double-faced corrugated paperboard is made by adhering or otherwise joining paper liners to the flute tips on both sides of the corrugated medium. Food grade adhesives, such as food grade starch-based adhesives, preferably are used to join the component layers of the corrugated paperboard. The corrugated paperboard preferably has a thin continuous edible wax coating (e.g., paraffin wax film), or another food compatible moisture barrier coating provided on at least the food contacting side of the cardboard.

The corrugated paperboard should be sufficiently rigid and stiff such that it does not readily distort when compressive forces of a hand are applied to it, but is flexible enough that it can be folded at score or crease lines in manners described herein without tearing or rupturing.

In one non-limiting example, the corrugated paperboard is constructed of wax-coated Kraft paper liners (plain or bleached), and a corrugated medium comprising Kraft paper and has an overall board thickness suitable for supporting and folding food products in accordance with embodiments of the invention such as described herein.

The paper liners may be preprinted with instructions, logos, etc. The paper liners also may be bright white clay coated in a conventional manner before being wax coated. This minimizes porosity and improves printability.

Additional advantageous configurations of the holder are also embodied by the present invention, which are described below.

Referring to FIG. 6, for instance, the holder blank 601 comprises a squared portion 602, and integral arched flap portion 604 (indicated by diagonal lines) at one end 606 thereof, which portions merge at an additional line of weakness 608 which is arranged in an orientation generally perpendicular to and intersecting parallel lines of weakness 603 and 605 which transverse both blank portions. The intervening area between lines of weakness 603 and 605 defines the base portion 609 of the holder 601, while the flanking blank areas 611 and 613 will form the side portions of the holder when folded as described herein. The arched flap portion 604 is foldable out of its plane (e.g., upwards in the perspective of FIG. 6) at fold line 608, allowing a sandwich or pizza supported between lines 603 and 605 on base portion 609 in a folded holder configuration to be manual pushed via the flap portion 604 towards an opposite end 607 of the holder 601. In this and other subsequently described embodiments, the objective achieved is providing the consumer the ability to manually push the sandwich or pizza from one of its ends so that more of the opposite end of the sandwich or pizza can clear the opposite peripheral end of the holder, exposing more food portions for eating convenience.

Referring to FIG. 7, the holder blank 701 is a variation of the blank 601 illustrated in FIG. 6, in which blank 701 comprises a circular shape, which has an additional line of weakness 718 arranged in an orientation generally perpendicular to and intersecting lines of weakness 703 and 705 extending parallel to diametrical axis 708. The intervening area between lines of weakness 703 and 705 defines the base portion 709 of the holder 701, while the flanking blank areas 711 and 713 will form the side portions of the holder when folded as described herein. The arched flap portion 604 (indicated by diagonal lines) is foldable out of its plane (e.g., upwards in the perspective of FIG. 7) via fold line 718, allowing a food item supported between lines 703 and 705 in a folded holder configuration to be manual pushed via the flap portion 704 towards an opposite end 707 of the holder 701.

Referring to FIG. 8, the holder blank 801 has fold lines 803 and 805 extending parallel to diametrical axis 808, and also includes a perforated line 804 which approximately bisects the blank 801 at a right angle to the fold lines 803 and 805. The perforated line 804 includes a chord portion 802, and an upper right hand quadrant 810 is defined in the blank 801 between chord portion 802 and fold line 803. The perforated line 804 also includes a chord portion 806, and an upper left hand quadrant 814 is defined in the blank 801 between chord portion 806 and fold line 805. The intervening area between lines of weakness 803 and 805 defines the base portion 809 of the holder 801, while the flanking blank areas 811 and 813 will form the side portions of the holder when folded as described herein. As illustrated in FIG. 8, quadrant 810 has a peripheral edge portion 821, quadrant 814 has a peripheral edge portion 823, quadrant 811 has a peripheral edge portion 822, and quadrant 813 has a peripheral edge portion 824.

As shown in FIG. 9, an initially generally flat food item 813 has been placed upon blank 801, and then blank 801 has been folded upward along fold lines 803 and 805 until the peripheral edge portions 821 through 824 are all initially oriented generally upright, followed by selectively displacing quadrants 810 and 814 of the holder in a downward direction while leaving quadrants 811 and 813 in their generally upright food holding position. The food item 813 may comprise, for example, a piece of pita bread, a pizza crust, etc., supporting edible sandwich fillings or pizza toppings, which in the folded configuration sandwiches the fillings or toppings 830 between opposite folded sides 831 and 832 of the bread or crust. The upper right quadrant 810 of holder blank 801 can be bent away and separated from the blank 801 by manually tearing along perforated line 804 at its chord portion 802 until the quadrant 810 is separated from the adjoining side portion 815 of the blank 801 (e.g., see FIG. 10). Similarly, the opposite side upper right quadrant 814 likewise can be bent away and separated from the blank 801 in a similar manner by manually tearing along perforated line 804 at its chord portion 806 until the quadrant 814 is separated from the adjoining side portion 813 of the blank 801. In this manner, an end portion 818 of the folded food item 813 cradled in the holder 801 can be further exposed for eating convenience while the rest of the food item remains securely held by the remainder of the holder. For instance, the quadrants 810 and 814 can be bent downward a sufficient degree to be approximately planar with the base portion 809 of the holder 801, such as illustrated in FIG. 10 relative to quadrant 810, or they may be bent even more extensively so as to be angled downward relative to base portion 809 and thereby further distanced from the exposed portion 818 of the food item 813 to be eaten. The perforated line 804 also can be torn along its entire length to separate both the quadrants 810 and 814, and also the base end portion 816 of base portion 809 as a separable flap portion 819 freed from the remainder 820 of the holder. Although line of weakness 804 has been illustrated in FIGS. 8-10 as being a perforated line, it will be appreciated that it can be formed as any readily manually peelable type of line of weakness. Also, the perforated line 804 does not have to exactly bisect the blank 801, and it may intersect the fold lines 803 and 805 at a location nearer to one edge 840 of the blank 801 than the opposite edge 841 thereof, or vice versa, to the extent that portions of the food item 813 can be exposed when flaps 810 and 814 are displaced away from the remainder of the food holder in the manner generally described above.

Referring to FIG. 11, holder blank 1101 has a first pair of fold lines 1103 and 1105 arranged parallel to the diametrical axis 1108, and the holder base portion 1109 is defined between these fold lines. The holder blank has side portions 1111 and 1113 flanking base portion 1109. An additional pair of parallel fold lines 1117 and 1119 are provided laterally outside the first pair of fold lines, e.g., as located approximately midway between the nearest fold line 1117 or 1119 and the periphery 1106 of the blank 1101. Side quadrants 1116 and 1118 are defined in the side portions of the blank at regions located on the free edge sides (i.e., the direction away from base portion 1109) of the fold lines 1117 and 1191.

Referring to FIG. 12, the illustration of a food holder 1102 formed from folding blank 1101 while supporting a folded food item 1112 shows that each side quadrant 1116 and 1118 of the blank 1101 is manually bendable in a direction away from the unbent side portions 1114 and 1115 of the sides 1111 and 1113, respectively, and folded sandwich 1112 thereon. In this manner, more of the food item can be exposed for eating convenience.

Referring to FIG. 13, side portions 1114 and 1115 of the food holder 1102 generally are foldable at the associated fold lines sufficient to provide an absolute angle α greater than about 45° with the base portion 1108 when the blank is manipulated into its folded configuration. This feature also may be applied to other holder embodiments described herein.

Referring to FIG. 14, a cardboard holder blank 1401 has a pair of perforated fold lines 1403 and 1405 arranged parallel to the diametrical axis 1408, and the holder base portion 1409 is defined between these perforated fold lines. The holder blank has side portions 1411 and 1413 flanking base portion 1409. In this illustration, traces 1404 indicate the direction of corrugation of the cardboard blank construction, i.e., the corrugation flutes extend in a direction parallel to the direction of corrugation. In this illustration, perforated fold lines 1403 and 1405 are formed in the blank 1401 in an orientation generally perpendicular to the direction of corrugation of the blank 1401. FIG. 15 illustrates the folded configuration 1402 of blank 1401. As understood, the folded holder 1402 will support and impart folding action upon an open sandwich or pizza supported thereon, such as after cooking the sandwich or pizza.

Referring to FIG. 16, the perforated fold lines 1403 and 1405 not only serve as fold lines but in this embodiment also can be manually torn along portions thereof from the base portion 1409 to provide a free flap portion 1410 displaced from the untorn remainder 1414 of the base portion 1409 in the direction indicated towards an end of the food item by a consumer in the direction indicated. By orienting the perforated fold lines 1403 and 1405 generally perpendicular to the direction of corrugation (indicated by traces 1404) of the cardboard blank construction, it is relatively easier to manually curl the free flap portion 1410 back towards an end of the food item being held in the holder. Referring to FIG. 17, a folded food holder 1402 is illustrated which is formed from folding blank 1401 along the fold lines 1403 and 1405 while supporting a folded food item 1412, which shows the flap portion 1410 torn from the base portion 1409 along perforated fold lines 1403 and 1405 and used to push an end 1419 of the food item 1412 away from one holder end 1417 and towards the opposite end 1418 of the holder 1402 in the direction indicated by the arrow, providing more sandwich or pizza clearance at said opposite end for eating convenience.

Referring to FIG. 18, holder blank 1801 has a pair of fold lines 1803 and 1805 arranged parallel to the diametrical axis 1808, and the holder base portion 1809 is defined between these fold lines. The holder blank has side portions 1811 and 1813 flanking base portion 1809. The holder blank 1801 also includes cut-outs or finger slots 1804 and 1804 provided at opposite ends 1817 and 1819, respectively, of the blank 1801 inside base portion 1809.

Referring to FIG. 19, a folded food holder 1802 is illustrated which is formed from folding blank 1801 along the fold lines 1803 and 1805 while supporting a folded food item 1812, which shows the inserted finger 1815 of a consumer as placed into the slot 1806 provided in the end 1819 of the base portion 1809, and manual application of a pushing force to an end 1813 of the folded food item 1812 via the slot is effective to move or slide the food item in the holder 1802 in the direction indicated by the arrow towards an opposite end of the holder 1802.

Referring to FIG. 20, the direction of displacement of the folded food item 1812 effected by use of finger slot 1806 in the folded holder 1802 is indicated by the direction arrow, providing more clearance of the food item at the opposite end 1814 of the holder 1802 for eating convenience.

Referring to FIG. 21, holder blank 2101 has a pair of fold lines 2103 and 2105 arranged parallel to the diametrical axis 2108, and the holder base portion 2109 is defined between these fold lines. The holder blank has side portions 2111 and 2113 flanking base portion 2109. The holder blank 2101 also includes cut-outs or finger slots 2104 and 2106 provided in side portions 2111 and 2113, respectively. The cut-outs 2104 and 2106 extend parallel to the diametrical axis 2108 along a direction between opposite ends 2117 and 2119, respectively, of the blank 2101.

Referring to FIG. 22, a folded food holder 2102 is illustrated which is formed from folding blank 2101 along the fold lines 2103 and 2105 while supporting a folded food item 2112, which is visible and manually accessible through the cut-out 2104.

Referring to FIG. 23, a finger or fingers can be inserted through slot 2104 (or 2106 on the opposite side of the folded holder) to push the folded food item 2112 via an exposed outer surface 2113 of a sandwich bread or pizza crust, etc., towards a holder end 2119 and away from the opposite holder end 2117 in the direction indicated by the arrow, providing more clearance of the food item at holder end 2119 for eating convenience.

While the invention has been particularly described with specific reference to particular process and product embodiments, it will be appreciated that various alterations, modifications and adaptations may be based on the present disclosure, and are intended to be within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the following claims.