Title:
Containers including containers for removing moisture and/or oxygen and adjustable containers
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container for allowing the communication of an active agent with the interior space of the container includes a housing having a base and a cover. A holder is positioned on the housing for receiving an active agent. The active agent is in chemical communication with an interior space of the container. The container may be adjustable in size. The adjustable container includes at least one outwardly extending protrusion extending at least partially along the length of the base, and the cover includes at least one corresponding recess defined by a wing on the cover. The wing is configured to mate with the recess in sliding relation to allow the cover to move longitudinally relative to the base. A box cover includes a housing having at least a first level and a second level. The first level has a greater circumference than the second level. The first level is configured to mate with a first size container and the second level is configured to mate with a second size container that is different from the first size container.



Inventors:
Levie, Mark (Ross, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/488523
Publication Date:
01/18/2007
Filing Date:
07/18/2006
Assignee:
Resourceful Products, Inc.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D6/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GEHMAN, BRYON P
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATENT GROUP 2N (CLEVELAND, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A container for allowing the communication of an active agent with the interior space of the container, said container comprising: a housing having a base and a cover that together define an interior space; a holder defined in at least one of the cover and the base for receiving an active agent inside the housing, said active agent being in chemical communication with the interior space of the housing and being removable from the holder.

2. The container of claim 1, wherein the active agent is at least one of a moisture inhibiting material and an oxygen inhibiting material.

3. The container of claim 1, wherein the holder is a recess that is defined on an inner surface of the cover.

4. The container of claim 3, further comprising a tray configured to seat in the recess of the cover, the tray including a plurality of openings extending through a surface thereof for allowing communication between the active agent and the interior space of the container.

5. The container of claim 1, wherein the base includes at least one outwardly extending protrusion extending at least partially along the length of a wall of the base, and the cover includes at least one corresponding wing extending at least partially along the length of a wall of the cover, said wing defining a rib on the cover, said protrusion being configured to mate with the rib such that the base is in sliding relation with the cover and the cover moves longitudinally relative to the base.

6. The container of claim 4, wherein the protrusion has a cross-sectional shape that is trapezoidal.

7. The container of claim 4, wherein the protrusion and rib are configured relative to one another such that they do not detach from one another unless the cover is removed from the base.

8. The container of claim 4, wherein the base, the cover, and the tray are made of a plastic material, and the active agent is stored in a vessel made of a plastic material.

9. The container of claim 1, wherein the vessel that houses the active agent is permeable and allows for the viewing of the active agent within the vessel.

10. The container of claim 1, wherein the vessel is made of one of a polypropylene or a Tyvek™ material.

11. A box cover comprising: a housing having at least a first level and a second level, wherein the first level has a greater circumference than the second level, wherein the first level is configured to mate with an opening of a first size container and the second level is configured to mate with an opening of a second size container that is different from a first size container.

12. The box cover of claim 11, wherein the first level includes an inner rim and an outer rim and the second level includes an inner rim and an outer rim, with each respective inner and outer rim being configured to capture a container opening there between.

13. The box cover of claim 11, wherein the housing is pyramidal in shape.

14. The box cover of claim 11, further comprising a third level, the third level being configured to mate with a third size container that is different from the first and second size containers.

15. An adjustable size storage container comprising: a cover member having at least one first rib that extends at least partially along the length of the cover member; and a base member having at least one second rib that extends at least partially along the length of the base member, with the first rib being configured to mate with the second rib so that the cover is slidable longitudinally over the base member along the second rib.

16. The container of claim 15, wherein the cover member and base member together define a storage area inside the container, with the storage area being adjustable in size based upon the relative location of the cover member to the base member.

17. The container of claim 15, wherein the second rib is trapezoidal in cross-section, and the first rib includes a recess for catching the second rib.

18. The container of claim 15, further comprising a holder associated with one of the cover member or the base member for receiving an active agent.

19. The container of claim 18, wherein the holder is a recess that is defined on an inner surface of the cover member, said recess being configured to hold the active agent and to allow communication between the active agent and an interior space of the container.

20. The container of claim 15, wherein the base and cover members together define one of a rectangular, a round, or a square container.

21. The container of claim 15, wherein the first rib is a protrusion having a recess defined under the protrusion, and the second rib is a wing that is configured to mate with the protrusion.

22. The container of claim 15, further comprising a series of bumps aligned on one of the cover member rib or the base member rib, and a corresponding series of dimples positioned on the other of the cover member rib or the base member rib, wherein the bumps align with the dimples to provide a plurality of positions for positioning the base relative to the cover.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/700,115, filed Jul. 18, 2005, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD

This technology relates to a container and a lid designed to remove moisture and/or oxygen from the contents of the container. The technology also concerns a collapsible and adjustable container and a universal lid.

BACKGROUND

Foods, particularly produce, spoil more quickly when subjected to oxygen and moisture. Food storage containers presently on the market do a poor job at maintaining product life.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an example container that is designed to accommodate a particular size or type of food, such as a tomato or onion, or other materials;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an example container that is designed to accommodate a particular size or type of food, such as lettuce or a melon, or other materials;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an example container that is designed to accommodate a particular size or type of food, such as sugar, or other materials;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an example container that is designed to accommodate a particular size or type of food, such as flour, or other materials;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an example container that is designed to accommodate a particular size or type of food, such as a hotdog or hamburger, or other materials;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an example collapsible container that is designed to accommodate a particular size or type of food, such as a square cracker, or other materials;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an example collapsible container that is designed to accommodate a particular size or type of food, such as pasta, or other materials;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of an example collapsible container that is designed to accommodate a particular size or type of food, such as a loaf of bread, or other materials;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an example collapsible container that is designed to accommodate a particular size or type of food, such as a box of cereal, or other materials;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an example collapsible container that is designed to accommodate a particular size or type of food, such as a cracker, or other materials;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of an example universal lid that is designed to accommodate a number of different sized containers;

FIG. 12 is a top plan view of a cover similar to the example container depicted in FIG. 1;

FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional side view of the cover of FIG. 13 taken at line A-A in FIG. 12;

FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional side view of the cover of FIG. 13 taken at line B-B in FIG. 12;

FIG. 15 is a bottom plan view of a base similar to the example container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 16 is a cross-sectional view of the base depicted in FIG. 15 taken at line A-A of FIG. 15;

FIG. 17 is a front plan view of a latch utilized with an example container that is similar to that of FIG. 1;

FIG. 18 is a top view of the latch of FIG. 17;

FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional side view of the latch shown in FIGS. 17 and 18;

FIG. 20 is a cross-sectional side view of an example container that utilizes the cover of FIGS. 12-14, the base of FIGS. 15-16 and the latch of FIGS. 17-19, with the cover being installed on the base and the latch being rotated into a locked position;

FIGS. 21 is a partial exploded view of section A in FIG. 20, depicting the point on the example container where the latch, cover, and base meet;

FIG. 22 is a bottom view of a tray utilized with the example container of FIG. 20;

FIG. 23 is a cross-sectional end view of the tray of FIG. 22;

FIG. 24 is a cross-sectional side view of the tray of FIG. 22;

FIG. 25 is a cross-sectional side view of an example container that is similar to that shown in FIG. 2, with the cover being installed on the base and the latch being rotated into a locked position;

FIG. 26 is a top view of a base of an example container similar to that depicted in FIG. 3;

FIG. 27 is a cross-sectional side view of the base of FIG. 26;

FIG. 28 is a cross-sectional side view of an example container similar to that shown in FIG. 3 that utilizes the base of FIGS. 26-27 and the cover of FIGS. 32-33, with the cover being installed on the base;

FIG. 29 is a bottom view of a tray utilized with the example container of FIG. 28;

FIG. 30 is a cross-sectional end view of the tray of FIG. 29;

FIG. 31 is a cross-sectional side view of the tray of FIG. 29;

FIG. 32 is a bottom plan view of the cover utilized with the example container of FIG. 28;

FIG. 33 is a cross-sectional side view of the cover of FIG. 28;

FIG. 34 is a cross-sectional side view of an example container similar to that shown in FIG. 4 that utilizes the cover of FIG. 32, with the cover being installed on the base;

FIG. 35 is a top view of a tray utilized with the example container of FIG. 34;

FIG. 36 is a cross-sectional side view of the tray of FIG. 35;

FIG. 37 is a bottom view of a base for use with an example container similar to that depicted in FIG. 6;

FIG. 38 is a cross-sectional side view of the base shown in FIG. 37;

FIG. 39 is a cross-sectional side view of an example container similar to that shown in FIG. 6 that utilizes the base of FIGS. 37-38 and the cover of FIGS. 42-44, with the cover being installed on the base;

FIG. 40 is a bottom view of a tray utilized with the example container cover of FIG. 42;

FIG. 41 is a cross-sectional side view of the tray of FIG. 40;

FIG. 42 is a top view of the cover depicted in FIG. 39;

FIG. 43 is a cross-sectional side view of the cover of FIG. 42, taken at line B-B in FIG. 42;

FIG. 44 is a cross-sectional side view of the cover of FIG. 42, taken at line A-A in FIG. 42;

FIG. 45 is a side view of a base for use with an example container similar to that depicted in FIG. 8;

FIG. 46 is a cross-sectional side view of the base shown in FIG. 45;

FIG. 47 is a cross-sectional side view of an example container similar to that shown in FIG. 8 that utilizes the base of FIGS. 45-46 and the cover of FIGS. 48-49, with the cover being installed on the base;

FIG. 48 is a bottom view of a tray utilized with the example container cover of FIG. 47;

FIG. 49 is a cross-sectional side view of the tray of FIG. 48;

FIG. 50 is a top view of the cover depicted in FIG. 47;

FIG. 51 is a cross-sectional side view of the cover of FIG. 50;

FIG. 52 is an exploded perspective view of the container of FIG. 9, with the cover removed from the base, showing how the cover is configured to mate with the base;

FIG. 53 is a bottom view of a base for use with an example container similar to that depicted in FIG. 10;

FIG. 54 is a cross-sectional side view of the container of FIG. 10 showing the cover coupled to the base;

FIG. 55 is a top plan view of the example universal box top, similar to that depicted in FIG. 11;

FIG. 56 is an end view of the box top of FIG. 55;

FIG. 57 is a cross-sectional side view of the box top of FIG. 55, with a tray and active agent pouch inserted in a recess of the box top;

FIG. 58 is a perspective view of an example collapsible container that is designed to accommodate a particular size or type of food, such as a sandwich, or other materials, showing the container positioned in an intermediate position;

FIG. 59 is an expanded view of the container of FIG. 58, showing how the cover is positioned over the base;

FIG. 60 is a bottom view of the container of FIG. 58;

FIG. 61 is a cross-sectional side view of the container of FIG. 58 shown installed in a second intermediate position;

FIG. 62 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 58 with the container positioned in a first, smallest position;

FIG. 63 is a cross-sectional side view of the container of FIG. 58 shown installed in a first, smallest position; and

FIG. 64 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 58 with the container positioned in a third, largest position;

FIG. 65 is a cross-sectional side view of the container of FIG. 58 shown installed in a third, largest position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to the figures, the present disclosure concerns example containers 10, 70, 72, 74, 90, 92, 94, 96, 98, 100, 132 and a new box top 116. The containers and box top may have an “active” component, in that they are actively utilized for removing moisture, oxygen, or another element from the container. The active containers and box top help to keep materials stored inside the container, such as food, fresh. This is accomplished using a desiccant or other active agent. The term “desiccant” is typically utilized to refer to a drying agent that acts to reduce or remove water or moisture. The term “active agent,” as used herein, refers to an agent that serves to remove or reduce moisture, oxygen, or another element, as long as the chemical composition of the material that makes up the active agent is capable of removing the desired element. Thus, the term “active agent,” as used herein is used in the broad sense to encompass desiccants as well as other agents for removing elements from the interior of a container.

As discussed above, one type of active agent is a desiccant. Another is an oxygen inhibitor. Oxygen inhibitors may be utilized in containers to dramatically reduce the amount of oxygen inside the container. Produce containers derive significant benefit from oxygen inhibitors. For instance, lettuce, melons, tomatoes and onions that are stored in containers that have oxygen inhibitors have an extended lifetime and freshness. Oxygen is a primary catalyst to premature spoilage of produce. Therefore, an active agent that removes oxygen can help to prolong the useful life of produce. Packages of crackers or other products made with grains may also benefit from a moisture removing active agent, among other foods and materials.

The example containers utilize an active agent that is stored in a removable and replaceable pouch 30 or other vessel. A pouch 30 is positioned inside each container and is held in position so that the contents of the pouch 30 can communicate with the interior storage space 54 of each container. Each pouch 30 has a useful life that depends upon the humidity and/or oxygen or other level within the container. A typical shelf-life for a desiccant pouch 30 is three to six months. The pouch 30 contains crystals. When the pouch 30 is initially inserted into the container, the crystals are a first color. As the crystals absorb moisture, for example, they gradually change color. An example of the color change that occurs is changing from blue to pink. Once the crystals have completely changed in color, the desiccant has been entirely used and the pouch 30 may be removed and replaced with a new pouch 30. The pouch 30 of active agent is preferably disposable, although reusable pouches are within the scope of the claimed subject matter.

The pouch 30 is preferably made of a material that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use with food products. One type of material that may be used is Tyvek™ or polypropylene. An example polypropylene is a polyolefin/hydrocarbon film material that is clear or opaque. Other types of plastic materials may be utilized, if so desired. An example pouch 30 may be rectangular and have a length of 2.25 inches, a width of 1 inch and a depth of 0.25 inches. Other sizes and shapes of pouches may be utilized. It is not required that the pouch 30 be rectangular. The pouch 30 should easily fit inside any storage space within the container designed to hold the pouch 30.

The pouch material may be transparent in order to allow the user to view the color of the active agent. In the examples depicted, the containers each include a cover 12 and a base 14. A recess 24 is defined in the cover 12 and the pouch 30 is sized to fit within the recess 24. In addition, a tray 60 is utilized along with the pouch 30 to hold the pouch 30 inside the tray 60 and recess 24. The tray 60 may include holes 64 to allow the active agent to communicate with the environment of the container. The tray 60 is both removable and replaceable. In the disclosed examples, the tray 60 is sized to press fit into the recess 24 defined on the cover 12 of each container. However, other techniques may be utilized to attach the tray to the cover. For example, screws, glue, hinge mechanisms and clasps, or other known attachment methods may be utilized.

The desiccant may be any known agent. Commonly known drying agents include calcium oxide or silica gel. These materials are useful in food-related applications because they are approved for use in such applications by the United States Food & Drug Administration. While the active agent is shown positioned in a recess 24 of the cover 12, it may be stored at other locations, if desired, and need not be positioned in a recess defined in the container wall.

Other example containers 90, 92, 94, 96, 98, 100, 132 disclosed herein are collapsible and expandable. The containers includes a base 14 and a cover 12. The base 14 and cover 12 have mating portions, such as rails 102, 104, that couple the base 14 and cover 12 together. The rails 102, 104 may extend along the sides of the cover 12 and base 14, for example. The rails 102, 104 may be ridges 106 and recesses 110 on the sides of the cover 12 and base 14, respectively, for mating with each other, so that one of the base 14 or the cover 12 slides inside the other of the cover 12 or the base 14. The base 12 and/or cover 14 may include mechanisms, such as protrusions 142 and dimples 144, to allow the cover 12 and base 14 to be fixedly positioned at a variety of positions relative to one another, as will be described in greater detail below. Alternatively, the base 12 and cover 14 may seat inside one another, but be free of any type of positioning mechanisms, so that the container size will be dependent upon the size of the item stored in the container. When the size of the container is greater than the size of the item be stored, the container will take on a fixed minimum size. Other mechanisms for joining the cover and base are also anticipated.

The interior size of the container 90, 92, 94, 96, 98, 100 may expand or contract depending upon how much material is stored inside the container. In the case of a cereal box, this is useful because the cereal itself, or a bag containing the cereal can be deposited into the container. When the cereal bag is full, the cover 12 of the container rests on the cereal bag and the cereal bag helps to suspend the cover 12 above the base 14. As the cereal is depleted, the bag becomes smaller. Eventually the bag of cereal is small enough to fit inside the base 14 and the cover 12 rests against the base 14. These types of containers 90, 92, 94, 96, 98, 100 are useful in a kitchen cabinet because they only take up as much room as is actually needed. These containers are referred to herein as “universal” containers because they can be utilized for may different sizes and types of products.

The collapsible container side rails 102, 104 facilitate closure of the containers and help to keep out unwanted moisture. Therefore, the fit between the base 14 and cover 12 may be tight. Where the fit is tight, an air release (not shown) may be utilized at the seam between the cover 12 and the base 14, at the top of the cover, or at another location that allows air to be released as the cover is closed upon the base.

In a further embodiment, a universal box top 116 is provided. The universal box top 116 is designed to accommodate three different sizes of cereal boxes, for example, as indicated by three levels of the box top in the drawings. In one embodiment, the universal box top is designed to accommodate all three sizes of General Mills cereal boxes, including a 20 oz., 15 oz., and 10 oz. box. Migration of moisture into cereal boxes makes cereal stale. The universal box top may house an active agent, such as described above, in order to remove moisture from a box, such as a box of cereal. The universal box top 116 can be positioned around the top opening of a cereal box. Other types of food products may also be utilized with the universal box top, the example box top not being limited to General Mills cereal boxes.

With reference now to the drawings, FIGS. 1-10 depict several different types of active containers. FIGS. 1-5 depict containers that take on a single shape when assembled. FIGS. 6-10 and 58 are collapsible containers that expand and collapse depending upon the quantity and size of materials stored inside the container. FIG. 11 depicts a universal box top that may be utilized to seal off three different sizes of cereal boxes. FIGS. 12-57 and 59-64 depict various views of containers and the universal box top that are similar to or the same as containers depicted in FIGS. 1-11 and 58.

FIG. 1 depicts a container 10 that has a rounded cover 12 and a flat base 14. The circumference of the container 10 is round. This type of container 10 may be utilized to store such food items as tomatoes or onions. The container includes two grips 16 at an upper end of the cover 12 that may be utilized to remove the cover 12 from the base 14. FIGS. 12-24 depict more detailed views of the container 10 shown in FIG. 1. The container 10 of FIG. 1 is shown as including two latches 40 that are positioned on both sides of the container 10 for coupling the cover 12 to the base 14. A similar container may be provided that does not include such a latch, or that includes only one latch. The cover 12 may alternatively be hinged to the base 14 (not shown). The container 10 depicted in FIGS. 1 and 12-24 utilizes a rim 20 on the cover 12 and a rim 22 on the base 14 to join the cover and base, in addition to the two latches 40. The cover 12 and base 14 that utilize the rims 20, 22 for joining the cover and base together may not need the external latch shown, depending upon the configuration of the rims 20, 22.

The cover 12 of the container 10 of FIG. 1, depicted in FIGS. 12-14, includes two hand or finger grips 16 that are positioned near the top of the rounded cover 12. The cover 12 includes a rim 20 that is defined at a lowermost edge of the cover 12 and extends around the periphery of the cover 12. The cover 12 also includes a holder 24, such as a recess, that is defined on an interior surface 26 of the cover 12, so that the recess 24 is positioned inside the cover 12. The recess 24 is rectangular shaped and includes four walls 28 that extend inwardly from the outer wall of the cover 12. These four walls 28 together define the shape of the recess 24. Fewer than four walls may be utilized, if desired. Other shapes for the recess 24 may also be utilized. Furthermore, the recess 24 would not necessarily have to be shaped like a recess 24, as long as its shaped to hold a vessel 30 or packet. While finger grips 16 are disclosed on a top surface 32 of the cover 12, finger grips 16 are not absolutely required. It is desirable to have some means to assist a user in removing the cover 12 from the base 14. Any such means may be utilized, although it is anticipated that the container 10 may be designed without any finger grips 16 whatsoever.

The rim 20 is positioned at the lower end of the cover 12 and is used for mating with the rim 22 of the base 14, which is depicted in FIGS. 15-16. The rim 20 includes a bump 34 or protrusion that extends at least partially around the circumference of the rim 20. The bump 34 may extend all the way around the circumference, or partially around the circumference at spaced locations or otherwise. The rim 20 and bump 34 are utilized for mating with a corresponding rim 22 and bump 36 on the base 14 of the container 10. The cover 12 also includes at least one latch surface 38 that is positioned at spaced locations around part of the circumference of the cover 12. The latch surfaces 38 are configured for mating with a latch or a latch arm 40. The latch arm 40 is depicted in greater detail in FIGS. 17-19. The latch arm 40 depicted has an arcuate shape when viewed from the top or bottom and a generally flat exterior wall when viewed from the side A lower end of the latch arm includes a hand 42 having an opening 44 for receiving a peg 46 that is positioned on the base 14 of the container 10. The base 14 outer surface also includes an indentation 56 adjacent the bottom wall 50 that houses the peg 46. The hand 42 of the latch arm 40 couples with the peg 46 on the base 14 and is rotatable around the peg 46. A peg 46 is provided on either side of the arm. The opposite end of the latch arm 40 includes a protruding rib 48 that extends along the width of the latch arm 40 and forms a hook. The rib 48 is configured to mate with the latching surface 38 on the cover 14, as shown in greater detail in FIG. 21.

The base 14 of the container 10, depicted in FIGS. 15-16, has a substantially flat bottom wall 50 and a circular side wall 52 that extends upwardly from the bottom wall 50 to define an interior space 54. The interior space 54 is configured to mate with an interior space 54 of the cover 12 once the cover 12 and base 14 are coupled together. The base 14 includes a rim 22 and the rim 22 has at least one bump 36 or protrusion that extends around the circumference of the rim 22. The bump 36 may extend entirely around the circumference, or partially around the circumference at spaced locations or otherwise. The rim 22 and bump 36 are utilized to mate with a corresponding rim 20 and bump 34 of the cover 12, as shown best in FIG. 21. It should be noted that the base 14, while shown as being flat, does not have to be flat and can have any shape desired.

The latch 40 may be configured relative to the base 14 in any known manner to rotate upwardly so that the hook end 48 mates with a latch surface 38 on the cover 12 to hold the cover 12 in a closed position relative to the base 14. Other types of latching mechanisms may alternatively be utilized, including non-rotating latches.

FIG. 20 depicts a desiccant or active agent pouch 30 positioned inside the recess 24 of the cover 12. A tray 60 is positioned over the active agent pouch 30 to hold the pouch 30 in place within the cover 12. The tray 60 has a bottom wall 62 that includes a plurality of openings 64. The openings 64 are configured to allow communication between the contents of the active agent pouch 30 and the interior storage area 54 of the container 10. The tray 60 includes side walls 66 that are dimensioned to seat firmly within the recess 24 of the cover 12. The tray 60 may have a press fit relative to the recess 24 in order to be maintained inside the recess 24 without the need for any external attachment mechanisms. Alternatively, the tray 60 may be connected to the cover 12 with a hinge and catch (not shown), with the hinge being positioned on one edge of the tray and the catch being positioned on another side of the tray.

FIGS. 22-24 depict details concerning the disclosed tray 60. The tray 60 is rectangular and is configured to seat firmly within the recess 24 in order to maintain the active agent pouch 30 within the container 10. It is beneficial to maintain the active agent pouch 30 under the cover 12 since there is very little, if any, likelihood of the active agent escaping or otherwise communicating with the outside of the container 10 when the container is in use. In this embodiment, the active agent may be designed to reduce moisture, oxygen, or both, or another element or elements.

The tray 60 includes a rectangular base wall 62 that has a plurality of holes 64 that extend through the base wall 62. The holes 64 may be arranged in a pattern of rows and columns, as shown, or may be arranged in any other manner desired. More or less holes 64 may alternatively be provided. The base wall 62 is surrounded by four upstanding side walls 66 that extend perpendicularly from the base wall 62. The side walls 66 have a length sufficient to hold the tray 60 inside the recess 24 of the cover 12. The recess 24 of the cover 12 has four side walls 28 for receiving the four side walls 66 of the tray 60. The walls 28 of the recess 24 and walls 66 of the tray 60 may have mating features to assist in maintaining the tray 60 inside the cover 12, such as protrusions or recesses (not shown).

FIGS. 2 and 25 depict a container 70 that has a rounded cover 12 and a flat base 14. The circumference of the container 70 is round. This type of container 70 may be utilized to store such food items as lettuce or melon. This container 70 typically has a larger size than the container 10 depicted in FIG. 1, but this is not absolutely required. The container 70 includes two grips 16 at an upper end of the cover 12, a recess or holder 24 for receiving a tray 60, an active agent pouch 30 positioned inside the recess 24 communicating with the interior space 54 of the container 70, and a latch member 40, all of which are configured in a similar manner to that described in connection with FIGS. 1 and 12-25. As previously described for FIG. 1, the container shown in FIG. 2 may be designed without the external latches 40 and finger grips 16, if desired. The base 14 of the container 70 is depicted as having a flat surface. Alternatively, the base 14 may have a shape designed to hold a particular type of food or material, or designed to prolong the life of a food product positioned inside the container, among other designs. Other similarities exist between the container of FIG. 2 and the container of FIG. 1, which will not be repeated as one of skill in the art will recognize the similar features.

FIGS. 3 and 4 depict other example containers 72, 74 that have a substantially rectangular cover 12 and a substantially rectangular base 14. The circumference of the containers 72, 74 is rectangular. These containers 72, 74 may be utilized to store such food items as sugar or flour. The container 72 of FIGS. 3 and 26-33 has a size that is optimally designed for storing sugar. The container includes a cover 12, shown in FIGS. 32-33, and a base 14, shown in FIGS. 26-27.

The base 14 includes a base wall 50 and four side walls 52 that are joined at the corners to define the walls of the container 72. A ledge 76 is positioned adjacent the upper rim 22 of the base 14. The ledge 76 is designed for receiving a bottom edge or rim 20 of the cover 12 and for stopping the vertical movement of the cover 12 relative to the base 14. The rim 22 of the base 14 also includes an outwardly extending bump 36 that is positioned adjacent the upper end of the base 14. The bump or protrusion 36 is configured for mating with like bumps or recesses 34 defined near the rim 20 of the cover 12. The rims 20, 22 and bumps 34, 36 are configured to join the cover 12 to the base 14 in a tight, snap-together fit. The base wall 50 of the container 72 is substantially flat, but is raised relative to a bottom of the container such that a rim 78 is positioned around the base wall.

The cover 12, shown in FIGS. 32-33, includes a top wall 32 and four side walls 80. The side walls 80 of the cover 12 extend downwardly from the top wall 32. The cover 12 includes two finger grips 16 defined on the top wall 32 of the cover 12. The finger grips 16 are designed to allow a user to more easily grip and remove the cover 12 from the base 14 of the container 72. The container utilizes a rim 20, 22 on each of the cover 12 and base 14 to join the cover 12 to the base 14. The lower end of the cover 12 includes a rim 20 with an inwardly extending bump or bumps 34. As discussed above in connection with the rounded containers, the bumps 34 may extend completely around the circumference of the cover 12, or partially around the cover 12, or otherwise.

The cover 12 includes an inwardly extending recess 24 that extends from a wall of the cover 12. The recess 24 is defined by four inwardly extending walls 28 and is configured for receiving an active agent. The active agent may be in the form of a pouch 30 of desiccant. The recess 24 is configured to mate with a tray 60 in order to hold the active agent pouch 30 in position. The tray 60 may alternatively be a door (not shown) that is coupled to an inner surface of the cover 12 and that is positioned over the recess 24. The recess 24 is similar to that discussed in connection with the round containers, above. Similarities will not be repeated as one of skill in the art will recognize the similar features. FIG. 28 depicts the cover 12 installed on the base 14 and FIGS. 29-31 depict the tray 60 that is used to cover 12 the recess 24. As previously discussed, the tray 60 includes a plurality of openings 64 defined there through that allow the desiccant or other active agent in the pouch 30 to communicate with the interior space 54 of the container 72. The active agent pouch 30 is sized to seat snugly within the tray 60. Other sizes and shapes of active agent pouches or vessels may also be used.

FIGS. 4 and 34-36 depict a container 74 that is optimally sized for storing flour. Other sizes may alternatively be defined for storing a particular food or material. The container 74 of FIGS. 4 and 34 includes a cover 12 and a base 14. The cover 12 includes a top wall 32 and four side walls 80. The base 14 includes a base wall 50 and four sides 82. The base wall 50 is recessed inwardly such that a rim 78 is defined around the bottom of the container 74. The top wall 32 of the cover 12 does not utilize finger or hand grips 16. Instead, the top wall 32 of the cover 12 of FIG. 4 is recessed inwardly and is substantially flat. A rim 84 is defined around the recessed top wall 32. The upper end of the base 14 includes a ledge 76 and rim 22, like that discussed in connection with FIG. 3. The lower end of the cover 12 includes a rim 20, also like that discussed above in connection with FIG. 3. Other similarities are also present and will not be repeated as they are readily evident to those of skill in the art.

The cover 12 of FIGS. 34 is somewhat different from the previously described covers because it shows a tray 60 that is positioned on an exterior surface of the container 74. In this example, the top wall 32 of the cover 12 has a recess 24 that faces outwardly. The recess 24 has a bottom wall 86 and four side walls 28. The four side walls 28 are connected to the bottom wall 86 and extend inwardly from the top wall 32 of the cover 12. Holes 88 are defined through the bottom wall 86 of the recess 24. As previously discussed, the holes 88 may be arranged in a pattern and are preferably sized to allow a desiccant or other material stored inside the recess 24 to communicate with the interior space 54 of the container 74. A tray 60 seats over the recess 24 and holds an active agent pouch 30 inside the recess 24. As previously discussed, the tray 60 has a base wall 62 and four side walls 66. The four side walls 66 extend into the recess 24 and hold the tray 60 in position. In this example, it is important that the tray 60 create a tight fit with the recess 24 in order to reduce the amount of leakage of air through the recess 24. The tray 60 of this example is different from previously described examples because the tray 60 does not have holes defined through the base wall 62. The holes in this embodiment are instead defined through a wall 86 defining the recess 24. The earlier described examples having a recess 24 that faces inwardly is preferred to this example because the likelihood of exterior air migrating into the container is reduced.

The flour container is typically a larger sized container that will be sufficient in size to hold an entire 5 lb. bag of flour. In order to strengthen the side walls of the container, ribs 77 are positioned that extend outwardly from the sides of the container 74 and that extend longitudinally along the height, as shown in best in FIGS. 4 and 34. Four ribs 77 may be provided, with two on opposite sides of the container 74. The ribs extend from the ledge 76 downwardly to a position that is approximately half way along the height of the container 74.

FIG. 5 depicts another example container 90 that has a cover 12 and base 14 having a generally rectangular shape. This container 90 may be utilized to store any number of different foods or other items, such as hot dogs, hamburgers, are multi-use. The cover 12 includes two grips 16 that are molded into the upper surface 32 of the cover 12. The base wall 50 is substantially flat and may or may not be recessed inwardly. Alternatively, the base wall 50 may have other shapes, or may be defined to provide legs, if so desired. The cover 12 is joined to the base 14 in a manner described above and may or may not include a latch 40. Other shapes and sizes for this and the previously discussed containers may be utilized without departing from the disclosed examples. This container 90 shares many of the same features as the above described embodiments. The tray 60 is positioned on an interior surface 26 of the cover 12 and the recess 24 defined on the cover 12 extends inwardly. Other similarities will not be repeated as one of skill in the art will readily recognize the similar features.

FIGS. 6-10 depict various embodiments of a collapsible and adjustable container. FIGS. 37-54 depict the examples shown in FIGS. 6-10 in greater detail. The container 92 of FIGS. 6 and 37-44 is designed as a square cracker container, but may be used for storing other food and/or materials. The container 94 of FIG. 7 is designed as a cookie, pasta, cracker container. The container 96 of FIGS. 8 and 45-51 is designed as a bread container. The container 98 of FIGS. 9 and 52 are designed as a cereal container. The container 100 of FIGS. 10 and 53-54 is designed as a round cracker container. Other shapes and sizes for the containers may also be utilized.

Each container is similar in that each includes a base 14 and a cover 12. The cover 12 has a top wall 32 and at least one side wall 80. The base 14 includes a base wall 50 and at least one side wall 82. In the case of rectangular containers, the side walls 80, 82 number four. When the container is round or rounded, a single continuous side wall 80, 82 may be utilized. A pair of rails 102 extends along the length of the side walls 80 of the cover 12 and a corresponding pair of rails 104 extends along the length of the side walls 82 of the base 14. The base 14 includes outwardly extending protrusions 106 on either side thereof. The cover 12 includes a pair of outwardly extending wings 108 that are shaped like the protrusions 106 on the base 14, but are larger than the protrusions 106 and include an underlying recess 110 for receiving the protrusions 106.

The recesses 110 formed by the wings 108 are configured to mate with the corresponding protrusions 106. The recesses 110 formed by the wings 108 are configured to mate with the corresponding protrusions 106 on the base 14 in a sliding manner, such that the cover 12 is slidable on the base 14 of each container, with the protrusions 106 and the recesses 110 defined by the wings 108 defining rails 102, 104 that mate with one another. In this manner, when the food product positioned in the container 90 has a height that extends past the upper end 22 of the base 14, the cover 12 is suspended by the food product. As the food product is emptied from the container 90, the cover 12 travels downwardly relative to the base 14, thereby collapsing the cover 12 relative to the base 14 to make the container 90 smaller. When the food product stored inside the container 90 has a size that is smaller than the size of the base 14, the top wall 32 of the cover 12 seats on the upper edge 22 of the side walls of the base 14 and the container 90 is then positioned at its minimum size.

FIG. 52 illustrates the operation of the collapsible cereal box. As is evident, the cover 12 seats over the base 14 and is guided on the base 14 by the protrusions 106 disposed on the sides of the base 14. The cover 12 can move upwardly and downwardly relative to the base 14 on the rails 102, 104. While two wings 108 are shown, more or less may be utilized depending on the size and shape of the containers, among other reasons, as known by those of skill in the art. A less optimal cereal box, for example, could include a single protrusion 106 and wing 108. Alternatively, the base 14 may include the wings 108 and recesses 110 and the cover 12 may include the protrusions 106 that seat inside the recesses 110, such that the cover 12 seats inside the base 14. The top wall 32 and bottom wall 50 of each container may be recessed slightly inwardly, if desired, or take on other shapes.

Each of the depicted embodiments includes a recess 24 that is defined on a surface of the cover 12 for receiving an active agent, such as a desiccant stored in a pouch 30. A tray 60 is positionable within the recess 24, as described above, to maintain an active agent in the pouch 30. Holes or openings 64, 88 are defined through the surface of the cover 12 within the recess 24 to allow the active agent to communicate with an interior space 54 of the container when the tray 60 is positioned on an outside surface of the cover 12. When the recess 24 is defined on an inner surface 26 of the cover 12, the tray 60 is positioned inside the cover 12 and includes holes 64 defined through the tray 60 instead of through the wall of the cover 12. The recess 24 may be positioned on an inner surface or on an outer surface of the container, as defined above in connection with the other containers. In addition, the recess 24 may be defined on the base 14 instead of the cover 12. The wings 108 and protrusions 106 may take on any desired shape. The wing shape that is shown is that of an isosceles trapezoid. The tray 60 preferably has a size to be received within the recess 24 in a press-fit manner. Alternatively, a door can be provided instead of the tray (not shown). The door may seat over the recess 24 to close the recess 24 and may be hinged or otherwise coupled to the container wall.

In the case of the container 92 shown in FIGS. 6 and 42, the recess 24 for receiving the active agent is positioned in the top wall 32 of the cover 12. The container 94 shown in FIG. 7 includes a recess 24 for receiving the active agent positioned in the top wall 32 of the cover 12. The container 98 shown in FIG. 9 includes a recess 24 for receiving the active agent positioned in the top wall 32. In FIGS. 6-10 a tray 60 is depicted in the recess 24.

The bread container 96, shown in FIGS. 8 and 45-51, is different from the other collapsible containers in that the container 96 is designed to be positioned on its side instead of on its base wall 50. In this example, the base 14 has a right side end wall 112 that is similar to the base wall 50. The cover 12 has a left side end wall 114 that is similar to the top wall of the cover 12. The recess 24 is defined in the left side end wall 114 of the cover 12 and a tray 60 is positionable in the recess 24, as with other example containers. The base 14 slides horizontally inside the cover 12. In comparison, with the prior example containers, the base 14 slid vertically inside the cover 12.

FIGS. 10 and 53-54 depict a round collapsible container 100. As with prior collapsible containers, the base 14 has protrusions 106 and the cover 12 has wings 108. The protrusions 106 and wings 108 are arranged as rails 102, 104 that extend longitudinally along the length of the container 100, as with prior examples. The cover 12 extends over the base 14 such that the protrusions 106 mate with and ride inside the wings 108. A recess 24 is positioned through the top wall 32 of the cover 12 and includes holes 88 that extend through the wall of the recess 24. An active agent is positioned inside the recess 24 and a tray 60 or other cover is positioned over the recess 24.

FIGS. 11 and 55-57 depict a universal box top 116. The depicted box top 116 is designed to seal the opening of three different size General Mills™ cereal boxes. The box top 116 is pyramidal in shape, with various steps that are designed to change the level of the box top 116. A first level 118 is positioned at the open end of the box top 116. A second level 120 is positioned at an intermediate point on the box top 116, and a third level 122 is positioned adjacent the closed end of the box top 116. Each level 118, 120, 122 of the box top 116 includes an outer rim 124 and an inner rim 126. For levels 118 and 120, the outer rim 124 extends around the circumference of the box top 116 while the inner rim 126 extends only partially around the circumference of the box top 116. As shown in FIG. 57, the inner rim 126 for levels 118 and 120 is only positioned near the ends of the box top 116.

The distance between each outer rim 124 and inner rim 126 is designed to capture an end of a container or box. Each inner rim 126 has a beveled surface 128 that faces the outer rim 124. This beveled surface 128 assists in capturing a container rim or box between the outer and inner rims 124, 126.

As discussed above in connection with the other embodiments, the box top 116 also includes a recess 24 for holding an active agent. The recess 24 includes inwardly extending walls 28 from the inner side 26 of the top surface 130 of the box top 116, as shown best in FIG. 57. The recess 24 is shaped and sized for accommodating an active agent vessel 30, such as a desiccant pouch 30. A tray 60 is utilized, as with previously discussed embodiments, to hold the vessel 30 in position. The tray 60 includes openings 64 for allowing chemical communication between the active agent and the interior space 54 of the box or container that is attached to the box top 116.

While the universal box top 116 that is depicted and described is designed for use with three different sizes of cereal boxes, the box top 116 could be designed for any number of different containers or boxes. While three levels 118, 120, 122 are shown, one or more level could be utilized, if so desired.

FIGS. 58-65 describe an adjustable and collapsible sandwich container 132. The container 132 includes a base 14 and a cover 12. Both the cover 12 and the base 14 are substantially rectangular in shape. The depicted container 132 has a shape of a slice of bread, but may take on other shapes, such as rectangular or square. The cover 12 has a top wall 134 and four side walls 136. The base 14 has a base wall 138 and four side walls 140. The side walls 136 of the cover 12 are sized to mate with the side walls 140 of the base 14 by sliding over the base side walls 138 in a longitudinal manner. The base wall 138 is the wall against which the sandwich will sit when stored inside the container and may include ribs or other protrusions (not shown) that help to keep the sandwich from sitting on the base wall 138. The cover top wall 134 may have similar protrusions or ribs (not shown).

The side walls 136 of the cover 12 and base 14 include mating protrusions 142 and recesses or dimples 144. In the case of the cover 12, an outwardly extending ridge 102 is defined on two of the side walls 136 of the cover 12. For the base 14, similar, but smaller sized ridges 104 extend outwardly from the same two sides 140 of the base 14. The ridges 104 of the base 14 are designed to seat inside the ridges 102 of the cover 12 and define a place where the base 14 mates with the cover 12. The cover ridges 102 ride on the base ridges 104.

The outer side walls 140 of the base 14 includes a row of dimples 144 that are concave in shape, as shown, but may be other shapes. The dimples 144 are positioned on the ridges 104 of the base 14 and extend outwardly. The inner surfaces of the side walls 136 of the cover 12 include a mating row of bumps or protrusions 142 that are convex in shape, as show, but may be other shapes. The bumps 142 are for mating with the dimples 144 defined on the base 14. The bumps 142 are defined in a row on the inner side of the ridges 102 of the cover 12 and are positioned at spaced heights such that the container 132 may be maintained in one of three positions. In a first position, shown in FIGS. 62-63, the cover bottom edge 20 sits adjacent the base wall 138 and the three bumps 142 of the cover 12 align with the three recesses 144 of the base 14. This is the smallest size for the container 132. In a second position, shown in FIGS. 58 and 61, the lowest bump 142 on the cover 12 mates with the middle recess 144 of the base 14. This size is an intermediate size of the container that is greater than the smallest size. In a third position, shown in FIG. 64-65, the lowest bump 142 on the cover 12 mates with the highest recess 144 of the base 14. This size is the largest size of the container, with the bottom edge of the cover 12 being at its farther position from the base wall 138 of the base 14. The dimples 144 and bumps 142 are utilized to provide various storage positions for the cover 12 relative to the base 14, providing for smaller or larger sandwiches to be stored inside the container 132. The protrusions 142 may alternatively be positioned on the base 14 with the dimples 144 alternatively positioned on the cover 12. Mating features other than bumps and recesses may alternatively be utilized, such as ridges, for example.

One type of active agent that may be utilized with the example containers is known as “O-Buster” and is sold by Desiccare, Inc. of Mississippi. The active agent may be stored in a Tyvek™ package or a polypropylene package, which meets the requirements of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations for direct food contact temperatures up to 100° C. The active agent pouch 30 is positioned inside a barrier bag. When the pouch 30 is ready for use, the barrier bag is removed and the active agent is then activated. Another active agent is Silica Gel, manufactured by Desiccare, Inc. of Pomona, Calif. The product name for a type of silica gel that may be utilized is Silica Gel-TS6.

The above-described example containers may or may not include the active agent. If the active agent is not utilized, the recess 24 for receiving the agent may be omitted from the container.

Various dimensions are shown in the Figures. These dimensions are provided as examples. Other shapes and dimensions may be utilized without departing from the teachings herein.

The containers 10, 70, 72, 74, 90, 92, 94, 96, 98, 100, 132 and box top 116 may be formed of any desired material. For food storage purposes, a clarified polypropylene is desirable because it allows users to view what is stored inside the container. A generic general purpose polypropylene could also be used. Other materials may be used for non-food storage purposes. A styrene may also be used for the containers, or other known materials.

The term “substantially” is used herein as an estimation term.

While various features of the claimed invention are presented above, it should be understood that the features may be used singly or in any combination thereof. Therefore, the claimed invention is not to be limited to only the specific embodiments depicted herein.

Further, it should be understood that variations and modifications may occur to those skilled in the art to which the claimed invention pertains. The examples described herein are exemplary of the claimed invention. The disclosure may enable those skilled in the art to make and use examples having alternative elements that likewise correspond to the elements of the invention recited in the claims. The intended scope of the invention may thus include other examples that do not differ or that insubstantially differ from the literal language of the claims. The scope of the present invention is accordingly defined as set forth in the appended claims.