Title:
Rotating ornamental candy dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A novelty candy dispenser assembly that includes a hollow housing member having a candy storing section and a candy dispensing section. A stack of candy tablets can be biased towards the dispensing section. An operator input lever can be activated to selectively release an uppermost candy tablet from the stack of candy tablets. The manually operated lever member also rotates a multi-faceted member above the dispensing section that can support an ornamental feature for display to the user. The ornamental feature is moved in coordination with a user activation of the operator input member. A shutter can initially close an opening in a cover member extending over the rotatable member so that the viewer does not see the rotation of the ornamentation.



Inventors:
Jones, Lawrence T. (Westlake Village, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/294007
Publication Date:
06/07/2007
Filing Date:
12/05/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65H1/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KUMAR, RAKESH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SNELL & WILMER LLP (OC) (COSTA MESA, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A candy dispenser assembly comprising: a hollow housing member having a candy storing section and a candy dispensing section; a bias unit in the candy storing section for urging stack of candy tablets towards the dispensing section; a dispensing unit in the candy dispensing section having an operator input member for selectively releasing an uppermost candy tablet from the stack of candy tablets when activated; and a rotable member mounted above the dispensing section for supporting an ornamental feature for display to the user, the ornamental feature is moved in coordination with user activation of the operator input member wherein a candy tablet is dispensed along with movement of the ornamental feature.

2. The candy dispensing assembly of claim 1 wherein the dispensing section has an opening in a side of the hollow housing member for ejecting the candy tablets traverse to an axis of the stack of candy tablets and the rotable member is mounted above the opening and rotable about the axis.

3. The candy dispensing assembly of claim 2 wherein the rotable member includes a plurality of individual indicia that are selectively presented above the opening when the rotable member is activated by the operator input member.

4. The candy dispenser assembly of claim 3 wherein the rotable member is a polyhedral member with indicia on each facet of the polyhedral member.

5. The candy dispenser assembly of claim 4 wherein the rotable member has a separate animal face on each facet.

6. The candy dispenser assembly of claim 3 wherein the rotable member is moved a set distance for each activation by the operator input member.

7. The candy dispenser assembly of claim 3 wherein the rotable member is freely rotated by activation of the operator input member and randomly stopped upon release of the operator input member.

8. The candy dispenser assembly of claim 1 further including a cover member mounted over the rotable member with an opening for displaying an ornamental feature.

9. The candy dispenser assembly of claim 8 further including a shutter member mounted for closing the opening in the cover member and activated by the operator input member.

10. A candy dispenser assembly comprising: a hollow housing member having a candy storing section and a candy dispensing section; a bias unit in the candy storing section for urging stack of candy tablets towards the dispensing section; a dispensing unit in the candy dispensing section having an operator input member for selectively releasing an uppermost candy tablet from the stack of candy tablets when activated; a cover member having a display window is mounted over the dispensing unit; a rotable member with a plurality of facets is mounted within the cover member and above the dispensing section for supporting ornamental indicia for display to the user through the display window, the ornamental indicia is moved in coordination with user activation of the operator input member wherein a candy tablet is dispensed along with movement of the ornamental feature.

11. The candy dispenser assembly of claim 10 further including a shutter member mounted within the cover member for closing the display window in the cover member and activated by the operator input member.

12. The candy dispenser assembly of claim 11 wherein the rotable member is a polyhedral member with indicia on each facet of the polyhedral member.

13. The candy dispenser assembly of claim 12 wherein the rotable member has a separate animal face on each facet.

14. The candy dispenser assembly of claim 13 wherein the rotable member is moved a set distance for each activation by the operator input member.

15. The candy dispenser assembly of claim 11 wherein the rotable member is freely rotated by activation of the operator input member and randomly stopped upon release of the operator input member.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a dispenser for tablets and more particularly to a novelty dispenser having a play action feature where an ornamental image such as a character image can be presented to the user and altered with each operation of ejecting a tablet.

2. Description of Related Art

Dispensers of pills, candy, confectionary lozenges have existed for a significant period of time. Breath mints and candy pellets have been provided with a manual operator button or lever to dispense the product to the user. Examples can be found in U.S. Pat. No. 2,705,576, U.S. Pat. No. 3,270,915, U.S. Pat. No. 3,422,991, U.S. Pat. No. 4,489,853, and U.S. Pat. No. 4,589,575. The prior art has also featured candy dispensers of a novelty configuration, for example U.S. Pat. No. 3,515,111 wherein the dispenser can be spring biased to propel confectionary items. U.S. Pat. No. 4,966,305 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,785,206 discloses dispensers for tablets and candies with apparently a character head providing an ornament feature at one end of the dispenser. U.S. Pat. No. 5,178,298 discloses a candy dispenser configured to simulate a beverage can.

As can be readily determined, a number of different approaches have been taken to provide manually operated dispensers for pills and confectionary items such as candies, and further novelty and ornamental features have been provided, particularly in the dispensing of candy items.

There is still a need in this field to provide novelty features to induce the purchase of such items above and beyond simply the dispensing of tablets to the user in both the children and adult field.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A tablet or candy dispenser assembly is provided having a hollow elongated housing member with a storage section and a dispensing section. A stack of tablets can be stored in the storage section and a bias unit can urge the stack of tablets towards the dispensing section. The housing member can be slid open to facilitate the loading of a new stack of tablets. A dispensing member such as hand operated lever is mounted adjacent an opening in the hollow housing member whereby an operator can selectively release an uppermost tablet from the stack of tablets. Mounted above the dispensing section is a rotable member for supporting an ornamental feature for display to the user. The ornamental feature is moved in coordination with the user activation of the operator input member whereby a tablet is dispensed along with the movement of the ornamental feature.

A cover member can extend over the rotable member and can have an opening or window to expose just one side of the rotable member. The rotable member can be a polyhedral member with multiple facets or sides and appropriate indicia can be provided on each of the facets. For example, an application for small children can have different expressions of a character face that can be rotated and exposed in the window with each dispensing of a candy tablet. A shutter mechanism can also be operated by the operator input member to close the window initially while the rotable member is rotated to provide: a different face when the shutter member opens the window upon the release of the input member.

As can be appreciated, other novelty features can be provided and an ornamental feature, for example, a novelty statement or comic statement can be provided in text characters. The indicia can also take the form of three dimensional relief images or it can be simply various animal faces painted on flat surfaces.

As a novelty adult item, breath mints can be disbursed and the rotable member can randomly spin while a shutter member covers the opening and novelty sayings can be presented to the user. To increase the number of text messages, a magnifier lens can be positioned in the opening to enlarge small printed messages while accommodating a larger number of messages to be viewed through the magnifier.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The objects and features of the present invention, which are believed to be novel, are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The present invention, both as to its organization and manner of operation, together with further objects and advantages, may best be understood by reference to the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention before a user activation;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view with an operator input depressed and a shutter closing and opening;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view disclosing the dispensing of a tablet with an opening of the shutter to show different ornamental features to the user;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 44 of FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is along the line 66 with the input member at a rest position;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 66 disclosing movement of the shutter and rotable member;

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 88 disclosing the shutter and an input member at a rest position;

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken along the line 88 showing the input member moved with the shutter being activated to close an opening in the cover;

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 1010 showing the input member at a rest position and a clutch mechanism for positioning a facet of the rotable member in the opening;

FIG. 10 is cross-sectional view showing the rotation of the operator input for rotating the one-way clutch mechanism;

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional bottom view taken along the line 1111 showing a tablet pusher connected with the operator input member; and

FIG. 12 is a bottom view taken along line 1212 of the storage housing.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments of the invention which set forth the best modes contemplated to carry out the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. While the invention will be described in conjunction with the preferred embodiments, it will be understood that they are not intended to limit the invention to these embodiments. On the contrary, the invention is intended to cover alternatives, modifications and equivalents, which may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. Furthermore, in the following detailed description of the present invention, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. However, it will be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art that the present invention may be practiced without these specific details. In other instances, well known methods, procedures and components have not been described in detail as not to unnecessarily obscure aspects of the present invention.

The preferred embodiment of the present invention is disclosed in the drawings directed to a dispenser 2 with ornamental features directed to young children for dispensing candy tablets. While the dispenser 2 is an improvement over the prior art dispensers by providing a unique novelty feature, it can be appreciated that such ornamental features can be varied to address different age brackets, for example young adults with the dispensing of candy tablets or breath mint tablets. Thus, the dispenser 2 can be used by both children and adults and appropriate ornamental features can be varied for presentations as a novelty item directed to the particular intended user.

Referring to FIGS. 1-4, the dispenser 2 includes a hollow housing member 4 having an upper tablet dispensing section 6 and a lower tablet storing section 8. As can be appreciated, the terminology up and down is relative and the operation of the tablet dispenser 2 is not limited to any particular orientation since the tablets are biased towards the tablet dispensing section 6. Hereinafter up and down is relative to FIGS. 1-4 with dispenser resting on a horizontal support surface. In the preferred embodiment the component parts are molded from a plastic resin with the exception of a compression spring.

A tablet dispensing opening 10 is positioned at the top of a cylindrical tablet storing section. As can be further appreciated, the hollow housing member 4 is designed to conform to the configuration of the tablets and if the tablets were rectangular, the housing member 4 could be rectangular. In this embodiment we are disclosing candy tablets 12 of a cylindrical configuration.

Mounted within a hollow housing member 4 is a storage casing 14 of a half cylindrical configuration which is configured for a sliding movement out of the housing member 4 to enable a user to recharge the candy tablets 12. Mounted at the top of the storage casing 14 is a cylindrical casing 16 that also defines an upper surface or edge of the tablet dispensing opening 10. A support elevator member 18 has a pair of side flanges 20 and 22 journaled within elongated longitudinal grooves 28, 30 of a matching configuration on the interior of the housing member 4. A compression spring 24 is secured on a keeper 26 integrally molded into the bottom of the storage casing 14. An elongated slot 27 is on the right hand side of FIG. 4 permits the flange 22 to pass outside of the storage casing 14 and engage in the elongated groove 28 on the right hand side in the internal cavity of the housing member 4. A diametrically opposite groove 30 shown in FIG. 12 journals the flange 20. The flange 20 faces the open side of the storage casing 14 that is of a dimension to receive the candy tablets 12 with a semi-circular cross sectional opening being slightly larger than the diameter of the candy tablets 12.

Referring to FIG. 4, at an upper end of the storage casing 14 stops 32 and 34 prevent the support elevator member 18 from egressing through the upper opening in the storage case 14. When the lowermost candy tablet in the stack abuts against the concentric ledge at the bottom of the cylindrical casing and is subsequently discharged, the stop members 32 and 34 restrain the compression spring 24 from forcing the elevator member 18 out of the opening. Thus, when the hollow housing member 4 is slid downward, the elongated opening on the storage casing 14 is available for the user to restock the candy tablets 12 within the storage casing 14. This is accomplished by pressing down the support elevator member 18 while inserting a stack of candy tablets 12.

Referring again to FIGS. 1-4, an operator input lever 36 has a cylindrical tab 38 that extends from a base of a U-shaped structure. The lower portion of the U includes a pusher arm 40 that terminates in a push head 42 having a concentric face matching the outer diameter of the tablets 12. FIG. 11 discloses the push head 42 at an initial position shown in FIG. 1. The phantom lines disclose the cylindrical tab 38 moved by the user to force out the candy tablet 12.

Referring to FIGS. 9 and 10, the upper pusher arm 44 extends within an opening slot in the cylindrical casing 16 and is mounted at its tip on a post 46 extending downward from the bottom of a retention disk 48. The upper pusher arm 44 also has a traverse leg 50 with an upwardly extending post member 52 that extends through a crescent-shaped opening or a cam opening 54 in the retention disk 48 as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. The post 46 has sufficient length that it contacts a horizontal shutter support arm 56 and extends at a right angle from a curved shutter member 58. The shutter support arm 56 includes an oblong cam opening 60 that captures a post member or follower 52. The oblong opening 60 provides a lost motion so that the shutter member 58 can be used to close an opening or window 64 in a semi sphere-shaped cover 62 as shown in FIG. 8.

A rotatable member 66 having, for example, a polyhedral shape is journaled on a clutch plate 68, as shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, and has a series of peripheral stops 70. A flexible cam follower 72 permits a clutching action in a counterclockwise rotation of the clutch plate 68. The cam follower 72 can be a thin lever that rotates about a post 74 and is biased by a stop 76 against the peripheral surface of the clutch plate 68. Movement in a counterclockwise direction permits the rotable member 66 to rotate but any counter movement in a clockwise direction is prohibited by an end of the cam follower 72 engaging a stop 70.

In the embodiment shown, the polyhedral member 66 has four facets and a cube-like shape. Accordingly, four stops are provided so that when the operator input lever 36 has its cylindrical tab 38 moved as shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, the clutch plate 68 advances against the frictional resistance of a flexing cam follower 72. With this motion, the shutter member 58 is initially advanced to close the opening 64 while the rotable member 66 proceeds to rotate until the post 52 reaches the end of the cam slot 54. The oblong cam opening 60 associated with the shutter support arm 5,6 permits a lost motion so that the shutter 58 stays closed while the clutch plate 68 and rotable member 66 further advance in a counterclockwise direction.

The upper pusher arm 44 is biased by a spring 78 so that when it is released, the lever 36 returns to its initial position as shown in FIG. 3 while the push head 42 contacts and discharges a candy tablet 12. The clutch plate 68, however, is stopped from rotating by contact of the end of the cam follower 72 with a stop 70. The return movement of the upper pusher arm 44 of the operator input lever 36 again contacts the shutter member 58 and forces it open to expose a facet of the rotatable member 66.

Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, the shutter member 58 is initially rotated away from the opening 64 and the indicia on the side of the cubic-shaped rotable member 66 is exposed to the opening 64 to the user. When the cylindrical tab 38 on the operator input lever 36 is pushed, initially the shutter 58 closes the opening 64 before the rotatable member 66 rotates so that the child does not see the movement of the facet with the indicia. When the candy tablet 12 is dispensed, the shutter member 58 opens and the child sees a new indicia through the window 64.

In operation, a hollow housing member 4 can be retracted from an elongated storage housing 14 and the spring biased elevator member 18 can be depressed against the pressure of the compression spring 24 so that a stack of candy tablets 12 can be loaded into the storage casing 14. The tablets 12 are biased upward away from the bottom of the cylindrical casing 16. The casing 16 further provides a frame for supporting a series of levers, disk and cam surfaces that are covered by the semi spherical-shaped cover 62. The cover 62 has a display window 64 and mounts a shutter member 58 that can cover the window 64 so that when the facets of the rotable member 66 are rotated by the operation of the operator input lever 36, the viewer will not see the rotation and the subsequent opening of the shutter 64, upon the return movement of the operator lever 36, but will view a new facet with different indicia on the rotable member surface having appropriate ornamental features, while at the same time a candy tablet 12 is discharged.

The preferred embodiment is disclosed in the form of a candy dispenser with ornamental indicia 80 such as various pictures of a kitten. Thus, a child will be pleasantly surprised as the child dispenses a candy tablet and sees different images of the kitten.

An alternative embodiment could have a molded rotable member 66 where each facet could have a three dimensional relief configuration of a face such as the kitten's face.

Another embodiment of the present invention could have text or words to provide different sayings each time the shutter 64 is opened.

An even further embodiment of the present invention could utilize a rotable member 66 with a large number of facets with a short saying written on each facet, written in a longitudinal direction to maximize the number of sayings such as “you're cute,” “can I have a date,” etc. for young adults with the dispensing of breath mints. The rotable member can do away with any clutching mechanism that provides a stepwise advancement of each facet of the rotable member and instead could have a random rotation with an operator lever randomly capturing one of the facets when released to open the shutter. The opening further could be an elongated slot with a plastic magnifying lens to enlarge the text message for viewing

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that various adaptations and modifications of the just-described preferred embodiment can be configured without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Therefore, it is to be understood that, within the scope of the amended claims, the invention may be practiced other than as specifically described herein.