Title:
FOOD STORAGE BAG HOLDER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A food storage bag holder is configured to maintain a food storage bag in an open and upright configuration to facilitate filling the food storage bag with contents such as food. The holder has a body comprised of a cylinder or frame with a top rim adapted to frictionally engage a folded over top edge of the food storage bag to support it and hold it open. The body defines an interior cavity. The holder is sized to engage a food storage bag. The top rim is sized to engage a bag having a resealable closure. The bag is engaged by inserting the bag into the cavity defined by the body and folding the closure of the bag over the top rim of the holder. The top rim has an outer perimeter less than the perimeter of the mouth of the bag. For example, a circular top rim may have an outer diameter less than the quotient of the perimeter of the mouth of the bag divided by π. The height h of the holder is less than the height measured from the bottom of the body of the bag to the bottom edge of the closure of the bag.



Inventors:
Blodgett, Carol (Jacksonville, FL, US)
Anderson, Kara (Jacksonville, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/674257
Publication Date:
08/16/2007
Filing Date:
02/13/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65B67/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAUST, TIMOTHY LEWIS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mark Young, P.A. (JACKSONVILLE, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A bag holder configured to maintain a food storage bag in an open and upright configuration to facilitate filling the food storage bag with contents, said holder comprising a cylinder having a top rim adapted to frictionally engage a folded over top edge of the food storage bag to support it and hold it open, said cylinder defining an interior cylindrical cavity and said holder being sized to engage the food storage bag.

2. A bag holder according to claim 1, further comprising, a planar base configured to cover the bottom of the cylinder, said base providing a support surface for an engaged bag, and said base and cylinder forming a cup suitable for containing any contents that may leak from the bag.

3. A bag holder according to claim 1, said top rim being sized to engage a bag having a resealable closure, wherein said bag is engaged by inserting the bag into the cavity defined by the cylinder and folding the closure of the bag over the top rim of the holder.

4. A bag holder according to claim 1, said bag having a resealable open mouth with a perimeter, and said holder having a top rim with an outer perimeter less than the perimeter of the mouth of the bag.

5. A bag holder according to claim 1, said bag having a resealable open mouth with a perimeter, and said holder having a top rim with an outer diameter less than the quotient of the perimeter of the mouth of the bag divided by π.

6. A bag holder according to claim 1, wherein said bag has body with a bottom and a top, a resealable closure with a free top edge and a bottom edge attached to the top of the body of the bag, and a height measured from the bottom of the body of the bag to the bottom edge of the closure; and the height h of the holder is less than the height measured from the bottom of the body of the bag to the bottom edge of the closure.

7. A bag holder according to claim 1, wherein said cylinder is comprised of a material from the group consisting of transparent and translucent materials.

8. A bag holder according to claim 1, wherein said cylinder is comprised of a plastic from the group consisting of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, acrylic, cellulosics, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene terpolymers, urethane, acetal resins, polyamides, polycarbonate and polyester.

9. A bag holder according to claim 8, wherein said plastic includes an additive form the group consisting of: a thermochromic additive in an amount effective to achieve a visible color change at a determined temperature; a photochromic additive in an amount effective to achieve a visible color change when exposed to light; a phosphorescent polymer additive in an amount effective to absorb light energy from a source and release that energy as visible light after the source is removed.

10. A bag holder configured to maintain a food storage bag in an open and upright configuration to facilitate filling the food storage bag with contents, said holder comprising a frame having a top rim adapted to frictionally engage a folded over top edge of the food storage bag to support it and hold it open, said frame defining an interior compartment and said holder being sized to engage the food storage bag.

11. A bag holder according to claim 10, further comprising, a planar base configured to cover the bottom of the frame, said base providing a support surface for an engaged bag.

12. A bag holder according to claim 10, said top rim being sized to engage a bag having a resealable closure, wherein said bag is engaged by inserting the bag into the compartment defined by the frame and folding the closure of the bag over the top rim of the holder.

13. A bag holder according to claim 10, said bag having a resealable open mouth with a perimeter, and said holder having a top rim with an outer perimeter less than the perimeter of the mouth of the bag.

14. A bag holder according to claim 10, said bag having a resealable open mouth with a perimeter, and said holder having a top rim with an outer diameter less than the quotient of the perimeter of the mouth of the bag divided by π.

15. A bag holder according to claim 10, wherein said bag has body with a bottom and a top, a resealable closure with a free top edge and a bottom edge attached to the top of the body of the bag, and a height measured from the bottom of the body of the bag to the bottom edge of the closure; and the height h of the holder is less than the height measured from the bottom of the body of the bag to the bottom edge of the closure.

16. A bag holder according to claim 10, wherein said frame is comprised of a material from the group consisting of transparent and translucent materials.

17. A bag holder according to claim 10, wherein said frame is comprised of a plastic from the group consisting of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, acrylic, cellulosics, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene terpolymers, urethane, acetal resins, polyamides, polycarbonate and polyester.

18. A bag holder according to claim 17, wherein said plastic includes an additive from the group consisting of: a thermochromic additive in an amount effective to achieve a visible color change at a determined temperature; a photochromic additive in an amount effective to achieve a visible color change when exposed to light; a phosphorescent polymer additive in an amount effective to absorb light energy from a source and release that energy as visible light after the source is removed.

19. A method of holding a food storage bag in an open condition using a holder configured to maintain a food storage bag in an open and upright configuration to facilitate filling the food storage bag with contents, said holder comprising a body having a top rim adapted to frictionally engage a folded over top edge of the food storage bag to support it and hold it open, said body defining an interior cavity and said holder being sized to engage the food storage bag, said method comprising steps of: inserting the bag into the cavity, extending the top edge of the bag above the top rim of the holder, folding the top edge of the bag over the top rim of the holder, and guiding food into the bag.

20. A method of holding a food storage bag in an open condition according to claim 19, further comprising a step of microwave cooking food in the bag with the top edge of the bag over the top rim of the holder.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of priority of U.S. provisional application 60/773,295, filed Feb. 14, 2006, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by this reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention generally relates to zipper storage bags, and more particularly, to a food storage bag holder configured to maintain the bag in an open upright configuration to facilitate filling the bag with contents such as food for storage.

BACKGROUND

Reclosable thermoplastic bags are commonly used in food storage. The bags are generally made out of a plastic film and have two side walls that are folded at the bottom, sealed at the sides and open at the top. The bags typically have a resealable fastener at the top of the bag, such as, for example, an adhesive, a wire tie, or a plastic zipper, such as those sold under the brand name ZIPLOC® storage bags from the S.C. Johnson Company. Such bags are useful for storing various food items, including leftovers, ingredients for a meal, etc . . . . When properly closed, such bags provide and an airtight seal that is suitable for maintaining freshness. They are also relatively inexpensive, versatile and convenient to use. They may be used to store various amounts of solid and/or liquid foods. After use, dirty bags may be discarded.

However, such conventional storage bags are not without drawbacks. In particular, because such bags are non-rigid pliant structures, they are difficult to maintain in an erect wide-open configuration. If an assistant is available, he or she may lend helping hands to keep the bag erect and the mouth of the bag wide open while the food handler places or pours the food contents into the open bag. Unfortunately, an assistant is not always available. Left unsupported, a bag tends to collapse while its mouth tends to close. This tendency makes guiding food into the bag a very difficult task, often resulting in spillage.

What is needed is an aesthetically pleasing, easy to use, device configured to effectively addresses the unique challenges of handling a wide variety of food storage bags, including, among other things, holding and supporting the bag upright, maintaining the mouth of the bag in a fully open position, to facilitate guiding material into the bag so that spillage may be minimized. The invention is directed to overcoming one or more of the problems and solving one or more of the needs as set forth above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

To solve one or more of the problems set forth above, in an exemplary implementation of the invention, a food storage bag holder is provided. The bag holder is configured to maintain a food storage bag in an open and upright configuration to facilitate filling the food storage bag with contents such as food. The holder has a body comprised of a cylinder or frame with a top rim adapted to frictionally engage a folded over top edge of the food storage bag to support it and hold it open. The body defines an interior cavity. The holder is sized to engage a food storage bag. The top rim is sized to engage a bag having a resealable closure. The bag is engaged by inserting the bag into the cavity defined by the body and folding the closure of the bag over the top rim of the holder. The top rim has an outer perimeter less than the perimeter of the mouth of the bag. For example, a circular top rim may have an outer diameter less than the quotient of the perimeter of the mouth of the bag divided by π. The height h of the holder is less than the height measured from the bottom of the body of the bag to the bottom edge of the closure of the bag.

Optionally, the holder may have a planar base configured to cover the bottom of the body. The base provides a support surface for an engaged bag. The base and body may together form a cup suitable for containing any contents that may leak from the bag. Optionally the cylinder is transparent or translucent. Such optical characteristics facilitate seeing the engaged bag and contents.

The body may comprised of a plastic from the group consisting of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, acrylic, cellulosics, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene terpolymers, urethane, acetal resins, polyamides, polycarbonate and polyester. Optionally the plastic may include a thermochromic additive in an amount effective to achieve a visible color change at a determined temperature; a photochromic additive in an amount effective to achieve a visible color change when exposed to light; and/or a phosphorescent polymer additive in an amount effective to absorb light energy from a source and release that energy as visible light after the source is removed.

A method of holding a food storage bag in an open condition using a holder as described is also provided. The method entails steps of inserting the bag into the cavity of the body, extending the top edge of the bag above the top rim of the holder, and folding the top edge of the bag over the top rim of the holder.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other aspects, objects, features and advantages of the invention will become better understood with reference to the following description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings, where:

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a cup-like holder for a food storage bag according to principles of the invention; and

FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of a cylindrical frame holder for a food storage bag according to principles of the invention; and

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of a cup-like holder with an engaged food storage bag according to principles of the invention; and

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of a rectangular frame holder for a food storage bag according to principles of the invention.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the figures are not intended to be drawn to any particular scale; nor are the figures intended to illustrate every embodiment of the invention. The invention is not limited to the exemplary embodiments depicted in the figures or the shapes, relative sizes, ornamental aspects or proportions shown in the figures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to the Figures, in which like parts are indicated with the same reference numerals, various bag holders configured to effectively addresses the unique challenges of handling a wide variety of food storage bags, including, among other things, holding and supporting the bag upright (i.e., erect), maintaining the mouth of the bag in a fully open position, to facilitate guiding material into the bag so that spillage may be minimized. Referring now to FIG. 1, a perspective view of a cup-like holder 100 for a food storage bag according to principles of the invention is shown. The exemplary holder 100 is configured to hold the mouth of a bag open while the bag is being filled. The holder includes a cylinder 110 with a top rim 115 adapted to frictionally engage a folded over top edge of a bag to support it and hold it open.

The holder 100 is configured to engage a food storage bag, such as the exemplary bag as shown in FIG. 5. The bag 500 is generally made out of a plastic film and has two side walls 510 that are folded at the bottom 520, sealed at the sides 515, 525 and having a zipper closure 505 at the top 530, also known as the mouth of the bag 500.

The holder 100 is sized to engage a food storage bag, such as the exemplary bag as shown in FIG. 5. The bag 500 is engaged on holder 100 by inserting the body 510 of the bag 500 into the cavity 120 defined by the cylindrical body 110 of the holder 100, and folding the closure 505 of the bag 500 over the rim 115 of the holder, as conceptually illustrated in FIG. 3. Thus, the outer perimeter of the rim 115 (i.e., d×π) of the cup-like holder 100 should be slightly less (e.g., 75% to 99%, and more preferably 90% to 95%) than the perimeter of the mouth of the bag (i.e., 2×w). Therefore, the diameter d of the cup-like holder should be slightly less than the perimeter of the mouth of the bag (i.e., 2×w) divided by π. Additionally, when the bag 500 is engaged on the holder 100, the bottom 520 of the bag 500 preferably rests at the bottom of the holder 100. Thus, the weight of the contents of the bag 500 is supported in large part by the bottom 520 of the holder 100, or the surface upon which the holder 500 is placed if the holder is bottomless. The height h of the cup-like holder 100 should be slightly less than the height hb of the bag 500, as measured from the bottom 520 of the bag 500 to the bottom of the closure 505.

Optionally, a base 105 is provided to cover the bottom of the cylinder 110. The base provides a support surface for an engaged bag 500 and its contents. The base 105 and cylindrical body 110 form a cup, which is suitable for containing any contents that may leak from a punctured or defective bag 500. Thus, the base helps isolate such messes to the area within the cup.

In another embodiment, the holder 100 may be bottomless, i.e., the bottom of the cylinder is open and uncovered. The bottom 520 of an engaged bag 500 may then be suspended or rest on the surface (e.g., countertop or tabletop) upon which the holder 100 is supported.

A bag holder in accordance with the invention preferably insures that the perimeter of the bag opening is preferably not torn during the processes of mounting a new bag. In order to accomplish this, the invention utilizes no hooks to tear the bag and no clips to concentrate stress at limited areas, which can also tear the bag.

A bag holder in accordance with the invention also protects the bag against tearing during the act of adding contents to the bag. The body of the holder (e.g., cylindrical body 110) accomplishes this by providing protection for the bag over its full periphery.

In another embodiment, as shown in FIG. 2, the holder 200 includes a cylindrical frame 210 that supports the top rim 215 which defines an interior compartment 220. A base 205 is provided as a stable support.

The holder 200 is configured to engage a food storage bag, such as the exemplary bag as shown in FIG. 5. The bag 500 may be engaged on holder 100 by inserting the body 510 of the bag 500 into the cavity 220 defined by the rim 215 of the holder 200, and folding the closure 505 of the bag 500 over the rim 215 of the holder, as conceptually illustrated in FIG. 3. Thus, the outer perimeter of the rim 215 (i.e., d×π) of the cup-like holder 200 should be slightly less than the perimeter of the mouth of the bag (i.e., 2×w). Additionally, when the bag 500 is engaged on the holder 200, the bottom 520 of the bag 500 preferably rests at the bottom of the holder 200. Thus, the weight of the contents of the bag 500 is supported in large part by the bottom 520 of the holder 200, or the surface upon which the holder 500 is placed if the holder is bottomless.

In another embodiment, as shown in FIG. 4, the holder 400 includes a rectangular frame 410 that supports a top rim 415 which defines an interior compartment 420. A base 405 is provided as a stable support.

The holder 400 is configured to engage a food storage bag, such as the exemplary bag as shown in FIG. 5. The bag 500 may be engaged on the holder 400 by inserting the body 510 of the bag 500 into the cavity 420 defined by the rim 415 of the holder 400, and folding the closure 505 of the bag 500 over the rim 415 of the holder, as conceptually illustrated in FIG. 3. Thus, the outer perimeter of the rim 415 (i.e., d×w) of the holder 400 should be slightly less than the perimeter of the mouth of the bag (i.e., 2×w). Additionally, when the bag 500 is engaged on the holder 400, the bottom 520 of the bag 500 preferably rests at the bottom of the holder 400. Thus, the weight of the contents of the bag 500 is supported in large part by the bottom of the holder 400, or the surface upon which the holder 500 is placed if the holder is bottomless.

The holder 100, 200, 400 may be comprised of various materials, such as metal and/or plastic. By way of example and not limitation, aluminum, steel, alloys thereof or other metallic materials conventionally used for manufacturing kitchen tools may be utilized. Such materials may be plated, coated or otherwise finished to provide a decorative, aesthetic pleasing and/or corrosion resistant finish for the apparatus.

In another exemplary implementation, the holder 100, 200, 400 is comprised of a rigid plastic or polymeric material, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, acrylics, cellulosics, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene terpolymers, urethanes, thermo-plastic resins, thermo-plastic elastomers (TPE), acetal resins, polyamides, polycarbonates and polyesters. While many other materials may be used alone or in combination with the aforementioned materials and/or other materials, without departing from the scope of the present invention, preferably the material is relatively inexpensive, easy to use in manufacturing operations and results in an aesthetically acceptable, durable, water resistant product. The material may further include additives to provide desired properties such as desired colors, structural characteristics, glow-in-the dark properties and thermal reactivity (e.g., color changes according to heat).

In one embodiment, the holder 100, 200, 400 is comprised of a transparent or translucent material. Transparency (or translucency) allows a user to visualize the contents of the bag 500 and the level to which the bag 500 is filled. Nonlimiting examples of transparent plastics include polycarbonate, acrylic, nylon, ABS, PVC, polyester, and polyurethane in certain formulations. In a particular preferred embodiment the holder is microwavable, such that bagged food may be cooked in the opened bag in the holder within a microwave.

By way of example and not limitation, a plastic holder 100, 200, 400 may optionally be formulated to change color when it reaches a predetermined or higher temperature. This can be accomplished by mixing a thermochromic additive to the base material in an amount that is sufficient to achieve a desired color changing range. As an example, a mixture of approximately 5% to 30% (pbw) of Matsui International Co., Inc.'s Chromicolor® concentrate may be introduced to provide a plastic structure that visibly changes color at a determined elevated temperature, such as approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Alternatively, a photochromic additive may be added to a plastic base material in an amount that is effective to achieve a desired color change when the base 100 is exposed to certain lighting conditions. As an example, a mixture of approximately 5% to 35% (pbw) of Matsui International Co., Inc.'s Photopia® additive may be introduced to plastic base material, to provide a plastic structure that visibly changes color in the presence of sunlight or ultraviolet light.

As another alternative, phosphorescent polymer additives, such as aluminate based phosphors, may be added to adsorb light energy and continue to release that energy as visible light after the energy source is removed. Advantageously, such an embodiment provides a holder that is easy to locate in darkened conditions.

The base 100 may be produced using any suitable manufacturing techniques known in the art for the chosen material, such as (for example) milling, casting, stamping and machining in the case of a metal base, and injection, compression, structural foam, blow, or transfer molding; polyurethane foam processing techniques; vacuum forming; and casting, in the case of a plastic base. Preferably, the manufacturing technique is suitable for mass production at relatively low cost per unit, and results in an aesthetically acceptable product with a consistent acceptable quality.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention is not limited to use with any particular size bag. The holder may be configured and sized to hold any commercially available food storage bag. Proper configuration and sizing is important to the invention. By way of example and not limitation, a holder according to principles of the invention may be configured and sized to engage standard one pint, one quart, one gallon, and two gallon food storage and freezer bags.

A method of holding a food storage bag in an open condition using a holder as described above entails steps of inserting the bag into the cavity, extending the top edge of the bag above the top rim of the holder, and folding the top edge of the bag over the top rim of the holder. Advantageously, food may be cooked in a microwave oven in the open bag in the holder, assuming, of course, that the bag and holder are microwave-safe and the microwave oven is large enough to accommodate the holder.

While an exemplary embodiment of the invention has been described, it should be apparent that modifications and variations thereto are possible, all of which fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention. With respect to the above description then, it is to be realized that the optimum relationships for the components and steps of the invention, including variations in order, form, content, function and manner of operation, are deemed readily apparent and obvious to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention. The above description and drawings are illustrative of modifications that can be made without departing from the present invention, the scope of which is to be limited only by the following claims. Therefore, the foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents are intended to fall within the scope of the invention as claimed.