Title:
Disposable collapsible drink mixing container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A drink container has a liquid-tight film pouch which is collapsible into a substantially flat condition. Drink ingredients in a solid or condensed liquid state can be stored in or added to the pouch through an opening in an upper portion of the pouch. A cover with a liquid tight seal closes the opening. A dispense opening with a straw may be provided, or the beverage can be dispensed through the fill opening. The openings, straws and cover are located and contoured to conform with the desired substantially flat storage condition.



Inventors:
Roche, Sharla D. (Dolton, IL, US)
Vanmeter, Gary V. (Tecumseh, OK, US)
Application Number:
11/397219
Publication Date:
10/04/2007
Filing Date:
04/04/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G21/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SMITH, PRESTON
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GABLE & GOTWALS (TULSA, OK, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A drink container comprising: a liquid-tight film pouch collapsible into a substantially flat condition; drink mixing ingredients in said pouch; an opening in an upper portion of said pouch; and means for closing said opening with a liquid tight seal; said opening being located and said closing means being contoured for conformance of said closing means with said substantially flat condition.

2. A drink container according to claim 1, said pouch comprising: opposed front and rear panels sealed together along side edges thereof; top and bottom panels having perimeters sealed to top and bottom perimeters, respectively, of said front and rear panels.

3. A drink container according to Claim 2, said top and bottom panels being foldable across widths thereof into said substantially flat condition.

4. A drink container according to claim 2, said opening being in said top panel.

5. A drink container according to claim 4, said pouch assuming a substantially ovate horizontal cross-section condition as said pouch is being filled with liquid.

6. A drink container according to claim 5, said opening being approximately centered with respect to and having a perimeter on one side of a major axis of said ovate cross-section.

7. A drink container according to claim 1, said closing means comprising a plug insertable into said opening.

8. A drink container according to claim 7, said plug and said opening having co-operable means on peripheral edges thereof for resisting inadvertent removal of said plug from said opening.

9. A drink container according to claim 7 further comprising means for connecting said closing means to said pouch, for permitting said plug to be inserted into and removed from said opening and for permitting conformance of said closing means with said substantially flat condition in a plug-inserted condition and in a plug-removed condition.

10. A drink container according to claim 7, said closing means comprising: a flat, thin, substantially rigid collar fixed around a perimeter of said opening; a flat, thin, substantially rigid plug insertable into said collar; and means for hinging said plug on said collar.

11. A drink container according to claim 10, said pouch comprising: opposed front and rear panels sealed together along side edges thereof; top and bottom panels having perimeters sealed to top and bottom perimeters, respectively, of said front and rear panels.

12. A drink container according to claim 11, said top and bottom panels being foldable across widths thereof into said substantially flat condition.

13. A drink container according to claim 1 further comprising a second opening in said pouch.

14. A drink container according to claim 4 further comprising a second opening in said top panel.

15. A drink container according to claim 14, said pouch assuming a substantially ovate horizontal cross-section condition as said pouch is being filled with liquid.

16. A drink container according to claim 15, said second opening being proximate an end of and having a perimeter on one side of a major axis of said ovate cross-section.

17. A drink container according to claim 13 further comprising a straw extending through said second opening to proximate said bottom panel of said pouch.

18. A drink container according to claim 17, said straw comprising: a first tubular member having a closed bottom end and having at least one aperture through a lower portion of a side wall of said tubular member; and a second tubular member longer than and reciprocally slidable in abutment within said first tubular member between a closed condition with an open bottom end of said second tubular member seated on said closed bottom end of said first tubular member and an open condition with said open bottom end of said second tubular member above an uppermost of said at least one aperture.

19. A drink container according to claim 18 further comprising means on abutting surfaces of said tubular members for sealing an annulus therebetween against flow of liquid into said bottom of said second tubular member when said bottom of said second tubular member is seated on said bottom of said first tubular member.

20. A drink container according to claim 19, said sealing means comprising a mating annular ring and groove on said tubular members in said annulus below a lowermost of said at least one aperture of said first tubular member.

21. A drink container according to claim 19, said sealing means comprising a conical protrusion in said bottom of said first tubular member for seating of said open bottom of said second tubular member thereon in said closed condition.

22. A drink container according to claim 18 further comprising means on abutting surfaces of said tubular members for sealing an annulus therebetween against upward flow of liquid to a top of said first tubular member.

23. A drink container according to claim 22, said sealing means comprising at least one set of mating annular rings and grooves.

24. A drink container according to claim 18 further comprising means for capping an open upper end of said second tubular member against upward flow of liquid therethrough.

25. A drink container according to claim 24 further comprising means for connecting said capping means to said pouch and for permitting said capping means to be mounted on and removed from said open upper end of said second tubular member.

26. A drink container according to claim 17 further comprising a liquid flow preventing seal between a perimeter of said second opening and a perimeter of said first tubular member.

27. A straw comprising: an first tubular member having a closed bottom end and having at least one aperture through a lower portion of a side wall of said tubular member; and an second tubular member longer than and reciprocally slidable in abutment within said first tubular member between a closed condition with an open bottom end of said second tubular member seated on said closed bottom end of said first tubular member and an open condition with said open bottom end of said second tubular member above an uppermost of said at least one aperture.

28. A straw according to claim 27 further comprising means on abutting surfaces of said tubular members for sealing an annulus therebetween against flow of liquid into said bottom of said second tubular member when said bottom of said second tubular member is seated on said bottom of said first tubular member.

29. A straw according to claim 28, said sealing means comprising a mating annular ring and groove on said tubular members in said annulus below a lowermost of said at least one aperture of said first tubular member.

30. A straw according to claim 28, said sealing means comprising a conical protrusion in said bottom of said first tubular member for seating of said open bottom of said second tubular member thereon in said closed condition.

31. A straw according to claim 27 further comprising means on abutting surfaces of said tubular members for sealing an annulus therebetween against upward flow of liquid to a top of said first tubular member.

32. A straw according to claim 31, said sealing means comprising at least one set of mating annular rings and grooves.

33. A straw according to claim 32 further comprising means for capping an open upper end of said second tubular member against upward flow of liquid therethrough.

34. A straw according to claim 33 further comprising means for connecting said capping means to said straw and for permitting said capping means to be mounted on and removed from said open upper end of said second tubular member.

35. A straw according to claim 27 further comprising means for locking said tubular members in said closed condition.

36. A straw according to claim 35, said locking means comprising mating male and female threads on abutting surfaces of said tubular members.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to containers for beverages and more particularly concerns disposable containers for storing and mixing drink ingredients with water or other liquids and for dispensing the mixed beverage to the consumer.

There are a variety of known disposable containers for carrying beverages in liquid form for consumption directly from the container. Some use straws, stored either inside or outside the container. There are also collapsible containers for carrying ingredients in a solid or concentrated liquid to be mixed with water or other liquids at the time of consumption. There are several problems and inconveniences inherent in the configuration of these known disposable and collapsible containers.

The disposable containers store the beverage in a liquid, ready-to-drink state. Consequently, the container takes on the full weight and volume of the ready-to-drink beverage whether or not the consumer is ready to drink. This weight and volume may not pose a significant disadvantage if only one container is being transported but, for example, to a hiker or soldier on an extended trip with no source of flavored or fortified drinks along the way, the weight and volume of multiple containers becomes a burden. Furthermore, known disposable containers generally cannot be resealed and have no suitable access for adding liquid.

Those disposable containers which require straws do not have straw-to-container accesses which satisfactorily minimize leakage during use. Those which do not require straws have drink dispensing ports which are not satisfactory in terms of spillage of beverage during drinking or which would make satisfactory collapse of the container difficult if not impossible.

The collapsible containers for drink ingredients are generally intended for repeated use and are not intended to be disposable after a single use. While they are collapsible to some extent, they do not collapse sufficiently to make it feasible to carry many of them at the same time. Since they are reusable, they are generally made of too expensive and heavy materials and of too complex structural configuration for one-time-only use.

It is, therefore, an object of this invention to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container which collapses to a substantially flat condition. Another object of this invention is to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container which stores beverage ingredients in a solid or condensed liquid state. Still another object of this invention is to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container into which the consumer can add water or other liquids at the time of consumption. It is also an object of this invention to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container in which stored ingredients can be mixed with water or other liquids at the time of consumption. A further object of this invention is to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container from which the consumer can drink directly without a straw. Yet another object of this invention is to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container which includes a straw. Another object of this invention is to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container which has a leakage resistant straw-to-container access. Still another object of this invention is to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container which has a spillage resistant filling port. It is also an object of this invention to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container which has a filling port which can be resealed. A further object of this invention is to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container with a straw that can be closed. Yet another object of this invention is to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container which is simply and inexpensively constructed. And it is an object of this invention to provide a disposable beverage ingredients container which may be resealable for future use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the invention, a drink has a liquid-tight film pouch which is collapsible into a substantially flat condition. Drink ingredients in a solid or condensed liquid state can be stored in or added to the pouch through an opening in an upper portion of the pouch. A cover with a liquid tight seal closes the opening. The opening is located and the cover contoured to conform with the desired substantially flat storage condition.

Preferably, the pouch has opposed front and rear panels sealed together along their side edges and top and bottom panels with their perimeters sealed to the top and bottom perimeters of the front and rear panels. The top and bottom panels are foldable across their widths into the substantially flat condition and are preferably elliptical so the pouch assumes a substantially ovate horizontal cross-section condition as it is filled with liquid. In preferred embodiments, the fill opening may be approximately centered on and have a perimeter on one side of the major axis of the elliptical top panel or may be spaced away from the minor axis with its perimeter on one side of the major axis of the elliptical top panel.

The fill opening has a resealable cover Which may be a plug insertable into the opening. In one embodiment, the plug and the opening have co-operable means on peripheral edges thereof for resisting inadvertent removal of the plug from the opening. For example, the cover may have a flat, thin, substantially rigid collar fixed around a perimeter of the opening and be hinged to a flat, thin, substantially rigid plug insertable into the collar. Alternatively, the fill opening can be covered with an adhesive strip. The pouch may also have a dispense opening in its top panel, preferably with its perimeter on one side of the major axis of the top panel. The dispense opening may have a straw extending through it. Preferably, the straw has a first tubular member with a closed bottom end and at least one aperture through a lower portion of its side wall and a second tubular member longer than and in reciprocally slidable abutment within the first tubular member. The second tubular member slides between a closed condition with an open bottom end of the second tubular member seated on the closed bottom end of the first tubular member and an open condition with the open bottom end of the second tubular member above an uppermost of the second tubular member apertures. Preferably, the tubular members have means on their abutting surfaces for sealing the annulus between them against flow of liquid into the bottom of the second tubular member when the bottom of the second tubular member is seated on the bottom of the first tubular member. The sealing means may, for example, be a mating annular ring and groove on the tubular members in the annulus below the lowermost aperture of the first tubular member or a conical protrusion in the bottom of the first tubular member for seating the open bottom of the second tubular in the closed condition. The straw may also include means on abutting surfaces of the tubular members for sealing the annulus against upward flow of liquid to a top of the first tubular member. This may also be accomplished by one or more sets of mating annular rings and grooves.

A cap may be used to close the open upper end of the second tubular member against upward flow of liquid. If so, it is preferred that the cap is attached to the pouch by a flexible connector so that the cap can be mounted on and removed from the upper end of the second tubular member. Means is also provided for locking the tubular members in the closed condition, such as mating male and female threads on abutting surfaces of the tubular members.

Whether the container has separate fill and dispense openings, has a common fill and dispense opening, or uses or does not use a straw, it will store the mixing ingredients in substantially flat packages which are easily stacked on each other for transport.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description and upon reference to the drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of an embodiment of the container with a straw;

FIG. 2 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a flip-cap fill opening cover of the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the container with an adhesive strip fill opening cover;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a typical straw for use with various embodiments of the container;

FIG. 7 is a front elevation view of another embodiment of the container without a straw;

FIG. 8 is a front elevation view of another embodiment of the container with a straw;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the inner tubular member of the straw of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the fill hole insert of the container of FIG. 8;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the outer tubular member and screw cap of the container of FIG. 8; and

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a conical seal embodiment of the straw.

While the invention will be described in connection with preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood that it is not intended to limit the invention to those embodiments or to the details of the construction or arrangement of parts illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Turning to FIGS. 1-3, a disposable container 10 for mixing and drinking liquids made by dissolving powdered ingredients or drink mixing ingredients in other than powdered form in water or other liquid is formed from a liquid-tight film pouch 11 which is collapsible into a substantially flat condition. The powdered drink ingredients, or drink mixing ingredients in other than powdered form, may be packaged in the pouch 11 or added to the pouch at the time of mixing. As seen in FIG. 3, the pouch 11 has a fill opening 13 in its upper portion and a means for closing 15 the fill opening with a liquid tight seal. The fill opening 13 provides access to the pouch 11 for introduction of the ingredients and liquid into the pouch 11 for mixing and may also be used for dispensing the mixed drink from the pouch 11. The location of the fill opening 13 and the contour of the closing means 15 are coordinated for conformance of the closing means 15 with the desired substantially flat condition of the pouch 11 in its storage condition.

Continuing to look at FIGS. 1-3, the pouch 11 has opposed front and rear panels 21 and 23 which are sealed together along their side edges 25 and 27 and top and bottom panels 31 and 33 which are sealed along their perimeters to the top and bottom perimeters 35 and 37 of the front and rear panels 21 and 23. As best seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, the top and bottom panels 31 and 33 fold across their widths into the substantially flat condition. As seen in FIG. 3, the fill opening 13 is in the top panel 31. The sealed top and bottom perimeters 35 and 37 of the pouch 11 are, as shown, preferably elliptical and fold along their major axes 29 and 39 so that the flat pouch 11 assumes a substantially ovate horizontal cross-section condition as it is being filled with liquid. As shown, the perimeter of the fill opening 13 is entirely on one side of the major axis 29 of the ovate cross-section. The fill opening 13 may, as seen in FIG. 3, be spaced from or, as seen in FIG. 5, be centered on, the minor axis 41 of the top panel 31.

As seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, a flip-cap closing means 43 for the fill opening 13 has a pair of flat, thin rigid panels 45 and 47 connected by a hinge 49. One of the panels 45 has a plug 51 with a peripheral groove 53 and the other panel 47 has an opening 55 defining a collar 57 for co-operable engagement in the groove 53 of the plug 51 to resist inadvertent removal of the plug 51 from the fill opening 13. The collar 57 is dimensioned to concur with the fill opening 13 and the collar panel 47 is fixed to the pouch top panel 31 with the fill opening 13 and collar 57 aligned. The collar panel 47 also has a latch 59 which engages the unhinged end 61 of the plug panel 45 when the collar 57 and the perimeter of the fill opening 13 are engaged in the plug groove 53. The rigidity of the panels 45 and 47 facilitates manipulation of the flip-cap closure 43 and firm engagement of the plug 51 and latch 59. The location and substantially flat contour of the plug 51 permit conformance of the plug 51 to the substantially flat storage condition of the pouch 11 in both the plug-inserted condition and the plug-removed condition.

Looking at FIG. 5, the fill opening 13 may alternatively be covered by a flap 62 with a pull tab 63 having a base 65 permanently fixed to the container top panel 31. The base 65 has an opening aligned with the fill hole 13. The flap 62 initially closes the fill hole 13 by use of an outer adhesive seal 67. Once opened, a peel-off flap 68 can be removed to expose an inner adhesive seal 69 under the flap 68 used to close the opened fill hole 13. As shown, the fill opening 13 is disposed with its perimeter on one side of the major axis 29 of the pouch top panel 31 and centered on the minor axis 41 of the top panel 31.

As seen in FIGS. 3, 5 and 7, the same opening 13 can be used without a straw for both filling and dispensing and, for drinking without a straw, the top panel 31 may preferably be configured to provide a taper 71 to an opening-below the minor axis 41 of the top panel 31. This facilitates manipulation of the pouch 11 during drinking and filling to an efficient flow configuration.

Returning to FIG. 3, another opening 73 may be provided in the pouch 11, as shown proximate one end of the top panel 31 with its perimeter on the major axis 29 of the panel 31, for dispensing the mixed drink from the pouch 11; Looking at FIG. 1, a straw 81 extends through the dispense opening 73 to proximate the bottom panel 33 of the pouch 11. The straw 81, best seen in FIGS. 6 and 8-11, has an outer tubular member 83 with an open upper end 85 and a closed bottom end 87. At least one aperture 89 through the lower portion of the side wall of the outer tubular member 83 admits liquid from the pouch 11 into the outer tubular member 83. The straw 81 also has an inner tubular member 91 longer than the outer tubular member 83. The inner member 91 slides reciprocally in abutment within the outer tubular member 83 between a closed condition in which the open bottom 93 of the inner tubular member 91 is seated on the closed bottom 87 of the first tubular member 83 and an open condition in which the open bottom 93 of the inner tubular member 91 is positioned above the uppermost aperture 89 in the outer tubular member 83. In the closed condition, liquid cannot freely pass through the apertures 89 in the outer tubular member 83 into the annulus 95 between the tubular members 83 and 91 or into the bottom 93 of the inner tubular member 91 from the annulus 95. The resulting labyrinth effectively blocks flow of liquid into the inner tubular member 91. In the open condition, liquid passes freely through every aperture 89 in the outer tubular member 83 and into the bottom 93 of the inner tubular member 91. Between the open and closed conditions, liquid flows through exposed portions of the apertures 89 in the outer tubular member 83 into the bottom 93 of the inner tubular member 91. To further assure a seal of the annulus 95, means such as sets of mating annular rings and grooves 97 can be positioned on the abutting surfaces of the tubular members 83 and 91. In the closed condition, at least one annular ring and groove set 97, located below the lowermost aperture 89 in the outer tubular member 83, mate at the same time that the bottom 93 of the inner tubular member 91 seats on the bottom 87 of the outer tubular member 83. In the open condition, at least one mating annular ring and groove set 97 is located above the uppermost aperture 89 in the outer tubular member 83. Seal of the annulus 95 may be accomplished in other ways such as, for example as seen in FIG. 12, a conical protrusion 101 in the bottom 87 of the outer tubular member 83 can seat the open bottom 93 of the inner tubular member 91 in the closed condition. The open upper end 99 of the inner tubular member 91 can also be provided with a cap 103 to block-upward flow of liquid-through the inner tubular member 91. The cap 103 can be attached by a flexible connector 105 to a mounting ring 107 on the straw 81, as seen in FIGS. 6 and 8, or to the pouch 11, so that the upper end 99 of the inner tubular member 91 can be opened and closed as needed.

Going back to FIGS. 1 and 3, the junction of the perimeter of the dispense opening 73 with the perimeter of the outer tubular member 83 of the straw 81 preferably has a liquid flow preventing seal 109, perhaps accomplished by heat welding. Alternatively, as seen in FIGS. 8-11, an insert 111 with a threaded neck 113 aligned with the fill opening 13 of any embodiment and a base 115 fixed to the pouch 11 can be covered with a screw cap 117. Such a closure can be used to cover either the fill or dispense openings 13 or 73. In a straw type embodiment of the container 10, either the screw cap 117 is provided with an opening 119 which snugly girts the outer tubular member 83 of the straw 81 or the screw cap 117 is integrally molded with the outer tubular member 83 of the straw 81. The structure and operation of the tubular members 83 and 91 is otherwise substantially as hereinbefore described. The open upper end 99 of the inner tubular member 91 can also be covered with its own cap 103, also as hereinbefore described.

The tubular members 83 and 91 may also be locked in the closed condition, for example and as shown in FIG. 6, by use of mating male and female threads 121 and 123 on abutting surfaces of the tubular members 83 and 91 so that, in the closed condition, the inner tubular member 91 can be rotated into a sealed threaded engagement with the outer tubular member 83.

The locations of openings 13 and 73, the use of a straw 81 and the types of opening covers 43 and 63 illustrated herein are interchangeable to achieve a variety of containers in keeping with the invention. The thickness, location and orientation of the straw 81 and the various covers 43 and 63 and caps 103 and 117 described above allow the container to maintain its desired substantially flat storage condition. In the screw cap straw embodiment of FIG. 8, it may be desirable to remove the tubular members 83 and 91 from the cap 117 for storage so that the base 115 of the insert 111 will follow the fold 29 of the top panel 31 of the pouch 11 into the storage condition.

Thus, it is apparent that there has been provided, in accordance with the invention, a disposable collapsible powdered drink mixing container that fully satisfies the objects, aims and advantages set forth above. While the invention has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments thereof, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art and in light of the foregoing description. Accordingly, it is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations as fall within the spirit of the appended claims.