Title:
Ice chest accessory
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The ice chest accessory is a cylindrical sleeve having open opposed upper and lower ends and defining an open interior region for removably receiving a beverage container or the like. The sleeve has a smooth and continuous outer surface, which is adapted for having indicia formed thereon. In use, the sleeve and the beverage container may be received within an ice chest, and the sleeve acts as a barrier to prevent movement of ice surrounding the main body member when the beverage container is removed from the open interior region. A replacement beverage container may then be inserted within the open interior region without interference from the ice within the ice chest.



Inventors:
Campbell, Johnie E. (Woodstock, VA, US)
Application Number:
11/882319
Publication Date:
02/07/2008
Filing Date:
07/31/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/592.09
International Classes:
B65D25/20; F25D3/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
EDWARDS, BRETT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard C. Litman (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An ice chest accessory, comprising a substantially rigid cylindrical sleeve having at least an open upper lower end and defining an open interior region, said cylindrical sleeve having a smooth and continuous outer surface, the cylindrical sleeve being dimensioned and configured to removably receive a beverage container so that the cylindrical sleeve encircles the beverage container within an ice chest, the cylindrical sleeve providing a barrier to prevent movement of ice surrounding the cylindrical sleeve when the beverage container is removed from the ice chest.

2. The ice chest accessory as recited in claim 1, wherein the smooth and continuous outer surface of the cylindrical sleeve is adapted for the formation of indicia thereon.

3. The ice chest accessory as recited in claim 1, wherein said cylindrical sleeve is formed from a thermally conductive material.

4. The ice chest accessory as recited in claim 3, wherein said thermally conductive material is selected from the group consisting of aluminum, tin, and plastic.

5. The ice chest accessory as recited in claim 1, wherein said cylindrical sleeve has an annular lip formed about the upper end thereof, the annular lip being adapted for grasping by the user.

6. The ice chest accessory according to claim 1, wherein said cylindrical sleeve has an open lower end.

7. An ice chest in combination with an ice chest accessory, comprising: a thermally insulated container having a hinged lid, the container being adapted for receiving ice, food and beverage containers therein, the thermally insulated container forming an ice chest; and at least one ice chest accessory disposed in the ice chest, the accessory being a substantially rigid cylindrical sleeve having at least an open upper lower end and defining an open interior region, said cylindrical sleeve having a smooth and continuous outer surface, the cylindrical sleeve being dimensioned and configured to removably receive a beverage container so that the cylindrical sleeve encircles the beverage container within the ice chest, the cylindrical sleeve providing a barrier to prevent movement of ice surrounding the cylindrical sleeve when the beverage container is removed from the ice chest.

8. The ice chest in combination with an ice chest accessory according to claim 7, wherein the smooth and continuous outer surface of the cylindrical sleeve is adapted for the formation of indicia thereon.

9. The ice chest in combination with an ice chest accessory according to claim 7, wherein said cylindrical sleeve is formed from a thermally conductive material.

10. The ice chest in combination with an ice chest accessory according to claim 9, wherein said thermally conductive material is selected from the group consisting of aluminum, tin, and plastic.

11. The ice chest in combination with an ice chest accessory according to claim 7, wherein said cylindrical sleeve has an annular lip formed about the upper end thereof, the annular lip being adapted for grasping by the user.

12. The ice chest in combination with an ice chest accessory according to claim 7, wherein said cylindrical sleeve has an open lower end.

13. A method of preventing ice from shifting in an ice chest when a first beverage container is removed to preserve space for a second, replacement beverage container, comprising the steps of: inserting at least one substantially rigid, thermally conductive cylindrical sleeve into ice contained in the ice chest; inserting the first beverage container into the cylindrical sleeve for chilling the beverage; and removing the first beverage container from the cylindrical sleeve, the rigid sleeve preventing ice from collapsing therein.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/834,744, filed Aug. 2, 2006.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to beverage storage containers, and particularly to an ice chest accessory that prevents ice from shifting around in the chest when a beverage can or bottle is removed from the chest.

2. Description of the Related Art

Coolers, ice chests and the like are common accessories for outdoor parties, picnics and the like. Users desiring cold beverages typically bury or cover beverage containers, such as cans, bottles and the like, under crushed ice or ice cubes within the ice chest. However, due to melting of the ice, retrieving the buried beverage container can be a messy process. Further, jagged edges on the crushed or cubed ice can injure the user during the container recovery process. Also, retrieving buried cans and the like may be difficult for children or invalids.

Although users may rest the bottles and cans on top of the ice, only a portion of the beverage container will come into direct contact with the ice, thus producing an inefficient cooling process by thermal conduction. To overcome this problem, users may partially submerge the cans or bottles within the ice, such that the upper portion of the containers project above the ice. Although this will increase the rate of cooling and allow the user to easily remove the bottle or can from the ice, when the user removes the beverage container, the ice will shift and fall into the newly-created void where the beverage container was formerly positioned. Thus, returning the beverage container to the ice (or inserting a replacement container) will be impossible without the user having to manually dig a recess for the container within the ice. This digging process will expose the user to the same hazards as the aforementioned burying of the containers within the ice.

Thus, an ice chest accessory solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The ice chest accessory is a cylindrical sleeve having open opposed upper and lower ends and defining an open interior region for removably receiving a beverage container or the like. The sleeve may be formed from aluminum, tin, plastic or any other suitable material that is substantially rigid, structurally strong and relatively thermally conductive.

The sleeve has a smooth and continuous outer surface, which is adapted for having indicia formed thereon. Additionally, the sleeve may be manufactured in a wide variety of heights and diameters for use with a wide variety of beverage containers. Preferably, the sleeve has a height that is approximately between ½ of an inch and ¾ of an inch less than the height of the beverage container. For example, if the beverage container is a soda can having a height of approximately 4¾ inches, the sleeve will have a height of approximately four inches, allowing the user to easily grasp the upper portion of the soda can when the soda can is housed within the main body member. Preferably, the interior diameter of the sleeve is approximately 1/32 of an inch greater than that of the beverage container, allowing the beverage container to be securely received within the sleeve.

In use, the cylindrical sleeve and the beverage container may be received within an ice chest, and the sleeve acts as a barrier to prevent movement of ice surrounding the sleeve when the beverage container is removed from the open interior region. A replacement beverage container may then be inserted within the open interior region without interference from the ice within the ice chest.

These and other features of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view of an ice chest accessory according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective attachment view of the ice chest accessory according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an environmental side view in section of the ice chest accessory of the present invention positioned within the ice chest in a first configuration.

FIG. 4 is an environmental side view in section of the ice chest accessory of the present invention positioned within the ice chest in a second configuration.

Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The present invention is directed towards an ice chest accessory 10. As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the ice chest accessory 10 is a cylindrical sleeve 11 having open opposed upper and lower ends 13, 15, respectively, and defining an open interior region 22 therein for removably receiving a beverage container or the like. In FIGS. 1-4, the beverage container is shown as being a conventional soda can 12. However it should be understood that any suitable desired container, e.g., a bottle, may be received within the open interior region 22 of sleeve 11.

FIGS. 1, 3 and 4 illustrate four ice chest accessories 10 received within ice chest 14. It should be understood that this is shown for exemplary purposes only, and that any desired number of ice chest accessories 10 may be used in combination with ice chest 14. Ice chest 14 is a conventional thermally insulated container having a hinged lid dimensioned and configured for containing ice and food and/or beverages therein. Ice chests are well known, and will not be described further. Further, ice chest 14 is shown for exemplary and illustrative purposes only, and the ice chest accessory 10 may be used in combination with any suitable receptacle for ice 16.

The sleeve 11 may be formed from aluminum, tin, plastic or any other suitable material that is substantially rigid, structurally strong and relatively thermally conductive. As will be described in further detail below, the ice chest accessory 10 acts as a barrier to prevent the shifting or other movement of ice 16 when container 12 is removed from the open interior region 22 of sleeve 11. When the container 12 is stored within the sleeve 11, the sleeve 11 should allow for the cooling of the beverage container 12 through thermal conduction, and is preferably constructed from appropriate thermally conductive materials.

The cylindrical sleeve 11 further has a smooth and continuous outer surface 20, which is adapted for having user-selectable indicia 18 formed thereon (as shown in FIG. 2). The sleeve 11 may be manufactured in a wide variety of heights and diameters for use with a wide variety of beverage containers. Preferably, the sleeve 11 has a height that is approximately between ½ of an inch and ¾ of an inch less than the height of the beverage container. For example, if the beverage container is a soda can (such as exemplary soda can 12) having a height of approximately 4¾ inches, the sleeve 11 will have a height of approximately four inches, allowing the user to easily grasp the upper portion of the soda can 12 when the soda can 12 is housed within the sleeve 11. Preferably, the interior diameter of the sleeve 11 is approximately 1/32 of an inch greater than that of the beverage container 12, allowing the beverage container 12 to be securely received within the sleeve 11, and further allowing for the passage of air therebetween, allowing for convective cooling of the beverage container 12.

In use, the cylindrical sleeve 11 and the beverage container 12 may be received within ice chest 14, and the sleeve 1 1 acts as a barrier to prevent movement of ice 16 surrounding the sleeve 11 when the beverage container 12 is removed from the open interior region 22. A replacement beverage container may then be inserted within the open interior region 22 without interference from the ice 16 within the ice chest 14.

Further, an annular lip 23 (best shown in FIG. 2) may be formed about the upper edge of accessory 10, providing the user with a graspable surface for easily removing the accessory from ice 16 and ice chest 14. Annular lip 23 is preferably approximately ⅛ of an inch in thickness.

As illustrated in FIGS. 3, the sleeve 11 may be mounted on a lower interior wall of ice chest 14, with the lower end 15 thereof being positioned adjacent and contiguous with the lower wall. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 4, the sleeve 11 may be mounted on a layer of ice 16, allowing the lower end of the beverage container 12 (received within main body member 11) to rest directly on the ice 16, increasing the rate of cooling of the beverage container 12.

The user may either insert both the cylindrical sleeve 11 and the beverage container 12 into the ice 16 simultaneously, or the user may first insert the beverage container 12 directly into ice 16, and then slide the sleeve 11 over the beverage container 12 (to receive the beverage container 12 within the open interior region 22), prior to removal of the beverage container 12 from ice chest 14.

It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiment described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.