Title:
SLEEVED AND THE LIKE MIRRORED CONTAINERS FOR CHEWING GUM AND OTHER ORAL-PRODUCTS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An oral-product container assembly is disclosed that includes: a) a substantially rigid sleeve having a window in one side face and a mirror contained therein; b) an insert containing a plurality of oral-products; c) said insert being movable between a stored position in which said insert obstructs a view of said mirror through said window and a dispensing position in which said insert reveals said mirror through said window.



Inventors:
Berg, Robert Isaac (Blaine, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/851053
Publication Date:
04/24/2008
Filing Date:
09/06/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D85/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
O'HERN, BRENT T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Attn: Robert I. Berg, Esq. (Blaine, WA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An oral-product container assembly for chewing gum or other oral products, comprising: a) a substantially rigid sleeve having a window in one side face and a mirror contained therein; b) an insert containing a plurality of oral-products; c) said insert being movable between a stored position in which said insert obstructs a view of said mirror through said window and a dispensing position in which said insert reveals said mirror through said window.

2. The container assembly of claim 1, wherein said substantially rigid sleeve is made of metal.

3. The container assembly of claim 1, wherein said oral-product includes gum.

4. The container assembly of claim 3, wherein said substantially rigid sleeve is made of metal.

5. The container assembly of claim 1, wherein said oral-product includes flavors from the group consisting of: peppermint; spearmint; other mint flavors; wintergreen; cinnamon; licorice; citric flavors; sour flavors; and herbal or spice flavors.

6. The container assembly of claim 3, wherein said gum includes a plurality of gum pieces contained within individually wrapped blister pockets.

7. An container body, comprising: a) a substantially rigid sleeve having a window in one side face and a mirror contained therein; b) said sleeve being configured so as to receive an insert containing a plurality of oral-products, such that said insert is movable between a stored position in which said insert obstructs a view of said mirror through said window and a dispensing position in which said insert reveals said mirror through said window.

8. The container assembly of claim 7, wherein said substantially rigid sleeve is made of metal.

9. A method of using the container body of claim 7, comprising: sliding an insert containing a plurality of chewing gum into said sleeve between a stored position in which said insert obstructs a view of said mirror through said window and a dispensing position in which said insert reveals said mirror through said window.

Description:

The entire disclosures of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/858,391 entitled Mirrored Oral-Product Container, and of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/511,298 filed on Oct. 16, 2003, are incorporated herein by reference as though recited herein in full.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to containers for oral-products and some preferred embodiments relate to containers for chewing gum, such as, e.g., bumble gum, breath freshening gum, medicinal gums, and/or the like.

2. Discussion of the Background

In some circumstances in modern culture, individuals seek to enhance their personal image, such as, e.g., their appearance, their odor, and/or the like. Individuals may seek to enhance their personal image for a variety of reasons, such as, by way of example, to: a) prepare for a date and/or a romantic encounter; b) make a good impression on one or more individual; c) enhance one's self-confidence; and/or d) achieve a wide variety of other goals.

Breath Freshening

In modern culture, the use of breath fresheners to, e.g., enhance an individual's oral freshness, such as, e.g., oral cleanliness, oral odor and/or the like, has become widely accepted. A wide variety of breath fresheners exist in the market, such as, e.g., various breath freshening confectioneries and candies and/or the like, such as, e.g., mint-flavored breath fresheners, cinnamon-flavored breath fresheners, fruit-flavored (such as, e.g., lemon, lime, orange and/or the like) breath fresheners; and/or the like. Some existing breath fresheners include that of, e.g., ALTOIDS, TIC TAC, BARKLEYS and various other breath freshener products.

Visage Freshening

In modern culture, the use of items to enhance an individual's visage or face is not as widely accepted. In some instances, individuals may carry compacts (having small mirrors and make-up) with which they may attend to their personal visage freshening (such as, e.g., farding).

However, while individuals often freely take breath fresheners in the accompaniment of others, individuals are often more reluctant to use a compact in the accompaniment of others. Among other things, the use of cosmetics, make-up and/or the like visage freshening products can often have a negative connotation, such as, e.g., creating an appearance of vanity. As a result, in order to be able to look at oneself in a mirror (such as, e.g., to ascertain if a need exists for visage freshening and/or to engage in visage freshening), an individual often has to leave a room to a location of privacy, such as, e.g., a bathroom or the like. While individuals may carry compacts or the like, in many contexts, individuals will not use them in the accompaniment of others. By way of example, while in a romantic setting, a woman may be reluctant to check her facial make-up in front of her partner. Among other things, the woman may not wish to portray vanity and/or to provide an appearance to her partner that she has some concern for the freshness of her visage—e.g. which might inadvertently be suggestive of personal of vanity, of a level of interest in her partner, and/or the like.

There has been a need for a product that can overcome some of the above and/or other problems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The preferred embodiments of the present invention have been developed in view of the above mentioned and/or other issues in the related art. In some embodiments, one or more of the above and/or other problems related to visage freshening can be overcome. In addition, some preferred embodiments can advantageously provide a highly unique breath freshening container product having unique functional and aesthetic qualities.

According to some illustrative embodiments, an oral-product container includes: a) a plurality of breath fresheners contained therein for breath freshening purposes; and b) a mirror for visage freshening purposes. In some embodiments, the mirror can be on an interior of said container when said container is closed. In some embodiments, the mirror can be on an exterior of said container when said container is closed. In some illustrative embodiments, said breath fresheners include at least flavor from the group consisting of: peppermint; spearmint; other mint flavors; wintergreen; cinnamon; licorice; citric flavors; sour flavors; and herbal or spice flavors.

According to some illustrative embodiments, a method of distributing the containers can include, e.g.: filling a plurality of said containers in a packaging container; and transporting the filled packaging container to a retail center (such as, e.g., for direct sales to consumers).

According to some illustrative embodiments, a method of freshening an individual includes: providing the individual with a container having a plurality of breath fresheners contained therein and a mirror; having the individual place at least one of said breath fresheners in the individual's mouth for breath freshening purposes; and having the individual view himself or herself in said mirror for visage freshening purposes. In some embodiments, said visage freshening purposes can include determining whether the individual's face needs freshening and/or can include freshening the individual's face with cosmetic products or devices.

The above and/or other aspects, features and/or advantages of various embodiments will be further appreciated in view of the following description in conjunction with the accompanying figures. Various embodiments can include and/or exclude different aspects, features and/or advantages where applicable. In addition, various embodiments can combine one or more aspect or feature of other embodiments where applicable. The descriptions of aspects, features and/or advantages of particular embodiments should not be construed as limiting other embodiments or the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying figures are provided by way of example, without limiting the broad scope of the invention or various other embodiments, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a schematic side perspective view of a container according to some illustrative embodiments;

FIG. 2 is a schematic side perspective view of another container according to some illustrative embodiments;

FIG. 3 is a schematic side perspective view of another container according to some illustrative embodiments;

FIG. 4 is a schematic side perspective view of another container according to some illustrative embodiments;

FIG. 5 is a schematic side perspective view of another container according to some illustrative embodiments;

FIG. 6 is a schematic side view showing portions of illustrative examples A and B depicting some illustrative mirror forming embodiments;

FIG. 7 is a plurality of schematic side perspective views showing other containers according to some illustrative embodiments in which the container can be operable as a mirror stand;

FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram showing a container located within the pants pocket of a user;

FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram showing a plurality of containers filled with oral products, such as, e.g., breath fresheners, contained within a transport package (such as, e.g., a crate, cardboard box, box and/or the like);

FIGS. 10-18 are other views of containers according to some illustrative embodiments;

In particular, FIG. 10 is a front perspective view according to some embodiments,

FIG. 11 is a first end view taken from the left side of the embodiment shown in FIG. 10,

FIG. 12 is a second end view taken from the right side of the embodiment shown in FIG. 10,

FIG. 13 is a side view taken from a front side of the embodiment shown in FIG. 10,

FIG. 14 is a side view taken from a back side of the embodiment shown in FIG,

FIG. 15 is a top view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 10, and

FIG. 16 is a bottom view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 10;

In addition, FIGS. 17(A)-17(D) show various alternative top views that may be employed instead of the structure shown in FIG. 15;

FIG. 18 is an exploded view showing a device similar to that shown in FIG. 10 with an internal cover plate member removed and with an illustrative slider cover;

FIG. 19(A) is a schematic diagram depicting the application of a shrink wrap or other wrapper around a container in some embodiments;

FIG. 19(B) is a view of a plurality of illustrative refill containers in some illustrative embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of an embodiment similar to the embodiments shown in FIGS. 10-18, including a mirror-view element, such as, e.g., a through-hole in the exterior of the container;

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of an embodiment similar to the embodiments shown in FIGS. 10-18, including an enlarged container opening sized to accommodate placement of larger items within said container, such as, e.g., coins and/or other items;

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of an embodiment similar to the embodiments shown in FIGS. 10-18, with a lid separated and over the container body, and including an enlarged container opening in a front end of the container body and an insert similar to the insert shown in FIG. 18 having an enlarged container opening;

FIG. 23 is a schematic side view of the insert beneath the lid as shown in FIG. 22;

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of a modified insert similar to that shown in FIGS. 22 and 23, but where the insert includes an opening that pivots downward;

FIG. 25 is a partial perspective view of another embodiment in which a dispensing opening is on a lateral side of the container body;

FIG. 26(A) is a perspective front view of a wire rack for displaying and/or shipping of a plurality of containers, including, inter alia, a mirror-view element including an openable display container mounted thereon;

FIG. 26(B) is a perspective view of a wire rack as shown in FIG. 26(A) adjacent a carton and a plurality of illustrative containers according to some illustrative embodiments;

FIG. 26(C) is a perspective view of a modified label holding mechanism that can be included upon a rack similar to that shown in FIGS. 26(A) and 26(B);

FIGS. 26(D) to 26(G) are perspective, front, back, and side views of a rack similar to that shown in FIGS. 26(A) and 26(B) according to some illustrative embodiments, with such figures being substantially to scale and demonstrating, among other things, a preferred ornamental configuration of the assembly.

FIG. 27(A) is a schematic diagram showing illustrative oral products, including, e.g., a plurality of illustrative mints/candies, a plurality of illustrative cigarettes, and a plurality of cigarettes depicted within a container body;

FIG. 27(B) is a perspective view of an illustrative container having cigarettes contained therein according to some embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 28 is a perspective view of an illustrative container body according to some other embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 29 is a perspective view of an illustrative product package receivable within the container body shown in FIG. 28;

FIGS. 30(A) to 30(D) show some illustrative mirror mounting techniques according to some illustrative embodiments of the invention;

FIG. 31 is an illustrative top view of a non-public prototype product, with dimensions to scale according to some illustrative embodiments;

FIG. 32 is an illustrative rear view of a non-public prototype product similar to that shown in FIG. 31, with dimensions to scale according to some illustrative embodiments;

FIG. 33 is an illustrative perspective view showing a plurality of illustrative non-public prototype products similar to that shown in FIG. 31, with dimensions to scale according to some illustrative embodiments;

FIG. 34 is a plan view showing two conventional products in which blister-pack gum packs are received within flexible paper sleeves; and

FIG. 35 is a perspective view of an illustrative package containing a metal container that is visible through a top opening of the package and a plurality of refill inserts beneath the metal container according to some illustrative embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following description sets forth some illustrative preferred embodiments of the invention. It should be understood based on this disclosure that the following description is illustrative and non-limiting and that various modifications, alterations, changes and/or the like can be employed in various embodiments of the invention. In addition, various components of the various embodiments can be replaced with equivalent structures (including presently know equivalents and/or future known equivalents) as would be understood based on this disclosure.

Illustrative Embodiments

FIGS. 1-9 show some illustrative embodiments of the invention. In the preferred embodiments (such as, e.g., in preferred implementations of the embodiments shown in FIGS. 1-9), an oral-product container is provided that includes: a) a plurality of breath fresheners contained therein for breath freshening purposes; and b) a mirror for visage freshening purposes. Although a variety of illustrative embodiments are shown, it should be understood based on this disclosure that the illustrative embodiments can vary widely and that these are merely some preferred examples.

In preferred embodiments, the container can be used by an individual in order to orally consume one or more breath freshener for breath freshening purposes and/or to visually view himself or herself for visage freshening purposes. In this disclosure, the terminology visage freshening purposes includes, among other things, viewing for purposes of determining if a need exists for visage freshening and conducting visage freshening, such as, e.g., using cosmetic products or devices (such as, e.g., applying blush with a blush applicator, applying mascara with a mascara applicator, applying lipstick with a lipstick applicator, removing cosmetics with a cosmetic remover [which can include, e.g., a tissue and/or the like], etc.).

FIG. 1 shows one illustrative embodiment including a container having top and bottom halves that are connected together via a hinge. When in a closed condition, such as, e.g., shown in FIG. 1, the two halves form an enclosure in which oral products can be contained.

In some preferred embodiments, a mirror can be formed on an interior surface of the top half. Upon pivoting the top half away from the bottom half, the mirror can be revealed. In this manner, the mirror can be—to some degree—hidden from view of those accompanying the user. Thus, a user can, e.g., take a quick look at himself or herself while appearing to merely open a container to merely access, e.g., some breath fresheners.

In some preferred embodiments, a mirror can alternatively or additionally be formed on an exterior surface of the top half. In this manner, a user can, among other things, easily utilize the mirror without regard to oral product inside the container (e.g., the user can easily utilize the mirror while the oral product is securely contained in the container).

In some preferred embodiments, a mirror can alternatively or additionally be formed on interior and/or exterior surfaces of the bottom half. Additionally, while in preferred embodiments a mirror will be formed upon a larger side of the container, in some embodiments a mirror could alternatively or additionally be formed on a narrower edge of the container (e.g., either interior and/or exterior to the container, but preferably exterior to the container).

FIG. 2 illustrates another embodiment in which a container has a top portion and a bottom portion that are laterally slidable with respect to one another in order to open the container. In this embodiment, a mirror can be formed—as before—on interior and/or exterior surfaces of the top and/or bottom portions, and upon large sides and/or narrow edges thereof.

FIG. 3 illustrates another embodiment in which a hinged lid is formed in a sub-portion of the container. Among other things, this embodiment can, e.g., facilitate opening of the container to reveal and internal mirror while the oral product is securely contained therein. In preferred implementations of this embodiment, the mirror could be formed internal to the hinged lid. However, in other embodiments, a mirror could be formed alternatively or additionally on other portions of the container.

FIG. 4 illustrates another embodiment in which a mirror can be formed underneath a separate mirror cover. In some embodiments, such as, e.g., shown in FIG. 4, the separate mirror cover can be hinged to the container. In such embodiments, a mirror can be formed on either surface under the hinged cover. In this illustrative embodiment, the mirror can be protected from external environmental factors (e.g., under the cover) and can be isolated from the container interior (e.g., separate from the oral product therein).

FIG. 5 illustrates another embodiment in which a container can have a generally round large side (such as, e.g., a generally circular, elliptical or other rounded shape). It should be understood that a variety of container shapes could be used and the illustrative embodiments are merely exemplary. In the most preferred embodiments, however, the container has a large side and a narrow edge. In this manner, as shown in FIG. 8, the container can, most preferably, easily slide into a storing position, such as, e.g., inside a user's pocket (such as, e.g., a rear pants pocket as shown by way of example).

In some illustrative embodiments, a large side of the container can have a maximum diameter of between about 1 inches and 6 inches. In some other illustrative embodiments, a large side of the container can have a maximum diameter of between about 2 and 5 inches. In some other illustrative embodiments, a large side of the container can have a maximum diameter of between about 3 and 4 inches. In some illustrative embodiments, a narrow side of the container can have a maximum width of between about ¼ inch and 1 inch. In some other illustrative embodiments, the narrow side of the container can have a maximum width of between about ⅓ inch and ⅔ inch. Although not shown, in some embodiments, one or more of the large sides of the container can also include a bowed configuration or curvature so as to conform to a user's buttocks when placed within a pant pocket as shown in FIG. 8.

The illustrative example shown in FIG. 5 also includes a reflective surface or mirror formed exterior to the container. It should be understood based on this disclosure that a mirror could be alternatively or additionally formed interior to the container.

FIG. 6 shows some illustrative methods for forming the mirror on the container. Example A illustrates some instances in which the mirror includes materials attached to the container wall (such as, e.g., using a mirror sticker that is applied, using glues or adhesives to attach mirror components, using a magnetic attachment, using a mechanical attachment [such as, e.g., a rivet, a screw and/or other mechanism] and/or the like). Example B illustrates some instances in which the mirror is formed integrally in the container wall (such as, e.g., a highly buffed metal surface, a chemically treated surface and/or the like).

FIG. 7 shows some illustrative embodiments in which a container has an open position in which the container serves as a stand for the mirror. While the container can serve as a stand for the mirror using a variety of other configurations (as would be apparent based on this disclosure), in the illustrative embodiment, the container can include an internal mirror on a top half of the container. The container can then be configured such that when it is pivoted open, it can be placed in a fully open position as shown in FIG. 7 in which the container forms a generally A-frame structure or a generally inverted-V structure as shown. Preferably, the container is configured such that the container is lockable in an open position and/or in a closed position (such as, e.g., providing snap-fit engaging members between the top and bottom portions).

FIG. 7 also shows two illustrative examples: Example A shows an opened container having a substantially fully open bottom; and Example B shows an opened container having a partially open bottom. Among other things, Example B can facilitate use of the container in the open position while breath fresheners (shown in dashed lines in Example B) are securely retained in the container.

In some preferred embodiments, the container can be made with metal, such as, e.g., of tin, aluminum, stainless steel, iron, copper and/or other metal. In some preferred embodiments, the container can be made with natural and/or synthetic resins, such as, e.g., various plastics and/or the like. In some preferred embodiments, the container can be made with paper, cardboard, wood and/or the like materials. In some preferred embodiments, the container can be shrouded within a plastic wrap and/or another wrapping medium, such as, e.g., a foil wrap. Among other things, such a wrap can help to protect the contents within the container and/or can help to protect the container itself. Such a plastic wrap could be, e.g., a manually removable wrap that is removed by an end consumer who uses the container for oral and/or visage freshening purposes. In some embodiments, a plurality of containers can be wrapped together for bulk sales to a consumer (such as, e.g., in groups of 2, 4, 6, 12 and/or the like).

Mirror(s)

In various embodiments, a number of mirror constructions can be employed. For example, in some embodiments one or more of the following types of mirrors (i.e., reflective surfaces) can be employed.

    • 1. A glass with a reflective coating (such as, e.g., a metal undercoating), such as, e.g., a common household mirror;
    • 2. A polymer material with a reflective coating;
    • 3. A metal, such as, e.g., aluminum, chrome and/or other metal having a highly reflective surface (such as, e.g., a buffed surface and/or otherwise smooth and reflective surface finish and/or the like).

In preferred embodiments, the mirror has a sufficient extent of reflectivity to enable an individual to hold the mirror or otherwise locate the mirror within about 6 inches to 1 foot, or even within about 1 foot to 2 feet, from the individual's face and to visually perceive facial details without significant content distortion. In preferred embodiments, the reflectivity is sufficient to enable a user to perform common cosmetic visage freshening tasks.

In some preferred embodiments, the mirrors are made with one or more of the following properties: a) breakproof or substantially breakproof materials; b) shatterproof or substantial shatterproof materials; c) appropriate non-toxic materials for food product packaging; and/or d) other appropriate properties for food product packaging.

In some illustrative embodiments, mirrors can employ aspects of one or more of the features of the mirrors shown in the following documents (each of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties and are included in the above-reference provisional application):

    • 1. http://www.ultralight-sports.com/mirror.html (including, e.g., mirrors made from made from a premium reflective plastic film laminated to smooth coated paper);
    • 2. http://www.e-sci.com/genSci/RENDER/7/1035/1080/9982.html (including, e.g., mirrors having a substrate that is acrylic with an aluminum coating for a reflecting surface);
    • 3. http://www.goodturn.biz/mirrors.htmi
    • 4. http://www.csmirrors.co.uk/index.phppageID=acrylic (including, e.g., acrylic mirrors);
    • 5. http://www.csmirrors.co.uk/index.phppageID=stainlesssteel (including, e.g., stainless steel mirrors);
    • 6. http://www.alsacorp.com/Laminates.html (including, e.g., “ChromeFX sheeting [that] is a decorative product based upon GE HP92H LEXAN® films and a Molecular Metallic Chrome Film protected by the LEXAN® film and backed by an adhesive system”).

Oral Products

In various embodiments, a plethora of different oral-products can be contained within the containers. In some embodiments, the oral-products can include, e.g., breath fresheners. For example, such breath fresheners may, e.g., enhance an individual's oral freshness, such as, e.g., oral cleanliness, oral odor and/or the like. Various embodiments can use any currently known and/or later known fresheners, such as, e.g., various breath freshening candies and/or the like, such as, e.g., mint-flavored fresheners, cinnamon-flavored fresheners, fruit-flavored (such as, e.g., lemon, lime, orange and/or the like) fresheners and/or the like. In some embodiments, breath fresheners similar to, e.g., ALTOIDS, TIC TACS, BARKLEYS, CERTS and/or various other breath freshener products can be used.

In some illustrative embodiments, oral products can include one or more of the following:

    • a) gum (such as, e.g., wrapped chewing gum strips [such as, e.g., WRIGLEY'S BIG RED gum sticks, WRIGLEY'S SPEARMINT gum sticks, etc.], gum balls [such as, e.g., EVERCREST mint gum balls, etc.]);
    • b) candy coated gum (such as, e.g., WRIGLEY'S ECLIPSE rectangular gum chews);
    • c) hard-confectionery (such as, e.g., hard mints);
    • d) quick-dissolving confectionary (such as, e.g., quick dissolving mints) (such as, e.g., lasting under about 30 seconds in normal usage in an adult user's mouth);
    • e) slow-dissolving confectionary (such as, e.g., longer lasting mints or lozenges) (such as, e.g., lasting over one minute in normal usage in an adult user's mouth); and/or
    • f) strip-shaped confectionary (such as, e.g., ALTOIDS strips and/or LISTERINE POCKET PACKS, etc.).

While a variety of illustrative oral products are described herein, it should be understood based on this disclosure that various embodiments can employ a variety of other oral products (such as, e.g., various food products [e.g., candies, confectioneries or other food products], medicinal products, flavored products and/or the like).

In some embodiments, the oral products can include breath fresheners having one or more of the following flavors: peppermint, spearmint; other mint flavors; wintergreen; cinnamon; licorice; citric flavors (e.g., lemon, orange, lime, etc.); sour flavors; herbal or spice flavors (e.g., garlic, onion and/or the like) and/or other now or later known breath freshener flavors.

In some embodiments, the oral products include all or substantially all natural ingredients. In some embodiments, all or substantially all of the ingredients contributing to the flavor of the oral products are natural ingredients.

In some embodiments, the oral products can include at least some or all of the following ingredients (such as, e.g., found in BARKLEYS PEPPERMINT mints): sugar; powdered glucose; sorbitol; maltodextrin; magnesium stearate; oil of peppermint (e.g., triple distilled oil of peppermint); natural and artificial flavors. In some embodiments, the oral products can include at least some or all of the following ingredients (such as, e.g., found in BARKLEYS WINTERGREEN mints): sugar; powdered glucose; maltodextrin; magnesium stearate; artificial flavors. In some embodiments, the oral products can include at least some or all of the following ingredients (such as, e.g., found in BARKLEYS CINNAMON mints): sugar; powdered glucose; maltodextrin; magnesium stearate; natural and artificial flavors; oil of peppermint.

In some embodiments, the oral products have very low calories. In some embodiments, the oral products have very low carbohydrate values, such as, e.g., less than about 10 grams per serving, or, more preferably, less than about 5 grams per serving, or, more preferably, less than about 3 grams per serving, or, more preferably, less than about 2 grams per serving.

In some embodiments, one or more of the following ingredients can be used to create a breath freshener product: sugar, dextrin, starch, arabic gum, natural and artificial flavors, magnesium stearate, carnauba wax (such as, e.g., found in TIC TACS). In some embodiments, there will not be a significant source of calories from fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and/or iron.

In some illustrative embodiments, the breath fresheners can have a serving size of 1 piece (such as, e.g., about 0.3-0.4 grams per piece), can come in containers having about 30-50 per container, and can have a total amount of calories per serving of about 1-2 calories (such as, e.g., found in TIC TACS).

In some illustrative embodiments, each piece can have one or more, preferably all, of the following amounts (followed by % of daily value): total fat: 0 g, 0%; sodium: 0 mg, 0%; total carbohydrates: 0 g, 0%; sugars, 0 g; and/or protein, 0 g.

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include one or more of the following ingredients (such as, e.g., found in ALTOIDS WINTERGREEN mints): sugar; artificial flavor; gum arabic; gelatin; glucose syrup; natural Flavor.

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include one or more of the following nutrition facts (such as, e.g., found in ALTOIDS WINTERGREEN mints): serving size=3 pieces (about 2 g); servings per container=about 50; calories total=about 10; calories from fat=about 0.

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include one or more of the following ingredients (such as, e.g., found in ALTOIDS PEPPERMINT): sugar; oil of peppermint, gum arabic, gelatin, corn syrup.

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include one or more, preferably all, of the following ingredients: sorbitol, calcium stearate, peppermint oil, menthol, and sucralose. In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include sweetening, and preferably sweetening with SPLENDA™ sweetener.

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can be made to temporarily mask bad breath and/or a bad taste in one's mouth. In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can be made to (e.g. using chemicals, compounds or the like) help reduce bacteria (e.g., anaerobic bacteria) in a user's mouth.

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include, e.g., retsyn, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and/or copper gluconate.

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include chlorophyll (such as, e.g., in CLORETS) and/or the like to, for example, help absorb or reduce bad odors.

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include maltitol and/or other sweeteners.

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include xylitol. Among other things, xylitol can be used as a natural sweetener that may help avoid and/or fight cavities.

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include zinc gluconate (which, e.g., may block receptors on the anaerobic bacteria such that they will not bind with certain amino acids) such as in, e.g., ZOX mints.

In some embodiments, in which the breath fresheners include components that reduce bacteria, the breath fresheners can include one or more aspect of LISTERINE POCKET PAKS oral strips. In some embodiments, the strips can dissolve quickly in a user's mouth (such as, e.g., within about 30 seconds).

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include one or more of the following ingredients (such as, e.g., found in LISTERINE POCKET PAKS): pullulan; flavors; menthol; aspartame; potassium acesulfame; copper gluconate; polysorbate 80; carrageenan; glyceryl oleate; eucalyptol; methyl salicylate; thymol; locust bean gum; propylene glycol; xanthan gum; coloring (e.g., FD&C green no. 3).

In some embodiments, the breath fresheners can include one or more ingredient having anesthetic properties, such as, e.g., dyclonine and/or hexylresorcinol (which can be found in, e.g., SUCRETS lozenges) and/or other anesthetic elements.

In some examples, as set forth above, the breath fresheners can include gum breath fresheners. In some illustrative example, gum breath fresheners can include one or more of the following ingredients (such as, e.g., found in WRIGLEY'S ECLIPSE peppermint gum): maltitol; gum base; sorbitol; acacia; mannitol; glycerol; natural and artificial flavors; aspartame; color added; acesulfame K; carnauba wax; BHT (to maintain freshness); phenylalanine and/or the like. In some illustrative example, gum breath fresheners can include one or more of the following ingredients (such as, e.g., found in EVEREST POWERFUL MINT GUM: ECLIPSE peppermint gum): sugar; gum base; corn syrup; dextrose; natural flavors (including, e.g., peppermint oil); gum Arabic; xylitol and, e.g., about 2% or less of glycerine, titanium dioxide (or other colorant), confectioner's glaze, carnauba wax, acesulfame K, aspartame, maltodextrin, BHT; and/or the like. In some illustrative example, gum breath fresheners can include one or more of the following ingredients (such as, e.g., found in WRIGLEY'S SPEARMINT chewing gum sticks): sugar; gum base; corn syrup; dextrose; natural and artificial flavors, softeners, acesulfame K, BHT and/or the like).

In some embodiments, each individual breath freshener can be individually wrapped within the container (such as, e.g., gum sticks which can, e.g., be wrapped with a paper material, a plastic material, a foil material (such as, e.g., a metalized foil, etc.) and/or the like. In some embodiments, two or more sets of a plurality of breath fresheners can be separately wrapped within the container. In some embodiments, all of the breath fresheners in the container can be wrapped insider the container, such as, e.g., using a paper wrap inside of a container (such as, e.g., seen in ALTOIDS mints).

In some embodiments, when an internal mirror is employed, preferably the oral-products will not have a significant tendency to crumble such that particulate material (such as, e.g., dust from mints or the like) does not accumulate on the mirror.

With reference to FIG. 9, the figure shows a schematic diagram with a plurality of containers filled with oral products, such as, e.g., breath fresheners, contained within a transport package (such as, e.g., a crate, cardboard box, box and/or the like) according to some preferred embodiments. In this regard, in some embodiments, the oral product filled containers are preferably packaged with a plurality of oral products therein by a manufacturer and/or the like. Then, the products are preferably sold and transported in a packaged state to distributors and/or retailers. Then, the products are preferably sold to end customers or users of the products. In some preferred embodiments, a multitude of filled containers are packaged in transport packages for transport from the manufacturer to the distributor(s) and/or the retailer(s) and/or for transport to the end customer(s).

As described above with reference to FIG. 4, in some embodiments a mirror can be formed underneath a separate mirror cover. In that regard, FIG. 4 shows a mirror cover that can be hinged to the container or that can include any other “covers or doors that are moved using other now or later known methodologies” (language quoted from below under Broad Scope of the Invention) such as, by way of example, employing a slider cover similar to that shown in FIG. 2. In this regard, FIG. 18 shows some illustrative embodiments in which a slideable mirror cover can be used to cover a container having a base and a mirror supporting insert fitted therein. Notably, in preferred embodiments, the base and the insert together form a structure that can be similar to that shown in FIGS. 10-17(D). As discussed above, in these types of illustrative embodiments employing a separate mirror cover, the mirror can be protected from external environmental factors (e.g., under the cover) and can be isolated from the container interior (e.g., separate from the oral product therein).

As described above, FIG. 10 is a front perspective view according to some embodiments, FIG. 11 is a first end view taken from the left side of the embodiment shown in FIG. 10, FIG. 12 is a second end view taken from the right side of the embodiment shown in FIG. 10, FIG. 13 is a side view taken from a front side of the embodiment shown in FIG. 10, FIG. 14 is a side view taken from a back side of the embodiment shown in FIG, FIG. 15 is a top view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 10, and FIG. 16 is a bottom view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 10.

In the preferred embodiments, in the device shown in FIG. 10, a base (which is preferably formed of metal, such as, e.g., aluminum, steel, tin and/or any other appropriate metal) is provided that contains (e.g., snugly receives) an insert (which is preferably formed of plastic or the like) that supports a mirror as shown. In this regard, as shown in FIG. 15, the insert preferably includes a mirror that is mounted thereon. For example, the insert can include a recess that is configured to surround the mirror and to support the mirror such that a front face of the mirror is substantially flush with a front face of the insert.

In the preferred embodiments, as shown in FIG. 18, during assembly, the insert can be initially removed. Then, product (e.g., mints can be easily loaded into the base). Then, the insert can be easily placed over the product so as to contain the same within the base. Preferably, the insert includes a plurality of depending wide leg portions that taper slightly inwards to snugly wedge into the base when inserted (in the illustrated embodiment, four leg portions are shown by way of example). Preferably, the legs slide freely around any product within the base. In this manner, filling is simplified and does not need to be done via the small dispensing opening or the like. In this manner, the mirror can be supported external to the product. In addition, the mirror can be supported internal to an external cover. In addition, the mirror can be supported on a substantially rigid, but flexible member (e.g., using a plastic insert having some resiliency) such that if the cover does bend, the insert can have some freedom of movement further protecting the mirror in some embodiments.

With reference to FIG. 15, in some embodiments, the dispensing opening includes a punch-put cover plate (not shown) sized to fit the opening. For instance, the plate could attach a few points around the opening to the insert body. Then, upon use, a user could punch out the plate and discard the cover plate or push the same down into the container. In some embodiments, however, the opening does not need to employ a cover plate, but the small opening can remain open. In the preferred embodiments, however, the insert substantially separates the mirror from the product compartment area (with, in some embodiments, a small exception for the region of the dispensing opening if such is open).

With respect to FIGS. 17(A)-17(D), these embodiments show other variations in which: FIG. 17(A) shows a view in which all lines shown in dashes are optional, but where the container includes a small opening in the upper surface at the location shown (NB: the opening can have a variety of shapes an this embodiment shows an illustrative circular opening which can be employed); FIG. 17(B) shows a view in which the mirror is not formed to surround the opening, but is formed into a generally rectangular configuration (NB: this embodiment also shows an illustrative circular opening); FIG. 17(C) is similar to FIG. 17(B) with the opening at a different location; and FIG. 17(D) is similar to the embodiments shown in FIGS. 17(B) and 17(C) but shows the opening in dashed lines to demonstrate that in other embodiments, the opening can be at any other desired location (such as, e.g., even formed into the base or another location or the like.

With respect to the embodiments shown in FIGS. 10-18, these embodiments depict some preferred embodiments, substantially to scale according to some preferred embodiments of the invention. In some preferred embodiments, devices having the ornamental design as shown in these FIGS. are preferably implemented, which figures are substantially to scale and proportional in some illustrative embodiments.

FIG. 19(A) is a schematic diagram depicting the application of a shrink wrap or other wrapper around a container in some embodiments. As illustrated, in some preferred embodiments, an individual container can be further sealed within a shrink wrap wrapping, such as, e.g., a plastic or polymer wrapping. In some examples, as shown the individual containers 19C can be located within a generally tubular wrapper 19W, then heat can be applied such that the wrapper snuggly fits around and seals the container (e.g., in some examples, the shrink wrap can extend substantially around the entire container or can extend around a substantial portion of the container). Among other things, the shrink wrap can help to maintain the freshness of the product, can protect the container from scratching, etc., and can help prevent inadvertent sliding of the cover. In addition, the shrink wrap can also help provide a tamper-proof closure.

FIG. 19(B) is a view of a plurality of illustrative refill containers in some illustrative embodiments of the invention. In this regard, it is contemplated that individuals may initially purchase a container having a mirror according to one or more embodiment of the invention as described herein. These individuals can then, in some embodiments, purchase refill containers in order to replace mints or the like within the originally purchased containers. In this regard, the original container, having the mirror therein, can serve as, e.g., a collector's item. A user can keep the collector's item container and purchase refills for the container. It should be understood that, naturally, in other embodiments, the original containers can be disposed of as with any typical confectionary, mint and/or candy container.

As shown in FIG. 19(B), in some embodiments, refills can be purchased as “single packs”, such as, e.g., 19R1, in which the package contents is preferably sized to match that of the contents of an original container (i.e., such as, e.g., to enable easy measuring and replacement). In this regard, the refill container is preferably a very inexpensive container, such as, e.g., merely a plastic bag or the like (shown, by way of example, with mints therein in dashed lines and with a mounting card 19R1C). In some embodiments, refills can be purchased in packaged single-packs, such as, e.g., shown at 19R2 in which a single container (shown in dashed lines) contains a plurality of single packs (e.g., five in this illustrative embodiment). In some embodiments, refills can be purchased in bulk, such as, e.g., a large jar of mints 19R3 can be purchased to refill the original mirror container.

In some embodiments, in order to enhance the collector's item nature of the containers, unique slogans, fortunes (such as, e.g., within common fortune cookies), horoscopes, date stamps, holiday or information or the like can be printed or otherwise formed on containers, such as, e.g., on batches of containers. By way of example, containers could be printed with seasonal information, such as, e.g., “Valentines Day 2005,” or “Be prepared, romance and passion are just ahead” or the like. In some preferred embodiments, such printing, engraving or the like could relate to romantic issues, such as, e.g., relationships and/or romantic events or the like. In some embodiments, the printing, engraving or the like could be formed at a location inside of said container (e.g., such as, upon a portion of the mirror, upon a portion of an insert adjacent the mirror, or even upon a removable sticker or the like within said container), so that such would be obstructed from view upon initial purchase and revealed upon opening of the container.

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of an embodiment similar to the embodiments shown in FIGS. 10-18. However, the embodiment shown in FIG. 20 includes one or more mirror-display component. In particular, in some embodiments, when in a closed-state or condition, such as, e.g., in a condition in which a container is being displayed for sale to a consumer, it can be difficult for a consumer to conceptualize or to appreciate the originality and distinctiveness of the mirror inside of the container.

As shown in FIG. 20, one variation of the embodiments shown in FIGS. 10-18 would be to include a mirror-display component having at least one through-hole 20TH in the sliding lid or top 20L. In this manner, a consumer could observe the mirror while such is in a closed condition. In some embodiments, the hole 20TH can be covered by a substantially clear plastic shrink wrap or the like for additional protection (if desired). As illustrated in FIG. 20, in some embodiments, the lid 20L includes at least one (two shown in the illustrated embodiment) dimple depressions 20D that extend downward into the interior of the container a small extent (such as, e.g., about 1 mm or less). Here, when the lid 20L is moved laterally in the direction of the arrow A into an open condition depicted via dashed lines 20LD in which a dispensing opening and the mirror are both exposed, the dimples will abut an inside surface of the end wall 20EW of the container bottom. Preferably, at this position, the lid 20L is located such that the mirror exposed in a closed state is covered by the lid 20L in the open state (see, e.g., the dashed line 20DL depicting the edge of the lid in an open-most state). As a result, the mirror contained under the lid in the closed state can be maintained protected to provide a clean mirror view. And, in the event that the exposed mirror in the closed state becomes slightly dirty or marred (such as, e.g., by fingerprints) such will not be in view when the container is opened.

As also shown in FIG. 20, another variation of the embodiments shown in FIGS. 10-18 would be to include a mirror-display component having at least one mirror or mirror-like reflective element 20R located on an exterior surface of the container. In some embodiments, the mirror or mirror-like reflective element 20R on the exterior surface can be a miniature element that is provided to enhance user recognition of the uniqueness and distinctiveness of the mirror inside the container. By way of example, in some embodiments, the element 20R can include a mirror or mirror-like reflective element with a width of about ¼ to ½ inches and a length of about ⅓ to ⅔ inches. In some embodiments, the element 20R can be substantially rectangular. In some embodiments, written indicia can accompany the element 20R so as to facilitate recognition of the association to be acquired therefrom. For example, in some embodiments, the words MIRROR INSIDE can be located upon the element 20R in order to enhance the consumer appreciation for the uniqueness and distinctiveness and the mirror inside. The element 20R can, thus, operate as a distinctive trademark to help consumer recognition.

FIG. 20 also shows an illustrative dimple 20d that can be included so as to help retain the lid 20L in a closed state. Upon laterally sliding the lid into an open condition, the dimple 20d shall resiliently snap over the top of the end wall 20EW. Such a retaining dimple 20d can be employed in various embodiments described herein.

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of an embodiment similar to the embodiments shown in FIGS. 10-18, including an enlarged container opening sized to accommodate placement of larger items within said container, such as, e.g., coins and/or other items. In particular, FIG. 21 depicts a bottom half 21B of a container similar to that shown in FIGS. 10-18. In FIG. 21, a lid is omitted. However, in preferred embodiments, a sliding lid will be included similar to that shown in FIGS. 10-18. As shown in FIG. 21, an insert 21I (such as, e.g., a plastic insert similar to that shown in FIG. 18) preferably supports a mirror 21M. In addition, the insert 21I preferably also includes a dispensing opening. In contrast to the dispensing openings shown in FIGS. 10-18, the dispensing opening in FIG. 21 is preferably configured to be enlarged or enlargeable.

In this manner, in some preferred embodiments, upon the emptying of the contents, a user can more readily utilize the container to hold other ancillary items, such as, e.g., change, jewelry, pins, pictures, photographs, pencils, contact lenses (e.g., within contact lens case), drugs or pharmaceuticals (such as, e.g., aspirins) stamps and/or other items.

In this illustrative example, the dispensing opening can be enlarged by pivoting open a door or container-opening-lid 21COL, which can pivot around the hinge 20HI (such as, e.g., a thinned, flexible plastic region) in the direction of the arrow A shown in FIG. 21. In some embodiments, a finger or thumb tab 21TT can be provided to facilitate manual opening of the lid 21COL. In some embodiments, such an enlarged lid 21COL can be used for the dispensing of the mints or the like within the container. In some embodiments, a smaller hole or opening 21H could be provided, such as, e.g., within a center of the lid 21COL for the dispensing of the mints or the like. Then, upon dispensing of the contents, a user could use the enlarged opening as described above.

In some embodiments, the opening 21COL is configured so as to be large enough to accommodate coins having a diameter of at least about between ½ and ¾ inches, such as, e.g., United States quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies, etc. With reference to FIG. 21, in some illustrative and non-limiting embodiments, containers can include dimensions as follows (or can include, in some embodiments, sizes that are proportional similar to such dimensions): a length L1 of about 3 inches to 3 and ¼ inches (or, e.g., about 3 and 2/16 inches in some embodiments); a width W1 of about 1 and ⅛ inches to 1 and ½ inches (or, e.g., about 1 and 5/16 in some embodiments); a height H1 of about ⅜ to ⅝ inches (or, e.g., about 8/16 in some embodiments). In addition, in some embodiments, mirror has dimensions (or a proportional sizes to) of a width of about 2 and ⅛ inches to 2 and ⅜ inches (or, e.g., in some embodiments about 2 and ¼ inches) and a width of about ⅞ inches to 1 and ⅛ inches (or, e.g., in some embodiments about 1 inch). In some embodiments, the exposed area of the mirror in a fully open state has a width of about ⅞ inches to 1 and ⅛ inches (or, e.g., in some embodiments about 1 inch) and a length of about 1 and ⅜ to 1 and ⅞ inches (or, e.g., in some embodiments about 1 and ⅝ inches).

FIG. 22 is a perspective view of an embodiment similar to the embodiments shown in FIGS. 10-18. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 22, a lid 22L is shown separated above the container body 22B for illustrative purposes. However, the lid can be formed so as to laterally slide in the direction of, e.g., the arrow A as in embodiments shown in FIGS. 10-18. In the embodiment shown in FIG. 22, a dispensing opening is formed in an end 22E of the container body 22B. Among other things, this embodiment enables the mirror 22M to extend across substantially all of the area beneath the lid, such that upon retraction of the lid, e.g., in the direction of the arrow A, the mirror can be more immediately seen (i.e., rather than requiring the lid to first pass behind a dispensing opening as in some embodiments described herein). In this illustrative embodiment, the insert 221 includes a flange 22F that is located over an opening 22EO in an end of the container body 22B. In operation, the lid 22L can be slid laterally in the direction A, such that the hinge HI of the flap 22F can be exposed such that the flap can be moved open in the direction of the arrow AO. In some embodiments, a user can grasp the flap using the finger or thumb tab 22TT. In some embodiments, the hinge 22HI can be biased (e.g., spring-like) such that the flap is moved downward to cover the end opening when the lid 22L slides over the hinge 22HI, but that when the lid 22L slides off the lid, the flap assumes an open position by moving in a direction AO as shown.

FIG. 23 is a partial cross-sectional side view of a container as shown in FIG. 22, with the container bottom 22B shown in dashed lines only. Among other things, FIG. 23 helps illustrate how the lid 22L can extend over the flap in a closed condition such that an portion 22BL of the lid can block upward motion of the flap 22F, which may pivot about the hinge 22HI (e.g., which may involve a resilient bias in the direction of the arrow as discussed above).

Among other things, in embodiments in which the flap 22F is normally biased into an open position, the mere moving of the lid in the direction of the arrow A shown in FIG. 22 can result in a) exposing of the mirror and b) opening of the flap due to unblocking of the flap. Then, upon moving the lid in the direction opposite to the arrow A, the lid (such as, e.g., at portion 22BL) can create a camming or pushing action against the flap so as to cause the flap to assume a closed condition as shown in FIGS. 22 and 23.

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of a modified insert 24I similar to that shown in FIGS. 22 and 23, but where the insert includes an opening that pivots downward in the direction of the arrow AO. In this example, the flap 24F may pivot downward around the hinge 24I. In some embodiments, the flap 24F could similarly be spring biased into an open position. In addition, a snap-fit or other interlock mechanism could be included between the flap 24F and the lid, such that in a closed state with the lid over the container, the flap 24F can be snap fit into a closed state. Then, upon moving the lid 22L in the direction of the arrow A shown in FIG. 22, the snap-fit or other interlock mechanism can be released so as to allow the user to easily expose the mirror 24M while concurrently causing the flap to be opened (e.g., to be released) with a single motion of the lid.

FIG. 25 is a partial perspective view of another embodiment in which a dispensing opening 25DO, for oral-products, such as, e.g., mints, is located on a lateral side of the container body 25B. As shown, in some exemplary constructions, the lid 25L could, e.g., be formed as a generally tubular sleeve that surrounds the container body 25B or at least the portions of the container having the mirror 25M and the dispensing opening 25DO.

FIG. 26(A) is a perspective front view of a wire rack 26R for displaying and/or shipping of a plurality of containers. In some preferred embodiments, a plurality of containers 26C (such as, e.g., 48 containers in the illustrative embodiment shown) can be located on the rack 26R, which rack 26R can be placed within a package, such as, e.g., within a box for shipping. In this manner, product can be readily unpackaged and ready for display without additional handling of the product. In some preferred embodiments, as shown, the rack includes a mirror-display component 26MV which includes an open or openable sample display container mounted thereon. In this manner, consumers can readily perceive the distinctiveness and the mirror inside the containers. In some preferred embodiments, the mirror-display component 26MV is mounted on the rack during shipping to a retail establishment. However, in some preferred embodiments, the mirror-display component 26MV is mounted so as to pivot downward in the direction of the arrow A shown in FIG. 26(A), such as, e.g., to enable the mirror-display component to be located below the top edge of the rack for easy placement within a shipping package, box, carton or the like.

In some embodiments, as shown the mirror-display or view element 26MV can include a container support 26CS that is pivotally mounted upon a pivot bar 26PB that is, preferably, positioned at a level below the top of the rack. In this manner, the mirror-display element 26MV pivots well below the upper end of the rack in preferred embodiments. In the illustrative preferred embodiments, the mirror-view element preferably depicts a sample of the container in an open condition with the dispensing opening 26DO exposed and/or with the mirror 26M exposed (preferably both exposed). In this illustrative embodiment, the dispensing opening 26DO and the mirror 26M are both formed within an insert 26I similar to that shown in FIG. 18.

In the illustrative embodiment shown in FIG. 26(A), the rack includes two tiers of containers, each containing three rows of containers. Other embodiments, can include more or less tiers and/or rows and/or various other modifications as desired based on circumstances.

In some preferred embodiments, the rack includes label placement surfaces 26LB, such as, e.g., located upon each tier proximate bottoms of containers thereon, which label placement surfaces can be used to include, e.g., product information, advertising, price information and/or the like. Additionally, such surfaces can be used by the distributor to provide information for the consumer's view and/or can be used by the retailer (i.e., that receives such from the distributor) so as to include similar, additional or modified information for consumers. In some embodiments, as shown in FIG. 26(C), the label placement surfaces can be modified so as to include other placement or label holding mechanisms as known in the art, such as, e.g., to include a common channel-type label placement mechanism as shown in FIG. 26(C) that can be used to insert and retain product and/or the like information cards (see, e.g., illustrative card 26LBC).

FIG. 26(B) is a perspective view of a wire rack 26R as shown in FIG. 26(A) adjacent an illustrative shipping and/or display carton 26BX and a plurality of illustrative containers according to some illustrative embodiments. It is noted that all of the items and features shown in FIGS. 26(A) and 26(B) show illustrative embodiments, of containers, racks, and cartons, respectively, in proportional relationship and to scale. In FIG. 26(B), the wire rack 26R shows a partial perspective view of the rack shown in FIG. 26(A). In addition, the carton 26BX demonstrates one illustrative and preferred method for display of product, including, e.g., a upstanding information label 26BXL integrated into the carton (which can be flipped downward to protect the same during shipping), and including, e.g., a front recess cut-out 26BXCO to facilitate manual removal of the containers 26C upon display.

FIG. 27(A) illustrates some exemplary oral products that can be contained and dispensed from containers according to some illustrative embodiments of the invention described herein. FIG. 27(A) shows illustrative oral products, including, e.g., a plurality of illustrative mints/candies, a plurality of illustrative cigarettes, and a plurality of cigarettes depicted within a container body.

By way of example, illustrative oral products can include mints 27M. In some illustrative embodiments, said mints are generally cylindrical in shape and have a height h of about 2/8 to 6/8 centimeters, or more preferably, about ½ centimeter and have a diameter d of about 2/8 to 6/8 centimeters, or more preferably, about ½ centimeter. In some preferred embodiments, said mints have a white color. In addition, as for colors used, in some preferred embodiments, the container exterior has a substantially pink exterior color (e.g., including the exterior of the container bottom and lid in embodiments like that shown in FIG. 18), which is particularly desirable for romantic environments and is particularly distinct for certain preferred uses of the preferred embodiments. Moreover, as for sizes, in some preferred embodiments, the dispensing opening for oral products is sized to allow a few of the oral products to be dispensed at a time (such as, e.g., about 1 to 5 items). By way of example, with mints having a height and diameter of each about ½ centimeter, in some illustrative embodiments, the dispensing opening can be, e.g., about 6-8 centimeters wide (or, e.g., about 7 centimeters wide) and about 1.0 to 1.4 centimeters long (or, e.g., about 1.2 centimeters long) in some illustrative and non-limiting embodiments. Some preferred embodiments include dispensing openings having a surface area that is less than about 10 times that of the planar surface area of the product, or preferably less than about 5 times that of the planar surface area of the product, or preferably less than about 4 times that of the planar surface area of the product (such as, e.g., with cylindrical mints having a diameter of ½ centimeter, wherein mint planar surface area is, thus, equal to pi times r-squared or pi/16 cm2).

As another example, FIG. 27(A) shows illustrative cigarettes 27CG that can be oral products contained in some embodiments of the invention. In this regard, the provision of a mirror in a cigarette package can similarly have notable advantages, such as, e.g., in that some cigarette smokers deem cigarettes to be a useful to personally freshen one's breath and in that cigarette smokers are often concerned or interested in their personal image, tooth complexion and the like. In some embodiments, the cigarettes could also involve candy or confectionary cigarettes or mentholated cigarettes or cigarettes including mint flavoring and/or the like for breath freshening purposes and the like.

By way of illustration, FIG. 27(A) shows a plurality of cigarettes placed within a container body 27B and FIG. 27(B) shows an illustrative container 27C for use with dispensing cigarettes, in which the container can be substantially similar to that shown in FIG. 18, but with an increased height I with cigarettes placed therein lengthwise such as to readily be removed from the dispensing opening 27DO in the direction of the arrow shown, with, in this embodiment, the lid 27L and mirror 27M being, thus, located on a side of the container that is not necessarily a largest side of the container.

According to some preferred embodiments, a method of making and/or distributing containers according to one or more embodiment of the invention herein can include the following:

1. First, a manufacturer of containers can offer to manufacture containers in a manner to include information, such as, e.g., company logos, company trademarks, personal information, event information and/or other information printed, stamped, engraved or otherwise formed upon the containers, such as, e.g., upon a surface of the container. By way of example, in FIG. 26, containers have a trademark LITTLE I printed thereon.

2. Second, a requesting entity, such as, an organization, company and/or other entity can have the manufacturer add information to containers to be made specific to the request of the requesting entity.

3. Third, the manufacturer can manufacture such containers with such specialized information formed thereon, which containers would, typically, be purchased from the manufacturer by the requesting entity.

4. Fourth, the requesting entity can distribute such containers as promotional items, premiums, give-aways and/or the like.

In some preferred embodiments, a container according to some embodiments of the invention can be filled with mints or the like. Then, the user can advantageously use the mirror within the container for the purposes of conducting personal make-up treatment or make-overs. In this regard, rather than merely using the mirror to, for example, inspect the individual's teeth (such as, e.g., where the individual may desire to observe the mint within the individual's mouth), the user will specifically use the mirror to provide such personal make-up or make-over treatment. By way of example, such make-up or make-over treatments may include, e.g., placement of blush, eyeliner, mascara, eye-shadow, make-up, skin creams and/or the like upon the user's face or visage. Concurrently, the mint may preferably concurrently enhance the user's mood due to the pleasurable taste and/or breath enhancing qualities. Accordingly, in some preferred embodiments, the mints are retailed in such a manner to instruct or to suggest the usage of such mints in the context of conducting make-up or make-over treatments, such as, e.g., by suggesting use in such environments due to direct suggestive language in advertising, by written instructions (which should not typically be required), or due to the context of the sale (such as, e.g., by selling the mints in a make-up section of a store or among other make-up related items to help the customer develop such an association with the suggested use of the mirror within the container).

Additional Embodiments

E.G., Sleeved Embodiments

FIGS. 28 to 35 depict some additional embodiments which include, in some preferred embodiments, sleeved container bodies and laterally slid product insert packages. Among other things, these embodiments can employ some advantageous very novel features described herein-above and/or additional very novel features as set forth herein-below. While these embodiments most preferably are used for containing chewing gum, these embodiments can also be used to contain a variety of other products, such as, e.g., mints, candies, tooth picks, confectioneries, other oral products and/or the like. In some illustrative examples, the chewing gum can include a gum base and a variety of other ingredients, as well as some atypical ingredients, such as, e.g., caffeine, breath freshener, etc., as well as, e.g., ingredients described above in this application.

FIG. 28 is a perspective view of an illustrative container body according to some other embodiments of the invention, and FIG. 29 is a perspective view of an illustrative product package receivable within the container body shown in FIG. 28.

In this regard, as shown in FIG. 28, in some embodiments, a container assembly can be provided that includes an outer container body CB. In some preferred embodiments, the outer container body is made of a substantially rigid metal such as to be able to withstand significant forces applied to the container similar to that during normal use of the product. As noted above, in some illustrative embodiments, the metals employed can include, e.g., tin, aluminum, stainless steel, iron, copper and/or other metal. In some preferred embodiments, the container body is formed from metal materials having a substantial strength and rigidity. In this regard, in some embodiments, the container body has sufficient strength as to support a load applied in the direction of the arrows F1 and/or F2 shown in FIG. 30(A) (e.g., applied uniformly over a surface of the container) of greater than 10 lbs., or, more preferably, of greater than 20 lbs, or, more preferably, of greater than 40 lbs, or, more preferably, of greater than 60 lbs, or, more preferably, of greater than 80 lbs, or, more preferably, of greater than 100 lbs, or, more preferably, of greater than 200 lbs. In contrast, prior products shown in, e.g., FIG. 34 have almost no ability or need to support virtually any loads applied thereto. On the other hand, in the preferred embodiments, the container body CB would have the ability to resist compression during normal usage of the product by a user, such as, e.g., placement within a user's pocket, etc.

In addition, in some preferred embodiments, the container body includes embossed sections or punched sections within the face of the container body that create raised or depressed ornamentation and/or indicia, such as, e.g., logos, trademarks and/or the like so as to create an interesting and sophisticated product appearance.

In addition, in some preferred embodiments, the container body includes an outer layer or coating, such as, e.g., a paint coating, a chrome coating and/or another ornamental coating there-over.

While the preferred embodiments employ metal materials, in some other embodiments, other rigid or substantially rigid materials can be employed, such as, e.g., composite materials, rigid plastics, glass, wood, ceramics and/or the like.

In the preferred embodiments shown in FIG. 28, a metal sleeve is employed that includes a through-hole TH in one broad face of the container body. Most preferably, at the interior of the container body CB, a mirror M is mounted. Preferably, this mirror is mounted so as to be viewable from outside of said container body via the through-hole TH. In some embodiments, the mirror M can be sized commensurate with the size of the through-hole, such as, e.g., shown in the illustrative example depicted in FIG. 28.

In some preferred embodiments, the container body CB is formed from a sleeve having a substantially rectangular cross-sectional configuration, within an open front wall F and, in some preferred embodiments, an open back wall B (not shown in FIG. 28, but located opposite to the front wall F). In some preferred embodiments, the container body is formed by roll-forming one or more metal sheets and by cutting the through-hole TH in the metal sheet(s). In some embodiments, the container body can be formed by extrusion, with the through-hole TH cut out of the extruded sleeve.

Referring now to FIG. 29, an illustrative container package-insert portion is shown. As shown, in some embodiments, the package insert includes a plurality of blister pockets BP, which each contain a respective piece of chewing gum. In some embodiments, the chewing gum can include common chewing gum ingredients, such as, e.g., ingredients set forth herein-above and/or ingredients as shown in the illustrative conventional chewing gum packages shown in FIG. 34 (e.g., including, among other elements, a gum base such that the product can be chewed within the teeth of a user such as to form a semi-resilient mass that is re-shaped as the user bites into the gum as is well known). Among other things, in some embodiments, the container insert-portion shown in FIG. 29 can include, e.g., features similar to that described above in relation to having each individual breath freshener individually wrapped within the container insert portion (such as, e.g., gum sticks which can, e.g., be wrapped with a paper material, a plastic material, a foil material (such as, e.g., a metalized foil, etc.) and/or the like.

In some embodiments, the product container insert portion IS includes a generally flat plastic sheet PS having a plurality of upward standing blister pockets BP formed therein. Each blister pocket preferable contains a respective gum stick G therein. In the preferred embodiments, the gum stick is generally rectangular, as shown. However, other configurations can be used. Preferably, the gum sticks are between about ½ to 1½ inches long and between about ⅓ to 1 inches wide. As shown in FIG. 29, preferably the bottom of the insert portion IS includes a tearable sheet, such as, e.g., a metal foil or the like, covering the bottom sides of the blister pockets BP. In this manner, the gum can be discharged from the insert portion by applying a downward force in the direction of the arrow A shown in FIG. 29 (such as, e.g., using one's fingers) so as to tear the sheet F at the vicinity of the bottom of the depressed blister pocket BP, such as to release the gum G as shown.

In use by a consumer, an insert IS can be located within the container body such that the mirror M is obstructed from view in a stored position (i.e., in which gum G is not being dispensed). In order to dispense the gum G, the consumer may then move the insert (e.g., via one's fingers) laterally within the sleeve of the container CB (e.g., in the direction of the arrow Z). Preferably, when the insert IS container the gum G is laterally moved to a dispensing position, the mirror M is simultaneously exposed via the through-hole TH. While in some preferred embodiments, the through-hole is formed interior to the side edges of the face FC of the container body CB, in some embodiments, the through-hole TH can be made so as to extend to the front F of the container body. For example, in such an example, the edges of the through hole can, e.g., be formed to have arcuate portions AP to avoid having sharp edges that may injure a user's fingers. In this manner, a user can readily use one's fingers to move the insert IS within the container body CB, whether via a through hole that extends through to the front face F or via a through hole formed in the face FC of the container body CB.

In some embodiments, the sheet F can include printing thereon, such as, e.g., assorted product information, including ingredients, nutritional facts, trademark information, and/or the like.

In some embodiments, the insert IS can be stored within the container body CB for retail to consumers as an integrated assembly. On the other hand, in some embodiments, one or more container body CB can be sold separately from the insert IS as an independent sales item. Similarly, in some embodiments, one or more insert IS can be sold separately from the container body CB as an independent sales item.

Among other things, in the embodiments shown in FIGS. 28 and 29 some advantages similar to that shown in FIG. 20 can be achieved, including, e.g., that a mirror can be stored inside of a container parallel to and underneath a tin or metal wall of the container, and, in particular, parallel to and underneath such a wall while visible via a through-hole or window in such wall. Among other things, this can enable easy viewing of the mirror, while concurrently maintaining the mirror in a highly protected condition.

Among other things, in the embodiments shown in FIGS. 28 and 29 some advantages similar to that shown in FIG. 25 can be achieved, including, e.g., employing a container body that is in the form of a sleeve and an interior container that is laterally slid within the sleeve. Among other things, employing such a sleeve can provide a substantial protective shroud-like condition for the internal container packaging. In addition, employing such a sleeve that is not necessarily hinged or otherwise connected to the interior product container package can facilitate construction of the interior product container from a differing material to the sleeve, such as, e.g., employing a common blister-pack interior product container along with a unique metallic outer container body.

FIGS. 30(A) to 30(E) show some illustrative mirror mounting techniques according to some illustrative embodiments of the invention. In this regard, these figures show a front view in the direction of the front F of respective container designs. In the example shown in FIG. 30(A), the mirror M is mounted within the container body CB using glue GL. In this illustrative example, the glue GL is shown as applied at a plurality of spots or locations. Preferably, the glue GL fixedly retains the mirror M to the container body CB. However, in some preferred embodiments, the structural strength of the mirror M is greater than the retention force of the glue GL between the interior of the container body CB and the mirror M. Accordingly, in the event that forces are applied to the container body CB (such as, e.g., forces F1 and/or F2 shown in FIG. 30(A)) which may cause the container body CB to bend or buckle, such as, e.g., shown in dotted and dashed lines in FIG. 30(A), then the mirror will have a tendency to separate at least partly from the container body CB rather than to break. Notably, by including glue at a plurality of locations (such as, e.g., at three locations shown), then separation of one or two glue spots would not necessarily result in having the mirror M fall out due to such bending forces.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 30(B), the mirror M can be mounted, e.g., within an insert IT, such as, e.g., a plastic insert, which can be retained within the container body CB in a variety of ways, such as, e.g., via glue and/or the like. Similarly, the mirror can be retained in the plastic insert in a variety of ways, such as, e.g., via glue, press fitting, etc. FIG. 30(C) shows another embodiment similar to that shown in FIG. 30(B) in which the insert IT extends across substantially the entire interior of the container body CB. In some embodiments, the insert IT shown in FIG. 30(C) can include legs (shown in dashed lines) similar to the embodiments described in the preceding sections (e.g., related to embodiments shown in the above-referenced prior-filed patent applications). Among other things, in this manner, the insert IT can be located within the container body in a manner to be retained therein but to move to some degree relative to the walls of the container body, such as, e.g., to facilitate protecting the mirror M within the container body.

FIG. 30(D) shows another embodiment in which the mirror M has beveled edges so as to facilitate lateral sliding of the insert IS shown in FIG. 29 into the sleeved container body CB. In some embodiments, the mirror can be affixed via adhesives and/or the like.

FIG. 30(E) shows another embodiment in which the mirror M is received within a depending recess DR formed with the container body CB. In this manner, the top surface of the mirror is preferably situated so as to be at or beneath the surface SF of the bottom interior wall of the container CB, whereby facilitate lateral sliding of the insert IS shown in FIG. 29 into the sleeved container body CB. The mirror can be retained in such a depending recess using, e.g., glue and/or other adhesives such as, e.g., described herein. In some preferred embodiments, where a portion of the bottom of the container body CB is depressed due to such a depending recess, one or more dimples DP are preferably formed within the bottom surface such that the container can rest stably (e.g., without wobbling) upon a horizontal surface, such as, e.g., a table or the like. Preferably, such dimples DP will extend downward a similar distance to that of the downward extent of the depending recess DR. In some preferred embodiments, two dimples DP can be applied proximate two corners to facilitate stability. In some embodiments, the depending recess DR and/or the dimples DP can be formed using a punch mechanism whereby to punch such a shape into the container body using a punching press or the like.

Referring now to FIGS. 31 to 33, a number of illustrative non-public prototype products are shown demonstrating some illustrative embodiments. In these exemplary embodiments, the mirror M is not recessed within a depression or formed with chamfered edges or the like so as to facilitate sliding of an insert therein. Accordingly, these illustrative examples are merely mock-ups and do not represent commercial embodiments. Nevertheless, FIGS. 31 to 33 do show some preferably dimensions and sizes according to some illustrative embodiments, with FIG. 31, by way of example, substantially to size and scale for some illustrative embodiments. In this regard, FIG. 31 is an illustrative top view of a non-public prototype product, with dimensions to scale according to some illustrative embodiments, while FIG. 32 is an illustrative rear view of a non-public prototype product similar to that shown in FIG. 31, with dimensions to scale according to some illustrative embodiments, and while FIG. 33 is an illustrative perspective view showing a plurality of illustrative non-public prototype products similar to that shown in FIG. 31, with dimensions to scale according to some illustrative embodiments.

To facilitate reference and appreciation for the embodiments of the present invention, FIG. 34 shows two conventional products in which blister-pack gum packs are received within flexible card-board sleeves, related to products sold by ORBIT brand and TRIDENT brand, respectively.

In some preferred embodiments, referring now to FIG. 31, a length L of the container CB is between about 3 and 7 inches, or more preferably, between about 4 and 6 inches, or more preferably, roughly about 5 inches, while a width W of the container CB is between about 1½ and 3½ inches, or more preferably, between about 2 and 2½, or more preferably, roughly about 2¼ inches. In some preferred embodiments, the length L is at least two times as long as the width W. Moreover, in some illustrative embodiments, the height H is between about 3/16 and ⅝ of an inch, or, more preferably, between about ¼ and ½ of an inch. In some other embodiments, the container body can be configured so as to be similar in size and shape to either of the two the flexible cardboard containers shown in FIG. 34, in which FIG. 34 is shown substantially to size and scale in some illustrative embodiments.

While the embodiments shown in FIGS. 31 to 33 have a different dimensional configuration than the examples shown in FIG. 34, whereby inserts for each of the products shown in FIG. 34 would not fit readily within a container body as shown in FIG. 34, it is contemplated that in some embodiments, a container body CB according to the present invention may be sized and dimensioned similar to existing flexible container bodies, such as, e.g., that shown in FIG. 34, whereby inserts for such existing flexible container bodies can be placed within a container body according to an embodiment of the present invention. As a result, gum and/or the like products sold by other companies can be used in conjunction with a container body CB of the present invention. By way of example, this has significant market advantages: such as, e.g., that one can sell or retail container bodies alone according to some embodiments herein, such that there is a market merely for container bodies without requiring consumers to “switch” their present brand usage.

As another example, one novel business methodology would be to retail container bodies and/or assemblies having container bodies and inserts which are dimensioned similar to that of existing products, such as, e.g., those shown in FIG. 34. In this manner, gum users can purchases products according to the present invention and use such products on a limited basis at first (e.g., trying the gum or the like sold by the company owning the present invention, while still be able to store gum or the like sold by other companies within the containers of the present invention). Then, as a consumer develops an interest in the containers of the present invention, the owner of the present invention can begin to market containers having a dissimilar configuration to that of the competitor products—whereby, increasing the potential to have additional consumers switch to the present company's brand of gum due to their desire for the present companies' novel container structures.

In addition, in some embodiments, multiple container styles can be marketed. For example, containers dimensioned and/or configured dissimilar to that of the existing products can be sold, along with gum inserts of the present company. And, concurrently, container bodies according to some embodiments of the present invention can be sold which are configured in the size and shape of one or more existing products, such as, e.g., those shown in FIG. 34, such that consumers of competitor's gum products can purchase containers of the present invention for use with such other competitor products. In some embodiments, container purchases can include coupons and/or other offers related to products of the present company, such as, e.g., offers for discounted gum insert purchases and/or the like to seek to encourage use of the present company's products.

As described above, in some embodiments, inserts IS can be sold separately such that users can purchase refills for the container bodies according to the present invention. By way of example, in some embodiments, a user can purchase a 3 pack, or a 5 pack, or a 10 pack, or a 20 pack, or some other multi-pack of inserts.

Reference is now made to FIG. 35 which is a perspective view of an illustrative package containing a metal container that is visible through a top opening of the package and a plurality of refill inserts beneath the metal container according to some illustrative embodiments. In some novel embodiments, as shown in FIG. 35, a user can purchase a package containing a single container body CB according to the present invention, along with a plurality of inserts IS as refills. In this embodiment, the metal (e.g., tin) container can be prominently displayed on an open side or via a transparent window of the packaging so that an ornamental product can be viewed by a purchaser, while the refills of inserts R can be contained (e.g., retained in an obstructed view) within the package. As shown in dashed lines in FIG. 35, in some examples, the package can include a shrink-wrap outer layer that protects and retains the products within the package.

BROAD SCOPE OF THE INVENTION

While illustrative embodiments of the invention have been described herein, the present invention is not limited to the various preferred embodiments described herein, but includes any and all embodiments having modifications, omissions, combinations (e.g., of aspects across various embodiments), adaptations and/or alterations as would be appreciated by those in the art based on the present disclosure. As merely other examples, various other embodiments can include containers with fully removable covers, replaceable covers and/or covers or doors that are moved using other now or later known methodologies. The limitations in the claims are to be interpreted broadly based on the language employed in the claims and not limited to examples described in the present specification or during the prosecution of the application, which examples are to be construed as non-exclusive. For example, in the present disclosure, the term “preferably” is non-exclusive and means “preferably, but not limited to.” Means-plus-function or step-plus-function limitations will only be employed where for a specific claim limitation all of the following conditions are present in that limitation: a) “means for” or “step for” is expressly recited; b) a corresponding function is expressly recited; and c) structure, material or acts that support that structure are not recited.