Shelf Organizer
Kind Code:

A gravity feed dispenser for containers, in which the dispenser carrying the containers includes a pair of longitudinally extending fingers engaging with shelf rack in snap-fitting relation to secure the dispenser in to the rack.

Trulaske, Steven L. (St. Louis, MO, US)
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, PC (St. Louis, MO, US)
1. A gravity feed container dispenser comprising a rack including a plurality of longitudinal rails, and a container dispenser comprising a dispenser including attachment means cooperating with the rails to hold the dispenser in place on the rack in snap-fitted relation.

2. A gravity feed container dispenser as defined in claim 1, wherein the attachment means comprises a pair of longitudinally extending stringers having upset portions engaging in the rails.

3. A gravity feed container dispenser as defined in claim 2 wherein the rails are spaced apart an equal amount and the attachment fingers are spaced apart a similar amount such that the dispenser is spaced from a similar dispenser to permit one of the dispensers to be readily removed from the rack without disturbing the other dispenser.

4. A gravity feed container dispenser as defined in claim 1 wherein the dispenser includes at least two spaced apart depending stringers, each engaging an adjacent one of the rails in snap-fitted relation.

5. A gravity feed container dispenser as defined in claim 1 wherein the dispenser includes spaced apart sidewalls for retaining the containers.

6. A gravity feed container dispenser as defined in claim 1 wherein the dispenser includes spaced apart sidewalls retaining the containers within the dispenser yet providing for easy removal from the dispenser.

7. A gravity feed container dispenser as defined in claim 1 wherein the dispenser includes a forward retaining strap engageable by the container.

8. A gravity feed container dispenser as defined in claim 1 wherein the dispenser includes a rearward retaining strap.

9. A gravity feed container dispenser as defined in claim 1 wherein at least the forward end of the rack includes a strap means whereby the dispenser may be readily removed from the dispenser.

10. A gravity feed container as defined in claim 1 wherein the dispenser includes a floor having a plurality longitudinally extending stringers and a plurality of laterally extending stringers.

11. A gravity feed container as defined in claim 10 wherein the laterally extending stringers include relief slits to permit flexibility of the containers.

12. A gravity feed container as defined in claim 11 wherein the slits are spaced to maintain rigidity in the vicinity of the attachment means.



Not Applicable.


Not Applicable.


This invention relates generally to container dispensers for refrigerators and particularly to a plurality of gravity feed dispensers which are snap-fitted to a merchandiser rack. The prior art includes U.S. Pat. No. 4,890,746 issued to True Manufacturing Co, Inc. of St. Louis, Mo.


This invention comprises a gravity feed container dispenser in which the dispenser provides longitudinally extending ribs on the defining attachments means engaging the rails of the shelf rack in snap-fitted relation to hold the dispenser in place.

It is an aspect of this invention to provide an open top container dispenser having spaced apart sidewalls to retain the containers.


FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the container dispenser;

FIG. 2 is a view of the dispenser snap fitted onto a shelf rack;

FIG. 3 is an elevational view of the dispenser;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the dispenser;

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of the dispenser snap-fittingly engaged with the shelf rack; and

FIG. 6 is a front view of the dispenser;

FIG. 7 is a rear view of the dispenser; and

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the shelf rack with the dispensers shown in the phantom outline

FIG. 9 is a perspective view showing the shelf rack loaded with bottle containers.


This shelf organizer consists essentially of a rack 20 formed from a generally rectangular frame 22 having opposed side members 24 and front and rear members 28 and lateral intermediate support members 32 extending between the side members 24 in generally parallel relation to said front and rear members 28. The rack 20 also includes a plurality of longitudinally extending rails 34 and front and rear upper stop members 44 lying on the rails 34 and providing stop members above the front and rear members 28, respectively. The rack 20 is preferably integrally formed by welding and is held in an inclined position, sloping downwardly from the rear end by clip supports 40. The profile of the refrigerator is shown by numeral 10.

The rack 20 provides container dispensers 50, preferably of plastic, which, in the embodiment shown, seats on the rack rails 34. The dispenser 50 in the preferred embodiment is preferably molded from plastic and includes opposed sidewalls 52 connected by a floor 54. The floor 54 includes a plurality of longitudinal stringers 56 extending substantially from top to bottom of the container 50, and a plurality of connecting lateral stringers 58 which extend substantially from side to side of said dispenser. At its front end the retainer includes a short floor portion 60 integrally formed with the longitudinal stringers 56. The sidewalls 52 are of diminishing height rearwardly and are connected by arcuate strap members 62 and 64 at its front and rear ends respectively. At its front end, intermediate the strap member 62 and the floor portion 60, are opposed, arcuately formed strap members 66 which are not connected.

The rack 20 may be seated on the clips 40 such that an inclined upper plane is formed from the upper surface of the rails 34. Typically, the inclined upper plane will be at about 5 to 10 degrees which is sufficient to provide an equally sloping floor for the container dispensers 50.

Importantly, each dispenser 50 is removably attached to the rack 20 so that the dispensers can be removed to accommodate different sized containers. To this end the container dispenser 50 includes opposed longitudinally extending stringers 80, 82 and 84 at intervals constituting attachment means which depend below the floor member and are spaced to engage the rails 34 in snap-fitted relation. As shown in FIG. 3 and in FIG. 5 each stringer 82 is spaced from its cooperating stringer 82 and includes a turned-in end 88 to facilitate the snap-fitting action.

Preferably, the rails 34 are equally spaced across width of the rack 20. Ideally, the distance between the outside faces of the stringers 82 is equal to the distance between the inside faces of the adjacent rail 34. With this arrangement the distance between the in-turned portion 88 of the stringers 80, 82 and 84 is slightly greater than that of the engaged rail 34 so that it is sprung below the rail 34 into overlapping engagement with the rail.

The configuration of the in-turned portion 88 of the finger, constituting upset stringer portions, is such that the retainer 50 is readily removed and replaced and yet is firmly held in position on the rack. Although bottle containers C is shown in FIG. 9, it will be understood that the container dispenser can also accept cans or other packages.

Typically, the container dispensers 50 are held in side-by-side relation touching, or almost touching, and the containers are slidingly received on the floor so as to be gravity fed on said floor with the angle of inclination of the container dispenser floor being adjusted by virtue of the clips 40. The containers C, which are shown in FIG. 9, are received within the dispensers 50 for easy removal and the dispensers themselves are readily removed as by pulling upwardly on the straps 62.

As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5 the lateral stringers 58 between the first and second rails from each side 52 include tapered relief slits 70. These relief slits 70 are spaced to permit the sides of the containers to flex, to suit different diameter containers, yet maintain rigidity between the lateral stringers, in the vicinity of the attachment means.

Also, the structure of the containers readily permits the length and width thereof to be adapted to suit the size of the cooler with which they are used by adjustment of the size and spacing of the lateral stringers.

Although the invention has been described by making detailed reference to a single preferred embodiment, such detail is to be understood in an instructive, rather than in any restrictive sense many variations being possible within the scope of the claims hereunto appended.