Title:
Food package with stacked, dual, sealed compartments
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Dual, sealed compartments for food packaging may be provided by a container having an upstanding wall or walls defining a first intermediate seal region. A cover may be heat sealed to the first intermediate seal region to form a first compartment with a first food item therein. Over the first cover may be a second compartment which may be closed by a second cover applied at the top of the package. The first cover may include a tab which extends upwardly through the second compartment so as to be grasped from above the second compartment. As a result, the second compartment may be opened and then the first compartment may be opened while the food item is still contained within the second compartment.



Inventors:
Foulke, Guy L. (Hilton Head Island, SC, US)
Application Number:
11/732922
Publication Date:
10/09/2008
Filing Date:
04/05/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D77/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
LONG, LUANA ZHANG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TROP, PRUNER & HU, P.C. (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A food package comprising: a container having a bottom surface and upstanding sidewall; a first sealing region intermediate along a height of the container to define a first compartment for a first food product; a second compartment, over the first compartment, to hold a second food product; a heat sealed second cover on said second compartment, said second cover closing said second compartment so that said first and second compartments may be stacked one on top of the other; and a heat-sealed first cover heat sealed to set first heat sealing region to close said first compartment, said first cover including an extension extending upwardly through the second compartment so as to be graspable from above the package and above the second compartment after the second cover is removed.

2. The package of claim 1 wherein said second compartment extends outwardly beyond said first compartment.

3. The package of claim 2 wherein said first sealing region is formed in a portion of said second compartment.

4. The package of claim 3 wherein said first cover includes foil laminate.

5. The package of claim 3 wherein said extension extends upwardly through said second compartment and along an underside of said second cover.

6. The package of claim 5 wherein said extension is only accessible after said second cover is removed.

7. The package of claim 1 including yogurt in one of said compartments and fruit in the other of said compartments.

8. The package of claim 1 wherein said first and second covers are releasable.

9. The package of claim 1 wherein said second compartment is wider than said first compartment.

10. A method comprising: packaging two different food products in two different stacked compartments; sealing a first food product in a lower first compartment beneath an upper second compartment; providing a cover on said upper second compartment; and providing a cover on said first compartment heat sealed over said first compartment and having a tab extending upwardly through the upper second compartment.

11. The method of claim 10 including forming said tab so as to extend upwardly against and along said cover on said upper second compartment.

12. The method of claim 11 including providing said second compartment that is wider than said first compartment.

13. The method of claim 10 including enabling said lower first compartment to be opened from above said upper second compartment.

14. The method of claim 10 including heat sealing covers on said first and second compartments.

15. The method of claim 10 including packaging yogurt in one of said compartments.

16. The method of claim 15 including packaging fruit in the other of said compartments.

17. The method of claim 10 including forming a seal on said lower first compartment that includes a foil laminate.

18. The method of claim 10 including sealing a cover on said lower first compartment on a land formed by said upper second compartment.

19. The method of claim 10 including enabling the food products in said first and second compartments to be mixed when the cover over said lower first compartment is removed.

20. The method of claim 10 including forming said first and second compartments from a single cup-shaped container.

Description:

BACKGROUND

This relates generally to packaging for food.

Convenience has been a key factor in food packaging. Many types of foods are packaged in a way that they may be readily consumed. For example, pre-prepared foods may be prepackaged in desired sizes to make convenient snacks or quick meals.

However, some foods may ideally be combined with other foods. Typically such foods are packaged separately. For example, potato chips may be packaged separately from dip and vegetables may be packaged separately from dip. Likewise, foods like yogurt may be packaged separately from topping such as fruit, granola, or nuts. The user must then open two packages and combine them.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a reduced cross-section of one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the seal on the lower compartment in accordance with one embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a food package 10 may be suitable for packaging two food items in separate, stacked compartments that are conveniently consumed together. Examples may be a food item and condiment, yogurt or ice cream and a topping, cereal and milk or fruit or a topping, oatmeal and a topping, crackers and peanut butter, vegetables or potato chips and dip, etc.

In some embodiments, the dual, sealed compartmented package 10 may be particularly adapted to materials that are consumed in a mixed state. For example, with yogurt, it may be desirable to provide the yogurt and the fruit or other toppings separately. Then they can be mixed at the time of consumption. This enables the fruit to stay fresher longer when it is not packaged within the yogurt itself. Moreover, it is possible in some embodiments to maintain different gaseous environments in the two packages to better preserve two different food items.

As shown in FIG. 1 in one embodiment, a single cup-shaped container or tray 12 may include both compartments. The tray 12 may have a sidewall 40 and a bottom wall 42. In one embodiment, the tray 12 may be made of a clear plastic or other heat-sealable materials. The tray 12 may be an upright circular cylinder in one embodiment. In other embodiments oval or rectangular shapes may also be used for either or both compartments. The tray 12 may include a cup-shaped lower compartment 22 having a food item C therein. The lower compartment 22 may have more vertical walls than the upper compartment 20 containing the food item D. The upper compartment 20 in one embodiment may have curved, outwardly-jutting walls which extend outwardly beyond the periphery of the lower compartment 22.

In one embodiment, the intersection between the upper and lower compartments 20, 22 defines a horizontal seal area 28 so that the lower cover 32 may be peripherally sealed over the lower compartment on the lower compartment 22.

In one embodiment, the lower cover 32 may be a heat-sealable laminated foil material. For example, it may be a laminate of aluminum foil and heat-sealable materials to enable the cover 32 to be heat sealed on the seal area 28.

As better shown in FIG. 2, the lower cover 32 may have a sealed area D that extends completely around the periphery of the package 10 and is sealed releasably to the seal area 28. The lower cover 32 also has an outwardly tapering extension 26. The extension 26 may have a height or length greater than the height in the vertical direction of the upper compartment 20. As a result, as shown in FIG. 1, the extension 26 may curl upwardly and extend parallel, under the upper cover 16.

The upper cover 16 may seal on an outwardly directed flange 30 that extends transversely outwardly from the rest of the package 10. The upper cover 16 may be a heat-sealable plastic material. It may extend outwardly beyond the package to create a tab 24.

To operate the package 10, the user initially pulls upwardly (as indicated by the arrow A) on the tab 24. This removes the upper cover 16 from the package 10 in whole or in part. Then, the extension 26 springs upwardly so it may be readily grasped by the user. The user may then pull upwardly on the extension 26 (as indicated by the arrows B) to release the lower cover 32 from the sealing area 28. As this is done, the food D in the upper compartment 20 naturally tends to mix with and be combined with the food C in the lower compartment 22.

As examples, the upper compartment 20 may contain fruit or granola that falls into the lower compartment 22, upon removal of the lower cover 32. Alternatively, the yogurt may be in the upper compartment 20, and fruit and/or granola may be in the lower compartment 22. In either case, upon opening the cover 32, mixing occurs between the two compartments.

Thus in some embodiments two food items may be packaged separately until time of use in the same or different environments and then may be mixed upon package opening and as a result of opening a lower compartment from about an overlying or stacked upper compartment.

While the present invention has been described with respect to a limited number of embodiments, those skilled in the art will appreciate numerous modifications and variations therefrom. It is intended that the appended claims cover all such modifications and variations as fall within the true spirit and scope of this present invention.