Title:
FOOD CONTAINER HAVING AN INTEGRATED NAPKIN HOUSING
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is a container for holding food, the container comprising a food-receiving compartment defined by a top panel, a bottom panel and at least one side panel. There is a separable section defined within one of the top, bottom and at least one side panel. A housing is associated with the separable section, the housing adapted to house a single napkin or multiple napkins that are interleaved within one another. An opening or slit is defined in the housing wherein when the separable section is separated from the panel, the opening is exposed and napkins can be withdrawn singly therethrough. The housing may be positioned in the food-receiving compartment or in a double-layered panel. The housing may be a plastic film retainer or a foil pouch. The container is especially useful as a pizza delivery box or a take-out food box.



Inventors:
Anderson, Bruce (Thunder Bay, CA)
Cimini, Aleardo (Thunder Bay, CA)
Application Number:
11/743682
Publication Date:
11/06/2008
Filing Date:
05/03/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B65D69/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ACKUN, JACOB K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARKS & CLERK (OTTAWA, ON, CA)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A container for holding food, the container comprising: a food-receiving compartment defined by a top panel, a bottom panel and at least one side panel; a separable section defined within one of the top, bottom and at least one side panel; a housing associated with the separable section, the housing adapted to house a napkin; and an opening defined in the housing; wherein when the separable section is separated from the panel, the opening is exposed and the napkin can be withdrawn through the opening.

2. The container of claim 1, wherein the housing is positioned in the food-receiving compartment.

3. The container of claim 2, wherein the housing is a foil pouch.

4. The container of claim 1, wherein the panel having the separable section is a double-layered panel and the housing is in the double-layered panel.

5. The container of claim 4, wherein the housing includes a plastic film retainer.

6. The container of claim 1, wherein the separable section is defined by perforated lines therearound that are punctured to separate the section and expose the opening.

7. The container of claim 1, wherein the separable section is defended by perforated lines around a major portion therearound, and the separable section further comprises a fold line so that when the perforated lines are punctured, the separable portion can be folded along the fold line to expose the opening.

8. The container of claim 1, wherein the separable housing is a peelable cover.

9. The container of claim 1, wherein the housing is adapted to house multiple napkins.

10. The container of claim 9, wherein the multiple napkins are interleaved between one another.

11. The container of claim 10, wherein the opening is a slit and the multiple napkins can be withdrawn singly therethrough.

12. The container of claim 1, wherein the housing is removable from the food container.

13. The container of claim 12, wherein the napkins include logos thereon.

14. The container of claim 1, wherein the container is a pizza delivery box.

15. The container of claim 1, wherein the container is a take-out food box.

16. The container of claim 1, wherein the separable section includes printed winners rewards on the underside thereon for use in conducting a contest.

17. A container for holding food, the container comprising: a food-receiving compartment defined by a top panel, a bottom panel and at least one side panel; a separable section defined within one of the top, bottom and at least one side panel; a housing associated with the separable section, the housing adapted to house multiple napkins that are interleaved within one another; and a slit defined in the housing; wherein when the separable section is separated from the panel, the slit is exposed and napkins can be withdrawn singly through the slit.

18. The container of claim 17, wherein the housing is positioned in the food-receiving compartment.

19. The container of claim 18, wherein the housing is a foil pouch.

20. The container of claim 17, wherein the panel having the separable section is a double-layered panel and the housing is in the double-layered panel.

21. The container of claim 20, wherein the housing includes a plastic film retainer.

22. The container of claim 17, wherein the separable section is defined by perforated lines therearound that are punctured to separate the section and expose the opening.

23. The container of claim 17, wherein the separable section is defined by perforated lines around a major portion therearound, and the separable section further comprises a fold line so that when the perforated lines are punctured, the separable portion can be folded along the fold line to expose the opening.

24. The container of claim 17, wherein the separable housing is a peelable cover.

25. The container of claim 17, wherein the housing is removable from the food container.

26. The container of claim 25, wherein the napkins include logos thereon.

27. The container of claim 17, wherein the container is a pizza delivery box.

28. The container of claim 17, wherein the container is a take-out food box.

29. The container of claim 17, wherein the separable section includes printed winners rewards on the underside thereon for use in conducting a contest.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to containers for holding food. More specifically, the present invention relates to a food container having an integrated napkin housing.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is well acknowledged that the fast-food and take-out food industry is enormously popular and competitive. Various vendors must increasingly improve their service to grow and maintain their market share.

Sometimes customers find themselves without any napkins or serviettes to wipe and clean themselves with. This can be quite messy and distressing, especially when one is “eating on the run”. Alternatively, some vendors provide napkins on a self-serve basis, resulting in customers taking large bundles of napkins. This results both in wastage and added expense for the vendor.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, disclosed is a container for holding food having an integrated napkin housing. In this way, when a customer picks up or receives a food container, the customer also has a predetermined number of napkins available.

Thus, according to one aspect, the invention provides a container for holding food, the container comprising: a food-receiving compartment defined by a top panel, a bottom panel and at least one side panel; a separable section defined within one of the top, bottom and at least one side panel; a housing associated with the separable section, the housing adapted to house a napkin; and an opening defined in the housing; wherein when the separable section is separated from the panel, the opening is exposed and the napkin can be withdrawn through the opening.

The housing may be positioned in the food-receiving compartment, and housing may be a foil pouch. Alternatively, the panel having the separable section may be a double-layered panel and the housing may be the double-layered panel; the housing may include a plastic film retainer.

The separable section may be defined by perforated lines therearound that are punctured to separate the section and expose the opening. Or the separable section may be defined by perforated lines around a major portion therearound, the separable section further comprising a fold line so that when the perforated lines are punctured, the separable portion can be folded along the fold line to expose the opening.

The housing may be adapted to house multiple napkins, and the multiple napkins may be interleaved between one another. The opening may be a slit permitting the multiple napkins to be withdrawn singly therethrough.

In one embodiment, the housing is removable from the food container. This permits any unused napkins to remain in the housing for use at a later time, such as in the car or a lunchbox. This is an environmental feature and exhibits to the public that the vendor has “green” concerns.

In one embodiment, the napkins include logos thereon. This has the added benefit of increasing advertising the vendor's product, especially if combined with the removable housing feature such that logo napkins will continue to be used.

Embodiments of the invention are useful in a large variety of food containers such as fast-food and take-out food containers. Examples include a pizza box or a Chinese take-out food box.

There are many advantages in using a food container in accordance with the teachings of this invention. By pre-loading a set amount of napkins in a removable, sealed housing or package attached to the food container, the fast food producer: can predetermine and control the costs normally associated with the acquisition, handling and distribution of napkins. Embodiments of the invention may also serve to reduce waste by eliminating the problem of napkins that become unacceptable for distribution due to improper handling and storage. Further, the operation at a pick-up and delivery outlet is simplified by eliminating the necessity to order and inventory napkins.

A food container in accordance with the teachings of this invention permits the control of the quantity of napkins supplied with the product sold (no more handfuls passed out to customers because it is the easy thing to do) and ensures that all customers ordering from a hotel room or picking up for a meal en route will have napkins for their convenience.

In one embodiment, since napkins are withdrawn singly, waste caused when a soiled hand attempts to retrieve a single napkin from a pile of napkins and soils two or more napkins in the attempt is alleviated.

In another embodiment, the separable section may be used in conducting a contest by printing winner's rewards on the underside of the perforated separable section on the container which may then be removed and brought to a franchisee for verification.

Other aspects and advantages of embodiments of the invention will be readily apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art upon a review of the following description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the invention will now be described in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIGS. 1 to 3 illustrate a typical food container in the form of a pizza box having a housing for holding napkins in accordance with the teachings of this invention;

FIG. 4 illustrates schematically an embodiment wherein the housing is positioned in the food-receiving compartment of the food container and the housing is in the form of a foil pouch;

FIG. 5 illustrates schematically an embodiment wherein the housing is positioned in a double-layered panel and the housing is in the form of a plastic film retainer;

FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate two embodiments of the separable section that is separated to gain access to the housing;

FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate a typical food container in the form of a take-out container having a housing for holding napkins in accordance with the teachings of this invention; and

FIG. 10 illustrates another embodiment of the separable section that can be used in accordance with the teachings of this invention.

This invention will now be described in detail with respect to certain specific representative embodiments thereof, the materials, apparatus and process steps being understood as examples that are intended to be illustrative only. In particular, the invention is not intended to be limited to the methods, materials, conditions, process parameters, apparatus and the like specifically recited herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DISCLOSED EMBODIMENTS

In accordance with the teachings of this invention, there is provided a food container with an incorporated napkin housing. In this way for every food order, a customer would be assured of a convenient supply of serviettes which almost all fast food products require. The value to the food supplier is that the dispensing of serviettes at the time the food product was ordered and delivered is dispensed with and there would be no wastage of serviettes, as each order would have a fixed number of serviettes with it in the package.

It is believed that there would be little or no extra cost to the fast food supplier as the cost of the supply of serviettes would be controlled and there would be a savings in the cost of serviettes due to the reduction in wastage.

Embodiments of the invention will be useful in a variety of different types of food containers as known in the art. This includes various fast-food and take-out food containers. Examples include a pizza box or a Chinese take-out food box.

FIGS. 1 to 3 illustrate a typical food container 10 useful for delivering pizza. The food container 10 has a food-receiving compartment 12 defined by a top panel 14, a bottom panel 16 and side panels 18a, b, c, d. A separable section 22 is defined within one of the top 14, bottom 16 and side 18a, b, c, d panels. In the example shown in FIG. 1, the separable section 22 is in the top panel 14. However, the separable section can be in any suitable panel. For example, in a fried chicken or Chinese take-out box, the separable section could be defined in a side panel. FIGS. 8 and 9 illustrate a typical food container in the form of a take-out container having a housing for holding napkins in another embodiment according to teachings of this invention.

In accordance with the teachings of this invention, the food container 10 includes an incorporated napkin housing, generally designated 30. The housing 30 is associated with the separable section 22, the housing 30 being adapted to house a napkin 25. The housing 30 includes an opening 32, wherein when the separable section 22 is separated from the panel 14, the opening 32 is exposed and the napkin 25 can be withdrawn through the opening 32.

In the embodiment of FIGS. 1 to 3, the housing 22 is positioned in the food-receiving compartment 12. This embodiment is shown schematically in FIG. 4. Alternatively, referring to FIG. 5, the panel 14 can be a double-layered panel and the housing 30 could be in the double-layered panel itself.

The housing 30 to hold the napkins 25 could be a sealed paper or foil pouch 35 (seen in FIGS. 2 and 3) attached to the underside of the panel of the food container. The pouch 35 could be fastened to the container 10 by a pressure or heat sensitive adhesive. The use of a foil pouch 35 is particularly useful in the embodiment of FIG. 4.

In another embodiment, wherein the housing could include a plastic film retainer 37. This is particularly useful for use with the embodiment of FIG. 5. Use of the foil pouch and plastic film retainer are just two examples of suitable materials that can be used as the housing. It will be appreciated that any suitable type of material which would not affect the food in the box and at the same time protect the serviettes from becoming moist from the food in the container can be used. In any of these embodiments, the opening 32 can be a slit, as illustrated in the figures.

The separable section 22 can be adapted to be separated from the panel 14 in any suitable manner. Referring to FIG. 6, preferably the separable section 22 is defined by perforated lines 40 therearound that are punctured to separate the section 22 and expose the opening 32 in the housing 30. Optionally, a fold line 44 could be included to aid in the separation. In another embodiment, referring to FIG. 7, the separable section 22 is defined by perforated lines 40 around a major portion 42 therearound, and the separable section 22 further comprises a fold line 44 and a second fold line 45 so that when the perforated lines 40 are punctured, the separable section 22 can be folded along the fold lines 44 and 45 to expose the opening 32.

The use of the fold line(s) 44 and 45 permits the separable section 22 to be separated and folded back such that the separable section 22 does not have to be disposed of, but could remain part of the total box container 10. This is an environmental feature in that the separable section 22 would not be thrown away when separated from the panel 14 and container 10. Also, the folded separable section 22 could be replaced within the panel 14 to not only protect the remaining serviettes or napkins located in the housing 30, but also to restore the name or trademark logo of the supplier of the food, which is likely to be displayed on the food container 10.

The separable section 22 is illustrated as being an oval shape. However it will be appreciated that the separable section 22 can be in any suitable form and/or shape.

In another embodiment, the separable section 22 can be in the form of a peelable cover 50 as illustrated in FIG. 10. The peelable cover can be any suitable material such as foil or plastic, and is peeled away from the panel to which it is attached in order to expose the opening of the housing.

As mentioned above, the housing 30 can be adapted to hold one or more napkins. The number of napkins would be determined by the size of the food product. For example a pizza box would contain four, six or eight or more serviettes depending on the size of the pizza in that particular container.

In one embodiment, if the housing 30 holds multiple napkins, the multiple napkins could be interleaved between one another. In the case that the opening is a slit, the multiple napkins can be withdrawn singly therethrough. In this embodiment, since napkins are withdrawn singly, waste caused when a soiled hand attempts to retrieve a single napkin from a pile of napkins and soils two or more napkins in the attempt is alleviated.

In both embodiments of using either a flexible film or foil pouch, the housing can be attached to the food container by an adhesive which would facilitate the removal of the napkin housing from the box. Wording such as “remove and recycle this package” could be added to the napkin housing to remind the user to take any unused napkins which might remain in the housing for further use.

As well, by removing the napkin housing from the container, enables the container to be more easily recycled while at the same time leaving the napkins in a housing which could be kept for use in the car, at home or in a lunch box. If the napkins include a logo thereon, then keeping unused napkins for future use offers the additional benefit of further advertising for the fast food producer.

By pre-loading a set amount of napkins in a removable, sealed housing or package attached to the food container, the fast food producer: can predetermine and control the costs normally associated with the acquisition, handling and distribution of napkins. Embodiments of the invention may also serve to reduce waste by eliminating the problem of napkins that become unacceptable for distribution due to improper handling and storage. Further, the operation at a pick-up and delivery outlet is simplified by eliminating the necessity to order and inventory napkins.

A food container in accordance with the teachings of this invention permits the control of the quantity of napkins supplied with the product sold (no more handfuls passed out to customers because it is the easy thing to do) and ensures that all customers ordering from a hotel room or picking up for a meal en route will have napkins for their convenience.

In another embodiment, the separable section may be used in conducting a contest by printing winners rewards on the underside of the perforated separable section on the container which may then be removed and brought to a franchisee for verification.

Numerous modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.