Title:
Syrup Dispenser Having Pivotal Dispenser Cap and Methods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates to a cap for a dispenser and a dispenser for a food product that can flow at room temperature such as syrup, honey, chocolate sauce, butterscotch sauce, cream and the like. The dispenser features a dispenser cap removably connected to a container. The dispenser cap has a first piece and a second piece. The first piece compliments to the second piece so that the two pieces fit together but may also be easily separated for cleaning. The present invention includes methods of assembling and disassembling the cap.



Inventors:
Nybakke, Keith G. (Minneapolis, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/854897
Publication Date:
03/19/2009
Filing Date:
09/13/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/700
International Classes:
A47G19/12
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WOOD, JONATHAN K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dykema Gossett PLLC (Minneapolis, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A dispenser cap comprising: first and second pieces and a biasing mechanism; the first and second pieces being pivotally connectable; the first piece having: a top portion; at least one catch protruding downwardly from the top portion; a stopper extending outwardly from the top portion; and a lever that actuates pivotal movement of the stopper between first and second positions when the first piece is pivotally connected to the second piece and force is applied to the lever; and the second piece having: a plate having a product aperture; a side wall extending upwardly around the plate; and a spout channel; wherein when the stopper is in the first position the stopper blocks the spout channel; wherein the spout channel is generally unobstructed by the stopper when the stopper is in the second position; wherein the biasing mechanism is positioned such that it creates a force biasing the stopper toward the second position; and wherein the first piece is removably securable to the second piece.

2. The dispenser cap of claim 1, further comprising a foot attached to each catch.

3. The dispenser cap of claim 1, further comprising an inner wall extending downwardly from the top; wherein the inner wall is sized and configured to fit snuggly within the side wall such that a seal is formed between the top of the first piece and the side wall.

4. The dispenser cap of claim 1, wherein the plate has an air inlet.

5. The dispenser cap of claim 1, wherein the handle has a recess sized and configured to receive the lever when the lever is depressed.

6. The dispenser cap of claim 1, wherein the second piece further includes a dividing wall that extends across the surface of the plate.

7. The dispenser cap of claim 6, further including at least one securing member extending downwardly from the top of the first piece.

8. The dispenser cap of claim 7, wherein the securing member has a ridge; wherein the dividing member can pivot within the ridge when the lever is depressed.

9. The dispenser cap of claim 1, wherein the biasing mechanism is a spring.

10. The dispenser cap of claim 9, further including a post, wherein the spring circles the post such that the post reinforces the spring.

11. The dispenser cap of claim 1, wherein the first piece further includes at least one pivot and the second piece further includes at least one groove; wherein the pivot rotates within the groove when the lever is depressed.

12. A dispenser comprising: a cap including: first and second pieces and a biasing mechanism; the first and second pieces being pivotally connectable; the first piece having: a top portion; at least one catch protruding downwardly from the top portion; a stopper extending outwardly from the top portion; and a lever that actuates pivotal movement of the stopper between first and second positions when the first piece is pivotally connected to the second piece and force is applied to the lever; the second piece having: a plate having a product aperture; a side wall extending upwardly around the plate; and a spout channel; wherein the stopper is in the first position when the stopper blocks the spout channel; wherein the spout channel is generally unobstructed by the stopper when the stopper is in the second position; wherein the biasing mechanism is positioned such that it creates a force biasing the stopper toward the second position; and wherein the first piece is removably securable to the second piece; and a container operatively connectable to the cap.

13. The dispenser of claim 12, further comprising a foot attached to each catch.

14. The dispenser of claim 13, further comprising an inner wall extending downwardly from the top; wherein the inner wall is sized and configured to fit snuggly within the side wall such that a seal is formed between the top of the first piece and the side wall.

15. The dispenser of claim 13, wherein the plate has an air inlet.

16. The dispenser of claim 13, wherein the handle has a recess sized and configured to receive the lever when the lever is depressed.

17. The dispenser of claim 13, wherein the second piece further includes a dividing wall that extends across the surface of the plate.

18. The dispenser of claim 17, further including at least one securing member extending downwardly from the top of the first piece.

19. The dispenser of claim 18, wherein the securing member has a ridge, wherein the dividing member can pivot within the ridge when the lever is depressed.

20. The dispenser of claim 20, wherein the biasing mechanism is a spring.

21. The dispenser of claim 16, wherein the first piece further includes at least one pivot and the second piece further includes at least one corresponding groove; wherein the pivot rotates within the groove when the lever is depressed.

22. A method of disassembling a dispenser cap; the method comprising the steps of: providing a dispenser cap having a first piece and a second piece; wherein the first piece is removably connected to the second piece; wherein the first piece has a top and at least one catch protruding down from the top; each catch having a foot; wherein the second piece includes a base having a generally hollow interior and a plate within the interior of the base; the plate having a catch aperture for each catch; wherein the catch foot extends through the catch aperture and loosely grips the plate; grasping the base; and pushing the first piece until the catch foot travels through the catch aperture such that the first piece is disengaged from the second piece.

23. A method of assembling a dispenser cap; the method comprising the step of: providing a first piece having a top, at least one catch protruding down from the top, each catch having a foot, the first piece further including a first and second pivot; providing a second piece having a base having a generally hollow interior and a plate within the interior of the base; the plate including a catch aperture sized to receive one of the catch feet and a first and second groove sized and arranged to receive the first and second pivot; aligning each catch foot with at least one catch aperture; and pressing the first piece towards the second piece until each catch foot passes through the corresponding catch aperture and the pivots rest within the corresponding first and second grooves.

24. The method of claim 23, wherein the step of pressing further includes pressing the first piece towards the second piece until each catch foot grips the plate.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a dispenser for a food product that can flow at room temperature such as syrup, honey, chocolate sauce, butterscotch sauce, cream and the like, wherein the dispenser includes a pivotal cap that is easily cleanable by removing the cap and separating its parts. The present invention further includes methods for assembling and disassembling the same.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Dispensers for syrup and the like are used in homes, restaurants and food service facilities to store and easily pour food products such as syrup, honey, sauces, cream and the like. Known dispensers, often referred to as “syrup” dispensers, generally include a glass or plastic container for syrup or the like and a removable cap that is relatively easy to hold and simultaneously actuate to dispense syrup. The cap is often a metal cap that typically has a handle for the user to grasp and a lid operatively connected to the cap such that it is blocking the opening. In the most common known syrup dispenser, the lid generally further includes a hinge and a lever. In use of this known dispenser, the lever is depressed such that the hinge flexes allowing the lever to move downwardly, thereby pulling the lid back toward the handle and exposing a portion of the opening. The syrup dispenser may then be tipped down such that the syrup within the container flows out of the exposed portion of the opening through the cap.

Known syrup dispensers have many drawbacks. First, as syrup is very sticky, syrup builds up between the joint of the lid and the opening edges making it difficult to move the lid and unattractive to view. Known syrup dispensers may only be disassembled up to the point of removing the lid from the container. It is very difficult to clean known syrup dispensers because the syrup gets trapped between the interlocking parts. Once syrup residue builds up it is often impossible to adequately remove with a rinse of soapy water. Often the residue needs to be further scrubbed, which is often difficult or impossible based on the residue location and the dispenser. Further, the common use of glass containers and metal caps in many known syrup dispensers increases the price of the dispenser.

Therefore, it will be appreciated that there is a need for a dispenser for syrup and the like that is inexpensive and attractive. It will be further appreciated that there is also a need for such a dispenser that is easy to disassemble and clean. The present invention provides improvements which address these and other limitations associated with the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present invention provides a dispenser and methods of assembling and disassembling the same. The dispenser includes a cap having pivotally connectable first and second pieces and a biasing mechanism. The first piece has a top portion, at least one catch protruding downwardly from the top portion and a stopper extending outwardly from the top portion and a lever. The lever actuates pivotal movement of the stopper between first and second positions when the first piece is pivotally connected to the second piece and force is applied to the lever. The second piece preferably includes a plate, a side wall extending upwardly around the plate, a product aperture in the plate and a spout channel. When the stopper is in a first position, the stopper blocks the spout channel. When the stopper is in a second position, the spout channel is generally unobstructed by the stopper such that product can flow out of the spout channel. In preferred embodiments, the biasing mechanism is positioned such that it creates a force biasing the stopper toward the second position; and wherein the first piece is disengagably or removably securable to the second piece. In preferred embodiments the present invention includes a dispenser including the dispenser cap of the present invention and a container operatively connectable to the cap.

One object of the present invention is to provide a dispenser that is inexpensive and attractive. It is another object of the present invention to provide a syrup dispenser that has a separable two-piece cap that is easily cleanable. The present invention achieves these and other objectives by providing a syrup dispenser cap having a first piece and a second piece. The first piece corresponds to the second piece so that the two pieces fit together but may also be separated for cleaning.

The first piece has a top, extending outwardly from the top is a stopper that mates with the spout in the second piece to form a seal. The first piece preferably further includes a ridge, the ridge is sized and configured to fit snuggly within a side wall of the second piece such that a seal is formed between the top of the first piece and the side wall when the first piece is interconnected with the second piece. The first piece further includes at least one securing member extending generally downward from the top. The securing members preferably each have a foot. When the first piece is interconnected to the second piece the securing mechanisms protrude through catch apertures in the plate of the second piece.

In order to removably connect and assemble the cap of the present invention, each catch of the first piece are aligned with the catch apertures of the second piece. Then, the first piece is pressed down until the ridge of the first piece underneath the lever contacts a spring or biasing member connected to the second piece such that a biasing force is applied to the lever in the upward direction. The first piece is further pushed down until the biasing force of the spring is overcome and each foot snaps through the catch apertures, the stopper mates with the spout channel and the pivots mate with the grooves. When joined, the first piece and the second piece form a cap of the present invention.

In operation, a user depresses the lever such that the ridge enters the recess of the handle. The biasing force of the spring may be easily overcome by the user's thumb such that the stopper end of the first piece is raised and the spout channel is no longer obstructed. To aid in this motion, the pivots rotate within the groove. Once the spout channel is unobstructed, syrup can flow from a product aperture in the plate of the second piece to the spout. Syrup is contained away from an air inlet and the spring by a dividing wall. The dividing wall further protects an air inlet from being clogged. Any syrup remaining in the cap will drain back into the container through the product or catch apertures. The first and second pieces of the cap of the present invention may be separated or disassembled by gently pulling the two pieces in opposite directions. Once the two pieces have been separated, the interior of the cap may be thoroughly cleaned with ease.

The syrup dispenser cap of the present invention may be used in conjunction with a variety of containers known in the art for storing syrup or similar food products. In preferred embodiments, the second piece will further include a base having a screw-top interior. The container may be made of glass, plastic or the like and may be operatively connected to the dispenser cap in a screw-top fashion or the like.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings, in which corresponding reference numerals and letters indicate corresponding parts of the various embodiments throughout the several views, and in which the various embodiments generally differ only in the manner described and/or shown, but otherwise include corresponding parts;

FIG. 1 is an elevated perspective view of one embodiment of the dispenser 10 of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the dispenser 10 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the back of the end of the cap 12 for the dispenser 1 0 of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the back end of cap 12 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the cap 12 of FIGS. 3 and 4;

FIG. 6 is a elevated perspective view of a second piece 16 of the cap 12 shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the bottom of a first piece 14 of the cap 12 shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 8 is a bottom plan view of the first piece 14 of the cap 12 shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 9 is a bottom plan view of the second piece 16 of the cap 12 shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 10 is a bottom plan view of the assembled cap 12 of FIGS. 3-5 showing the second piece 16 of the cap 12 being held between the thumbs and the forefingers in a manner that allows the thumbs of the holder's left and right hands to force respective downwardly protruding catches 46 toward the spout 24 in order to disengage the first piece 14 of the cap 12 from the second piece 16;

FIG. 11a is a partially cutaway side view of the cap 12 of FIGS. 3-5 as seen from the line 11-11 of FIG. 6, showing the cap in a first, closed position;

FIG. 11b is a partially cutaway side view of the cap 12 of FIGS. 3-5, similar to that shown in FIG. 11a, but showing the cap in a second, open position;

FIG. 12a is a partial, side view of the dispenser 10 of FIG. 1, showing the dispenser 10 in a pouring orientation and the cap 12 in a first, closed position; and

FIG. 12b is a partial, side view of the dispenser 10 of FIG. 1, showing the dispenser 10 in a pouring orientation and the cap 12 in a second, open position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1-2 illustrate a dispenser 10 of the present invention. The dispenser 10 includes a cap 12 having a pivotally connected first and second pieces 14, 16. The first piece is biased toward a first closed position, when engaged with the second piece 16, preferably by a compression spring 62, however, it will be appreciated that other biasing mechanisms could be used. The second piece 16 has a base 52 that is removably connected to a container 18. In preferred embodiments, the base 52 and container 18 have corresponding spiral ridges 20, 20′ such that they may be removably secured (see also FIGS. 2 and 9). It is within the container 18 that a food product such as syrup, honey, sauces, cream, half and half and the like are stored. Preferably, the container 18 is made out of a plastic material suitable for food contact. More preferably, the container is made out of thermoplastic material such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene, and the like or most preferably, polycarbonate. The shape and size of the container may be any of a variety of numerous shapes and sizes as desired. In preferred embodiments, the cap 12 further includes a name plate 28 to identify the contents of the dispenser 1 0.

FIGS. 3-5 illustrate the preferred cap 12 of the present invention. As previously mentioned, the cap 12 has a first piece 14 and a second piece 16. The second piece 16 has a spout 24 from which syrup 26 or the like will flow under the force of gravity (see also FIG. 12b), when the dispenser 10 is in a pouring orientation and the first piece 14 and the stopper 36 are in the second, open position. The two pieces 14, 16 removably interlock such that the first piece 14 may swivel on pivots 30 retained within grooves 50 on either side of the second piece 16. The pivots 30 are retained in the grooves 50 by catch feet 46 within the cap 12, which will be described in detail below. The first piece 14 further includes a handle 22 for grasping and a lever 42 that actuates movement from a first closed position and a second closed position of the first piece 14 of the cap 12 (see a), which will be discussed in detail below. Preferably, the cap 12, with the exception of the spring 62, is made of a thermoplastic material suitable for food contact, more preferably the cap is made out of polypropylene, nylon, acetal copolymers, polyethylene and the like or, most preferably, polypropylene.

Referring now to FIG. 6, FIG. 6 shows a preferred embodiment of the second piece 16 or bottom 16 of the cap 12 of FIGS. 3-5. The second piece 16 has a base 52 having a generally hollow interior 53 except for a plate 69, a notched ridge 71 having a support structure 73 and a spiral ridge 20 sized and configured to mate with the spiral ridge 20′ of the desired container (see FIG. 2). FIG. 6 also shows a product aperture 68 in the plate 69 of the second piece 16. Syrup within the container (not shown) may flow between the container 18 (see FIGS. 1-2) and the spout 24. Preferably, the cap 12 of the present invention further also includes an air inlet 56 which provides for the movement of air (not shown) between the cap 12 and the container 18 (see also FIG. 12b) when the product aperture 68 is blocked by flowing syrup (not shown).

FIGS. 7 and 8 depict a preferred embodiment of the first piece 14 of the present invention and FIGS. 6 and 9 depict a preferred second piece 16 of the present invention. The preferred first piece 14 has a top 34, extending outwardly from the top 34 is a stopper 36 that mates with a spout channel 58 of the second piece 16 to generally form a seal. The first piece 14 further includes an inner wall 38 sized and configured to fit snuggly within a side wall 60 of the second piece 16 such that generally a seal is formed between the top of the first piece 34 and the side wall 60 when the first piece 14 is interconnected with the second piece 16. The first piece 14 has a dividing wall 40. The dividing wall 40 generally prevents syrup from passing to the back of the cap 12 keeping the air inlet 56 and biasing mechanism or spring 62 clean. Any syrup remaining in the cap 12 will drain back into the container 18 (see also FIG. 12b) through the product or catch apertures 68, 70, respectively. When the first piece 14 is interconnected to the second piece 16, the dividing wall 40 rests against or at least proximate to seats 72 of securing members 74 that extend from the top of the first piece 34.

The first piece 14 further includes catches 44 extending generally downward from the top 34 and the separating wall 45. Each catch 44 has a foot 46. When the first piece 14 is interconnected to the second piece 16 the catches 44 protrude through catch apertures 70 in the plate of the second piece 69. The feet 46 frictionally grasp the plate 69 to detachably secure the first piece 14 to the second piece 16.

In order to removably connect the first piece 14 to the second piece 16, the catches 44 are aligned with the catch apertures 70. Then the first piece 14 is pressed towards the second piece 16 until the inner wall 38 of the first piece underneath the lever 42 contacts the spring 62 connected to the second piece 16 such that a biasing force is applied to the lever 42 in the upward direction. In preferred embodiments, the spring 62 is connected to the second piece 16 on a post 64 and further reinforced with a support 66 to keep the spring in place. The first piece 14 is then further pushed until the biasing force of the spring 62 is overcome and the feet 46 of the catch 44 snap through the catch apertures 70, the stopper 36 mates with the spout channel 58 and the pivots 30 mate with the grooves 50. When joined, the first piece and the second piece 14, 16 form the cap 12 of the present invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates a method of disassembling the cap 12. First, the base 52 is gripped by the thumbs and forefingers on each hand and then the catch feet 46 are pushed toward the spout 24 and the unobstructed portion of the catch aperture 70 such that the feet 46 pop through the catch apertures 70, thus disengaging the first piece 14 from the second piece 16. While the cap 12 is assembled, the catch feet 46 grip the plate 69 to retain the pivots 30 within the groove 50 against the force of the biasing mechanism 62 (See also FIG. 2). When the catch feet 70 are unsecured to the second piece 16, there is nothing to hold the first piece 14 onto the second piece 16 and the two pieces 14,16 may be separated (see also FIG. 2). Once the two pieces 14, 16 have been separated, the interior of the cap 12 may be thoroughly cleaned or inspected with ease.

Now referring also to FIGS. 11a, 11b, 12a and 12b showing the cap 12 of the present invention in a first, closed position in FIGS. 11a and 12a and in a second closed position in FIGS. 11b and 12b. While in the closed position, the biasing force of the spring 62 pushes the lever 42 upwards such that the stopper 36 is in a downward position blocking the spout channel 58 (see also FIG. 2). The preferred biasing mechanism or spring 62 can be a spring wire compression spring and the like made of a material that will product the biasing force such as stainless steel, music wire, copper, elastomeric material and the like.

11b and 12b show the cap 12 of the present invention in a second, open position. To open the cap 12 of the present invention, the biasing force of the spring 62 may be overcome by the depressing the lever 42 downwardly such that the spout 24 opens (see also FIG. 2). To aid in this motion, the pivots 30 rotate within the groove 50 so that the first piece 14 tilts thereby opening the spout 24. As the first piece 14 pivots with respect to the second piece 16, the dividing wall 40, provides a fulcrum against the seats 72 that support the first piece 14 as it pivots. Once the stopper 36 is raised and the syrup dispenser 10 is tilted down, syrup 26 located within the container 18 can flow form the product aperture 68, through the spout 24 and out of the cap 12. In this embodiment, the handle 22 has a recess 72 sized and configured to receive the lever 42 when the lever 42 is depressed.

Although the preferred embodiments of the present invention have been described herein, the above description is merely illustrative. Further modification of the invention herein disclosed will occur to those skilled in the respective arts and all such modifications are deemed to be within the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.