Title:
Domed casserole roaster container
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention relates, generally, to food containers used in storing and displaying heated foods, as well as in serving foods from these containers. The food container of the present invention is an improvement over the conventional prepared food containers in that it features, among other things, an improved handle, where the heat from the container is not fully felt by the person holding the container, while still providing an advanced sealing mechanism to prevent the escape of the contents of the container.



Inventors:
Cimmerer, Tim (Paragould, AR, US)
Garg, Satya (St. Louis, MO, US)
Oelschlaeger, Dieter (Paragould, AR, US)
Krueger, Kevin (Fenton, MO, US)
Riales, Brent (Paragould, AR, US)
Application Number:
12/008600
Publication Date:
07/16/2009
Filing Date:
01/11/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
220/367.1, 220/600, 220/752
International Classes:
B65D43/03; B65D8/00; B65D25/28; B65D51/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
KIRSCH, ANDREW THOMAS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GALLOP, JOHNSON & NEUMAN, L.C. (ST. LOUIS, MO, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A container comprising a base and a lid, the lid comprising an upper lid surface, a lid sidewall and a lid lip, where the upper lid surface is a substantially planar surface defined by the top of the lid sidewall, and where the lid lip extends upwardly and outwardly from the bottom region of the lid sidewall, and where the lid sidewall extends outwardly and downwardly from the upper lid surface, such that as the distance from the upper lid surface increases, the lid sidewall transitions from a substantially outward extension to a substantially downward extension, and the base comprising a lower base surface, a base sidewall and a base lip, where the lower base surface is a substantially planar surface defined by the bottom of the base sidewall, and where the base lip extends outwardly from the top of the base sidewall, and where the lid lip and the base lip both comprise an interlocking arrangement such that the lid may be secured to the base, and in being so secured provides an inner seal and an outer seal, the inner seal being defined by a base inner seal surface on the base lip coming into contact with a complimentary lid inner seal surface on the lid lip, and the second outer seal being defined by a base outer seal surface on the base lip coming into contact with a complimentary lid outer seal surface on the lid lip, where the aforementioned lid inner seal surface and lid outer seal surface are in substantially perpendicular arrangements relative to the upper lid surface, and are joined by a lid lip transition surface that is in a substantially parallel arrangement relative to the upper lid surface and located between the lid inner seal surface and lid outer seal surface on the lid lip, and where the aforementioned base inner seal surface and base outer seal surface on the base lip are in substantially perpendicular arrangements relative to the lower base surface, and are joined by a base lip transition surface that is in a substantially parallel arrangement relative to the lower base surface and located between the base inner seal surface and base outer seal surface on the base lip, where the lid lip and the base lip further comprise at least one handle region, the at least one handle region being located on an edge of the container, where the lid lip transition surface, in each of the at least one handle regions on the lid lip, comprises at least one lid surface area reduction notch, and where the base lip transition surface, in each of the at least one handle regions on the base lip, comprises at least one base surface area reduction notch.

2. The container of claim 1, where the lid lip and the base lip further comprise two handle regions, the handle regions being located on substantially opposite ends of the container.

3. The container of claim 1, where the termination of the material that comprises the lid is in substantially the same plane, defining the edge of the lid, and where the termination of the material that comprises the base is in substantially the same plane, defining the edge of the base.

4. The container of claim 1, where the base sidewall further comprises a series of base sidewall ridges, the base sidewall ridges being parallel to each other and substantially perpendicular to the lower base surface.

5. The container of claim 1, where the base further comprises at least one base de-nesting notch, the base de-nesting notch being located near the top of the base sidewall.

6. The container of claim 5, where the base further comprises four base de-nesting notches, the base de-nesting notches being located near the top of the base side wall, each base de-nesting notch being located at the ends of the two handle regions.

7. The container of claim 1, where the lid further comprises at least one lid de-nesting notch, the lid de-nesting notch being located substantially near the base of the lid sidewall.

8. The container of claim 7, where the lid further comprises six lid de-nesting notches, the lid de-nesting notches being located substantially near the base of the lid sidewall, and the lid de-nesting notches being substantially equidistant from the two most adjacent lid de-nesting notches.

9. The container of claim 1, where the base further comprises at least one base de-nesting notch, the base de-nesting notch being located near the top of the base sidewall, and where the lid further comprises at least one lid de-nesting notch, the lid de-nesting notch being located substantially near the base of the lid sidewall.

10. The container of claim 1, where the upper lid surface further comprises at least one vent, and where the lower base surface further comprises at least one vent-complimentary notch.

11. The container of claim 10, where the lid lip and the base lip further comprise two handle regions, the handle regions being located on substantially opposite ends of the container, and where the upper lid surface further comprises two vents, the vents being opposed to one another on the ends of the upper lid surface, generally in alignment with the handle regions of the container, and where the lower base surface further comprises two vent-complimentary notches, the vent-complimentary notches being opposed to one another on the ends of the lower base surface, generally in alignment with the handle regions of the container, and where the two vents and the two vent-complimentary notches, when a container base is on top of a container lid, in concert permit the venting of the container.

12. The container of claim 1, where the lower base surface further comprises a raised food-resting surface, and where the upper lid surface further comprises a raised base-engaging surface.

13. The container of claim 1, where the lower base surface further comprises at least one fluid separation notch.

14. The container of claim 13, where the lower base surface further comprises eight fluid separation notches, where two of the fluid separation notches are positioned on opposite sides of the lower base surface, the ends generally in the location of the vent-complimentary notches.

15. The container of claim 12, where the lower base surface further comprises eight fluid separation notches, where two of the fluid separation notches are positioned on opposite sides of the lower base surface, the ends generally in the location of the vent-complimentary notches, and where six of the fluid separation notches are positioned on the raised food-resting surface.

16. The container of claim 1, where the lid lip further comprises at least one lid-opening tab, and where the base lip further comprises at least one base opening tab.

17. The container of claim 16, where the lid lip further comprises two lid-opening tabs, located on opposite ends of the lid, each offset from the handle regions, and where the base lip further comprises one base opening tab, located in the vicinity of one handle region and located such that, when the base and the lid are engaged, the base opening tab is offset from the closest lid-opening tab.

18. A container comprising a base and a lid, the lid comprising an upper lid surface, a lid sidewall and a lid lip, where the upper lid surface is a substantially planar surface defined by the top of the lid sidewall, and where the lid lip extends upwardly and outwardly from the bottom region of the lid sidewall, and where the lid sidewall extends outwardly and downwardly from the upper lid surface, such that as the distance from the upper lid surface increases, the lid sidewall transitions from a substantially outward extension to a substantially downward extension, and the base comprising a lower base surface, a base sidewall and a base lip, where the lower base surface is a substantially planar surface defined by the bottom of the base sidewall, and where the base lip extends outwardly from the top of the base sidewall, and where the base sidewall comprises a series of base sidewall ridges, the base sidewall ridges being parallel to each other and substantially perpendicular to the lower base surface, and where the lid lip and the base lip both comprise an interlocking arrangement such that the lid may be secured to the base, and in being so secured provides a first inner seal and a second outer seal, the inner seal being defined by a base inner seal surface on the base lip coming into contact with a complimentary lid inner seal surface on the lid lip, and the second outer seal being defined by a base outer seal surface on the base lip coming into contact with a complimentary lid outer seal surface on the lid lip, where the aforementioned lid inner seal surface and lid outer seal surface are in substantially perpendicular arrangements relative to the upper lid surface, and are joined by a lid lip transition surface that is in a substantially parallel arrangement relative to the upper lid surface and located between the lid inner seal surface and lid outer seal surface on the lid lip, and where the aforementioned base inner seal surface and base outer seal surface on the base lip are in substantially perpendicular arrangements relative to the lower base surface, and are joined by a base lip transition surface that is in a substantially parallel arrangement relative to the lower base surface and located between the base inner seal surface and base outer seal surface on the base lip, and where the termination of the material that comprises the lid is in substantially the same plane, defining the edge of the lid, and where the termination of the material that comprises the base is in substantially the same plane, defining the edge of the base, and where the lid lip and the base lip further comprise two handle regions, the handle regions being located on substantially opposite ends of the container, where the substantially elliptical frustral transition lid lip surface, in each of the handle regions on the lid lip, comprises at least one lid surface area reduction notch, and where the substantially elliptical frustral transition base lip surface, in each of the handle regions on the base lip, comprises at least one base surface area reduction notch, where the base further comprises four base de-nesting notches, the base de-nesting notches being located near the top of the base sidewall, with one base de-nesting notch being located in each end of each handle region on the container, and where the lid further comprises six lid de-nesting notches, the lid de-nesting notches being located substantially near the base of the lid sidewall, and the lid de-nesting notches being substantially equidistant from the two most adjacent lid de-nesting notches, and where the upper lid surface further comprises two vents, the vents being opposed to one another on the ends of the upper lid surface, generally in alignment with the handle regions of the container, and where the lower base surface further comprises two vent-complimentary notches, the vent-complimentary notches being opposed to one another on the ends of the lower base surface, generally in alignment with the handle regions of the container, and where the two vents and the two vent-complimentary notches, when a container base is on top of a container lid, in concert permit the venting of the container, and where the lower base surface further comprises a raised food-resting surface, and where the upper lid surface further comprises a raised base-engaging surface, and where the raised food-resting surface and the raised base-engaging surface are so configured as to allow a container base to be stacked on top of a container lid, and where the lower base surface further comprises eight fluid separation notches, where two of the fluid separation notches are positioned on opposite sides of the lower base surface, the ends generally in the location of the vent-complimentary notches, and where six of the fluid separation notches are positioned on the raised food-resting surface, and where the lid lip further comprises two lid-opening tabs, located on opposite ends of the lid, each offset from the handle regions, and where the base lip further comprises one base opening tab, located in the vicinity of one handle region and located such that, when the base and the lid are engaged, the base opening tab is offset from the closest lid-opening tab.

19. A container base comprising, a lower base surface, a base sidewall and a base lip, where the lower base surface is a substantially planar surface defined by the bottom of the base sidewall, and where the base lip extends outwardly from the top of the base sidewall, and where the base lip comprises a base inner seal surface and base outer seal surface on the base lip that are in substantially perpendicular arrangements relative to the lower base surface, and are joined by a base lip transition surface that is in a substantially parallel arrangement relative to the lower base surface and located between the base inner seal surface and base outer seal surface on the base lip, where the base lip transition surface, in each of the handle regions on the base lip, comprises at least one base surface area reduction notch.

20. The container base of claim 19, where the base sidewall further comprises a series of base sidewall ridges, the base sidewall ridges being parallel to each other and substantially perpendicular to the lower base surface.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is filed on the same date as a design application, where the design application is an ornamental design of one potential embodiment of the present invention.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

SEQUENCE LISTING, TABLE OR COMPUTER PROGRAM ON COMPACT DISC

Not applicable.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates, generally, to food containers used in storing and displaying heated foods, as well as in serving foods from these containers. Such containers may be used, for example, by a retailer to sell pre-prepared food items, such as roasted chickens, and may additionally be re-used by the consumer subsequent to the original sale. The food container of the present invention is an improvement over the conventional prepared food containers in that it features, among other things, an improved handle, where the heat from the container is not fully felt by the person holding the container, while still providing an advanced sealing mechanism to prevent the escape of the contents of the container.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Food containers similar to, though distinguishable from, the present invention are often used in scenarios where a retailer will prepare and sell a food item that is ready to eat.

A problem recognized with respect to conventional food containers arises when the food is prepared and people subsequently purchase food contained in the containers. Oftentimes the containers may become warm, as a result of the temperature of the prepared food contained therein. This warmth may be of such a degree so as to cause at least some discomfort to a person who picks up, holds, moves or otherwise comes into contact with that container.

Another problem recognized with respect to conventional food containers relates to the awkward shapes of and imbalanced food loads within food containers, in addition to the aforementioned warmth-related discomfort.

Yet another problem recognized with respect to conventional food containers relates to the desire by the manufacturers of such containers to be able to create each piece, those being the base and the lid, in a single plane cut, while still maintaining certain beneficial features. It is desirable for the manufacturer of a food container, including those of the present invention, to be able to separate the formed lid or base from the sheet of raw material from which the lid or base has been pressed in a single two-dimensional cut, thereby reducing costs, such as the costs of creating more expensive manufacturing equipment. Thus such a single plane cut is a desirable feature.

The aforementioned problems, as well as others recognizable to those of ordinary skill in the art, are addressed by the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a food container comprising a base and a lid. The lid comprises an upper lid surface, a lid sidewall and a lid lip. The base comprises a lower base surface, a base sidewall and a base lip. The lid lip and the base lip both comprise an interlocking arrangement such that the lid may be secured to the base, and in being so secured provides an inner seal and an outer seal. The inner seal is created upon a lid inner seal surface coming into contact with a base inner seal surface. The outer seal is created upon a lid outer seal surface coming into contact with a base outer seal surface. The lid inner seal surface and lid outer seal surface are joined by a lid lip transition surface. The base inner seal surface and the base outer seal surface are joined by a base lip transition surface.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the termination of the material that comprises the lid is in substantially the same plane, defining the edge of the lid. In one embodiment of the present invention, the termination of the material that comprises the base is in substantially the same plane, defining the edge of the base.

The lid lip and the base lip each further comprise at least one handle region, and preferably comprise two handle regions, the handle regions being located on substantially opposite ends of the container where two are present. The lid lip transition surface, in each of the handle regions on the lid lip, comprises at least one lid surface area reduction notch. The base lip transition surface, in each of the handle regions on the base lip, comprises at least one base surface area reduction notch.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the base further comprises at least one base de-nesting notch. In one embodiment of the present invention, the lid further comprises at least one lid de-nesting notch.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the upper lid surface further comprises at least one vent. In an embodiment of the present invention, the lower base surface comprises at least one vent-complimentary notch.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the lower base surface further comprises a raised food-resting surface. In one embodiment of the present invention, the upper lid surface further comprises a raised base-engaging surface.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the lower base surface further comprises at least one fluid separation notch.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the lid lip further comprises at least one lid-opening tab. In one embodiment of the present invention, the base further comprises at least one base opening tab.

Further embodiments and features can be seen and will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art as they are more fully described hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1: General view of an embodiment of an assembled container of the present invention.

FIG. 2: Side view of two stacked embodiments of containers of the present invention.

FIG. 3: Side view of an embodiment of a base of the present invention.

FIG. 4: Top view of an embodiment of a base of the present invention.

FIG. 5: Side view of an embodiment of a lid of the present invention.

FIG. 6: Top view of an embodiment of a lid of the present invention.

FIG. 7A: Cross section view of an embodiment of a base lip of the present invention, in a handle region, indicated by line 7A in FIG. 4.

FIG. 7B: Cross section view of an embodiment of a base lip of the present invention, in a non-handle region, indicated by line 7B in FIG. 4.

FIG. 7C: Cross section view of an embodiment of a base lip of the present invention, through a base de-nesting notch, indicated by line 7C in FIG. 4.

FIG. 8A: Cross section view of an embodiment of a lid lip of the present invention, in a handle region, indicated by line 8A in FIG. 6.

FIG. 8B: Cross section view of an embodiment of a lid lip of the present invention, in a non-handle region, indicated by line 8B in FIG. 6.

FIG. 9: Cross section view of an embodiment of the base of the present invention, along line 9-9, as indicated in FIG. 4.

FIG. 10A: Cross section view of an embodiment of two bases of the present invention, in a handle region, showing the de-nesting notches of the bases.

FIG. 10B: Cross section view of an embodiment of two bases of the present invention, in a non-handle region, showing the de-nesting notches of the bases.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a food container 10 comprising a base 12 and a lid 14.

The lid 14 comprises an upper lid surface 16, a lid sidewall 18 and a lid lip 20. The upper lid surface 16 is a substantially planar surface defined by the top of the lid sidewall 18. The lid lip 20 extends upwardly and outwardly from the bottom region of the lid sidewall 22. The lid sidewall 18 extends outwardly and downwardly from the upper lid surface 16, such that as the distance from the upper lid surface increases, the lid sidewall transitions from a substantially outward extension to a substantially downward extension.

The base 12 comprises a lower base surface 24, a base sidewall 26 and a base lip 28. The lower base surface 24 is a substantially planar surface defined by the bottom of the base sidewall 26. The base lip 28 extends outwardly from the top of the base sidewall 26. The base sidewall 26 comprises a series of base sidewall ridges 30, the base sidewall ridges being parallel to each other and substantially perpendicular to the lower base surface 24. In an embodiment of the present invention, the base sidewall ridges 30 provide structural support for the lid associated with the base, and potentially an additional container 10 stacked on top of the container 10. In an embodiment of the present invention, the base sidewall ridges 30 are of substantially uniform width and depth throughout the base 12.

The lid lip 20 and the base lip 28 both comprise an interlocking arrangement 32 such that the lid 14 may be secured to the base 12, and in being so secured provides an inner seal 34 and an outer seal 36. The inner seal 34 is defined by a base inner seal surface on the base lip 38 coming into contact with a complimentary lid inner seal surface on the lid lip 40. The outer seal 36 is defined by an base outer seal surface on the base lip 42 coming into contact with a lid outer seal surface on the lid lip 44.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the inner seal 34 serves as a barrier to prevent any of the contents of the container from escaping the container 10. In an embodiment of the present invention, the outer seal 36 serves as a barrier to prevent any of the contents of the container that might have passed through the inner seal 34 from escaping the container 10.

The aforementioned lid inner seal surface 40 and lid outer seal surface 44 are in substantially perpendicular arrangements relative to the upper lid surface 16, and are joined by a lid lip transition surface 46 that is in a substantially parallel arrangement relative to the upper lid surface 16 and located between the lid inner seal surface 40 and the lid outer seal surface 44.

The aforementioned base inner seal surface 38 and base outer seal surface 42 are in substantially perpendicular arrangements relative to the lower base surface 24, and are joined by a base lip transition surface 48 that is in a substantially parallel arrangement relative to the lower base surface 24 and located between the base inner seal surface 38 and base outer seal surface 42.

The lid lip 20 and the base lip 28 further comprise at least one handle region. Preferably, the lid lip 20 and the base lip 28 further comprise two handle regions 54, the handle regions being located on substantially opposite ends of the container. The lid lip transition surface 46, in each of the handle regions 54 on the lid lip 20, comprises at least one lid surface area reduction notch 56. The base lip transition surface 48, in each of the handle regions 54 on the base lip 28, comprises at least one base surface area reduction notch 58. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the centers of the two handle regions 54 are located at or near the greatest radial distance from the center of the container.

In another embodiment of the present invention, there are more than two handle regions.

In another embodiment of the present invention, there is one continuous handle region that extends substantially around the base and the lid.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, there are a series of lid surface area reduction notches 56 on each handle region 54 of the lid 14. Where a series of lid surface area reduction notches 56 are so present, it is preferable that on each handle they are substantially parallel to one another and are evenly spaced from one another. Where a series of lid surface area reduction notches 56 are so present, it is preferable that the notches be of uniform length and width. Where a series of lid surface area reduction notches 56 are so present, it is preferable that the notches continue in series from one side of the handle region 54 of the lid 14 to the other side of that same handle region.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, there is one base surface area reduction notch 58 on each handle region 54 of the base 12. Where one base surface area reduction notch 58 is so present, it is preferable that it be of fairly uniform width throughout. Where one base surface area reduction notch 58 is so present, it is preferable that it be of a length less than that of the handle region 54 in which it resides. Where one base surface area reduction notch 58 is so present, it is preferable that the distance between the base inner seal surface 38 and the nearest edge thereto of the base surface area reduction notch 58 is substantially the same as the distance between the base outer seal surface 42 and the nearest edge thereto of the base surface area reduction notch 58.

In another embodiment of the present invention, where there is one continuous handle region that extends substantially around the base and the lid, there is one continuous base surface area reduction notch present thereon that continues substantially around the base handle region.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the termination of the material that comprises the lid 50 is in substantially one plane, defining the edge of the lid. In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, the termination of the material that comprises the base 52 is in substantially one plane, defining the edge of the base.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the base 12 further comprises at least one base de-nesting notch 60, located near the top of the base sidewall 26. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the base 12 further comprises four base de-nesting notches 60, the base de-nesting notches being located near the top of the base sidewall 26, with one base de-nesting notch being located in each end of each handle region 54 on the container. A base de-nesting notch, of which a non-limiting example may be seen in the drawings, prevents the interlocking of bases 12 when two or more bases are stacked together. Other base de-nesting notches that may serve a similar purpose, including those known by those of ordinary skill in the art, and are suitable for use in the present invention are properly, equitably, and intended to be, within the full range of equivalents of the invention disclosed and described herein.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the lid 14 further comprises at least one lid-de-nesting notch 62, located substantially near the base of the lid sidewall 18. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the lid 14 further comprises six lid de-nesting notches 62, the lid de-nesting notches being located substantially near the base of the lid sidewall 18, and the lid de-nesting notches being substantially equidistant from the two most adjacent lid de-nesting notches along the bottom region of the lid sidewall. A lid de-nesting notch, of which a non-limiting example may be seen in the drawings, prevents the interlocking of lids 14 when two or more lids are stacked together. Other lid de-nesting notches that may serve a similar purpose and are suitable for use in the present invention are properly, equitably, and intended to be, within the full range of equivalents of the invention disclosed and described herein.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the upper lid surface 16 further comprises at least one vent 64. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the upper lid surface 16 further comprises two vents 64, the vents being opposed to one another on the ends of the upper lid surface, generally in alignment with the handle regions 54 of the container.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the lower base surface 24 further comprises at least one vent-complimentary notch 66. A vent-complimentary notch 66 is a notch on the lower base surface 24 that, when one container is stacked on another, creates a passageway for the venting of the contents of the bottom of the two containers through the vent 64 of that bottom container. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the lower base surface 24 further comprises two vent-complimentary notches 66, the vent-complimentary notches being opposed to one another on the ends of the lower base surface, generally in alignment with the handle regions 54 of the container.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, where two vents 64 and the two vent-complimentary notches 66 are present, when one container is stacked on another such that a container base 12 is on top of a container lid 14, each vent on the bottom of the two containers and corresponding vent-complimentary notch on the top of the two containers in concert permit the venting of the bottom of the two containers.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the lower base surface 24 further comprises a raised food-resting surface 68. In an embodiment of the present invention the upper lid surface 16 further comprises a raised base-engaging surface 70. A raised base-engaging surface 70 is a notch in the upper lid surface 16 that is complimentary in shape and size to the raised food-resting surface 68 of the lower base surface 24, and in being so complimentary permits one container to be stacked on another and provides horizontal stability between the two containers, where horizontal stability is the substantial prevention of horizontal movement of one container relative to the other while stacked.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, where the raised food-resting surface 68 and the raised base-engaging surface 70 are present, they are configured as to allow a container base 12 to be stacked on top of a container lid 14.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the lower base surface 24 further comprises at least one fluid separation notch 72. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the lower base surface 24 further comprises eight fluid separation notches 72, where two of the fluid separation notches are positioned on opposite sides of the lower base surface, the ends generally in the location of the vent-complimentary notches 66, and where six of the fluid separation notches are positioned on the raised food-resting surface 68. In an embodiment of the present invention, the fluid separation notches 72 serve the purpose, among other things, of keeping foods that are in the container of the present invention at least partially separated from any fluids within the container, and thereby at least partially prevent undesirable levels of moisture from mingling with the food within the container. In this particular embodiment, fluids, such as condensation for example, may reside along the lower base surface 24 but below the upper portions of the fluid separation notches 72, while the food within the container rests atop the fluid separation notches, and in so resting remains substantially separated from the fluids.

As used herein, the term ‘fluids’ may refer to any moisture or liquid, including but not limited to water, oil, or mixtures thereof, including condensation, and any other term understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that describes fluids associated with food, particularly warm, cooked food.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the lid lip 20 further comprises at least one lid-opening tab 74. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the lid 20 lip further comprises two lid-opening tabs 74, located on opposite ends of the lid, each offset from the handle regions 54. In being located offset from the handle regions 54, the lid-opening tabs 74 are located in the proximity of the handle regions, and may at least partially reside in the handle regions.

In an embodiment of the present invention, the base lip 28 further comprises at least one base opening tab 76. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the base lip 28 further comprises one base opening tab 76, located in the vicinity of one handle region 54 and located such that, when the base 12 and the lid 14 are engaged, the base opening tab is offset from the closest lid-opening tab 74.

The container of the present invention may be made from materials known by those of ordinary skill in the art, including but not limited to polypropylene or polystyrene. In an embodiment of the present invention, the base and the lid are made of substantially similar materials. In an embodiment of the present invention, the lid is made of a substantially translucent polypropylene material, and the base is made of a substantially white polypropylene material. In a particularly preferred embodiment, the container is microwavable. In a preferred embodiment, the material may be embossed with text, images, or both in various locations, including but not limited to the lower base surface 24.

In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the lid inner seal surface and the base inner seal surface are of substantially complimentary geometric shapes. In a preferred embodiment of the present invention, the lid outer seal surface and base outer seal surface are of substantially complimentary geometric shapes. It is understood by those of ordinary skill in the art, and it is intended herein, that the phrase “substantially complimentary geometrical shapes” indicates that two surfaces are so substantially identical that, when they meet, a seal is formed throughout the radii of the shape.

Suitable geometric shapes for the lid inner seal surface, the base inner seal surface, the lid outer seal surface, and the base outer seal surface including, but not limited to cylinders or frusta of a square, rectangle, triangle, ellipse, circle, or any other suitable shape. It is understood by those of ordinary skill in the art, and it is intended herein, that such shapes may optionally have rounded corners, where such rounding may be of slight to severe degrees. It is understood by those of ordinary skill in the art, and it is intended herein, that such shapes may optionally be slightly deformed or stretched, where such deformity or stretching may be slight to severe degrees.

From the foregoing description, one of ordinary skill in the art can easily ascertain that the present invention provides a novel food container, which provides certain beneficial results that have been more fully enumerated herein and are apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

The present invention is an improvement over the state of the art, among other reasons, in that it provides a reduction of discomfort to a person who picks up, holds, moves or otherwise comes into contact with a container with warm contents.

The figures included herewith are depictions of embodiments of the present invention, and are non-limiting examples of the present invention. Other shapes, proportions, configurations or deviations from the figures that are not explicitly depicted nonetheless are properly, equitable, and intended, to be within the scope of the claims of the present invention.

Without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention, one of ordinary skill in the art can make various changes and modifications to the invention to adapt it to various usages and conditions, including those not specifically laid out herein. As such, those changes and modifications are properly, equitably, and intended to be, within the full range of equivalents of the invention disclosed, described and claimed herein.