Title:
FOOD CONTAINER WITH DRAWING UTENSIL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A container comprises a receptacle having a base portion, a lateral containment surface, and at least one drawing utensil for food. The drawing utensil has an elongated handgrip element and at least one movable working portion connected to one end of the handgrip element. The handgrip element faces a respective portion of the lateral containment surface. The base portion further comprises a substantially pocket-shaped housing for at least a partial insertion therein of the movable working portion.



Inventors:
Costa, Alessio (Borgo Valsugana, IT)
Application Number:
12/123981
Publication Date:
11/26/2009
Filing Date:
05/20/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47G23/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KIRSCH, ANDREW THOMAS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Steinfl + Bruno LLP (Pasadena, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A container, comprising a receptacle having a base portion, a lateral containment surface, and at least one drawing utensil for food, said drawing utensil having an elongated handgrip element and at least one movable working portion connected to one end of said handgrip element, wherein said handgrip element faces a respective portion of said lateral containment surface and said base portion further comprises a substantially pocket-shaped housing for at least a partial insertion therein of said movable working portion.

2. The container according to claim 1, wherein said substantially pocket-shaped housing comprises curved protrusions for maintaining said movable working portion in a stable position within said housing.

3. The container according to claim 1, wherein said lateral containment surface comprises an elongated groove shaped for housing of said handgrip element.

4. The container according to claim 1, wherein said at least one drawing utensil is connected to said receptacle by way of at least one connecting segment that can be broken by a user.

5. The container according to claim 1, wherein said container is made of a single plastic injection molding.

6. The container according to claim 1, wherein said drawing utensil is removably connected to said receptacle by way of reciprocal removable connection.

7. The container according to claim 6, wherein said reciprocal removable connection comprises a seat obtained in said receptacle for housing of a respective end of said handgrip element.

8. The container according to claim 6, wherein said reciprocal removable connection acts between said handgrip element and said lateral containment surface of said receptacle.

9. The container according to claim 8, wherein said reciprocal removable connection comprises at least one fastening tooth projecting from said containment surface and a blocking seat defined on a middle section of said handgrip element, the removable connection being obtained when said projecting tooth is removably inserted with interference inside said blocking seat.

10. The container according to claim 10, wherein said drawing utensil, when connected to said receptacle, has said working portion lying inclined with respect to said handgrip element.

11. The container according to claim 10, wherein said drawing utensil, when connected to said receptacle, has said working portion lying perpendicular with respect to said handgrip element.

12. The container according to claim 1, wherein said drawing utensil comprises a flexible connecting segment between said working portion and said handgrip element.

13. The container according to claim 1, wherein said drawing utensil comprises blocking means for holding said working portion and said handgrip element in a blocked position.

14. The container according to claim 13, wherein said blocking means comprises a locking tooth obtained on said handgrip element and a shaped seat obtained on said working portion.

15. The container according to claim 1, further comprising a groove for stacking of the container.

16. The container according to claim 1, wherein said handgrip element is hollow, thus allowing use of the handgrip element as a straw.

17. The container according to claim 1, wherein said handgrip element comprises at least one line of facilitated rupture to get at least one spiky portion from said handgrip after said rupture.

18. The container according to claim 1, wherein said working portion of said drawing utensil is adapted to cooperate with said handgrip element in order to work as tweezers.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is related to European patent application EP 06024194.0 filed on Nov. 22, 2006 and published on May 23, 2007, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

1. Field

The field of the present disclosure relates to food containers and in particular it relates to a food container with a drawing utensil. Said container is particularly, but not exclusively, to be used in the packaging of ice-creams, dairy products such as yoghurts, desserts etc.

2. Related Art

The food containers used in the above sectors are usually comprised of pots, of various shapes and sizes, sealed at the top with a lid.

In many cases, the food contained inside the pots is consumed soon after purchase and, for this reason, these containers are sold accompanied by a utensil (generally a spoon) usually realized in plastic and intended for use by the user to draw the food from the pot. Also the pot is usually realized in plastic.

Nowadays, the utensil is generally inserted between the lid (or in some cases between the lateral side of the pot) and a welded film covering.

For this reason, often the pot and the utensil are realized using different moulds and, during the packaging process, are subsequently joined together as described above.

Food containers in which the drawing utensil is lightly attached to the side of the lid facing the inside of the container have also been proposed.

This result is obtained with the technique of overprinting which in this specific case consists of injecting the plastic material constituting the lid around and over the preformed utensil. The separation of the utensil from the lid is achieved by applying a light manual pressure on the top of the same lid.

The main drawback of the devices described above is a certain complexity in the production phase and a substantial investment, determined by the fact that at least two moulds must be prepared one for the pot and one for the utensil.

Moreover, with reference to the containers with the utensil attached to the lateral side of the pot, it is observed how difficult the wrapping operation of the containers is, due to the radial encumbrance of the end section of the drawing utensil; please note that “wrapping” means the usual operation for personalizing the various pots and consists in wrapping a layer of polymeric material around the lateral side of the pot. Furthermore, for the same reason, in containers on the market today it appears rather problematic to provide for the possibility of inserting the utensil inside a protective packet before attaching it to the pot.

Last but not least, the drawing utensil, when attached to the container, may be exposed to dirt and/or germs, or the user may be forced to touch the whole utensil with hands before use. This may cause hygienic concerns.

Moreover, the utensil cannot be attached again to the container after use: this can be a problem in case that the user has not eaten the whole content of the container and he/she would successively resume the eating. In fact the container and the utensil are two different bodies which cannot put together again, neither for disposal purpose.

SUMMARY

A general aspect of the present disclosure is that of eliminating, or at least drastically reducing, the reported drawbacks in those food containers provided with an utensil currently on the market.

Within this aspect, one further aspect of the disclosure is that of providing a food container able to offer a particularly limited production cost, in such a way that its use also proves advantageous from an economic point of view.

Another aspect of the present disclosure is that of providing a food container which allows, thanks to its particular shape, to simply and economically carry out the covering and/or wrapping operation.

A further aspect is that of devising a food container which is easy to stack and complies with the strictest health regulations. In particular, the container makes the user able to get the utensil without touching the whole utensil with hands.

Last but not least, a further aspect is that of providing a utensil that can easily attached to the container also after use.

These aspects of the present disclosure and other aspects that shall emerge hereinafter will be apparent from the drawings and description herein. It is to be noted that any one embodiment of the disclosure may meet one or more of the above-listed aspects; none embodiment needs to meet every object of the disclosure.

The present disclosure is generally directed to a food container, comprising a receptacle having a base portion, a lateral containment surface, and at least one drawing utensil for food, said drawing utensil having an elongated handgrip element and at least one movable working portion connected to one end of said handgrip element, the arrangement being such that said handgrip element faces a respective portion of said lateral containment surface and said base portion further comprises a substantially pocket-shaped housing for at least a partial insertion therein of said movable working portion.

Further characteristics and advantages of the invention shall be better shown from the description of some preferred embodiments for a food container according to the disclosure, with reference to the attached drawings. Said description is by no means exclusive and said preferred embodiment is a non-limiting example, because other embodiments are possible, all falling within the scope of the present disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a food container with a connected drawing utensil;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view similar to that represented in FIG. 1, wherein the drawing utensil is in the phase of detachment from the container;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view similar to that represented in FIGS. 1 and 2, wherein the drawing utensil is detached from the container;

FIG. 4, is a sectional view along a diametrical plane of the food container connected to the drawing utensil;

FIG. 5 is a enlarged scale sectional view of the drawing utensil;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an open food container with the drawing utensil inserted inside;

FIG. 7 is a sectional view along a diametrical plane of the food container connected to the drawing utensil according to a second embodiment;

FIG. 8 illustrates a perspective view of a third embodiment of the food container wherein the utensil is detached from the receptacle;

FIG. 9 is an elevated lateral and partially sectional view of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 7, with the drawing utensil attached to the containment receptacle;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a drawing utensil according to an alternative embodiment;

FIG. 11 is a transversal sectional view of the drawing utensil of FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a drawing utensil according to another alternative embodiment;

FIG. 13 is another view of the drawing utensil of FIG. 12.;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a drawing utensil according to a further alternative embodiment; and

FIG. 15 is another view of the drawing utensil of FIG. 14.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following embodiments, single features of specific embodiments may be interchanged with other different features present in other embodiments.

With reference to FIGS. 1 to 4, a first embdiment of a container for the containment of food, indicated comprehensively with the reference number 1, is here described. The food container 1 comprises a receptacle 2 for containing food and a drawing utensil 3 (represented as a spoon in FIGS. 1 to 13) to extract the food contained in the receptacle 2.

In the present embodiment, the food container 1 is of the type in which the drawing utensil 3 is stably attached to the receptacle 2 in the packaged food container 1; said drawing utensil 3 is detachable from the receptacle 2 by the user when he/she wishes to draw the food contained in the receptacle 2.

The receptacle 2 has a base portion 2b, shown in FIG. 4, and a lateral containment surface 2a joined together by means of an interconnecting border 2c. In particular, according to a preferred embodiment, the base portion 2b further comprises a base surface 2d.

With reference now to FIG. 5, the drawing utensil 3 comprises a handgrip element 4, such as a handle, which is developed along a principal direction of development 100.

According to the present disclosure, with reference again to FIGS. 1 to 4, the handgrip element 4 comprises at least one portion which is facing a respective portion of the lateral containment surface 2a.

According to a preferred embodiment, the containment surface 2a further comprises a groove 2e wherein the above-mentioned portion of the handgrip element 4 can be housed. In the present embodiment, the groove 2e develops along a direction which is substantially parallel to the principal direction of development 100 of the handgrip element 4.

Such features are remarkably advantageous in the wrapping steps of the container around the containment surface, because the handgrip element 4 is disposed substantially at the same level of the lateral surface 2a when the drawing utensil 3 is connected to the receptacle 2.

A second groove 2f may also be present in a diametrically opposed position to the first groove 2e. Said second groove 2f allows an easier stacking of the containers, because a first container could be stacked onto a second one in a such way that the handgrip element 4 of the utensil 3 of the first container is also housed in the groove 2f of the second container.

With reference now to FIGS. 4 and 5, the handgrip element 4 is connected, advantageously at one of its ends 4a, to a working portion 6 that, if the drawing utensil 3 is a spoon, comprises an concave oval plate; if the drawing utensil 3 is a fork, the working portion 6 comprises a plurality of teeth or tines.

In particular, the working portion 6 is movable with respect to the end 4a of the handgrip element 4.

Furthermore, when the drawing utensil 3 is connected to the receptacle 2 (as illustrated in the sectional view of FIG. 4) the working portion 6 is at least partially inserted inside a housing 7 which is defined on the food container 1.

In particular, the housing 7 is substantially pocket-shaped and is positioned at the base portion 2b of the containment receptacle 2.

With reference to FIGS. 3 and 4, the base portion 2d, which defines the lower surface of the housing 7, comprises curved protrusions 2g that maintain the working portion 6 inside the housing 7 in a stable position.

Advantageously, as illustrated in the embodiment of FIG. 4, the drawing utensil 3 is connected to the containment receptacle 2 by means of at least one connecting segment 8 which can be broken by the user.

In particular, the connecting segment 8 joins the top rim 2h of the containment receptacle 2 to the end 4b of the handgrip element 4 which is opposite to the end 4a connected to the working portion 6. The connecting segment 8 can be broken by the user.

The food container 1 can be obtained by means of a single plastic injection molding: it can be noted how the connecting segment 8 allows the use of a single molding for the molding of both the receptacle 2 and the drawing utensil 3.

The working portion 6 is mounted so as to be movable with respect to the handgrip element 4 around an oscillation axis 101 which is substantially perpendicular to the principal direction of development 100 of the handgrip element 4. In practice, the working portion 6 can move around a substantially transversal axis with respect to the longitudinal direction of development of the handgrip element 4.

According to a preferred embodiment, when the drawing utensil 3 is attached to the containment receptacle 2, the working portion 6 lies on a rest plane which is inclined with respect to the rest plane of the handgrip element 4.

In the configuration described above, the working portion 6 is advantageously disposed substantially perpendicular to the handgrip element 4.

In order to ensure that the working portion 6 can move around its oscillation axis 101 with respect to the handgrip element 4, it is possible to provide that the connection between the working portion 6 and the end 4a of the handgrip element 4 is realized by means of a flexible connecting segment. Said flexible connecting elements can also be made of the same plastic material of which the working portion 6 and the handgrip element 3 are made.

It is appropriate that the drawing utensil 3 be provided with means for holding the working portion 6 in a blocked position with respect to the handgrip element 4 when the drawing utensil 3 is utilized. That is, the working portion 6 can be held in a condition in which such working portion 6 lies on a plane that forms an angle lower than 30 degrees with the rest plane of the handgrip element 4 (as illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 6). In another embodiment, the working portion 6 can lie on a plane which is substantially parallel to the rest plane of the handgrip element 4.

Said means for holding the blocked position can comprise a locking tooth 9 on the handgrip element 4 and a counter shaped seat 10 on the working portion 6 or vice versa.

However, the flexible connecting segment can simply be plastically deformable in such a way as to make it possible to hold a condition wherein such working portion 6 lies on a plane forming an angle lower than 30 degrees (or substantially parallel) with the rest plane of the handgrip element 4, said condition being held merely thanks to the yield of the flexible segment itself.

Obviously, according to the same inventive concept, it is possible to envisage that, as illustrated in the two different embodiments illustrated respectively in FIG. 7 and in FIGS. 8 and 9, the drawing utensil 3 is removably connected to the containment receptacle 2.

For example, with reference to both the alternative embodiments, it is possible to envisage reversible means of reciprocal removable connection between the handgrip element 4 of the drawing utensil 3 and the lateral containment surface 2a of the receptacle 2.

However, nothing prevents said means of removable connection from being connected to other zones of the drawing utensil 3 and/or of the containment receptacle 2, as for instance the working-portion 6 and the housing 7.

With reference to the first alternative embodiment shown in FIG. 7, the containment receptacle 2 comprises a seat 7a apt to house the end 4b of the handgrip element 4; said seat 7a cooperates with the housing 7 in order to maintain the drawing utensil 3 connected to the receptacle 2.

With reference to the second alternative embodiment shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, said means of removable connection can comprise at least one fastening tooth 11 that radially projects from the lateral containment surface 2a of the contaminant receptacle 2; said fastening tooth 11 can be inserted with interference inside a blocking seat 12 constituted, for example, by a slot defined on a middle section of the handgrip element 4.

Moreover, it is also possible to associate the drawing utensil 3 to a protective covering and subsequently attaching the covered drawing utensil 3 to the containment receptacle 2 before packaging.

In this case it is possible to envisage; for example, that the means of reciprocal removable connection comprises a layer or “dot” of glue, specifically for food use, inserted between the drawing utensil 3 (wrapped in the protective covering, for example) and the containment receptacle 2.

According to a further embodiment shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, the handgrip element 4 could be hollow, thus defining an oblong cavity 31 and allowing the use of the handgrip element 4 as a straw.

A further embodiment of the drawing utensil 3 is shown in FIGS. 12 and 13. The handgrip element 4 can comprise at least one line of facilitated rupture 41, that allows an easy separation of at least a part of the handgrip element 4 itself. In this way at least one spiky portion is got from said handgrip. For instance a spike 42 on one end of the handgrip element 4 is got and this can be used to easily pick olive or fruit pieces or chips from the receptacle 2. The spiky portions that are separated from the handgrip element 4 can be used as toothpick 43.

Again a further embodiment of the drawing utensil 3 is shown in FIGS. 14 and 15. The working portion 6, which can rotate around axis 101, is adapted to cooperate with the handgrip element 4 in order to work as tweezers. Said tweezers allow to pick food in small pieces contained in the receptacle 2, as for instance candies, Chinese food, chips or other food or items.

The working portion 6 can comprise a first part 61 which is connected to the handgrip element 4, and a second part 62 which can slide with respect to the first part 61. The second part 62 can be at least partially housed inside the first part 61, or vice versa.

When the drawing utensil 3 is connected to the receptacle 2, it is in a retracted configuration, i.e. the second part 62 is housed inside the first part 61 (or vice versa). When the tweezers are required, the drawing utensil 3 is detached from the receptacle 2 and the second part 62 is pulled out of the first part 61, so as to make the overall length of the working portion 6 to be approximately the same of the length of the handgrip element 4. The handgrip element 4 and the working portion 6 are the two arms of the tweezers.

The manners and methods of use of a food container 1 according to the present disclosure are made clear by the description above.

Irrespective of the fact that the food container 1 is realized as a single body or as two separate bodies (receptacle 2 and drawing utensil 3) joined together, it is possible to cover the lateral surface 2a of the container 1 using a transparent or printed film, for instance with a wrapping layer.

In any case, such film can also work as means of removable connection.

In order to be able to detach the drawing utensil 3 from the containment receptacle 2, it is evidently necessary to remove said film; this removal could be facilitated by providing a weakened line.

It is evident that a container 1 according to the present disclosure can comprise more than one of said drawing utensils 3: for instance, it could comprise a spoon utensil and a fork utensil.

A drawing utensil 3 can also comprise more than one working portion 6: for instance it could comprise a spoon working portion and a fork working portions, which are connected either to the same end 4a or to opposite ends of the handgrip element 4.

All the elements of the invention, which are indicated above as advantageous, appropriate or such, could also be absent or substituted by subcombinations or other combination of equivalent elements, as long as one of the above-mentioned aspects is achieved.

The invention here disclosed is susceptible to numerous modifications and variants, all falling under the concept of the invention, as defined by the attached claims.

For example, in addition to those means described above, the drawing utensil 3 can be kept connected to the receptacle 2 also by reciprocal fixing zones, respectively, in the drawing utensil 3 and on the receptacle 2: for example, the groove 2e, defined on the lateral surface 2a of the receptacle 2, can couple with respective counter-shaped segments on the handgrip element 4.

It has been established how in practice each of the embodiments of the invention has achieved at least some (or all) of the prefixed aspects and objectives.

In particular, it has been established how both the containment receptacle 2 and the drawing utensil 3 can be realized simultaneously using a single mould.

Furthermore, thanks to the peculiarity determined by the possibility of swinging the working portion 6 with respect to the handgrip element 4, it has been established that space has been saved and the container 1 is more hygienic.

In fact the working portion 6, when it is housed inside the housing 7, is protected against dirt and germs; said handgrip element 4 can be rotated and blocked with respect to the working portion 6 even while the latter is still inserted in said pocket-shaped housing 7. Therefore said drawing utensil 3 can be made ready for use even avoiding the need of touching said working portion 6 with hands.

Moreover, the drawing utensil 3 can be connected again to the receptacle 2 after use and in particular the working portion 6 may be inserted again in the housing 7, so allowing the user to successively complete the eating of the food or facilitating a proper disposal of the drawing utensil 3 together with the receptacle 2.

In practice, any type of material and any size could be employed according to needs.

Furthermore, all the described details and technical features can be substituted by other technically equivalent elements.