Title:
Retail produce box and method for selling a variety of produce therein
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
There is provided an improved retail produce box, preferably for fresh potatoes. Each box comprises a bottom wall, four side walls with beveled corners where adjacent side walls meet, said bottom wall and side walls defining a substantially rectangular box interior. That interior is covered by a lid made from folded over extensions of two opposed side walls with one of said lid extensions at least partially overlapping the other lid extension to minimize light penetration into the box interior and allow for some settlement of contents after filling. The bottom wall may have a plurality of apertures for visual inspection of the contents and facilitating air circulation within. Preferably, the overlapping lid extension includes a hinged and tabbed section that can be flipped open for visually inspecting the box contents and lowered back down after. A plurality of such boxes, in various produce quantities, may be boxed together for shipping in a master container. A method for selling varying produce in the same box entails inserting a divider into that box to form chambers into which different varieties of potatoes, or potatoes along with other produce like onions, may be packaged.



Inventors:
Corso, Thomas I. (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/587135
Publication Date:
04/08/2010
Filing Date:
10/02/2009
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
229/120, 229/120.02, 229/126, 53/473
International Classes:
B65D5/46; B65B1/04; B65D5/00; B65D5/42; B65D25/04
View Patent Images:
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20070063000Template, system, and method for forming a box from a cardMarch, 2007Ellwood et al.
20050127149Corners for jewelry displayJune, 2005Lee
20060208045Security packaging with post recycled contentSeptember, 2006Chandaria
20090272789STACKABLE AND INDEXABLE PACKING TRAYNovember, 2009Fry
20070131691LID HAVING A RECLOSABLE SPOUTJune, 2007Evans
20030024970Document containerFebruary, 2003Lonergan
20060065704Pizza package made of scrap paperMarch, 2006Chang



Primary Examiner:
DEMEREE, CHRISTOPHER R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Gary P. Topolosky (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A corrugated cardboard box for transporting and displaying fresh produce, said box comprising: (a) a bottom wall; (b) four side walls which define a substantially rectangular box interior, said box interior having a beveled corner where adjacent side walls meet; and (c) a lid made from folded over extensions from two opposed side walls with one of said lid extensions at least partially overlapping the other lid extension when assembled for minimizing light penetration into the box interior, said combination of beveled corners and overlapping lids providing said box with sufficient rigidity for greater transportation loading and display stacking.

2. The box of claim 1 which further comprises at least one hand hole that extends at least partially through each of two opposed side walls.

3. The box of claim 2, wherein said hand holes extend completely through said opposed side walls.

4. The box of claim 1, wherein the bottom wall further comprises a plurality of spaced apertures for some produce degassing and content inspection when flipped over.

5. The box of claim 1 which further comprises at least one divider insert for separating the box interior into two or more compartments, each compartment adapted for housing a separate type of produce.

6. The box of claim 5, wherein the compartments are substantially equally sized.

7. The box of claim 5, wherein one compartment may hold a first variety of potato and a second compartment a second variety of potato.

8. The box of claim 5, wherein a first compartment may hold one or more varieties of potatoes, and a second compartment a variety of onions.

9. The box of claim 8, wherein a third compartment may hold a variety of other produce selected from the group consisting of carrots, celery and garlic.

10. The box of claim 1, wherein the overlapping lid extension further comprises a hinged and tabbed section which can be manually flipped open for visually inspecting produce in the box interior and lowered back down after inspection.

11. The box of claim 11, wherein the hinged and tabbed section is substantially trapezoidally shaped.

12. The box of claim 1 which, after being packed with fresh produce, may be combined with other similar boxes in a master container having two or more tiers of such packed boxes.

13. A box for transporting and displaying one or more varieties of potatoes, said box being made from a folded blank of corrugated cardboard and comprising: (a) a bottom wall; (b) four side walls which define a substantially rectangular box interior, said box interior having a beveled corner where adjacent side walls meet; and (c) a lid made from folded over extensions from two opposed side walls with one of said lid extensions having a hinged, pre-cut section for manually flipping open to visually inspect the box interior and lowering back down after inspecting, said beveled corners and overlapping lids providing said box with minimized light penetration into the box interior and sufficient rigidity for greater transportation loading and display stacking.

14. The potato box of claim 13, wherein the hinged, pre-cut section is substantially trapezoidal in shape and frictionally engages with at least some areas of the lid adjacent to same.

15. The potato box of claim 13, wherein the hinged, pre-cut section includes at least one tabbed edge.

16. The potato box of claim 13 which further comprises at least one divider insert for separating the box interior into two or more compartments, each compartment adapted for holding a separate variety of potato.

17. The potato box of claim 13 which further comprises at least one divider for separating the box interior into a plurality of compartments, at least one of said compartments holding a produce other than potatoes, said produce selected from the group consisting of: onions, carrots, celery and garlic.

18. The potato box of claim 13, wherein at some portion of the box interior has been treated with a moisture-resistant material.

19. The potato box of claim 13 which further comprises at least one hand hole extending at least partially through each of two opposed side walls.

20. The potato box of claim 13, wherein at least one of the bottom wall and a side wall further comprises a plurality of spaced apertures for additional inspecting and some degassing.

21. A method for selling a variety of produce in a common retail box comprises: (a) providing a box made from a folded blank of corrugated cardboard, said box comprising: (i) a bottom wall; (ii) four side walls which define a substantially rectangular box interior, said box interior having beveled corners where adjacent side walls meet; (iii) a lid made from folded over extensions of two opposed side walls with one of said lid extensions at least partially overlapping the other lid extension and having a tabbed section that can be manually flipped open for visually inspecting the box interior and lowered back down thereafter; and (iv) at least one divider insert for separating the box interior into two or more compartments, each compartment adapted for holding a separate variety of produce, said beveled corners and overlapping lids providing said box with minimized light penetration into the box interior and improved rigidity during transportation loading and display stacking; and (b) filling a first box interior compartment with a first variety of produce and filling a second compartment with a second variety of produce.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein the compartments are substantially equally sized.

23. The method of claim 21, wherein the compartments are filled with different varieties of potatoes.

24. The method of claim 21, wherein one of the compartments is filled with a variety of potatoes and the other compartment with produce selected from the group consisting of: onions, carrots, celery and garlic.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/195,327, filed on Oct. 6, 2008, the disclosure of which is fully incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The packaging, transportation, retail display and storage of fresh vegetables and fruits require special environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, light, etc., for maintaining the freshness of such products in terms of food value and appearance until purchased and consumed. Proper packaging of such foods plays an important role in achieving desirable results.

Many types of produce packages are known. One common variety is a corrugated paperboard (fiberboard) container which is lightweight and readily available at relatively low cost. Corrugated paperboard/cardboard is also biodegradable and environmentally acceptable. Although such containers are commonly used for the packaging and distribution of wholesale quantities of produce, they are less often used for packaging smaller quantities of many kinds of produce including potatoes, onions, citrus and other fruits. Smaller quantities are usually presented loose, in paper and/or plastic net bags for retail purchase.

In instances when corrugated cartons are used, it is common practice to utilize one of the many standardized containers already available from manufacturers. Various container designs have been adapted from the bulk transportation of goods in their varying types, sizes and weights. Standard container designs and related specifications are primarily directed to parameters defining a container's carrying capacity and strength e.g. in terms of resistance to bursting or crushing under the various applied forces to which containers are subjected during transportation and storage. Much less attention has been paid to providing containers for the special environmental requirements of certain produce especially in the lesser quantities suitable for retail carry out.

When produce is sold in loose, bulk form, the consumer has the chore of picking through a display, selecting for acceptable quality, and bagging the selections for purchase. However, the handling of easily bruised fruits and vegetables in bulk, and their general deterioration due to exposure to the elements, result in considerable loss (or “shrink”) to the retailer. When fresh produce is packaged in other container forms like paper or plastic bags, the quality range in terms of product size, form and appearance is determined by the packager and may not suit the needs or desires of smaller volume retailers and/or their consuming public. In either case, the attention and care needed to maintain special quality characteristics is often lacking or minimal. Potatoes, for example, are subject to greening on excessive exposure to natural or artificial light. Accordingly, the bulk presentation/display of potatoes, especially white or yellow potatoes, in light-admitting containers can result in rapid, quality deterioration.

During storage, apples and other fruits give off ethylene gases which must be removed to maintain their “shelf” quality. Humidity control, where required, is difficult or impossible to achieve when produce is handled in bulk quantity lots, substantially open or fully closed containers. The size and shape of some produce, such as potatoes, is also critical for appearance and impacts the manner of cooking to be employed. In a microwave oven, for example, cooking time is a function of food item size. If the produce to be microwaved differs greatly in size, some may be overdone and others underdone.

Containers and boxes for potatoes and other produce items are known in the art. However, prior art containers suffer from one or more mechanical or economic disadvantages making them less than entirely suitable for their intended purpose.

One prior art potato carton/box is shown in Corso U.S. Pat. No. 5,018,663. While that carton was satisfactory for shipping and displaying extra grade potatoes, it did not achieve widespread use due to economic considerations.

Several years later, there was disclosed a reusable plastic container for shipping multiple cobs of corn in Hatton U.S. Pat. No. 5,642,854. That container had a locking lid and water access ports or holes.

A folding box for containing specimen samples was shown in Baumgärtner et al. U.S. Pat. No. 5,934,549. It had an inner and outer lid all of which could be made from a precut blank of cardboard.

The fiberboard blank for the container of Grabowski et al. U.S. Pat. No. 6,237,840 focused on an improved hand hole configuration. And a top, recessed handle was the subject of a family of patents all assigned to Weyerhaeuser. See, McKenna et al. U.S. Pat. Nos. 7,306,136, 7,306,137 and 7,314,158.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

One objective of the present invention is to provide a produce box having a lid that allows for settlement of contents after filling and during shipment to its resale destination. A related objective of the invention is to provide a produce box that protects the box contents from most light until a prospective customer views the contents. Yet another objective provides a produce box with bottom viewing and venting holes or apertures while not interfering with structural rigidity especially when stacked high for transport and/or sales display.

Another objective of this invention is to provide a produce box, especially for holding fresh potatoes, that is efficient and economical to use. That box should be adaptable to filler machinery that dumps fresh potatoes directly into same. A further objective is to provide such a box in a variety of sizes, including 5 lb., 4 lb. 3 lb., 2.5 lb., 2 lb. and 1 lb. equivalents (all acceptable to Food and Drug Administration standards for produce shipping and storage). It is another objective to provide such boxes for common packing in a master container having dimensions and configuration suitable for standardization in the produce industry. An additional objective is to provide a master container holding 2 or more rows or layers of produce/potato boxes, with a lower row/layer including larger boxes than an upper layer situated above that lower layer. Yet another objective is to provide a master container holding 10 or more of the individual potato boxes, the master container being suitable for stacking on pallets for transport by truck and/or railcar.

Therefore, it is a primary objective of this invention to provide an improved, “hand-carryable” corrugated cardboard container for packaging, transporting and storing fresh produce, particularly items of a pre-selected size, and for aiding in the freshness maintenance of that produce by limiting light access to the container interior while providing a limited degree of air circulation. Such containers will promote the maintenance of desirable temperature and humidity conditions within the container while providing visual consumer access to the interior and its contents. With the use on internal container dividers, it is expected that the boxes of this invention may be filled with a variety of produce, either in the same field (as in both white and red potatoes) or in smaller serving convenience packs with other produce (like combinations of potatoes with onions, carrots, celery and/or garlic, for instance).

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further features, objectives and advantages of the present invention will become clearer when referring to the following detailed description of preferred embodiments made with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1A is a top perspective view of a set of various sized produce boxes of the invention, in multiple rows or layers inside a partially cut away, master container;

FIG. 1B is a front perspective view of several rows of master containers stacked on a pallet for shipping;

FIG. 2A is a front perspective view of an unopened produce box according to a first embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2B is a front perspective view of the bottom to the FIG. 2A box;

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the FIG. 2A box with its outer overlapping lid panel slightly raised;

FIG. 4A is a front perspective view of a second preferred embodiment having a flip top view lid;

FIG. 4B is a front perspective view of the FIG. 4A box with its flip top view lid slightly raised;

FIG. 4C is a front perspective view of the FIG. 4A box with its flip top view lid panel fully raised for showing the box interior;

FIG. 4D is a right side view of the FIG. 4A box showing a hand carrying hole that passes only partially through that box side wall;

FIG. 5 is front perspective view of the FIG. 4A box, in partial cutaway, with some representative potatoes positioned therein;

FIG. 6A is a front perspective view of the FIG. 4A box with one embodiment of two-way divider inserted therein;

FIG. 6B is a front perspective view of the FIG. 4A box with one embodiment of a three-way divider inserted therein;

FIG. 7 is a front perspective view of a third container embodiment with elongated sides and a flip top view lid;

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of a corrugated cardboard blank from which the box of FIGS. 2A, 2B and 3 can be constructed by folding; and

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of a corrugated cardboard blank from which the box of FIGS. 4A through 6 can be assembled.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

For every numerical range set forth herein, it should be noted that all numbers within the range, including every fraction or decimal between its stated minimum and maximum, are considered to be designated and disclosed by this description. As such, herein disclosing a preferred box weight limit between about 1 and 5 pounds of produce expressly includes box content levels of about 1.2, 1.5, 1.75 and 2 lbs. . . . and so on, up to about 4.5, 4.75 and 4.99 lbs. of deliverable produce.

Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although any methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of this invention, the preferred methods and materials are described herein.

Referring now to FIGS. 1A and 1B, there is shown a master container, generally 10. That master container 10 is formed from double-faced corrugated cardboard sheet, 100% recyclable, said sheet having about 200 psi burst strength with a C flute. Wall thickness of that outer shipping, master container is about ¼ inch with its other dimensions being about 9.75 inches high, about 20.25 inches long and about 16 inches wide. There is a quarter inch tolerance on all box and master container sizes for any given weight(s). Such tolerance is needed to accommodate the rounder shape of other produce items such as onions (as compared to many potato varieties).

In FIG. 1A, master container 10 shows several rows of produce boxes per the invention stacked in 2 tiers or layers. Each tier includes several boxes, preferably in varying end product quantities. Particularly, a lower tier within master container 10 could include a row with 3 boxes, each containing about four pounds of fresh potatoes. The four lb. boxes are labeled as element 12 therein. Next to that row, on the lower tier of master container ten could be situated 12 boxes, each containing about 1 pound of potato product. The one lb. boxes are identified as element 14. On the next tier above that lower most tier, shippers could pack yet another variety of filled potato box sizes, particularly 6 boxes of two pound quantities (element 16) next to 4 boxes of three pound product (element 18).

Once each master container 10 of filled boxes is readied, it may be stacked, five master containers per tier and about 4 tiers high on a typical shipping pallet 20 as shown in FIG. 1B. The corners of each master container box 10 are preferably beveled (though not shown). The master containers may be provided with hand holes and machine formed to their desired shape. When the master containers include beveled corners, their weight points rest more on the wood pallets 20 carrying them. Beveled corners enable the master containers to be stacked higher than in prior art containers with squared corners. Such wood pallets can be generally stacked with 20 master containers, amounting to a weight of about 2100 to 2250 pounds including the potatoes, boxes, and master containers.

The design of produce containers according to this invention takes into account: (1) internal container dimensions which provide an interior volume accommodating produce of pre-selected size and specified number and weight; and (2) specification of corrugated sheet material which, while suitable for construction of containers having the required internal volume, can also be used for constructing containers which: (a) have outside dimensions such that a specified, integral number of containers will provide a full layer on a standard pallet bed; (b) accommodate a weight of contents such that a specified number of layers of containers on a pallet will provide a full pallet loading, and (c) have a compression strength sufficient to resist crushing and bursting when the containers are vertically stacked on the pallet in a sufficient number of layers to provide a roughly 2000 pound pallet loading.

With the foregoing combination of master containers/pallets, retailers can be provided with a more diverse array of produce packaging, i.e., in varying quantities of pounds per delivery. This is especially practical for smaller stores that are not supermarket chains or otherwise linked to larger distribution centers. It also allows organic grocery operations to provide their customers with greater selection in amount of materials purchased. All the while, these boxes provide consumer inspection capabilities and enhanced protection from the light thereby increasing produce shelf life and reducing losses due to spoilage from light.

The produce boxes of this invention are all preferably made from double-faced corrugated paperboard or cardboard sheet material, 100% recycled material. Most preferably, these boxes are made from cardboard stock having 125-150 psi burst strength with a B flute. The wall thicknesses for each box may be as thin as about ⅛ inch. The box embodiments in the accompanying FIGS. 2A through 5 are meant to hold one variety of potatoes. The most common is No. 100 Idaho potatoes though the light limiting advantages imparted by these boxes make them an excellent candidate for white, yellow and golden potatoes, and even red skinned varieties to a lesser extent. These same boxes may also be used for shipping and storing for resale quantities of fresh onions or still other produce.

The boxes of this invention define hand holes for ease in carrying. In instances where the hand holes pass completely through all side wall layers and into the box interior proper, they further provide some air flow ventilation which allows for some produce degassing. Either embodiment of box lid, with or without flip top view ports, provides a beneficial a settlement feature that allows for overstuffing to some extent and accommodating some settling of contents during shipping without adversely affecting appearance.

FIGS. 2A, 2B and 3 show a typical three pound box according to one embodiment of this invention. (While described with respect to one weight content of produce, it is understood that proportional adjustments will result in appropriately sized equivalent box models for one pound, two pound, 2.5 pound, four pound and five pound boxes. Arguably, the container boxes of this invention can be made for produce quantities of up to ten pounds.

The box, generally 30, comprises a bottom wall 32, a first pair of opposed side walls 34L and R; and a second pair of opposed side walls 36F and B. Together, the bottom wall 32 and four side walls 34L and R, 36F and B define a substantially rectangular box interior, indicated by arrow 38 in FIG. 3. Where adjoining side walls meet in a fully assembled box, i.e., along the longitudinal edges between 34L-36F, 34L-36B, 36F-34R, and 36B-34R, respectively, said box forms a beveled corner, generally 40. The beveled corner 40 replaces a glue strip that is commonly included in prior art cardboard containers.

The foregoing box 30 has a lid made from folded over extensions from two opposed side walls, elements 36F and B in the accompanying Figures. The first lid extension 42F from side wall 36F will be at least partially overlapped by the second lid extension 42B from side wall 36B. For this embodiment, the overlapping configuration of lid extensions 42F and B still permit some viewing of the produce contents. In fact, up to 80% of the potatoes in box 30 may be viewed when the lid 42F and B is fully opened. Better viewing of the contents leads to improved customer satisfaction. Paper and plastic bags generally permit viewing of less than 50% of their contents. More importantly, the lid 42F and B of this embodiment still protects the produce deposited within box interior 38 by substantially shielding potatoes and the like from “greening”. The greening of potatoes, especially white, yellow and gold varieties, is accelerated with exposure to light, either natural or artificial. And such greening poses a food safety risk. Greened potatoes emit a toxin which may cause the person consuming same to experience an upset stomach or intestinal disruptions. Accordingly, many retailers scour their stock for the onset of greening in order to pull such potatoes from sale and discard same.

Within bottom wall 32 of box 30, there is shown two sets of diamond-shaped apertures 44L and R. (While shown as sets of diamonds for easier die-cutting, it is understood that still other aperture shapes may be accommodated by this invention.) In a fully assembled box, such aperture sets 44L and R in the box bottom wall provide consumers with further means for visually inspecting a container's contents. To avoid any loss of contents, the individual openings comprising each aperture set should have a maximum dimension less than the minimum dimension of the intended produce to be packaged therein the container. Such openings are arranged in patterns wherein sufficient sheet material remaining between so as to avoid reduction of the strength of the assembled box container. Most useful for such purpose are a set of apertures in a parallelogram or “diamond” shape arranged horizontally, i.e. with their longer pattern dimension generally parallel to the box's front and back opposed side walls 36F and B, resulting in a generally “X-shaped” lattice area pattern that still provides maximum strength of the remaining bottom wall area.

As illustrated in FIG. 2B, a pair of aperture sets 44L and R may be horizontally spaced apart in the bottom wall 32 of assembled box 30. Since the box is most often stored upright, there will be little to no effect of light exposure through these bottom wall holes. To a lesser extent, bottom wall apertures may assist with some natural convective air flow into and out of a box thus helping to maintain the freshness of its contents especially for produce known to give off gases during storage. Should light spoilage be less of a concern, aperture sets in one or more side walls may be added (not shown) in place of, or in combination with, the aforementioned bottom wall aperture sets. With the inclusion of side wall hole sets, there is an even greater assistance of air flow through a produce filled box. Should hole sets be staggered both horizontally and vertically in opposed side walls, air circulation is even more enhanced. Slight creases in the box proper where side walls join and box bottom panels and/or lid extensions are not “airtight” assist with gas expulsion in any event.

In cases where some degree of control of humidity within the container is desirable, the corrugated paperboard sheet material of which the container is constructed may contain a moisture-resistant material. For example, a mixture of cornstarch and caustic soda may be provided in the flutes of double-faced corrugated paperboard sheet. The additive will help reduce the “sweat” effect that occurs when certain products are removed from produce coolers. Moisture-resistant materials provide a box container that assists with maintaining freshness quality of the contained produce. An additional advantage of such construction is improved crushing and bursting strength by said material reducing the amount of water absorbed by naturally hygroscopic paperboard.

There are several alternate embodiments of this invention included herein. In these alternatives, elements common to the box of FIGS. 2A through 3 are commonly numbered though in the next hundred series. Referring now to FIGS. 4A through D, there is shown a second embodiment of box 130 made up of bottom wall 132, first opposed side walls 134L and R; and second opposed side walls 136F and B. Together, they define the substantially rectangular box interior 138 best seen in FIGS. 4B and C. At the junctions of neighboring side walls, there are a plurality of beveled corners 140.

The second embodiment of box 130 similarly includes a first lid extension 142F from side wall 136F and a second lid extension 142B from side wall 136B. In this case, however, first lid extension 142F is provided with a viewing aperture 146 through which access to box interior 138 can be achieved. On the overlapping lid portion of this embodiment, second lid extension 142B is pre-scored into a substantially trapezoidal shaped box lid 150. That trapezoidal box lid 150 is scored along most of its back edge 152 in a line substantially parallel to the fold edge 154 between lid extension 142B and sidewall 136B. On either side of score line 152, there is a segment of lid extension 142B that remains connected to serve as the left and right hinge sections 156L and R for trapezoidal box lid 150.

Along the trapezoidal side legs 158L and R to trapezoidal box lid 150, there is situated means for engaging that box lid 150 with most of the remainder to lid extension 142B. In FIGS. 4A through C, such engagement is accomplished with a tooth-shaped tab 160L and R on either side leg, with a corresponding aperture 162L and R midway along their respective side legs 164L and R in the non-lid remainder of lid extension 142B. For easier consumer access and movement of trapezoidal box lid 150, its forward-most edge 166 may include a half-moon shaped finger hole 168.

Referring now to FIG. 4D, there is shown a right side view of box 130 for underscoring the hand carrying aspects of this latest invention. Particularly, there is shown a hand hole 170 that passes through the outermost layer to side wall 134R. On a preferred basis, hand hole 170 does not pass completely through the foldover portion of that side wall, a section of that foldover 172 being visible through hand hole 170. This serves the purpose of preventing light access into a packed box through the respective side wall hand holes while still being sufficient in depth for allowing one to grip a box and remove it from its master container when unpacking same, or to carry said box to a shopping cart or into the house following the purchase of same and its contents. In an alternate embodiment (not shown), the blank template for making box 130 is provided with a second hand hole, on each side, in order to provide a hand hole that passes completely through each side wall when the hand holes are properly aligned. This alternate application would be better suited for the packing and selling of produce which are less light sensitive than some of the potato products discussed hereinabove.

FIG. 5 shows, in partial cutaway, the second embodiment of box 130 with six baking-sized potatoes P laying on their sides in three rows and two columns from box front to rear. The intention behind this retail box packing system is to more tightly fit produce into a more consumer friendly yet more retailer manageable shipping container. There is a certain psychology with consumers that they are not getting “their money's worth” when a concealed box product rattles when shaken. A less than full box of undersized potatoes may cause such concern. But for the box shapes of this invention, full or even beyond full produce packing is possible since the lid mechanisms will allow for overpacking knowing that some product settlement occurs through normal transportation and storage procedures.

Referring now to FIGS. 6A and B, there are shown two variations of the aforementioned produce box 130 but with its box interior 138 subdivided. FIG. 6A accomplishes this using a diagonally situated, cardboard divider 175 beneath the trapezoidal lid 150 and between opposed beveled corners 140. Such a mechanism physically divides interior into two chambers or compartments 138A and B. In FIG. 6B, by contrast, a Y-shaped divider 176 is used to divide that alternate box interior 138 into three separate compartments 138 C, D and E. This is accomplished by situating the Y-divider 176 beneath the trapezoidal lid, and extends the arms (177) of that Y-divider inwardly at an angle from both rear corners of back side wall 136B toward a junction point 178. There, the leg to that Y-divider, element 179, joins up at a midway point to front side wall 136F. Needless to say, other divider means may be used to accomplish box interior divisions into 2, 3 or even more subunits. In many instances, the divider used splits the box interior into equally sized areas. In the alternative, it is conceivable to use one or more dividers for separating box interior 138 into uneven areas/regions, perhaps for accommodating the sale of less of one item than another in this “variety pack” produce marketing assist.

Preferably, the top edges of any divider should not reach all the way to the box lid so as to form compartments completely closed from one another. Rather, the divider insert should be spaced below a closed lid for allowing some air circulation between compartments.

With the foregoing divided box container, it is possible to pack, ship and market combinations of produce in lesser quantities such as those required by one person rather than family quantities of same. When divided into two or more separate compartments, the interior volumes of such boxes may be packaged as “sampler packs” addressing more than one variety of potatoes, i.e. red and whites together, whites and yellows, etc. Alternately, one may pack and sell varieties in several pre-selected grades, i.e. small russets and larger baking sized Idaho potatoes. Finally, subdivided boxes allow for the combination of potatoes with still other produce, including but not limited to sets of onions, carrots, celery and/or garlic for possibly marketing adjacent meat displays as part of a stew making promotion.

In FIG. 7, there is shown an elongate version of box 230 with the same features as those mentioned earlier herein. The main difference is appearance in that much taller produce, perhaps baking sized potatoes standing up tall (rather than on their sides) or corn, etc. may be packaged therein. For such an arrangement, box 230 still requires a bottom wall (not seen), four side walls 234L, R, 236F and B which meet at beveled corners 240, the upper extensions of two forming a side walls forming an underside lid extension 242F that is substantially overlapped by lid extension 242B into which a trapezoidally-shaped, flip top viewing lid 250 is scored for accessing through finger hole 268. The tabbed sides 260L and R to that lid 250 keep it secure within the blank when first assembling same. They also serve as frictional engagement means for addressing settlement concerns. It should be noted that for all trapezoidal lid embodiments, there is a shading service provided by the hinge mechanisms employed so that even if a consumer were to open a box for inspecting its contents but not fully close the lid thereafter, the weight of that lid will lower it sufficiently to keep at least some direct light away from the box contents.

FIGS. 8 and 9 show blanks for making produce boxes of the invention. Preferably, these blanks are conveniently die-cut from the desired corrugated cardboard sheet material on a programmable machine. Cut pre-formed blanks are then stacked and shipped to a producer for assembly (i.e., folding) with the aid of an automatic assembly machine before being passed to a manual or automatic produce filling station. Less preferably, these blanks can be machine formed manually into boxes. Different size boxes have similar shapes so that all sizes can be formed using a single box former. It should be noted, however, that each box size may be made into at least 2 different shapes depending on their final filling orientation, whether situated substantially vertically or horizontally. More particulars for each of FIGS. 8 and 9 shall be set forth in a follow application filing specific to both blank inventions.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative, not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes that come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.