Title:
Jar Dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A jar dispenser includes a housing having front and back sides, opposed ends, a top, a bottom, a generally planar floor that together define a row extending between the front and back sides and configured to accommodate multiple jars of baby food in single file atop the planar floor. The planar floor includes an inclined configuration extending downwardly from the back side to the front side of the housing. A lip extends upwardly from the planar floor and extends about a circumference thereof, the lip being configured to guide movement of the baby jars along the planar floor.



Inventors:
Roeske, Pauline R. (Spring, TX, US)
Application Number:
12/962201
Publication Date:
04/21/2011
Filing Date:
12/07/2010
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/74
International Classes:
A47F1/04; A47B73/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KRYCINSKI, STANTON L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ream Law Firm, L.L.C. (OTTAWA, KS, US)
Claims:
1. A device for holding and dispensing baby food jars, said device comprising: a housing having a front side, a back side, generally opposed ends, a top, a bottom, a generally planar floor that together define a row extending from said front side toward said back side, said row being configured to accommodate multiple jars of baby food in single file atop said generally planar floor; wherein said planar floor includes an inclined configuration extending downwardly from said back side toward said front side; and a lip extending upwardly from said planar floor and extending about a circumference thereof, said lip being configured to guide movement of said baby jars along said planar floor.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein said opposed ends include an end wall extending between said housing front end and said housing back end, said end wall adjacent said housing back side having a height that is larger than a height of said end wall adjacent said front side so as to support said inclined planar floor.

3. The device of claim 2, further comprising a pair of side panels coupled to upper edges of respective housing end walls and configured to extend between said respective end walls and said top.

4. The device of claim 3, wherein said respective side panels include a height that is complementary to a height of said baby jars resting atop said planar floor.

5. The device of claim 1, wherein said front side of said housing includes an arcuate configuration.

6. The device of claim 3, wherein: respective upper edges of said housing end walls define a slot; and each side panel includes a lower flange extending from a side panel lower edge having a configuration complementary to a configuration of a respective housing end wall slot for selective receipt therein.

7. The device of claim 6, wherein: said top includes a lower edge defining a slot; each side panel includes an upper flange having a configuration that is complementary to a configuration of said top slot for selective reception therein.

8. The device of claim 7, wherein said housing includes a modular construction such that said housing is mounted atop a second housing.

9. The device of claim 1, wherein a second housing is mounted atop said housing.

10. The device of claim 8, wherein said housing bottom defines a slot having a configuration complementary to a configuration of said housing side panel upper flange so as to selectively receive said upper flange therein when said top is not coupled to said upper flange.

11. The device of claim 1, wherein: said opposed ends include an end wall extending between said housing front end and said housing back end, said end wall adjacent said housing back side having a height that is greater than a height of said end wall adjacent said front side so as to support said inclined planar floor; and said device further comprising a pair of side panels coupled to upper edges of respective housing end walls and configured to extend between said respective end walls and said top.

12. The device as in claim 11, wherein said housing side walls and said housing end walls include an integral construction.

13. The device as in claim 1, wherein said housing defines a plurality of rows situated in a side by side configuration, each row having a lip configured to slow down movement of said baby food jars passing toward said housing front side.

14. The device of claim 1, wherein said housing includes: a first row configured to accommodate multiple jars of baby food in single file atop a respective planar floor; and a second row situated atop said first row, said second row configured to accommodate multiple jars of baby food in single file atop a second planar floor.

15. The device of claim 1, wherein said housing includes a plurality of rows situated one atop another.

16. The device as in claim 1, wherein said housing includes: a first level having a plurality of rows situated side by side, each first level row being configured to accommodate multiple jars of baby food in single file atop a respective planar floor; and a second level mounted atop said first level, said second level having a plurality of rows situated side by side, each second row being configured to accommodate multiple jars of baby food in single file atop a respective planar floor.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present invention is a continuation-in-part application and claims the benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/104,109, filed on Apr. 16, 2008, titled JAR DISPENSER.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to storage and dispensing devices and, more particularly, to a device for storing and dispensing jars such as baby food containers. The present device enables delicate containers, such as glass jars, to be protected from breakage that may otherwise result from stacking or from becoming inadvertently dislodged from a stored position while removing another jar.

Food specially formulated for infants is often packaged in glass jars. While these jars are stackable, such as in a pantry or kitchen cabinet, such stacking of jars may lead to jar breakage. Specifically, baby food jars are relatively small and, therefore, a stack of such small jars may become inadvertently bumped or knocked over in the process of removing a desired jar. A large quantity of small baby food jars typically needs to be stored simultaneously in that each jar may only contain a sufficient quantity of food for one feeding. In addition, these jars may be dropped or a stack of them knocked over during the process of filling a cabinet with a new quantity of jars.

Organization of multiple jars of baby food is another problem experienced with large quantities of baby food. Entire stacks of baby food jars may need to be moved and investigated in order to find a desired type of food for a feeding. For example, a mother or other caregiver may sort through jars of vegetables, meat, and fruit jars in order to find a desired jar of oatmeal. Similarly, the jars of miscellaneous varieties of baby food may need to be sorted in order to know what types need to be purchased from the grocery store.

Various devices have been proposed in the art for storing and dispensing food containers. Although assumably effective for their intended purposes, the existing proposals do not provide an adequate solution to the myriad of needs presented above, namely, to store, organize, protect, and dispense baby food jars.

Therefore, it would be desirable to have a jar dispenser that stores multiple baby food jars in a convenient, accessible, organized manner and which also minimizes the risk of jar breakage during storage. Further, it would be desirable to have a jar dispenser which provides convenience and safety in adding to a quantity of jars already being stored. In addition, it would be desirable to have a jar dispenser that enables stored jars of baby food to be dispensed in a safe and controlled manner.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A device for holding and dispensing baby food jars includes a housing having front and back sides, opposed ends, a top, a bottom, a generally planar floor that together define a row extending between the front and back sides and configured to accommodate multiple jars of baby food in single file atop the planar floor. The planar floor includes an inclined configuration extending downwardly from the back side to the front side of the housing. A lip extends upwardly from the planar floor and extends about a circumference thereof, the lip being configured to guide movement of the baby jars along the planar floor.

Therefore, a general object of this invention is to provide a jar dispenser for holding and dispensing baby food jars.

Another object of this invention is to provide a jar dispenser, as aforesaid, that allows multiple baby food jars to be held in a row and dispensed one-by-one in a controlled and safe manner.

Still another object of this invention is to provide a jar dispenser, as aforesaid, that enables baby food jars to be stored, organized, protected, and dispensed.

Yet another object of this invention is to provide a jar dispenser, as aforesaid, that enables additional jars of baby food to be conveniently and safely added.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein is set forth by way of illustration and example, embodiments of this invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a jar dispenser according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of multiple jar dispensers as in FIG. 1 being stacked atop one another;

FIG. 3a is a top view of a jar dispenser as in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3b is a sectional view taken along line 3b-3b of FIG. 3a;

FIG. 4a is a perspective view of a jar dispenser as in FIG. 1 with some of the doors in an open configuration and other doors in a closed configuration;

FIG. 4b is an isolated view on an enlarged scale taken from a portion of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 4a;

FIG. 4c is an isolated view on an enlarged scale taken from a portion of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 4a;

FIG. 5 is a bottom view of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 4a;

FIG. 6a is a top view of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 4a;

FIG. 6b is a sectional view taken along line 6b-6b of FIG. 6a;

FIG. 7 is an isolated view on an enlarged scale taken from a portion of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 6b;

FIG. 8a is a top view of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 4a;

FIG. 8b is a sectional view taken along line 8b-8b of FIG. 8a;

FIG. 8c is an isolated view on an enlarged scale taken from a portion of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 8b;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a jar dispenser according the present invention but having only a single row;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a jar dispenser according to another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is an exploded view of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 is an isolated view of a portion of the jar dispenser shown in FIG. 11;

FIG. 13a is an elevated view of a top removed from the jar dispenser as in FIG. 10;

FIG. 13b is a bottom view of the top as in FIG. 13a;

FIG. 14a is a front view of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 10;

FIG. 14b is a back view of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 10;

FIG. 15 is a side view of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 10;

FIG. 16a is a top view of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 10; and

FIG. 16b is a bottom view of the jar dispenser as in FIG. 10.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A device for holding and dispensing baby food jars will now be described in detail with reference to FIG. 1 through FIG. 9 of the accompanying drawings. More particularly, the baby food jar dispenser 100 includes a housing 110 and a door 130.

As shown in FIG. 1, the housing 110 has a front side 112a, a back side 112b, generally opposed ends 112c, 112d, a top 112e, and a bottom 112f. The housing top 112e may have a configuration 113 that is complementary to a configuration of the housing bottom 112f so that multiple baby food jar dispensers 110 may be stacked securely atop one another, as shown in FIG. 2. The housing 110 also includes a generally planar floor 114 (FIG. 3b) and at least one row 115 extending from the front side 112a toward the back side 112b. Each row 115 is configured to accommodate multiple jars of baby food 10 in single file atop the generally planar floor 114, as shown in FIG. 3b. Because each row 115 is substantially identical to each other row 115 if multiple rows 115 are included, a single row 115 is discussed in detail and referred to herein. It should be understood that elements related to (or interacting with) the single row 115 discussed herein may similarly be multiplied to relate to (or interact with) each other row 115.

Referring to FIG. 3b, a pushplate 120 may be movable along the row 115 from generally adjacent the housing back side 112b toward the housing front side 112a, and a biasing member 122 may be in communication with the pushplate 120 to bias the pushplate 120 from the housing back side 112b toward the housing front side 112a. The biasing member 122 may be, for example, a spring, a rubber band, or any other biasing element. The biasing member 122 shown in FIG. 3b is a spiral spring that extends either along or below the generally planar floor 114 when the pushplate 120 is adjacent the housing back side 112b. A lip 128 may be in communication with the row 115 to slow the movement of the baby food jars 10 passing through the housing front side 112a from the row 115 due to pressure from the pushplate 120.

The housing 110 may include a channel 116 (FIG. 3b) lowerly adjacent the row 115, and an insert 125 that includes the pushplate 120, the biasing member 122, and an elongate base 124 may be included. More particularly, the elongate base 124 may be located in the channel 116, and the elongate base 124 may define at least a portion of the generally planar floor 114 when the elongate base 124 is located in the channel 116 and attached to the housing 110. The biasing member 122 shown in FIG. 3b is a spiral spring 122 that extends either along or below the elongate base 124 when the pushplate 120 is adjacent the housing back side 112b. Use of the insert 125 may aid in manufacturing the baby food jar dispenser 100.

As shown in FIG. 4a, at least one door 130 may be adjacent the row 115 at the front side 112a of the housing 110. The door 130 is pivotally coupled to the housing 110 to restrict access to the row 115 (and keep the jars 10 inside the housing 110) when at a closed position 130a and allow access to the row 115 (and allow a jar 10 to exit the housing 110) when at open and load positions 130b, 130c. As can be seen by comparing FIG. 4b to FIG. 4c, the open position 130b is between the closed position 130a and the load position 130c. The door 130 may be pivotable along a generally vertical axis of rotation 132, and the door 130 may be movable vertically along the axis 132, as shown in FIG. 7.

The door 130 may have a convex configuration complementary to the baby food jars 10 (FIG. 9), and a set of doors 130 may be adjacent the row 115 at the front side 112a of the housing 110. In one embodiment, as shown in FIG. 1, a respective door 130 extends a distance of approximately half a width of the row 115 when the door 130 is at the closed position 130a, and a set of doors 130 collectively extends a distance approximately equal to a width of the row 115 when the doors are at the closed position 130a. As each door 130 may be substantially similar to (e.g., a mirror image of) the other door 130, a single door 130 is discussed in detail and referred to herein. It should be understood that elements related to (or interacting with) the door 130 discussed herein may similarly be multiplied to relate to (or interact with) other doors 130.

A first biasing member 136 (FIGS. 5 and 7) may be in communication with the door 130 to bias the door toward the closed position 130a. The first biasing member 136 may be, for example, a spring, a rubber band, or any other biasing element. The first biasing member 136 shown in FIGS. 5 and 7 is a torsion spring.

As detailed in FIGS. 4b and 4c, a door catch 140 may be at the housing front side 112a. The door catch 140 may be positioned to interact with the door 130 when the door 130 is at the load position 130c, and a ramp 142 may lead to the door catch 140. A second biasing member 138 (FIG. 7) may be in communication with the door 130 to bias the door 130 to interact with the door catch 140 when the door 130 is at the load position 130c. The second biasing member 138 may further bias the door 130 to interact with the ramp 142 as the door rotates toward the door catch 140. The second biasing member 138 may be, for example, a spring, a rubber band, or any other biasing element. The second biasing member 138 shown in FIG. 7 is a compression spring.

In use, the door 130 is initially at the closed configuration 130a due to the biasing member 136, and the pushplate 120 is toward the housing front side 112a due to the biasing member 122. A user may move the door 130 (i.e., by rotating the door 130 about the axis 132) from the closed configuration 130a past the open position 130b (FIG. 4c) to the load position 130c (FIG. 4b). In moving the door 130 to the load position 130c, the second biasing member 138 may cause the door 130 to interact with the ramp 142 and then cause the door 130 to interact with the door catch 140 (FIG. 4b). Interaction between the door catch 140 and the door 130 may cause the door 130 to remain at the load position 130c, and the user may insert the jars of baby food 10 into the row 115 without having to physically maintain the door 130 at the open position 130b or the load position 130c. By inserting the jars 10 into the row 115, the pushplate 120 is moved toward the housing back side 112b. Once the jars 10 are inside the housing 110 (and particularly inside the row 115), the user may overcome the force of the second biasing member 138, and the door 130 may move from the load position 130c to the closed position 130a due to the first biasing member 136. The housing 110 may be stacked atop or below another housing 110, maximizing useful storage space.

When the user wants to retrieve the jar 10 from the baby food jar dispenser 100, he may open the door 130, and the pushplate 120 may push the jar 10 through the front side 112a due to the biasing member 122. The door 130 then returns to the closed position 130a due to the first biasing member 136, and the lip 128 may help ensure another jar 10 does not exit the front side 112 before the door 130 returns to the closed position 130a. As such, the user may safely and compactly store and then access the baby food jars 10.

A baby food jar dispenser 200 according to another embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 10 to 16b and includes a construction substantially similar to that described above except as specifically noted below. The jar dispenser 200 includes a housing 210 having a front side 212, a back side 214, generally opposed ends 216, a top 220, and a bottom 224. Unlike the jar dispenser 100 first described above, the housing 210 includes a planar floor 226 having a ramped configuration (FIG. 12). More particularly, the floor 226 of the housing 210 is sloped downwardly from the back side 214 toward the front side 212 so that jars resting thereon are naturally biased by gravity to move toward the front side 212. The housing 210 also defines at least one row 228 extending from the front side 212 to the back side 214 and configured to accommodate multiple jars of baby food 10 in single file atop the ramped floor 226.

In a manner similar to that first described above, a lip 230 extends upwardly from the floor 226 and extends substantially about a circumference of the respective floor 226. The lip 230 is configured to guide the baby jars 10 along the floor 226 as they are naturally biased downwardly between the back side 214 and front side 212 of the housing. The lip 230 is configured to prevent a baby jar 10 from unintentionally falling from the floor 226. Preferably, the front end of each lip 230 includes an arcuate configuration that is complementary to a configuration of the baby jars 10 such that the jars may nest comfortably therein. As shown in FIG. 12, the lip 230 may be situated interiorly of a respective end wall 218, side panel 232 (described below), or interior walls as the case may be.

Because each row is substantially identical to each other row 228 if multiple rows are included, a single row 228 is discussed in detail below and referred to herein. As shown in the figures, the housing 210 may define rows 228 situated atop one another as well as in a side by side configuration. Preferably, the housing 210 includes two or more levels in which each level may include two or more rows situated side by side separated by side panels 232. One level of jar dispensing rows may be mounted atop another level of rows. Mounting one level of rows atop another level of rows may also be described as one housing being mounted atop another housing or a second housing being mounted atop another (first) housing. Each level may be characterized by a height different from a height of another level.

Each opposed end 216 of the housing 210 includes an end wall 218 substantially extending between the housing front side 212 and the housing back side 214. As seen in the drawings, the end wall 218 adjacent the housing back side 214 includes a height that is larger than a height of the end wall 218 adjacent the housing front side 212. As seen in FIG. 12, the end wall 218 adjacent the housing back side 214 is taller due to the ramped floor 226 being inclined upwardly toward the back side 214, the end wall 218 supporting the ramped floor 226.

The housing 210 further includes at least of pair of side panels 232 coupled to upper edges of respective housing end walls 218 and configured to extend between the respective end walls 218 and the top 220 of the housing 210 (or to a bottom of an upwardly adjacent level). More particularly, an upper edge of each housing end wall 218 may define a slot 219 (FIG. 12). Correspondingly, each side panel 232 may include a lower flange 234 having a configuration that is complementary to that of a respective end wall slot 219 for receipt therein. Similarly, a bottom surface of the top 220 may define a slot 222 (FIG. 13b). Each side panel 232 may include an upper flange 236 having a configuration that is complementary to that of a respective top slot 222 for selective receipt therein. In an embodiment having multiple levels of jar dispensing rows, the top 220 may be coupled only to the uppermost level (FIG. 10). Although not shown, it is understood that the housing bottom 224 may also define a slot configured to receive respective side panel upper flanges 236 so that multiple levels of rows may be stacked atop one another.

It is understood that the position of the slots and flanges described above may be reversed without changing the intent or functionality of the invention. It should also be appreciated that other snap-fit or friction fit constructions would also be suitable for connecting the end walls, side panels, top, and bottom of the present invention, including that all or part of the housing may include a unitary construction. For example, while the modular construction described above and shown in the drawings may enable a user to put the housing together in a preferred configuration, the housing 210 may be permanently fixed in a multiple level configuration at the time of manufacture, such as by gluing all connections or by a unitary construction method.

It is understood that the height of each side panel 232 is complementary to the height of the baby jars to be accommodated upon the floor of a row structure. It should also be appreciated that multiple side panels 232 may be positioned in the housing 210 so as to separate one row from an adjacent row in an embodiment having multiple rows situated side by side. Some of the side panels may be better referred to as interior side panels. Similar structures as defined above, e.g. slots and flanges, may also be included with the interior walls and side panels.

It is understood that while certain forms of this invention have been illustrated and described, it is not limited thereto except insofar as such limitations are included in the following claims and allowable functional equivalents thereof.