Title:
CRACKER SERVING AND STORAGE SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cracker serving and storage system includes a tray defining a trough having at least two sides and a slidable spacer configured to couple to the two sides and slide along the trough to capture the crackers in the tray. A storage container is also provided for storing the crackers and tray therein. A method for storing and serving crackers includes providing a cracker tray, positioning crackers in the tray, providing a spacer, and positioning the spacer between the rails behind the crackers to hold the crackers in position in the tray.



Inventors:
Levie, Mark (Ross, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/940430
Publication Date:
06/02/2011
Filing Date:
11/05/2010
Assignee:
Levie, Mark (Ross, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
211/85.4, 206/561
International Classes:
B65D6/04; A47G19/32; B65D21/02
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
PATEL, BRIJESH V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PEARNE & GORDON LLP (CLEVELAND, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cracker serving and storage system comprising: a tray defining a trough having at least two sides; and a slidable spacer configured to couple to the two sides and slide along the trough to capture crackers in the tray.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the tray includes two rails that define the trough.

3. The system of claim 2, further comprising at least one end plate coupled to at least one of the ends of the tray for holding the rails together to define the trough.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein two end plates are provided and the end plates include slots for joining with the respective rails of the tray.

5. The system of claim 2, wherein the slidable spacer has at least one slot for coupling to one of the rails.

6. The system of claim 5, wherein the slidable spacer includes two slots, one on either side thereof for coupling to the two rails of the tray, said spacer being slidable along the length of the rails to capture crackers in the trough.

7. The system of claim 5, wherein the spacer is slidable along the length of the tray, but remains in an upright position in order to hold crackers within the tray.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein the trough of the tray is sized to receive crackers of various sizes therein, with the trough having a substantial V-shape and the spacer having a substantial V-shape.

9. The system of claim 1, further comprising at least one container dimensioned to accept the size of the tray therein when crackers are installed on the tray.

10. The system of claim 9, wherein the at least one container comprises two or more containers, with at least one of the containers having a round cross-section and another of the containers have a square cross-section.

11. The system of claim 2, wherein the tray includes outwardly extending legs that support the rails in spaced relation above a surface.

12. The system of claim 11, wherein the legs extend outwardly at an angle relative to the rails.

13. The system of claim 12, wherein the legs extend at an angle of approximately 90 degrees relative to the rails.

14. The system of claim 2, wherein the rails are spaced from the bottom of the tray and define an opening there between.

15. The system of claim 3, wherein the at least one end cap is a substantially flat plate that tapers downwardly at an angle that is substantially similar to an angle defined between the rails, with said end cap capping off the end of the rails.

16. The system of claim 15, wherein the end cap has an attachment mechanism for attaching the end cap to the rails.

17. The system of claim 14, further comprising at least one end cap coupled to the rails, with said at least one end cap being integrally molded with the rails to space the rails from one another to define a V-shaped trough between the rails.

18. The system of claim 17, wherein one end cap is utilized at one end of the rails and the spacer is utilized to maintain spacing between the rails at the other end of the rails.

19. A method for storing and serving crackers comprising: providing a tray having two spaced rails with a trough defined between the rails for accepting crackers there between, said rails being coupled together at one end thereof by an end cap; positioning crackers in the trough in an upright position; providing a spacer having a first and a second slot for coupling to the rails; and positioning the spacer between the rails behind the crackers to hold the crackers in position in the tray, said spacer being slidable along the rails when the slots are positioned on the rails.

20. The method of claim 19, further comprising: providing at least one elongated storage container having a size for accepting the tray therein when crackers are installed on the tray, said storage container having a cap for closing the container; positioning the tray and crackers inside the storage container; and installing the cap on the container.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/258,896, filed Nov. 6, 2009, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD

This technology relates to a serving tray and storage system. More particularly, the technology relates to a cracker serving tray and a mating storage container for housing the cracker serving tray when crackers are installed on the tray.

BACKGROUND

Crackers are typically stored in their product packaging, in Ziploc bags, or in plastic or glass containers to promote freshness. Crackers are often served in a bowl or on a tray. Applicant is unaware of any known containers that can be used to serve and store both round and square crackers in a storage tray inside a plastic storage container.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an example cracker serving tray that may be utilized with differently shaped and sized crackers, with square crackers shown positioned on the tray;

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of the example cracker serving tray of FIG. 1, showing square crackers positioned on the tray;

FIG. 3 is a schematic view of square crackers

FIG. 4 is an inner end view of the end cap of the tray shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the tray shown in FIG. 1, with a spacer installed on the tray;

FIG. 6 is a top view of the tray shown in FIG. 1 with a spacer installed on the tray;

FIG. 7 is a schematic view of the leg and rail of the tray shown in FIG. 1, depicting the angle between the two surfaces;

FIG. 8 is a face view of the spacer in an uninstalled position;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of an alternative example cracker serving and storage system that has different end caps than that shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of an alternative example cracker tray shown with square crackers installed in the tray;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the cracker tray of FIG. 10 shown installed in a square container;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the cracker tray of FIG. 10 shown installed in a round container;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of an example round container for use with the example cracker serving tray;

FIG. 14 is a side view of the container shown in FIG. 13;

FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view of a cap that may be utilized with the example container of FIG. 13;

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the cap of FIG. 15;

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a rectangular container for use with the example cracker serving tray;

FIG. 18 is a side view of the container shown in FIG. 17;

FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view of a cap for use with the rectangular container shown in FIG. 17;

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of the cap of FIG. 19;

FIG. 21 is a perspective exploded view of an example cracker serving tray being positioned in a round container;

FIG. 22 is a cross-sectional view of the cap installed on the round container of FIG. 13;

FIG. 23 is a perspective exploded view of an example cracker serving tray being positioned in a square container; and

FIG. 24 is a cross-sectional view of the cap installed on the square container of FIG. 17.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The example cracker serving and storage system 10 incorporates a cracker serving tray 12 and one or more storage containers 14 for the serving tray 12. The system 10 provides a combination of a tray 12 for holding and serving crackers 34 and a storage container 14 that is sized to accept the tray 12 therein without having to remove the crackers 34 from the tray 12 for storage purposes. The tray 12 simplifies the storage and serving of crackers 34.

FIG. 1 depicts an example serving tray 12 for use with the system 10. The tray 12 shown includes two rails 16 that together form a trough for receiving the crackers 34 there between. The two rails 16 are joined together at the ends by two end plates 18. The end plates 18 keep the rails 16 spaced apart from one another in parallel relation. The rails 16 are elongated and are coupled at either end to legs 20 so that four legs 20 are utilized, one at each corner of the tray 12. The legs 20 may be formed integrally with the rails 16. The legs 20 maintain the rails 16 in spaced relation to a surface that the tray 12 sits on.

Each rail 16 forms a first angle A1 relative to the perpendicular from the surface that the tray 12 sits on and the associated leg 20 forms a different angle A2 relative to the perpendicular from the surface that the tray 12 sits on. As shown, the rails 16 form an upright V-shape and the legs 20 form an upside down V-shape. The V-shape of the rails 16 is designed to form a trough for holding the crackers 34 in place. An angle A3 is positioned between the rails 16 and the legs 20. This angle A3 may be approximately 90 degrees. More particularly, this angle A3 may be greater than or less than 90 degrees by 5, 10, 15, 20 degrees or more. One angle A3 is about 92 degrees. The legs 20 may be substantially perpendicular to the rails 16, or could be angled at a different angle, ranging from approximately 45 degrees to about 135 degrees. An example angle A3 is shown in FIG. 7.

The rails 16 face one another to form side walls of the tray 12 and are positioned at opposite angles relative to the surface that the tray 12 seats upon. The legs 20 maintain the rails 16 above the surface, and provide a space between the bottom of the rails and the surface in order to allow portions of a cracker 34 to seat about a surface between the rails 16. As shown in FIG. 2, a square saltine-type cracker 34 would have one corner 36 of the cracker 34 positioned between the rails 16. The legs 20 have a height sufficient to elevate the corner 36 of the cracker 34 above the surface.

FIGS. 3 and 4 depict the end plates or caps 18. In FIG. 3, the end plate 18 is installed on the rails 16 and the outer side of the end plate 18 is visible. In FIG. 4, the opposite side, or inner side 38 of the end plate 18 is shown in an uninstalled position. The end caps 18 may have a shape that mirrors the angles of the rails 16 so that the end cap 18 tapers from wider at the top to narrower at the bottom. The end caps 18 may be coupled to the rails 16 and positioned above the legs 20, if desired, so that the end cap 18 does not rest on the surface that the tray 12 seats on. The end plates 18 may be substantially flat, or have a different profile. The end caps 18 could be used as additional trays 12 for storing something other than crackers 34, such as forming a recess for holding cheese or dip.

The end caps 18 may include slots or tabs 22 for mating with the rails 16. The example shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 includes both slots 22 for receiving tabs 22 that are positioned on the rails 16, as shown in FIG. 2. In addition, elongated tabs 22 are formed and extend outwardly from the inner sides 38 of the end plates 18 and the rails 16 seat against the elongated tabs 22. Other attachment mechanisms may also be used to join the end caps 18 to the rails 16, including mechanical and chemical means, such as soldering or gluing. At least one end cap 18 is utilized, but two end caps 18 may also be utilized, with one end cap 18 being positioned at either end of the tray 12. An end cap 18 may be integrally formed with the rails 16, if desired, as shown in FIGS. 9 and 10.

FIGS. 5 and 6 depict a side and top view of the example cracker serving tray 12. In FIG. 5, the rails 16 are shown to extend along the length of the tray 12. The rails 16 form the upper portion of the sides of the tray 12 and the legs 20 form the lower portion of the sides of the tray 12. The legs 20 may be coupled directly to the rails 16, as shown. In addition, a stabilizing section 40 may be positioned in the lower portion of the sides between the legs 20 and rails 16, but spaced from the surface that the tray seats on. As shown in FIG. 6, a space 42 is provided between the rails 16 for accepting a cracker 34 therebetween.

FIG. 8 depicts a spacer 24, or sliding stop, that is provided for both maintaining a proper spacing between the rails 16 and for capturing crackers 34 between the end plate 18 and the spacer 24. The spacer 24 may also be V-shaped and is slidable along the rails 16 and includes slots 26 that form arms 28 that seat over the side of the rails 16 so that the spacer 24 rests entirely on the rails 16. The spacer 24 is shown positioned on or in proximity to the rails in FIGS. 1, 2, and 9. The spacer 24 is sized such that it may slide along the length of the tray 12, but stays in position to hold crackers 34 in position in the tray 12. Friction created between the slots 26, arms 28, and rails 16 allows the spacer 24 to maintain its position once slid. The spacer 24 helps to retain the crackers 34 in an upright position in the tray 12 for ease of removal.

FIG. 9 depicts an alternative example cracker serving tray. This example is the same as the example shown in FIG. 1, except that the end plates 18 are attached in a slightly different manner to the rails 16. In this example, the rails 16 do not include smaller tabs 22, like those shown in FIG. 2. Instead, the rails 16 seat in slots 22 defined between tabs 22 on the end plates 18. Other attachment mechanisms may also be utilized, if desired.

FIG. 10 depicts crackers 34 installed on an example cracker serving tray 12. In this example, a rear end plate it not utilized and the forward end plate 18 is integrally formed with the rails 16. In addition, the legs 20 are longer than those shown in prior examples. The spacer 24 is utilized to maintain the rails 16 in spaced relation. FIGS. 11 and 12 show the example serving tray 12 installed inside a container 14 according to the system. FIG. 11 depicts a square or rectangular tube container 14 and FIG. 12 depicts a round tube container 14.

Decorative features 30, advertising materials, or other indicia may be positioned on the end plates 18, rails 16 or spacer 24. FIGS. 10-12 show a decorative cut out being positioned on the end cap 18 and spacer 24. Square crackers 34 are shown positioned in the tray 12 of FIGS. 10-12, but other size crackers may also be utilized. It should be noted that the legs 20, rails 16, end caps 18, and spacer 24 should be sized based upon the anticipated product to be stored in the tray 12 so that the product remains raised above the surface that the tray 12 sits on.

As is evident from FIGS. 11 and 12, both the crackers 34 and the tray 12 can be stored in the tube 14 together so that the crackers 34 do not need to be removed from the tray 12 prior to storage. The container 14 shown in FIGS. 11 and 12 is made of a transparent plastic material and has a cover or lid 32 that is positioned at one end of the tube 14. A lid 32 could be positioned at both ends of the tube 14, if desired. In the example shown, the same tray 12 and crackers 34 can seat in either a round container 14 or a square container 14. Both tubes 14 may be included with the system 10 or a single tube could be included. Certain sized crackers 34 may fit better in one tube than in the other. While round, oval, and rectangular crackers are not shown, it will be recognized that any size crackers can be used with the system.

FIGS. 13-16 depict greater details concerning the round storage container 14. The round container 14 is tube-like and has one end 44 that is closed and another end 46 that is open. The open end 46 is used for inserting the cracker serving tray 12, as shown in FIG. 21. The open end 46 of the tube 14 includes screw threads 48 for mating with a cap 50. The cap 50 may be plain, as shown, or include indicia, advertising materials, designs, or the like, as known by those of skill in the art. The cap 50 is shown installed on the tube in FIG. 22. The cap 50 has screw threads 52 for mating with threads 48 on the container 14.

FIGS. 17-20 depict greater details concerning the square storage container 14. The square container 14 is tube-like and has one end 44 that is closed and another end 46 that is open. The open end 46 is used for inserting the cracker serving tray 12 therein, as shown in FIG. 23. This container 14 includes an insert-type cap 54, that is inserted into the opening 46 of the container 14 and seats snugly in the opening 46 to close the container 14. The lid 54 has a lip 56 so that the lid 54 cannot easily be forced too far into the container 14. In addition, a tab 58 is coupled to one or more corners of the lid 54 and is used to assist in removing the lid 54 from the container 14. FIG. 24 shows the lid 54 installed on the opening 46 of the container 14.

Any type of material may be utilized with the example cracker tray 12 and storage container 14 that is known to those of skill in the art. For example, the tray 12 could be plastic, metal, glass, or other known materials. The container 14 could be transparent or opaque and may be made of a plastic or other material. The tray 12 and spacer 24 may be made of the same materials or different materials. The tray 12 could be any color desired or clear and transparent. The container 14 could also be any color desired. One material that may be used for both the tray 12 and the container 14 is polypropylene.

Different sizes and types of crackers 34 may be installed on the tray 12 if desired. The containers 14 completely enclose the crackers 34 installed on the tray 12 so that they are not exposed to humidity or moisture during storage.

Any size tray 12 may be utilized. The container 14 should be large enough to accept the tray 12 with crackers 34 installed inside the container 14. The containers 14 shown are round or square, but could be other shapes and sizes. For example, the containers could be rectangular, oval, or other shapes. The containers 14 shown have a lid 32 installed at one end thereof, but could have lids 32 at both ends if desired. The lid 32 may be the same type of material as the container 14, or a different type of material. For example, the container 14 could be opaque while the lid 32 is transparent to allow a user to view the interior of the contents of the container 14.

In use, the user assembles the tray 12, if necessary, by inserting the tabs on the rails into the slots on the end caps. Then the spacer 24 may be positioned over the rails 16 so that each arm rests on an exterior surface of each rail 16. Then crackers 34 may be positioned in the tray 12 so that they rest against an end plate 18 and the spacer 24 is slid along the rails 16 until it abuts and captures the crackers 34 in the tray 12. When the user is finished using the tray 12 and crackers 34 still remain in the tray 12, the user may position the tray 12 and crackers 34 inside a storage container 14. The lid 32 is then placed on the storage container 14 to provide an air-tight fit. The tray 12 could also be stored in the container 14 without any crackers 34 installed on the tray 12.

While the above description is in the context of crackers 34, other similar materials could be stored in the container 14. For example, recipe cards or photographs, or other food items could be stored in the container 14. One example of other food would be sliced bread, pita bread, bagels, cookies or similar food items. The container 14 and tray 12 would need to be sized accordingly.

The term “substantially” or “substantial,” as used herein, is a term of estimation.

While various features of the claimed invention are presented above, it should be understood that the features may be used singly or in any combination thereof. Therefore, the claimed invention is not to be limited to only the specific embodiments depicted herein.

Further, it should be understood that variations and modifications may occur to those skilled in the art to which the claimed invention pertains. The embodiments described herein are exemplary of the claimed invention. The disclosure may enable those skilled in the art to make and use embodiments having alternative elements that likewise correspond to the elements of the invention recited in the claims. The intended scope of the invention may thus include other embodiments that do not differ or that insubstantially differ from the literal language of the claims. The scope of the present invention is accordingly defined as set forth in the appended claims.