Title:
SYRUP DISPENSER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A dispenser according to one example includes a container portion, a collar base portion and a lever portion. The container portion includes a sidewall, a bottom surface, a hollow interior and an open top. The open top includes an upwardly extending neck. The collar base portion includes a neck receiving recess defined therein, a flow aperture defined therein, a receiving cavity defined therein, a dispensing edge defined in a forward portion thereof, an upwardly extending first pivot member, and a handle portion extending from a rearward portion thereof. The lever portion includes an elongated body having a top surface, a bottom surface, a dispensing end and an actuating end. The lever portion defines a cutoff edge adjacent the dispensing end, a second pivot member extending downwardly from the lower surface, and a biasing member extending generally downwardly from the bottom surface.



Inventors:
Peterson, Christopher L. (Merrill, WI, US)
Olson, Scott A. (Chippewa Falls, WI, US)
Fehr, Bob G. (Colfax, WI, US)
Munsinger, Aaron J. (Elk Mound, WI, US)
Poul, Gregory D. (St. Paul, MN, US)
Bump, Jacob W. (North Branch, MN, US)
Bakken, Kenneth V. (Schafer, MN, US)
Application Number:
13/665913
Publication Date:
05/01/2014
Filing Date:
10/31/2012
Assignee:
SERVICE IDEAS, INC. (Woodbury, MN, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
222/517
International Classes:
B65D47/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SHAW, BENJAMIN R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Skaar Ulbrich Macari, P.A. (Minneapolis, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A dispenser comprising: a container portion, the container portion including a sidewall, a bottom surface, a hollow interior and an open top, the open top including an upwardly extending neck; a single-piece collar base portion, the collar base portion including a neck receiving recess defined therein, a flow aperture defined therein, a receiving cavity defined therein, a dispensing edge defined in a forward portion thereof, an upwardly extending first pivot member, and a handle portion extending from a rearward portion thereof; and a single-piece lever portion, the lever portion including an elongated body having a top surface, a bottom surface, a dispensing end and an actuating end, the lever portion defining a cutoff edge adjacent the dispensing end, a second pivot member extending downwardly from the lower surface, and a biasing member extending generally downwardly from the bottom surface.

2. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein the biasing member comprises a front surface, an opposing back surface, side edges spanning between the front and back surfaces, a fixed end and an opposing engagement end, the engagement end including a securing flange extending outwardly from one of the front and back surfaces and defining an abutting surface.

3. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein the neck portion of the container portion includes half-turn threads and the neck receiving recess of the collar base portion includes corresponding half-turn grooves.

4. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein a thumb grip is defined in the actuating end of the lever portion.

5. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein a vent aperture is defined in the collar base portion.

6. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein the dispensing edge is generally U-shaped in a front view.

7. The dispenser of claim 1, wherein the handle portion includes a sideways width that is greater than its front-to-back depth.

8. A method of dispensing viscous liquids from a container, the method comprising: inserting a biasing member of a lever portion of a dispenser into a corresponding receiving aperture defined in a collar base portion of the dispenser until a securing flange extending from the biasing member engages the collar base portion and a first pivot member of collar base portion contacts a second pivot member of the lever portion, the biasing member maintaining the lever portion in a closed position unless an actuation portion of the lever portion is pressed by a user; securing the collar base portion to a receptacle portion of dispenser, the receptacle having a hollow interior containing the viscous liquid to be dispensed.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the step of securing comprises making a half-turn rotation of the collar base portion with respect to the receptacle portion.

10. The method of claim 8, further comprising pressing downward with the user's thumb on an actuating end to impart a pivoting movement to the lever portion and cause a dispensing end of the lever portion to rise upwards away from a dispensing edge of the collar base portion.

11. The method of claim 10, further comprising tilting the receptacle portion forwardly away from the user until the viscous liquid exits the dispenser.

12. The method of claim 10, further comprising releasing the downward pressing to allow the lever portion to return to the closed position, thereby causing a cutoff edge to cut off the flow of viscous fluid.

13. The method of claim 10, wherein each of the lever portion, the collar base portion and the receptacle portion are molded of a plastic as single pieces.

14. A syrup dispensing system, comprising: a receptacle configured to retain the syrup, the receptacle including a generally flat bottom for maintaining the receptacle in an upright orientation when placed on a flat surface; a collar assembly comprising a base portion securable to the receptacle and a lever portion securable to the base portion, wherein the lever portion includes a biasing member extending outwardly therefrom and the base portion includes a receiving aperture for receiving a portion of the biasing member, the biasing member arranged to maintain the collar assembly in a closed position when no force is applied to the lever portion.

15. The system of claim 14, wherein each of the receptacle, base portion and lever portion are formed as single plastic pieces.

16. The system of claim 14, wherein the base portion includes a handle portion extending therefrom and the handle portion having a sideways width dimension and a front-to-back depth dimension, the width dimension being greater than the depth dimension.

17. The system of claim 14, wherein the receptacle includes a neck having half-turn rotational threads and the base portion includes a neck receiving recess defined therein having corresponding half-turn rotational grooves.

18. The system of claim 14, wherein the base potion defines a dispensing edge opposite the handle, the dispensing edge being generally U-shaped in front view.

19. The system of claim 14, wherein the lever portion defines a cutoff edge on a first end thereof and a thumb grip adjacent an opposing second end thereof.

20. The system of claim 14, wherein the biasing member includes a biasing flange extending therefrom and configured to engage the receiving aperture to resist upward movement of the lever portion with respect to the base portion.

Description:

FIELD

The present invention relates generally to food product dispensers and, more particularly, to a syrup dispenser.

BACKGROUND

Syrup dispensers are frequently employed in food service operations, such as at restaurants, to allow customers to dispense a selected volume of syrup on their food. Typical conventional dispensers generally comprise a receptacle or jar-like portion that holds the syrup and a dispensing top portion or collar. A horizontally retractable sliding tab is typically provided to seal the dispenser, thereby keeping the syrup from spilling in the event that the dispenser is knocked over or falls. The sealing tab also reduces the likelihood of contamination versus an uncovered opening. The sealing tab is biased into the closed position with a spring member. The user presses a lever to overcome the spring bias, thereby retracting the tab to allow the syrup to flow. Such dispensers can and are also used to dispense other highly viscous liquid food substances, including sauces, gravy, chocolate syrup and dressings.

There are several drawbacks to these conventional dispensers. The overall collar assembly comprises several separate parts that can easily break, such as the spring and the guides that retain the tab through its sliding motion. Syrup also tends to enter the slide tracks of th3e tab, thereby reducing or preventing the closure of the tab by the spring member. The multiple parts are difficult or impossible to separate for cleaning purposes, and then reassemble after cleaning. Also, the multiple components and complexity of the collar assembly creates significant manufacturing and component costs. Therefore, there is a need for a syrup dispenser that addresses some or all of these noted deficiencies of the conventional dispensers.

SUMMARY

The present invention addresses certain deficiencies in the prior art by providing for a device, method and system of dispensing syrup or other highly viscous liquid food product. The dispenser in certain embodiments includes a receptacle having a threaded portion for receiving a dispenser collar. The dispenser collar comprises a base portion and a lever portion. The base portion includes a recessed threaded portion for receiving the threaded portion of the receptacle. The base portion also includes an aperture in communication with the interior of the receptacle. A biasing member extends outward from the lever portion and is securably disposed in a recess in the base portion. The aperture is closed by the lever portion when the biasing member is in the relaxed state. The lever portion is opened by a pivotal motion when a force is applied to an opposing end of the lever, thereby placing the biasing member in a biased state. Releasing the lever causes the lever portion to seal the aperture to cut off flow of syrup.

The dispenser can be used with a variety of food products, such as syrups, sauces, gravy, dressings and other highly viscous liquids or flowable substances.

The above summary is not intended to limit the scope of the invention, or describe each embodiment, aspect, implementation, feature or advantage of the invention. The detailed technology and preferred embodiments for the subject invention are described in the following paragraphs accompanying the appended drawings for people skilled in this field to well appreciate the features of the claimed invention. It is understood that the features mentioned hereinbefore and those to be commented on hereinafter may be used not only in the specified combinations, but also in other combinations or in isolation, without departing from the scope of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a syrup dispenser according to certain example embodiments.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a syrup dispenser according to certain example embodiments.

FIG. 3 is a top view of a syrup dispenser according to certain example embodiments.

FIG. 4 is a bottom view of a syrup dispenser according to certain example embodiments.

FIG. 5 is a front view of a syrup dispenser according to certain example embodiments.

FIG. 6 is a rear view of a syrup dispenser according to certain example embodiments.

FIG. 7 is a component assembly perspective view of a syrup dispenser according to certain example embodiments.

FIG. 8 is a component assembly side view of a syrup dispenser according to certain example embodiments.

FIG. 9 is a component assembly front view of a syrup dispenser according to certain example embodiments.

FIG. 10 is a component assembly cross-sectional view of a syrup dispenser taken along line A-A of FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a detail section side view of a syrup dispenser according to certain example embodiments.

While the invention is amenable to various modifications and alternative forms, specifics thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that the intention is not to limit the invention to the particular example embodiments described. On the contrary, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the following descriptions, the present invention will be explained with reference to various example embodiments; nevertheless, these embodiments are not intended to limit the present invention to any specific example, environment, application, or particular implementation described herein. Therefore, descriptions of these example embodiments are only provided for purpose of illustration rather than to limit the present invention.

Referring to FIGS. 1-6, various external views of a syrup dispenser 100 are shown. The dispenser 100 generally comprises a receptacle or container portion 102 and a dispensing collar assembly 104. The collar assembly comprises a collar base portion 106 and a lever or closure portion 108.

Referring to FIG. 10, the receptacle portion 102 has a hollow interior 110 defined by one or more sidewalls 112. The bottom surface 114 is generally flat so that the dispenser can sit steady on a table or other flat surface. An upwardly extending neck 116 defines a opening 118 in the top of the receptacle 102. Rotational threads 120 or other means for securing the collar are defined in or disposed on the neck 116. In one example, a plurality of half-turn rotational securing male threads are provided to the neck. Other securing means may be used without departing from the scope of the invention.

The outer perimeter shape of the receptacle can take many forms without departing from the scope of the invention. For example the receptacle can be rounded, square or oval or polygonal-shaped. The outer surface can be faceted and provided with flattened sections 122 (shown in FIGS. 1-4). The outer shape can also be formed as a more complex shape such as like a cartoon character, animal, person, house, cabin or a recognizable object.

The receptacle 102 can be formed of any suitable food-container material such as glass, plastic, rubber and stainless steel. In one example embodiment, the receptacle 102 and its various features are a singular or unitarily-molded plastic component. Preferably the material and its thickness are selected to be cleansed in conventional automatic dish washing machinery.

The collar base portion 106 and lever portion 108 of the dispensing collar assembly 104 are each preferably single-piece or unitarily-molded plastic components. However, multi-piece components are within the scope of the invention unless specifically restricted by the language of the claims. These components can alternatively be formed of other materials such as stainless steel, rubber and glass. Mixed materials are also contemplated. Preferably the material and its thickness are selected to be cleansed in conventional automatic dish washing machinery.

The collar base portion 106 comprises a neck-receiving recess 124 defined in a portion therein and configured to receive at least a portion of the neck of the receptacle. The recess is provided with corresponding securement means such as grooves or threads 126 corresponding to the threads or grooves 120 of the neck 116 of the receptacle 102. In one preferred example, the grooves provide for a half-turn securement and release of the collar to the receptacle. Half-turn threads provide for quick securement and release of the components for filling and cleaning operations. Half-turn threads also allow the user to quickly align the respective components to achieve proper rotational alignment or registration of the collar assembly 104 with respect to the receptacle 102, if desired.

The collar base portion 106 also can include a protruding handle portion 128. The handle portion 128 extends rearward and generally downward and is spaced away from the receptacle sidewalls 112 so that a users with a wide range of hand sizes can easily and comfortably grasp the assembled dispenser 100 in one hand. As can be seen by comparing FIGS. 2 and 6, the handle 128 can also have a side-to-side width that is greater than its front-to-back thickness so that the dispenser is resistant to rotational movement in the user's hand. This enhances the security of the dispenser in the user's hand, especially for persons with limited grip strength.

A dispensing edge 130 is defined in the collar base portion 106 opposite the handle 128. The dispensing edge 130 can form a generally U-shaped channel to provide a well controlled flow of liquid from the dispenser. In particular, the angle and spacing width of the sides of the U-shaped channel shape the flow stream, thereby mitigating drip potential.

A flow aperture 132 is defined in the collar base portion 106, which is positioned in communication with the opening 118 in the top of the receptacle. The flow aperture 132 permits the contents of the receptacle to flow out of the receptacle 102. An internal channel 134 defined in the collar base portion 102 spans between the flow aperture 132 and the dispensing edge 130. The internal channel controllably guides the contents of the receptacle from to the dispensing edge 130. A vent aperture 136 can be optionally defined in the base portion 106 to allow air to flow into the receptacle as contents is poured out, so that a temporary vacuum is not formed in the receptacle that would intermittently interrupt the pouring and possibly cause difficult flow control.

The collar base portion 106 also defines a biasing member receiving cavity 138 or aperture. The receiving aperture 138 is sized to receive a securing flange portion 166 of the biasing member 150 to securely maintain the lever portion 108 in place throughout operation. The securing flange portion 166 of the lever portion 108 can also be accessed by the user from the recessed portion of the collar base 106 so that the biasing member 150 can be released from the collar base member 150.

The collar base portion 106 further includes a first pivot member 140. The first pivot member 140 extends generally vertically upward from the collar base 106 to provide an elevated pivot surface against which the lever portion 108 can pivot between closed and open positions.

The lever portion 108 includes an elongated body 141 having a dispensing end 142 and an actuating end 144. The elongated body 141 has a top surface 146 and a bottom surface 148. A biasing member 150 extends generally downwardly from the bottom surface 148. A second pivot member 152 also extends generally downwardly from the bottom surface 148. The second pivot member 152 defines a downwardly protruding pivot surface, which pushes against the upwardly protruding elevated pivot surface of the collar base portion to provide a generally arcuate pivot motion to the lever portion 108.

The dispensing end 142 of the lever portion 108 defines a cutoff edge 154. The cutoff edge 154 contacts the opposing dispensing edge 130 of the collar base portion 106 to quickly break or cut the flow of syrup or other contents, thereby minimizing any surfaces that might retain the syrup to produce drips and stringy connections of syrup spanning between the dispenser 100 and the user's food or plate. Thus, the potential for mess and waste is minimized. Correspondingly, the frequency of cleaning needed is lessened.

An actuating surface 156 is defined adjacent the actuating end 144 of the lever portion 108. A thumb grip feature 158 such as ridges, a pad or a recess can be defined in or provided to actuating surface 156 to guide the user's hand to the correct placement and to facilitate confident actuation of the lever portion 108. The thumb grip feature is sized and located on the actuating portion such that it is in proximity to the thumb of the user when the handle portion of the collar base portion is grasped with one hand.

The respective pivot surfaces 140 and 152 can be angled with respect to the horizon, as is shown in FIG. 11, so that rearward movement of the lever portion 108 relative to the collar base portion 106 is resisted when a user pushes downward on the actuating end 144 of the lever portion 108. The opposing angled surfaces of pivot surfaces 140 and 152 resisting backward motion of lever 108 with respect to the collar base 106 imparts rotational movement to the lever portion 108 to lift the cutoff edge 154 upwards and away from the dispensing edge 130. Such movement also creates separation between a portion of the elongated body 141 to allow the contents of the receptacle 102 to flow outwards when user tips the receptacle 102 with respect the horizon sufficiently to permit the contents to exit the receptacle 102.

The biasing member 150 is generally planar and has a sideways width greater than its front-to-back thickness or depth. Thus, a generally planar front surface 160 and a generally planar back surface 162 are defined, with side edge surfaces 164 spanning therebetween. A securing flange 166 extends forwardly from the front surface 160 in order to provide an upwardly facing interlocking or abutting surface 168 that resists vertical movement of the lever portion 108 with respect to the collar base portion 106.

As can be seen in FIGS. 10-11, the biasing member 150 extends generally vertically downward with a slight angle to the true vertical. This small offset generates a cantilever force causing the downwardly extending pivot member 152 of the lever portion 108 to push against the upwardly extending pivot member 140 of the collar base portion 106 such that the lever portion 108 is forcibly maintained in the closed position unless a rotational moment is generated by pushing on the actuating end 144 of the lever portion 108 sufficient to overcome the closure force.

The vertical height (i.e. length) dimension of the biasing member 150 and/or its width, taper gradient and thickness dimensions can be varied to define and adjust the closure or bias force that attempts to maintain the collar in the closed position. The horizontal distance between the interface of the respective pivot members 140 and 152, and the point at which the actuating force is applied to the actuating end can also be varied to adjust the force necessary to open the collar for dispensing.

Referring to FIGS. 9, 10 and 11, to assemble the dispenser 100, the user inserts the securing flange 166 of the lever portion 108 into the corresponding aperture 138 in the collar base portion 106 until to the retaining flange is engaged. Then the completed collar assembly 104 can be secured to the receptacle portion 102 by disposing the threaded portion of the receptacle's neck 116 into the corresponding recessed portion 124 of the collar base potion. Then a half turn in a locking direction (e.g., clockwise) is made to secure the respective components together. The locking direction is defined by the angle of the threads, and counter-clockwise tightening is also with the scope of the invention. The syrup or other fluid to be dispensed would be disposed in the receptacle some time before the collar assembly 104 is secured to the receptacle.

Disassembly is accomplished generally in the reverse of that described in the preceding paragraph. In particular, the securing flange 166 of the lever portion 108 is pushed backwards relative to the collar base portion 106 by the user's finger by at least the depth of the abutting surface 168 to release the lever portion 108 from the collar base portion 106.

To dispense the contents contained within the receptacle portion, the user grasps the handle portion 128, elevates the dispenser 100 above the target location where the contents is to be dispensed and tilts or pivots the dispenser 100 forwardly (or rotates it about a side-to-side axis through a portion of the receptacle portions body) until the contents exit the receptacle 102 and enter the collar assembly. The user presses generally vertically downwards on the thumb grip feature 158 (or if not present, adjacent to the actuation end) of the lever portion 108, thereby rotationally pivoting the lever portion 108, until the cutoff edge 154 rises above the corresponding dispensing edge 130 of the collar base portion 106, thus allowing the contents to flow out of the dispenser 100. Releasing the actuation portion 144 causes the biasing member 150 to automatically return the lever portion 108 to the closed state such that the cutoff edge 154 pinches off the flow of fluid.

The cutoff edge mitigates the potential for dips forming. Also, the user's ability to adjust flow rate by controlling the size of the dispensing orifice defined between the dispensing edge 130 and cutoff edge 154 further mitigates the potential for drips and the like. The user can thus also easily control the flow rate of product.

The use of the biasing member 150 instead of the separate spring used in conventional dispensers saves component cost, enhances reliability and ease of cleaning. Also, by reducing the number of components to only three (receptacle, collar base and lever portion), costs are reduced, reliability is enhanced and cleaning is easier. The components can also be easily and quickly assembled and disassembled for cleaning and operation, thus saving costs for performing these activities.

While the invention has been described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiments. It will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that many modifications and equivalent arrangements can be made thereof without departing from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure, such scope to be accorded the broadest interpretation of the appended claims so as to encompass all equivalent structures and products. Moreover, features or aspects of various example embodiments may be mixed and matched (even if such combination is not explicitly described herein) without departing from the scope of the invention.