Title:
FOOD PACKAGE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Packages for the stable display and storage of foodstuffs. Re-closeable foodstuff package are provided that include a container and a lid. The lid has a base with three feet. The feet support the package when placed horizontally. One of the feet forms a lip in the base of the container that provides stability to the package when it is displayed in a near-vertical position. Additionally, the lip allows the packages to be stacked stably while in a horizontal position to allow for easy shipping of quantities of the packages to stores for sale.



Inventors:
Irsch, Craig (Searcy, AR, US)
Marion, William (Searcy, AR, US)
Feeney II, James Joseph (Hartford, KY, US)
Application Number:
13/829453
Publication Date:
09/18/2014
Filing Date:
03/14/2013
Assignee:
LAND O'FROST, INC. (Lansing, IL, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/503, 220/631, 220/671
International Classes:
B65D1/44; B65D41/18; B65D21/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
REYNOLDS, STEVEN ALAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Reed Smith LLP (Chicago) (Pittsburgh, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A package for containing a foodstuff, comprising: a container comprising a base having a perimeter, a front wall, a rear wall, a first side wall and a second side wall, wherein said side walls extend substantially vertically from the perimeter at opposite sides of said base, further wherein said front wall and said rear wall extend substantially vertically from the perimeter at opposite sides of said base, further wherein said front wall extends at a negative angle relative to said base towards a center of said container; said container further comprising a substantially horizontal rim disposed along a portion of the front wall, said rear wall, said first side wall, and said second side wall opposite to said base; said base comprising a first foot, a second foot, and a third foot integrally disposed in said base, wherein the first and second feet are positioned at opposite corners of said base adjacent to said rear wall, further wherein said third foot traverses the base parallel to the perimeter and is set back from said front wall so as to define a lip in said base, wherein said front portion of said horizontal rim and said lip are adapted to rest on a horizontal surface when said package is in a near-vertical orientation, further wherein a center of mass of said package to be located above said front wall when said package is in said near-vertical configuration; and a lid, wherein said lid fits snugly into said rim to contain said foodstuff placed in said container.

2. The package of claim 1, wherein said negative angle relative to the base is between about 10 degrees and about 25 degrees relative to a vertical axis.

3. The package of claim 2, wherein the negative angle relative to the base is approximately 14 degrees relative to a vertical axis.

4. The package of claim 1, wherein the base including said lip is shaped to fit stably in a lid of a second identical package to allow stable vertical stacking of a plurality of said packages.

5. The package of claim 1, wherein said side, front, and rear walls include a plurality of ribs.

6. The package of claim 1, wherein said lid includes a recessed portion that is parallel to said rim towards a center of said lid and which adds rigidity to the lid.

7. The package of claim 1, wherein said package is at an angle less than six degrees from vertical when said package is in said near-vertical orientation.

8. The package of claim 1, wherein said front wall and said rear wall are substantially parallel to one another.

9. The package of claim 1, wherein the container includes a plurality of recessed lock portions and the lid includes a plurality of locking members so that each recessed lock portion engages a locking member and thereby the lid snap fits to the container.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to packaging for food items, and more particularly to stackable display packaging for perishable food items.

2. Description of the Background

The display and presentation of food items is of great concern in the food industry. The commercially effective display of food items allows the consumer to view the foodstuff to be purchased, while at the same time properly designed packages preserve the freshness of the product. Because of the diversity of sales spaces in stores, an effective food package should allow display of the foodstuff in a variety of configurations, e.g., with the face of the package towards the consumer or with multiple packages stacked vertically on a shelf one on top of one another.

Food packages that include a re-closable container are particularly appealing to consumers in that they allow reuse of the container. Re-closable containers permit a consumer to maintain the freshness of purchased food products after the packaging is initially opened by the consumer.

Additionally, food packaging should be structured to allow easy and efficient transport of numerous packages from the factory where they are made to the stores where they are sold.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention will be described in conjunction with the following figures, wherein like reference characters designate the same or similar elements, which figures are incorporated into and constitute a part of the specification, wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a profile view of a container and lid of the present invention;

FIG. 2 displays a front view of a container of the present invention;

FIG. 3 displays a side view of a container of the present invention;

FIG. 3A displays an expanded view of the side of the container shown in FIG. 3;

FIG. 4 depicts a bottom view of a container of the present invention;

FIG. 5 shows a lid of the present invention;

FIG. 5A shows a front view of the container and lid of the present invention;

FIG. 6 depicts a package of the present invention as might be displayed on a shelf in a store in a near-vertical orientation; and

FIG. 7 shows stacking of the packages of the present invention.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a novel, re-closeable foodstuff package that includes structure so that the package can be stacked both in a horizontal position for shipping and placed vertically to allow for the display of the foodstuff. The present invention includes a container for enclosing foodstuffs and a lid which may snap fit snugly on the container to re-close the container and help maintain the freshness of the foodstuffs inside. The container is defined by a base and four walls. The two side walls of the container preferably extend vertically from the base. The front and rear walls preferably extend substantially vertically from the base and roughly parallel to one another, with the front wall angled slightly towards the center of the container and the rear wall slightly away from the center of the container. The base includes multiple feet that support the container when it is placed in a horizontal position on a surface. Two feet are located at the rear of the container in the corners of the base. A third foot is preferably located along the front of the base set back slightly from the front wall, forming a lip in the front of the container. The container may also include a rim that extends horizontally from the top of the walls. The lid fits into the top of the container to seal the foodstuffs within. The lid also includes a horizontal rim that is sealed to the container along the horizontal rim of the container. The package is opened by peeling the lid away from the container and then the lid can be snap fit snuggly back into the container to re-close the container and maintain freshness of the foodstuffs within.

The packages of the present invention may be displayed in a near-vertical orientation such that the front wall of the container faces the shelf on which the product is placed. In this near-vertical orientation, the package rests on the horizontal rim and the lip stably, thus allowing the product to be displayed to consumers effectively. The overall structure of the package, particularly the negative angle of the front wall, places the center of mass of the product-containing packages substantially directly above the front wall when a package is oriented in the near-vertical position. This allows the package to rest stably on the horizontal rim and the lip with a reduced likelihood of the package tipping over. The packages of the present invention may also be stacked in a horizontal orientation. To allow the stable stacking of packages of the present invention, the lip in the base of the container rests firm into the lid of the container below it.

The present invention provides a package for containing a foodstuff, comprising a container and a lid. The container has a base with a perimeter and two side walls opposite one another and a rear wall opposite a front wall. The side walls extend substantially vertically from the perimeter of the base. The front wall extends at a negative angle relative to the base towards the center of the container. The rear wall may be substantially parallel to the front wall. The container also includes a substantially horizontal rim that is disposed along a top portion of the walls, opposite the base. The base of the container preferably includes three feet that are integrated into the base. The first and second feet are positioned at opposite corners of the base where the rear wall meets the base. The third foot traverses the base parallel to the perimeter and is set back from said front wall so as to define a lip in the base at the bottom of the front wall of the container to provide stability when the packages are vertically stacked. The packages of the present invention also include a lid that is capable of fitting snugly into the rim to contain foodstuffs placed in the container.

The packages of the present invention may be oriented stably in a near-vertical position where the package rests on the horizontal rim and the lip rest on a horizontal surface. When in this orientation, the center of mass of said package is located above said front wall of the package because of the negative angle of the front wall.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

It is to be understood that the figures and descriptions of the present invention have been simplified to illustrate elements that are relevant for a clear understanding of the invention, while eliminating for purposes of clarity, other elements that may be well known. The detailed description will be provided hereinbelow with reference to the attached drawing.

The present invention provides packages that allow foodstuffs to be presented in a variety of display spaces in stores. The present invention provides several components including a container for enclosing foodstuffs and a lid that snap fits snugly onto the container to re-close the container and help maintain the freshness of the foodstuffs inside after opening by the consumer. The systems of the present invention are particularly well suited for the display of lunch meats and other perishable foodstuffs, though may be used for any type of food display. Through the novel and innovative design of the present invention, packages containing foodstuffs may be placed stably in a near-vertical display position where a broad face of the package faces consumers.

A presently preferred embodiment of the present invention is shown in FIG. 1. The package 1 of the present invention preferably includes a container 10 and a lid 15. The lid 15 preferably recesses into the top-most portion of container 10 and snap fits snugly into the container 10, thus closing the container which helps to maintain the freshness of the foodstuffs that may be placed inside. In some presently preferred embodiments the container is approximately rectangular in shape, as shown in FIG. 1.

The containers of the present invention have four walls 20, 25, 45, 50 that extend roughly vertically from the base of the container 12 along its perimeter. Walls 20, 25, 45, 50 are integrally formed as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. The relation of the walls to the base 12 of the container is depicted in FIGS. 2 and 3. The base 12 is integrally formed with walls 20, 25, 45, 50, thus making container 10. By way of example only, container 10 may be molded as a single piece using injection or vacuum molding, formed on a packaging machine, or other techniques known to those of skill in the art. FIG. 2 displays a view of the front of the container portion of the packages of the present invention. The two side walls 20, 25 extend substantially vertically from the base 12 as shown in FIG. 2. At the top of the walls 20, 25, 45, 50, a horizontal rim 30 extends roughly orthogonally from the walls. The walls 20, 25, 45, 50 may contain raised ribs 35 that add rigidity to the walls and overall strength to the container. FIGS. 2 and 3 also display a lip 40 formed in the front of the base 12 that is formed by a foot 65 present in the base of the container 10 (see FIG. 4) as described more fully hereinbelow.

FIG. 3 shows a side view of the container of the present invention. As is clearly observed in this view, the front wall 50 of the container is present at a negative angle θ relative to the base 12 of the container. The negative angle θ positions front wall 50 towards the center of the container and away from an imaginary vertical line extended perpendicularly from the perimeter of base 12 as shown in FIG. 3. Front wall 50 is substantially parallel to rear wall 45. This attribute of the present invention allows the packages of the present invention to rest stably in a near-vertical position as further described below. Angle θ shown in FIG. 3 may range from 10° to 25° with 14° presently preferred. The lip 40 at the front of the base 12 of the container is shown in side view and may be compared to the view of the front of lip 40 shown in FIG. 2. Ribs 37 may be formed in the side walls 20, 25 of the container 10 to add stability or aesthetic appeal to the container. Lid lock recess 39 may be formed in the top portion of container 10 at each end of container 10. Lid 15 engages lid lock recess 39, as will be described in further detail below, to form a snap fit so that the lid 15 re-closes the container 10. FIG. 3A is an expanded view of FIG. 3 showing the lid lock recess 39, ribs 37, front wall 50 and lip 40.

FIG. 4 shows a bottom view of one embodiment of a container of the present invention and depicts the location of feet 55, 60, 65 present in the base 12 of the container. In presently preferred embodiments, the base of the container includes three feet 55, 60, 65. The first two feet 55, 60 are located in the corners of the base 12 at the juncture of the rear and side walls. The third foot 65 preferably extends along the entire length of the container at the front of the container. The third foot 65 is set back from the perimeter of the base 12 such that a lip 40 is formed at the front of the base, allowing for vertical stacking as shown in FIG. 7. The horizontal rim of the container 30 is sealed against the horizontal rim 32 of lid 15 (FIG. 5A) when the foodstuffs contained in container 10 are initially packaged. In presently preferred embodiments, the third foot 65 runs parallel to the front perimeter of the base 12 as shown in FIG. 4. The particular geometry of the feet 55, 60, 65 may be varied while staying within the scope of the present invention depending on the aesthetic design to be achieved

FIG. 5 depicts a bottom view of the lid 15 of the present invention. The lid 15 preferably fits snugly into the top of the container and may act to contain foodstuffs in the container. The lid 15 thus closes the container allowing any foodstuffs held in the container to remain fresh after initial opening of the packaging by the consumer. The lid 15 may include a recessed rib 70. Recessed rib 70 adds rigidity to the lid 15 and aids in locking the lid 15 in the lid lock recess 39 (FIG. 3) when the lid 15 is used to re-close container 10.

FIG. 5A presents a front view of lid 15 and container 10 and further illustrates the structural elements of package 1 which function to seal and re-close lid 15 to container 10. During initial packaging of the foodstuffs which are contained in container 10, the horizontal rim 32 of the lid 15 is sealed against the horizontal rim 30 of the container thus helping to maintain the freshness of the foodstuffs. Lid 15 may include a locking member 17 disposed at opposite ends of lid 15. After the package 1 is opened by a consumer, a locking member 17 may be engaged in a locking recess 39 so that lid 15 snap-fits to container 10 and re-closes container 10 thus helping to maintain the freshness of the foodstuffs.

The geometrical configuration of the packages of the present invention allows the packages to be stacked in a variety of manners for display in and shipping to stores. For display, the package may be positioned such that the front wall 50 of the container faces the shelf surface. While in this position, the packages of the present invention possess a center of mass that is substantially directly above the front wall 50 of the container. The center of mass of the package is located substantially directly above the front wall of the container because of the angle θ of the front wall 50. In this orientation, the container will rest stably on the horizontal rim 30 that runs along the front of the container and the front wall 50 as shown in FIG. 6. When placed in this orientation, the novel geometry of the containers of the present invention allows the packages to be maintained in a position where the face of the container is preferably less than six degrees away from vertical as shown in FIG. 6. Thus, the combination of the horizontal rim, the lip, and the negative angle of the front wall allows the packages of the present invention to maintain a near-vertical positioning stably.

This attribute of the present invention provides a significant advantage over prior art packages that seek to maintain the look and appearance of foodstuffs located in the container. In many of the prior art packages, the shape and configuration of the package is designed emphasizing the display of the foodstuffs and the maintenance of a fluffed appearance of the package contents. However, movement of the foodstuffs during transportation of the packages may result not only in a loss of fluffed appearance, but also instability of the package when it is placed in a near-vertical orientation. In contrast, the packages of the present invention may be displayed stably in a near-vertical orientation so that the face of the package may easily be observed by consumers in the store.

In embodiments of the present invention, lid 15 preferably holds the contents of the package in place. In alternative embodiments, the contents of the container 10 are enclosed in an inner package or bag (not shown). The use of an inner package or bag may also help to minimize movement of the contents during shipping and handling. This attribute of the present invention also allows the efficient vertical stacking of the packages and allows the maintenance of a substantial inventory of the packages on the store shelves which are convenient to access.

The packages of the present invention may also be stacked in a horizontal position as shown in FIG. 7. The lip 40 in the base 12 of the container preferably fits complementarily into the lid 15 of another package of the present invention so as to allow stacking of the packages. The lip 40 provides stability to the overall stack by stabilizing the interaction between two adjacent packages. Because the lip 40 is offset from the perimeter of the container, packages of the present invention are able to be stacked in a stable vertical column even though the front and rear walls are angled as described above.

Nothing in the above description is meant to limit the present invention to any specific materials, geometry, or orientation of elements. Many modifications are contemplated within the scope of the present invention and will be apparent to those skilled in the art. The embodiments described herein were presented by way of example only and should not be used to limit the scope of the invention.