Patent application title: Children's food tray with compartments encouraging artistic or game play
L. David Goldenberg (Ridgefield, CT, US)
Alexander Isley (Ridgefield, CT, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65D2500FI
Class name: Special receptacle or package with ornamentation or simulation
Publication date: 2008-10-16
Patent application number: 20080251405
The present invention is a food tray for children comprising a top surface
and at least one compartment, providing play value beyond food
containment, style, or decoration, in that the food itself is integrated
into interactive creative or game play. This serves to engage a user more
completely in enjoying and finishing a meal.
1. A food tray comprising:(a) a top surface,(b) at least one recessed
compartment capable of receiving food in said surface, and(c) an
arrangement of said recessed compartment,whereby a user may engage
interactively with food in game play or artistic play.
2. The food tray of claim 1 wherein said food tray is made of rigid material.
3. The food tray of claim 2 wherein said rigid material is metal.
4. The food tray of claim 2 wherein said rigid material is of glass.
5. The food tray of claim 2 wherein said rigid material is ceramic.
6. The food tray of claim 2 wherein said rigid material is a composite.
7. A food tray of rigid material comprising:(a) a generally flat top surface,(b) a plurality of recessed compartments capable of receiving food in said surface,(c) an arrangement of said compartments into the shape of a character or object,whereby the user may engage interactively with food in artistic play by rearranging said food in a manner that provides features common to that shape.
8. The food tray of claim 7 wherein said shape is a human face.
9. The food tray of claim 7 wherein said shape is a licensed character.
10. The food tray of claim 7 wherein said shape is the face of an animal.
11. The food tray of claim 7 wherein said shape is a plant.
12. The food tray of claim 7 wherein said shape is an indoor or outdoor scene.
13. The food tray of claim 7 wherein said shape is a video screen.
14. The food tray of claim 7 wherein said shape is a framed canvas.
15. A food tray of rigid material comprising:(a) a generally flat top surface,(b) a plurality of recessed compartments capable of receiving food in said surface,(c) an arrangement of said compartments into the shape of game board,whereby the user may engage interactively with said food in interactive game play.
16. The food tray of claim 15 wherein said arrangement forms a grid.
17. The food tray of claim 15 wherein said arrangement forms concentric circles.
18. The food tray of claim 15 wherein said arrangement forms a grid.
19. The food tray of claim 15 wherein said arrangement forms a maze.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims the benefit of PPA Ser. No. 60/887,438 filed 2007 Jan. 31 by the present inventors, which is incorporated by reference.
1. Field of Invention
This invention relates to food trays, specifically to food trays designed for use by children.
2. Discussion of Prior Art
Children from 2-11 typically have short attention spans, which frequently leads to boredom and distraction during mealtime. Further, children often object to food that is in contact with another type of food on the plate or tray. As a result, they do not finish meals that have been prepared for them, which frustrates parents. Child-oriented food plates and trays with a plurality of compartments are commonly employed to help maintain children's interest.
Prior art plates and trays often simply provide individual compartments for strictly utilitarian purposes, such as to control portion size and maintain separation of individual dishes. U.S. Pat. No. 4,529,466 provides compartments for a cup and plate, the object of the invention being stability of the tray during the meal. Temperature control and rethermalization is the object of U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,952,794 and 3,999,601. They add no interest or play value and do not intend to engage children in any way beyond the containment, separation, or temperature of food.
Other multi-compartment food trays and plates for children are known. Specifically, PCT/US86/01675 LANG provides compartments in the shape of characters as packaging for frozen or dried nutritionally balanced prepared meals. While the shapes provide interest, the packaging does not provide for the engagement of children through creative play.
US 2003/0070956 discloses a plurality of nestable plates with independent wells that may printed with illustrations a variety of themes. Absent the illustration, the compartments comprise no recognizable shape. With the illustration printed, the plates do not provide an interactive and engaging level of play.
Similarly, Design Pat. No. 198,387 is a food dish where the compartments form the shape of a smiling face. However, because the design forms an entertaining shape rather than providing activity, it does not seek to engage children in play.
Of the prior art, only two attempt to engage children in interactive play as part of the mealtime process. U.S. Pat. No. 4,936,462 seeks to engage children by requiring them to consume the food in transparent compartments to follow the story printed below. This may not serve the intended purpose, as food residue may impair the view of the content below. Further, the child may not be engaged by the story provided.
While not a food tray per se, in that it does not directly come into contact with food, the design of U.S. Pat. No. 5,294,172 engages children with interactive and engaging play. However, said play is with the invention and not with the food, therefore providing further distraction from the task of eating.
Other designs in the marketplace seek to add visual interest to children through illustrations of characters and scenes. While these add interest from the perspective of the child, especially when the illustrations feature familiar licensed characters or designs, they serve to engage children with the characters and not with the food itself. Where there are compartments, said compartments serve no purpose other than to maintain the separation of individual dishes. This does not solve, and may in fact abet, the factor of distraction.
All of the above references have the disadvantage that none engage the child with the food in a manner that encourages that child's interest in the food as much as it does in the invention or the design.
A food tray for children comprising at least one recessed compartment, providing play value beyond food containment or decoration, in that the food itself is integrated into interactive creative or game play. In one embodiment, a plurality of compartments comprises the shape of a girl's head. In the hands of a child using this tray, the food becomes an artistic element that can form facial features and hair. In another embodiment, food is divided into sixteen compartments in a four-by-four grid. The grid forms a game board that may be used for a plurality of games involving food, in which the object is consumption of the food.
Alternative embodiments may provide an arrangement of compartments into the shape of other characters, such as the face of a boy or animal, licensed character, object, or scene suitable for decoration buy the users. Still others may provide an arrangement of compartments into a game-playing board in the shape of a grid, concentric circles, diamonds, or an abstract design.
FIG. 1A is an upper perspective of a food tray wherein recessed compartments comprise the shape of a girl's face and hair.
FIG. 1B is a top plan view of the food tray of FIG 1A.
FIG. 1C is a side view of the food tray of FIG. 1A.
FIG. 1D is a top plan view of the food tray of FIG. 1A with an example of food as it might be arranged or rearranged by a child or parent.
FIG. 2A is an upper perspective of another embodiment, wherein recessed compartments comprise playing spaces for a game board.
FIG. 2B is a top plan view of the food tray of FIG. 2A.
FIG. 2C is a side view of the food tray of FIG. 2A.
FIG. 1A shows a preferred embodiment of the of a food tray. The tray 100 is generally rectangular and is contemplated to be made of durable molded plastic, but also may be made of other suitable material, such as ceramic, composites, metal, or paper.
The food tray 100 has a top surface and may include a peripheral border 110. Five compartments 120-160 recessed into the surface of the tray form, in this embodiment, the shape of the face and hair of a girl. Other embodiments may similarly present other characters, such as a boy, dog or other animal, a licensed character, or other object or scene suitable for decoration by users.
The recessed compartments are provided in this embodiment, with flat bottoms, for the stable positioning of the food tray 100 on a flat surface, and sidewalls.
The character's hair is formed by the shape of compartments 120, 130, and 140, and by compartment 150, which is in the shape of a hair bow. The larger, generally oval compartment 160 forms the shape of a face.
As shown in FIG. 1B, the flat bottom surface of the food tray compartments 120-160 presents users with a surface upon which facial features and other features may be arranged by placing food in the compartments.
FIG. 1C shows a side view of the food tray 100, in which the depth of compartments 120, 130 and 160 may be seen.
As FIG. 1D shows the manner in which a plurality of food items prepared for a meal may be used to create facial features. In this example, the image of a face in compartment 160 is created using meatballs for the eyes, a carrot for the nose, and a series of grapes for the mouth. In compartment 120, French fries create the surface of the hair on the character's right side. In compartment 150, the surface of the hair bow is created using cooked spinach. The top portion of hair, suggested by compartment 140, is filled with carrots. The surface of the hair in compartment 130 on the character's left side is made with peas. These food items are intended only to suggest the manner in which food may be used to create artistic and creative designs. Any other suitable food item may be used.
FIG. 2A-2C--Alternative Embodiment
FIG. 2A is an alternative embodiment of the food tray 200. The tray is generally rectangular and is contemplated to be made of durable molded plastic, but also may be made of other suitable material, such as ceramic, composites, metal, or paper.
The food tray 200 has a generally flat top surface and may include a peripheral border 210. Sixteen equal-sized compartments 220-370 are recessed into the surface of the tray, forming a four-by-four grid. The number, shape and arrangements of recessed compartments in FIG. 2A is intended to be exemplary of one embodiment. Alternative embodiments may contain a top surface that is not flat and compartments in other shapes, arrangements, and numbers.
As shown in FIG. 2B, the recessed compartments 220-370 form the surface of a game board upon which a plurality of games may be played. In one exemplary game, all compartments except one are filled with food items. A player jumps the food from any full compartment vertically or horizontally over an adjacent full compartment into the empty compartment, and then consumes the food in the compartment that has been jumped over. This creates an additional empty compartment. The player continues the process of jumping and eating, in any order, until jumping an adjacent full compartment is no longer possible. The object is to finish with just one full compartment full.
At the start of another exemplary game, all compartments 220-370 are full. The player selects one compartment as the starting point. Another participant indicates the direction, left or right or up or down, of the compartment from which the food is next to be consumed. This process continues until all the food in all the compartments is consumed.
In yet another exemplary game, all compartments of the grid are filled with food except those in an arrangement that comprises, when viewed together, the first letter of the player's first name. After the player eats the food from full compartments, the compartments that were empty at the start of the game are filled with dessert, spelling out the child's first initial.
FIG. 2C shows a side view of the food tray 200, in which the depth of compartments 34, 350, 360, and 370 may be seen.
Conclusions, Ramifications and Scope
Therefore the reader will see that at least two embodiments of the food tray provide children with interactive play that directs attention to, not away from, the task of eating. That is, the trays are not merely themed or stylized but provide the basis for activity and engagement.
In the first embodiment, the food prepared for the meal is literally turned into art supplies that engage children with the food as they create and rearrange facial features. As they eat, the amount and variety of food available as art supplies necessarily changes, encouraging the creation of alternative designs. This fosters continued play and eating through mealtime.
In the second embodiment, the food prepared for the meal becomes game pieces. By playing any of a plurality of games, a child becomes further engaged in eating the food presented.
Although the description above contains many specificities, these should not be construed to limit the scope of the embodiment but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments. For example the number and arrangement of the recessed compartments may take the shape of a boy's, man's or woman's face; the face of an animal, such as a dog, cat, bear or cow; a character's face such as licensed from an entertainment property owner; or any other familiar character. It may also take the shape of any object onto which a design or other features might logically be represented, such as a painting canvas in a frame, a flower with a plurality of petals, or clothing.
Alternatively, the recessed compartments may be of any number and arranged in any manner so as to form the playing surface of any game that requires the player to consume the food on the tray.
Thus the scope of the embodiments should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the example given.
Patent applications in class WITH ORNAMENTATION OR SIMULATION
Patent applications in all subclasses WITH ORNAMENTATION OR SIMULATION