Patent application title: Nestable integrated food tray with waste collection feature
Donald W. Ragsdale (Chesterfield, MO, US)
Steven D. Taschler (Wildwood, MO, US)
Steven A. Viviano (Charlotte, NC, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65D2100FI
Class name: Special receptacle or package structural features for nesting identical receptacles or closures noncircular receptacles (e.g., trays)
Publication date: 2010-02-25
Patent application number: 20100044265
Patent application title: Nestable integrated food tray with waste collection feature
Donald W. Ragsdale
Steven D. Taschler
Steven A. Viviano
Paul M. Denk
Origin: ST. LOUIS, MI US
IPC8 Class: AB65D2100FI
Patent application number: 20100044265
A nestable and integrated food tray with waste collection feature includes
a housing, an integrally connected and pivotal bottom, the housing
includes a top surface that has a pocket for holding food product, at
least one integral pouch for holding condiment(s), and a reinforced
opening within the top that allows entrance into the tray, for deposit of
waste material. The tray is fully contoured around its perimeter,
including its various pockets, to assure that a plurality of such trays
may be stacked one upon the other when nested for shipment and storage.
The bottom is pivoted laterally, to allow for nesting of a plurality of
such trays as required.
1. A nestable and integrated food tray with waste collection feature,
including a contoured housing, a bottom hingedly connected to the
housing, and capable of extending perpendicularly therefrom, as during
nesting of a plurality of said trays, or the bottom may be pivoted into
closure, to seal off the interior of a tray when readied for usage, the
housing having a top surface, the top surface including an elongated
pocket for holding of the food product in preparation for consumption,
the top also having at least one integral pouch, for holding a condiment,
and the top having an opening therethrough that allows for deposit of
waste food material into the interior of the tray, after consumption of
the stored and displayed food product.
2. The food tray of claim 1 and further comprising said bottom being hingedly connected by a living hinge at approximately the bottom of the said housing, and said bottom capable of being pivoted laterally of the housing when a plurality of such trays are nested during storage, or the bottom can be pivoted into closure for sealing off the bottom of the housing, as the tray is in usage.
3. The food tray of claim 2 wherein a series of walls form the housing for the tray, said walls being reinforced, and said walls, with their reinforcement, and the various pockets, are tapered, to allow for nesting of a plurality of such trays upon each other to facilitate storage.
4. The food tray of claim 3 wherein the bottom of the tray incorporates molded reinforcement.
5. The food tray of claim 3 wherein the bottom of the housing has an extending flange, and the bottom of the tray is connected by a living hinge to the housing flange.
6. The food tray of claim 1 wherein the front wall of the housing is of planar configuration, and such planar configuration for the wall is acceptable of advertising or other indicia for display purposes.
7. The food tray of claim 1 wherein the waste deposit opening in the top of the housing incorporates molded reinforcement around its perimeter.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
This non-provisional application is a continuation-in-part of the design application for patent having Serial No. 29/310,155, which was filed on Jul. 29, 2008, which issued on Sep. 22, 2009, and now bears U.S. Pat. No. D600,503.
FIELD OF INVENTION
This invention relates to the display and processing food, and more particularly to a food tray that has all of its structure integrated into a singular form, so as to accommodate the nestability of the trays during shipment and storage, before usage, and which tray incorporates a waste collection feature that allows for the in situ disposal of residue waste as the food is being consumed.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to a food tray with waste collection features.
As is known in the art, the concept of preparing a food tray, for the conveyance of food products, is quite well known, and is extensively used, particularly in fast food businesses. For example, various fast food establishments, particularly since many of their customers will stop in off the road to make a quick purchase, convey the purchased food items back to their vehicle, and continue on their journey. Many of these types of fast food restaurants are standard establishments along the nation's highways. And, when the consumer desires to carry a number of beverages, a good number of sandwiches, French fries, milkshakes, and even some desserts, back to the vehicle, it is impossible for a single purchaser to be able to convey such a plurality of items individually. Thus, food trays are readily available for reception of beverage cartons in a pouch, sandwiches within the primary space within a tray, and even French fries can be inserted into a tray, within a particular slot, to keep them upright, and from spilling. These types of trays are well known in the art.
Of more recent vintage, is the provision of a food tray, which may be erected when readied for usage, and which can not only hold a variety of food products as they are conveyed to the table, or to the automobile, but in one instance, also incorporates an internal segment of the container, with a conveniently opened lid, that allows for the disposal of waste food, or other used paraphernalia such as containers or napkins, into the tray for the convenience of quick disposal. Such can be seen in the United States patent to Sorensen, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,401,927, upon a POP-UP FOOD TRAY FOR COMBINATION MEALS. As can be seen, this particular tray comprises a generally tubular structure, which has a top wall shaped with select openings for receiving and holding objects to be held by the tray, with the cover for the tray having a substantial opening area for the convenient disposal of any of the used elements, such as a crushed drink cup, a folded French fry container, or a crushed dessert container, to be disposed of therein, after usage.
Other food trays have become available in the art. They are trays that also display food prior to consumption, and include disposal areas internally thereof, for the deposit of waste food, or other waste materials, after consumption. For example, the patent to Bizzel, U.S. Pat. No. D579,274, shows a serving tray. Published application No. US 2008/0029427 shows a serving tray assembly with disposal opening, related to the subject matter of the previous design application. Published application No. US 2007/0062965 shows a related appetizer food tray assembly. The same subject matter is shown in the serving tray with disposal opening in published application No. US 2008/0029426. Similar structure is shown in the food serving tray assembly having center support, as noted in the published application No. US 2008/0083760. Another application is shown in published application No. US 2008/0083759. Related structure is shown in published application upon serving tray assembly having transport and serving configurations, as noted in published application No. US 2008/0110914. Most of these published applications have their own unique design and configuration for displaying food product, such as appetizers, and using a base that can be applied thereover, to maintain the warmth of the food, as it is being purchased and conveyed, and then provides for the cover to be applied to the bottom, to act as a collection feature, as the food product is being consumed, and there is waste material that must be disposed of, during consumption. Hence, most of these structures are of two parts, where the combined cover and base can be applied either above or below the tray, depending upon the period of time of its usage and consumption of the food product by the purchaser.
Other prior art patents relating to serving trays or the like can be seen in the United States patent to Creighton, U.S. Pat. No. 1,858,728, disclosing a cocktail server.
A patent to Ryan, U.S. Pat. No. 2,322,665, shows a child's feeding dish.
The patent to Palucci, U.S. Pat. No. 3,811,594, shows a unitary container for a food product.
The patent to Christiani, U.S. Pat. No. 4,351,164, shows a porous salad bowl including ribbed lid for cooling.
The patent to Logan, et al., shows a serving platter for pizza pan, in U.S. Pat. No. 4,865,219.
The patent to Swift, U.S. Pat. No. 5,894,944, shows another form of tray.
The patent to Sagan, U.S. Pat. No. 6,042,856, shows a shrimp container.
The patent to Brock, U.S. Pat. No. Des. 160,688, shows a multi-tray serving receptacle or similar article.
The patent to Antoni, et al., shows a compartmented food tray; it is design patent U.S. Pat. No. D312,026.
The patent to Swift, U.S. Pat. No. Des. 401,810, shows a display tray.
The patent to Strahota, et al., U.S. Pat. No. D496,831, shows a condiment carousel.
The patent to Gask, U.S. Pat. No. 5,849,378, shows a vertical right-angled package hinge.
These are examples of prior art styles of trays that include not only waste collection features, but food display, food coverage, and waste disposal, within the structure of their various embodiments.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This invention primarily relates to a food tray, but more specifically pertains to a compact nestable form of integrated food tray that incorporates waste collection features, but the trays also have all of its various components integrated into a singular structure that is nestable during shipment and storage, but can be easily folded into closure for displaying food product upon purchase and allowing a feature for waste collection, as the food is being consumed.
As is well known in the industry, and particularly in fast food establishments, but more especially at stadiums where sporting events of football, basketball, hockey, baseball, and the like, are performed, the concession industry is a very lucrative part of such events, and frequently the profit is made at those locations during sporting activities. Hence, it is desirable to have a smaller sized tray, that is of integrated structure so that all of its usable components are assembled together, and which can be readily set up for reception of, for example, chicken wings, chicken strips, nachos, and any of the other variety of appetizer-type foods, that can be readily assembled, displayed, the accompanying condiments readily provided, so that the purchaser can conveniently carry the entire item back to his/her seating location, while not being inconvenienced while conveying such delicate food products and displayed condiments, when readied for consumption. In addition, the concept of this invention is to provide an integrated structure, where its housing portion that integrally has molded therein the various spacings for the food product, whether it be any one of those as identified, and to have small integral condiment pockets, either for holding condiments directly, such as ketchup, mustard, ranch dressing, bleu cheese dressing, barbeque sauce, or any of the variety of condiments that are consumed in association with such food product, can be conveniently deposited, or the cup holding the same can be inserted therein. Thus, the tray of this invention is conveniently designed for holding all of the usable elements associated with the consumption of these types of appetizers so they can be readily displayed, consumed, and then have the added advantage of allowing for deposit and collection of any waste matter, internally of the assembled tray, so that no waste is deposited on the ground or floor, as usually occurs at sporting or other events, or even at the movie theater, where such appetizers are marketed.
Another unique feature of this invention is to provide the integration of all of the components of the tray into a singular embodiment, whereby the base of the tray, held by any hinge means, such as a living hinge, an adhesive tape, or other means for pivoting may secure the base of the housing, along one edge, and can be conveniently pivoted into closure, to close off the bottom of the tray, in readiness for usage. And, since the bottom on the tray is integrally hinged to the housing, it can be pivoted, opening laterally to the side, so that a large number of such trays can be nested together, as during transit and storage. To achieve such, all of the components of the tray have been designed having compatible canted edges, such as the side walls, the condiment pockets, the food compartment portion of the housing, so as to readily allow a large number of such trays to be nested together, for shipment, or when stored, in preparation for their usage.
The bottom of the tray can cooperate with the bottom edge of the housing, by a snap locking feature that retains the bottom in place, once the tray has been assembled and readied for usage. In this manner, it assures that no waste material will escape, once it has been deposited through the opening in the top of the housing that is provided for waste collection purposes. Furthermore, select components, such as walls, the base or bottom, and other areas of the housing, are contoured or include integral columns for reinforcement purposes, so as to assure that the tray has structural integrity and will hold up during usage, as the purchaser consumes the acquired items.
In addition, and since such a tray will be used at more public type of events, select surfaces of the tray may be readily available for the application of advertising, promotional materials, coupons, or other paraphernalia that may add to the commercial viability of the food tray, when used.
It is, therefore, the principal object of this invention to provide a food tray that can support appetizer type of food products, and the various condiments associated therewith, when readied for consumption by any purchaser at generally public events.
Another object of this invention is to provide a fully integrated food tray where all of its operative components are structurally held together, from their initial manufacture.
Another object of this invention is to provide a food tray that conveniently, but compactly and safely, displays various food products, such as chicken wings or strips, once purchased and ready for consumption, and further conveniently locates and readily displays the various condiments that are consumed therewith, in preparation for immediate usage and consumption.
A further object of this invention is to provide a convenient food tray that may be used to entice the purchaser to acquire other products because of the display of any coupons, discount notices, or the like.
Another object of this invention is to provide a compact and integrated food tray that incorporates its own waste collecting feature so that the entire tray can be readily disposed, without the spread of waste to any location other than the refuse container.
Yet another object of this invention is to provide a polymer-formed tray that can be conveniently molded as a single entity, ready for stacking, nesting, storage, in preparation for usage.
Another object is to provide a food tray where all of its various components are integrated together so that the food clerk does not have to look around for other elements to attain closure and their usage, such as those food trays that have a separate lid that must be applied individually before their usage.
These and other objects may become more apparent to those skilled in the art upon review of the invention as summarized herein, and upon undertaking a study of the description of its preferred embodiment, in view of the drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In referring to the drawings,
FIG. 1 provides an isometric view of the nestable integrated food tray with waste collection feature of this invention;
FIG. 2 is a back view thereof;
FIG. 3 is a front view;
FIG. 4 is a right side view;
FIG. 5 is a left side view;
FIG. 6 is a plan view;
FIG. 7 is a bottom view;
FIG. 8 is a modified bottom view showing the bottom of the tray being of planar configuration;
FIG. 9 is a top view of the tray showing its bottom being integrally folded laterally thereof, as in preparation for nesting of a plurality of such stacked trays;
FIG. 10 is a further top view of the tray; and
FIG. 11 is a back view of the tray showing the bottom folded laterally thereof.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
In referring to the drawings, and in particular FIG. 1, the tray 1 of this invention is readily disclosed. It includes a series of side and end walls, 2 through 5, as can be noted in FIGS. 2 through 5. As can also be seen, a series of integral columns, as at 6, can be molded into the structure, as it is fabricated, to add to the rigidity of the tray, during its application and usage. Generally, this type of tray will be vacuum or otherwise molded from a polymer, generally of a polyethylene, or polypropylene, to provide the type of sturdy tray needed for the purposes of this invention.
As can further be noted, the top wall 7 to the invention includes a series of integrated structures, such as a deep pocket 8, having a bottom wall 9, that may further be molded having various ridges, as at 10, or mounds, as at 11, to add to the reinforcement of the structured tray. It is in a pocket such as this where the food product will be deposited, by the server, as previously identified, whether it be chicken wings or strips, or other types of appetizer products that are to be marketed therewith.
The top wall 7 further includes one or more molded pouches or wells, as at 12, and into which the various condiments may either be deposited, of the type as previously explained, or a small cup holding the same, may be nested therein, to conveniently hold the condiments in place, as the food product is being dipped therein, for adding to the food product in preparation for its consumption. It can be seen that the walls of the condiment pockets are likewise contoured, as are the walls of the pocket 8, to assure that these types of trays can be conveniently nested together, as during their shipment or storage.
Further provided within the top wall 7 is a reinforced opening 13, and it is through this opening where the waste material, after consumption of the chicken wings, such as the residue bones, may be deposited internally of the tray, to provide for the waste collection feature of this invention. As can be seen, this opening 13 has reinforcement 14 molded integrally around its perimeter, so as to add to the reinforced structure of this tray, during its usage.
As can be noted in FIG. 3, the front wall may be more of a blank wall, without reinforcement, in those particular instances where coupons, advertising material, or other evidence of indicia may be applied, as may desired by the stadium, food producer, or anyone else who desires to purchase space for advertising, or for other identification purposes.
As noted in FIGS. 7 through 9, the bottom 15 of the tray may be reinforced, as through molding of the integral expanded-like grid work 16, as noted, or the bottom may be blank, as noted at 17, if such additional reinforcement may not be required. As can further be seen, in FIG. 9, the bottom 15 of the tray is hingedly applied to the bottom flange 18 of the tray housing 1, and this may be achieved generally through the usage of a living hinge 19, as can be noted, or through any other means for connection, such as the use of a tape, or the like. A related flange may be provided around the bottom 15 to provide this hinged relationship. In any event, the object of this invention, as its name infers, is to provide a fully integrated food tray, and one that may be nestable, one on top the other, as during storage and non-usage. To achieve such, the bottom must be pivoted laterally of the tray housing, as noted in FIG. 9, and then a series of such trays may be nested one on top of the other, into a very compact dimension, that allows for their convenient stacking, to facilitate their shipment or storage, in preparation for eventual usage.
As can be noted throughout the drawings for this invention, and as previously alluded to, all of the various walls, such as can be seen in FIGS. 2 through 5, or even in FIG. 11, do have some slant to their molded configuration, including their various reinforcement 6, so as to assure that all of these trays, and particularly their housings, may be nested together, when they are stacked one on top of the other, as during such storage. This greatly lessens the space required for storing these trays, before they are set up for usage.
All the vendor need do, when a food item has been ordered and purchased by a consumer, is simply take the next tray off the stack, fold the bottom so that it tucks into the bottom of the housing 1, and since the edges, such as at 20, have a snap locking engagement with the interior bottom of the housing, as at 21, the bottom will be held firmly in place, and not inadvertently opened, as the food product is being consumed, and its waste is being deposited through the opening 13, interiorly therein for collection and eventual disposal. Any type of slight bulge or knob, as molded at 20, and which snaps into a corresponding depression, as provided at 21, may furnish such snap locking feature. These may be located at a variety of positions around the perimeter of the bottom, to assure that snap locking occurs at a variety of locations to assure holding of the bottom in place, during usage.
Variations or modifications to this subject matter of this invention may occur to those skilled in the art upon review of the disclosure as provided herein. Such variations, if within the spirit of this invention, are intended to be encompassed within the scope of any claims to patent protection issuing herein. The illustration of the invention in the drawings, and its description in the specification, is set forth illustrative purposes only.
Patent applications in class Noncircular receptacles (e.g., trays)
Patent applications in all subclasses Noncircular receptacles (e.g., trays)