Package

Food packages comprising a tray with a cover sealed about a surrounding flange of the tray are provided, where the flange is non-planar. The flange can have a planar leading edge and a planar trailing edge that lie in planes angled relative to each other. Side edges of the flange extending between the leading and trailing edges can include non-planar segments in addition to planar segments. A recloseable feature can also be provided with the cover.

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Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 81/608,081, filed Mar. 7, 2012, and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 61/683,101, filed Aug. 14, 2012, both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

FIELD

This description relates to a package having a tray and a cover; and more specifically to a package having a tray with a non-planar flange and a cover or lid sealed to the non-planar flange of the tray.

Packages made of flexible material having a tray or other rigid structure therein are commonly used to store products during transportation, display, and consumption by a user. A common type of prior package is mass-produced from a web of film material with a lid or cover material adhered to peripheral flanges thereof to seal the tray. Such mass-produced packages typically have a planar or flat, symmetric seal flange disposed about the tray for sealing of the cover. While planar flanges of trays of food packages are common, they disadvantageously lack distinctiveness due to many other similarly configured trays. Moreover, they disadvantageously limit the continuous visible surface area of the cover, which in turn can limit the amount of indicia that can be disposed thereon. Another disadvantage of such packages is that they often are of a rectangular shape, whereas the food products are of a non-rectangular shape, thereby resulting in excess packaging. Mass-produced packages can also disadvantageously have excess headspace and excess room for food products stored therein to move.

SUMMARY

A package is described herein that reduces the amount of material used for its construction by at least partially conforming to the contents stored therein. The package includes a rigid or semi-rigid tray that includes a bottom wall, a rear wall, and a pair of side walls. The walls are configured so that the tray has an opening on at least two faces, such as front and top faces, that are inclined at an angle of less than one hundred eighty degrees relative to each other. The opening is defined by free edges of the walls, including a front edge of the bottom wall, a top edge of the rear wall, and edges of the side walls. The tray further optionally includes a peripheral flange that extends from the free edges thereof, such as inwardly or outwardly therefrom. The peripheral flange provides sealing surfaces for adhering to a cover or for otherwise engaging with a cover that covers the opening to the tray.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of a container showing a tray with a cover sealed to an outwardly extending flange thereof;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a tray for the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the tray of FIG. 3 showing two rows of food products therein;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the tray of FIG. 3 with a cover partially sealed thereto and two rows of food products therein;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of the container of FIG. 1 showing two products contained therein;

FIG. 7 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 8 is at left side elevational view of the container of FIG. 1; the right side elevational view being a mirror image;

FIG. 9 is a rear elevational view of the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 10 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 1;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a container showing a tray with a cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 12 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a tray for the container of FIG. 11;

FIG. 14 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 11;

FIG. 15 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 11;

FIG. 16 is a rear elevational view of the container of FIG. 11;

FIG. 17 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 11;

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of a container showing a tray with a cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 19 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 18, the left side elevational view being a mirror image;

FIG. 20 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 18;

FIG. 21 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 18 with the container in a vertical orientation resting on a sidewall;

FIG. 22 is a front elevational -view of the container of FIG. 18 showing an opening feature in a closed configuration;

FIG. 23 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 22 showing the opening feature in an open configuration;

FIG. 24 is an exploded view of a container showing a tray, a row of food products, a cover with a scored opening therein, and a sealing label for covering the opening;

FIG. 25 is an exploded view of a container showing a tray, a row of food products, a cover with small and large scored openings therein, and a sealing label with corresponding small and large portions for covering the small and large openings;

FIG. 26 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 24 showing the sealing label in a closed configuration;

FIG. 27 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 24 showing the sealing label in an open configuration;

FIG. 28 is a rear elevational view of the container of FIG. 18, the front elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 29 is an alternative rear elevational view of the container of FIG. 18, the front elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 30 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 18;

FIG. 31 is a perspective view of a fourth embodiment of a container showing a tray with a cover sealed thereto in a single serving form;

FIG. 32 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 31;

FIG. 33 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 31, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 34 is a rear elevational view of the container of FIG. 31;

FIG. 35 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 31;

FIG. 36 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 31;

FIG. 37 is a perspective view of a fifth embodiment of a container showing a tray with a cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 38 is a cross-sectional view of the container of FIG. 37 showing two products therein;

FIG. 39 is a rear elevational view of the container of FIG. 37;

FIG. 40 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 37;

FIG. 41 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 37, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 42 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 37;

FIG. 43 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 37;

FIG. 44 is a perspective view of a sixth embodiment of a container showing a tray with a cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 45 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 44, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 46 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 44, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 47 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 44;

FIG. 48 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 44;

FIG. 49 is a perspective view of a seventh embodiment of a container showing a tray with a cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 50 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 49, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 51 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 49;

FIG. 52 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 49, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 53 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 49;

FIG. 54 is a perspective view of an eighth embodiment of a container showing a tray with a cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 55 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 54, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 56 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 54, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 57 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 54;

FIG. 58 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 54;

FIG. 59 is a perspective view of a ninth embodiment of a container showing a cup with a concave cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 60 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 59, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 61 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 59;

FIG. 62 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 59, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 63 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 59;

FIG. 64 is a perspective view of a tenth embodiment of a container showing a cup with a convex cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 65 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 64, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 66 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 64;

FIG. 67 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 64, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 68 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 64;

FIG. 69 is a perspective view of a eleventh embodiment of a container showing a cup with a convex cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 70 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 69, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 71 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 69;

FIG. 72 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 69, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 73 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 69;

FIG. 74 is a perspective view of a twelfth embodiment of a container showing a cup with a convex cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 75 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 74, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 76 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 74;

FIG. 77 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 74, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 78 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 74;

FIG. 79 is a perspective view of a thirteenth embodiment of a container showing a rectangular cup with a concave cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 80 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 79, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 81 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 79;

FIG. 82 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 79, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 83 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 79;

FIG. 84 is a perspective view of a fourteenth embodiment of a container showing a rectangular cup with a convex cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 85 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 84, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 86 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 84;

FIG. 87 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 84, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 88 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 84;

FIG. 89 is a perspective view of a fifteenth embodiment of a container showing a semi-hemispherical cop with a convex cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 90 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 89, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 91 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 89;

FIG. 92 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 89, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 93 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 89;

FIG. 94 is a perspective view of a sixteenth embodiment of a container showing a semi-hemispherical cup with a concave cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 95 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 94, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 96 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 94;

FIG. 97 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 94, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 98 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 94;

FIG. 99 is a perspective view of a seventeenth embodiment of a container showing a track-shaped cup with a convex cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 100 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 99, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 101 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 99;

FIG. 102 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 99, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 103 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 99;

FIG. 104 is a perspective view of a eighteenth embodiment of a container showing a curved tray with a complementary curved cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 105 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 104, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 106 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 104;

FIG. 107 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 104, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 108 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 104;

FIG. 109 is a perspective view of a nineteenth embodiment of a container showing a curved tray with a complementary curved cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 110 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 109, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 111 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 109;

FIG. 112 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 109, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 113 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 109;

FIG. 114 is a perspective view of a twentieth embodiment of a container showing a curved heart-shaped tray with a complementary curved cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 115 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 114;

FIG. 116 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 114;

FIG. 117 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 114, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 118 is a rear elevational view of the container of FIG. 114;

FIG. 119 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 114;

FIG. 120 is a perspective view of a twenty first embodiment of a container showing a curved heart-shaped tray with a complementary curved cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 121 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 120;

FIG. 122 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 120;

FIG. 123 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 120, the rear elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 124 is a left side elevational view of the container of FIG. 120;

FIG. 125 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 120;

FIG. 126 is a perspective view of a twenty second embodiment of a container with an upwardly curved end showing a triangle-shaped tray with a complementary shaped cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 127 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 126;

FIG. 128 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 126, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 129 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 126;

FIG. 130 is a rear elevational view of the container of FIG. 126;

FIG. 131 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 126;

FIG. 132 is a perspective view of a twenty third embodiment of a container with an upwardly curved end showing a rectangular-shaped tray with a complementary shaped cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 133 is a rear elevational view of the container of FIG. 132;

FIG. 134 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 132;

FIG. 135 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 132, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 136 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 132;

FIG. 137 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 132;

FIG. 138 is a perspective view of a twenty fourth embodiment of a container with an upwardly curved end showing a rectangular-shaped tray with a complementary shaped cover sealed thereto;

FIG. 139 is a front elevational view of the container of FIG. 138;

FIG. 140 is a right side elevational view of the container of FIG. 138, the left side elevational view thereof being a mirror image;

FIG. 141 is a top plan view of the container of FIG. 138;

FIG. 142 is a rear elevational view of the container of FIG. 138;

FIG. 143 is a bottom plan view of the container of FIG. 138;

FIG. 144 is a perspective view of a tray similar to the tray of FIG. 1, but having an inwardly extending flange for a cover to seal thereto;

FIG. 145 is a perspective view of a tray similar to the tray of FIG. 1, but with a cover having a permanent adhesive along a back portion thereof and a resealable adhesive along a front portion thereof with the front portion pulled away from the tray in use;

FIG. 146 is a perspective view of a tray similar to the tray of FIG. 1, but with a cover having a permanent adhesive along a front portion thereof and a resealable adhesive along a back portion thereof with the back portion pulled away from the tray in use;

FIG. 147 is a perspective view of a tray similar to the tray of FIG. 1, but with a cover having a permanent adhesive along a middle portion thereof and a resealable adhesive along front and back portions thereof with the front and back portions pulled away from the tray in use;

FIG. 148 is a perspective view of a tray similar to the tray of FIG. 1, but with a snap-fit cover aligned thereto and an optional film removably adhered to the tray beneath the cover;

FIG. 149 is a detailed section view of the tray of FIG. 148 taken along a side edge thereof, but showing the lid attached to the tray;

FIG. 150 is a cross-sectional view of a container similar to the container of FIG. 1, but with a divider wall separating two rows of products therein;

FIG. 151 is a cross-sectional view of a container similar to the container of FIG. 150, but with an alternative divider wall resulting in a gap between two compartments separated by the wall and an optional backer attached to the bottoms of the two compartments;

FIG. 152 is a perspective view of a tray similar to the tray of the container of FIG. 1, but showing a score line between removable portion of the flange of the tray and the remainder of the tray;

FIG. 153 is a cross-sectional view of a container similar to the container of FIG. 1, but incorporating the tray of FIG. 152, and showing the removable portion of the flange having been separated along the score line from the remainder of the tray and the cover being opened to access the interior of the container;

FIG. 154 is a cross-sectional view of the container of FIG. 153, but showing the removable portion of the flange being used to secure the cover in a reclosed position;

FIG. 155 is a left side elevational view of a container similar to the container of FIG. 1, but having a series of linear segments connecting the front and top sides thereof instead of the arcuate segment of the container of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 156 is a perspective view of the container of FIG. 155.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A container 10 having the form shown in FIGS. 1-43, includes a tray 11 having a cover 12 attached thereto configured to receive and store contents, such as discrete food articles or products 13. The tray 11 includes a bottom wall 14, a rear wall 16, and a pair of side walls 18. The walls 14, 16, 18 of the tray 11 are preferably integrally connected so that the tray 11 has a one-piece construction. For example, the tray 11 can be thermoformed, injection-molded, blow-molded, or the like. The bottom wall 14 connects to the rear wall 16 at a bottom rear corner 20 of the tray 11. The side walls 18 preferably extend generally parallel to each other and individually connect to the bottom and rear walls 14, 16 at bottom side corners 22 and rear side corners 24 of the tray. As shown in the figures, the corners 20, 22, 24 are preferably rounded. Even more preferably, the side walls 18 have a substantially identical size and shape, so that the cover 12 extending between corresponding points of the side walls 18 is substantially horizontal.

So configured, the tray 11 includes an access opening 26 defined by free edges 27 of the bottom, rear, and side walls 14, 16, 18. The free edges 27 include a front edge 28 of the bottom wall 14, a top edge 30 of the rear wall 16, and edges 32 of the side walls 18 opposite the bottom and rear walls 14, 16. The opening 26 can include a top opening portion 34 generally opposite the bottom wall 14 and a front opening portion 36 generally opposite the rear wall 16. In one form, the tray 11 is configured to rest on the bottom wall 14. As such, a consumer can access and remove the food products 13 forwardly, upwardly, or at an angle therebetween. Alternatively or in addition, the tray 11 can be configured to stably rest on one of the side walls 18 in a vertical orientation.

The tray 11 further includes a peripheral flange 38 that extends outwardly, and preferably generally perpendicular to the adjacent wall 14, 16, 18, from the free edges 27 thereof. Alternatively, the flange 38 can extend inwardly from the walls, as shown in FIG. 144, or the upwardly facing edges of the walls could be utilized without additional width added by a flange. In the alternative form with an inwardly-extending flange 38, the tray 11 can be blow-molded to form the inwardly extending flange 38, although other suitable manufacturing techniques can also be used. The peripheral flange 38 is preferably continuous about the entirety of the opening 26 to provide a continuous sealing surface 40 for the cover 12 to be attached and sealed to the tray 11. The peripheral flange 38 includes a top portion 42 that extends along the top edge 30 of the rear wall 16 and a front portion 44 that extends along the front edge 28 of the bottom wall 14. In the illustrated form, the top and front portions 42, 44 of the peripheral flange 38 are substantially planar. Side portions 46 of the peripheral flange 38 extend between the top and front portions 42, 44 along the side wall edges 32. In the inwardly extending form of the flange 38 shown in FIG. 144, the cover 12 can seal thereto so that there is optionally little or no outwardly extending edges of the cover 12 or flange 38 extending beyond the walls 14, 16, 18 of the tray 11. This gives the tray 11 of this form a streamlined appearance.

Utilizing a variety of adhesives types and/or strengths between the flange 38 and the cover 12 can provide different utility for the package 10. In a first example, shown in FIG. 145, the cover 12 can seal to the tray 11 with a releaseable or resealable adhesive 15 on portions thereof corresponding to the front opening portion 36 and a permanent adhesive 17 on portions thereof corresponding to the top opening portion 34. In other words, the cover 12 includes a first part sealed to the tray with a first adhesive having a first adhesive strength and a second part sealed to a different part of the tray with a second adhesive having a second adhesive strength. The first adhesive strength can then be greater than the second adhesive strength, such as with a generally permanent adhesive and a releasable/resealable adhesive.

As such, a consumer can peel the cover away from the tray 11 to expose the front opening portion 36 and the permanent adhesive 17 prevents or limits the top portion of the cover 12 from peeling away from the flange 38 to the same degree as the front portion of the cover. In an opposite configuration, shown in FIG. 146, the cover 12 can seal to the tray 11 with the releaseable or resealable adhesive 15 on the portions thereof corresponding to the top opening portion 34 and the permanent adhesive 17 on the portions thereof corresponding to the front opening portion 36. By this configuration, a consumer can peel the cover 12 off of the tray to expose the top opening portion 34 with the permanent adhesive 17 preventing full removal. By a further approach, the permanent adhesive 17 can be applied only on the mid or other portions of a pair of opposing flanges, as shown in FIG. 147, such as on the top linear portions 50 adjacent the arcuate portions 48 to allow a front part and a rear part of the cover 12 to be independently opened to selectively expose either or both the top and front opening portions 34, 36, but also restricting full removal of the cover 12. It will be understood that FIGS. 145-147 show the adhesive in exaggerated form on the top of the cover 12 as well as the bottom for illustrative purposes. In the case of a non-transparent cover 12, the adhesive would not be visible on the outside of the cover 12.

If desired, the cover 12 can optionally have a line or lines of weakness extending thereacross, such as a line or pattern of perforations, a line or pattern of scores, or combinations thereof. With such a configuration, the line of weakness can be utilized as a folding mechanism or hinge to allow a consumer easier access to the interior of the package. Alternatively, or in combination, the line of weakness can allow a consumer to tear off a portion of the cover to provide unencumbered access to the interior of the package. Such lines of weakness can be used in combination with any of the containers described herein, including with respect to those containers shown in FIGS. 145-147.

In a preferred form, the free edges 32 of the side walls 18 include a non-linear or arcuate portion 48, which can include curves or angled portions. Alternatively, the sidewall edges 32 can be entirely arcuate. As shown in FIGS. 1-43, the side wall free edges 32 can include top and front linear portions 50, 52 with the arcuate portion 48 therebetween. If desired, the front linear portion 52 can be offset from vertical so that the front of the tray 11, and specifically the front opening portion 36, is angled to present an upwardly turned front face.

Configured as set forth, the peripheral flange side portions 46 include non-planar or arcuate sealing surfaces 54 intermediate of the top and front portions 42, 44. Thus, the peripheral flange 38 includes substantially planar portions with the top and front portions 42, 44 and non-planar portions 54. Stated another way, an intersection of lines drawn along the planes of the planar portions 42, 44 make an angle of at least ten degrees. When the cover 12 is sealed, adhered, or otherwise attached to the tray 11, the cover 12 includes corresponding planar 57 and arcuate portions 59 stretching between the corresponding side wall edges 32 and sealed at its top and front along the peripheral flange top and front portions 42, 44.

As such, the front opening portion 36, discussed above, can refer to an opening defined by the tray 11 and cover 12 with the cover 12 sealed to the top portion 42 and opened to extend generally along the plane of the top portion 42. Similarly, the top opening portion 34 can refer to an opening defined by the tray 11 and cover 12 with the cover sealed to the front portion 44 and opened to extend generally along the plane of the front portion 44.

By another approach, a snap-fit cover 41 can be configured to attach to the tray 11 as shown in FIGS. 148 and 149. In this form, the cover 41 is preferably generally rigid, but with sufficient resiliency so that it can snap-fit over the flange 38 of the tray and seal the contents of the tray 11 therein. The cover 41 can be made out of any suitable material, such as a suitably rigid blow-molded or thermoformed plastic. The cover 41 of this form includes a base wall 43 and a skirt 45 depending from outer edges of the base wall 43. The skirt 45 includes an inwardly projecting rib or protuberance 49 configured to snap-fit over the flange 38 of the tray 11 and secure the cover 41 thereto, as shown in FIG. 149. The cover 41 is shown with the tray 11 shown in FIG. 3 and has a corresponding shape to cover the top and front of the tray 11, but the cover 41 can be configured as desired to snap-fit to other trays described herein.

The tray 11 having the snap-fit cover 41 thereon can optionally have a film 51 sealed to the flanges 38 of the tray 11 beneath the cover 41. As such, even if the cover 41 was removed, the film 51 would preserve a seal over the contents of the package 10 prior to opening.

In yet another approach for opening a closing the container, shown in FIGS. 152 and 153, the tray 11 can include a detachable portion 71 of the flange 38. The detachable portion 71 of the flange 38 can be separable from the remainder of the flange along a line of weakness 73 therebetween. Preferably, though not necessarily, the detachable portion 71 of the flange 38 includes some or all of either the top portion 42 of the flange 38 or the front portion 44 of the flange 38. Some of the other portions of the flange 38, such the side flange portions 48, 50 and 52 can be included with the detachable portion 71. As shown in the exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 152 and 153, the detachable portion 71 includes the entirety of the length of the front portion 44 of the flange 38, as well as adjacent parts of the side flange portions 48 and 52, but not a substantial part of the side flange portion 50 adjacent the top portion 42 of the flange 38.

When the detachable portion 71 of the flange 38 is separated from the remainder of the flange 38, the cover 12 preferable remains adhered to the detachable portion 71, optionally with a stronger adhesive as compared to between the cover 12 and the remainder of the flange 38 or the top portion 42 of the flange 38. This allows the detachable portion 71 to be used as a tab for opening the cover 12. In addition, the detachable portion 71 can be used for securing the cover 12 in a reclosed position. As shown in FIG. 154, it is preferred that there is a slight gap in the seal of the cover 12 and at least the attached portion of what was part of the front portion 44 of the flange 38 but is now part of the detachable portion 71. This gap can be used to receive the remainder of the front portion 44 of the flange 39 to secure the cover 12 in the reclosed position.

One advantage of this configuration is that the cover 12 or 41, when it is attached to the tray 12, can provide an unbroken (i.e., free of a discontinuity such as folds, corners, lips, etc.) surface, the entirety of which can be seen in an almost 90 degree view area. This is particularly advantageous when the package 10 is displayed for sale on a shelf, such as at a grocery store or convenience store. The 90 degree viewing area will provide a consumer with an unbroken view of the cover, and any graphics, advertisements, text, or the like thereon generally regardless of the consumer's height. This provides a greater unbroken area for graphics, indicia, and other information to be displayed than compared to traditional packages having distinct tops and sides.

The cover 12 provides a better viewing surface if it is substantially wrinkle free over its entire surface area. This can be achieved with relatively thicker materials, such as paperboard, a relatively high gauge film, or thin semi-rigid or rigid plastic. Such materials, however, increase the material costs of each package 10. Another wrinkle-free cover can be a relatively low gauge film. With such a low gauge film, the package 10 can have its atmosphere modified during manufacture thereof, so that the sealed interior of the package has a positive pressure with respect to ambient pressure. The positive pressure presses against the chin film and smoothes out any wrinkles in the film formed as a result of the film lacking support interior of the peripheral flange 38.

In an alternative to having an arcuate segment 48 of the flange 38, a series of linear intermediate portions 61 can span between the top 42 and front 44 portions of the tray 11, as shown in FIGS. 8A and 8B. The series of linear intermediate portions 61 are at non-parallel angles to one another and to the top and front portions 42, 44. As such, the sealing surface 40 of the tray 11 of this form do not have arcuate portions or do not have only arcuate portions. As such, the cover 12 can have one or more creases or folds 65 extending thereacross and aligning with corners 63 joining the linear intermediate portions 61. For this and other trays, the free edges have first and second portions that are angularly offset from one another. They can either be directly connected or spaced by either one or more continuous arcuate segments, a series of linear or planar angular segments or a combination thereof. For example, as can be seen in FIG. 8A, the top and front linear or planar portions 42, 44 are angularly offset relative to each other, e.g., they lie in non-parallel planes. In FIG. 8A, the top and front linear portions 42, 44 are spanned by the series of intermediate portions 61, while in FIG. 8 they are spanned by arcuate portions 59.

Turning now to specific forms of the tray, many different configurations are possible, examples of which are set forth herein. In a first form, the tray 11 is configured to receive a row 55 of products 13. An ideal product for being stored in the tray 11 is a cookie or biscuit with a generally annular sidewall 56. The cookies 13 can be individual or layered with a filling, as shown. The tray 11, however, can be configured to receive any other food product, or other non-edible products. For example, a food product contained within individual wrapping or an individual container can also be stored in the tray 11. The cooties 13 are stacked and laid in the row 55 on their sides within the tray 11.

With such products having generally annular sidewalls 56, the bottom rear corner 20 of the tray 11 can be curved to be complementary to the curvature of the sides 56 of the cookies 13. This curvature can advantageously minimize packaging material and better support the cookies 13 to protect the cookies from damage that can result from cookies jostling around or impacting the tray 11 or other cookies due to excess room in the tray 11.

The bottom rear corner 20 can take a number of forms. In a first form, shown in FIGS. 1-10 and 31-36, the bottom wall 14 and the rear wall 16 are generally perpendicular to one another so that the corner 20 is a rounded generally 90 degree angle. In other forms, shown in FIGS. 11-30, the bottom wall 14 and the rear wall 16 are at an acute angle with respect to one another. As such, the corner 20 is rounded to be between 90 degrees and 180 degrees. If desired, the bottom and rear walls 14, 16 could extend generally parallel to one another so that the rounded corner spans about 180 degrees.

In order to retain the cookies 13 within the tray 11 when the opening 26 is uncovered, the bottom wall 14 can include an upwardly tapering front portion or lip 58. The upward taper of the lip 58 prevents the cookies 13 from rolling out of the front opening portion 36 when the tray 11 is resting on a generally even surface. In the form of FIG. 6, the lip 58 is a generally planar portion of the bottom wall 14. Preferably, the lip 58 begins tapering upward at a position closely adjacent to a bottom point of contact 60 of the cookies 13 so that the cookies 13 do not have significant space to move while contained within the tray 11.

In another form shown in FIG. 38, the bottom wall 14 includes an upwardly curved front portion or lip 62. With such a curved lip 62, the front of the tray 11 can be curved to be complementary to the curvature of the annular sidewall 56 in addition to the bottom rear corner 20. As with the tapering lip 58, the curved lip 62 preferably begins curving upwardly closely adjacent to the bottom point of contact 60 of the cookies 13. In an alternate form, instead of the lip 58, 62, the tray 11 can include a front wall, such as with a relatively small height, to prevent the food products 13 from rolling or falling out of the front of the tray 11.

The trays 11 in FIGS. 1-10 and 37-43 are sized to receive two rows of products 13 therein. The tray 11 can be configured so that the bottom wall 14 is generally planar rearwardly of the lip 58, 62. As such, the rows 55 of cookies 13 lie adjacent to one another without additional structure therebetween.

In an alternative form shown in FIG. 41, the bottom wall 14 can include an upwardly projecting divider 64 to separate the rows 55 from each other. The divider 64 can be formed in the bottom wall 14 or attached thereto by suitable methods, such as adhesive, hot sealing, ultrasonic welding, or the like. Preferably, forwardly and rearwardly facing surfaces 66, 68 of the divider 64 are curved to be complementary to the annular sidewall 56 of the cookies 13. As such, the rear row 55 is captured between the rearwardly facing surface 68 of the divider 64 and the bottom rear corner 20 of the tray 11 and the front row 55 is captured between the forwardly facing surface 66 of the divider 64 and the lip 58, 62. In other forms, shown in FIGS. 11-36, the tray 11 is sized to receive a single row 55 of cookies 13. As such, in this form, the single row 55 is captured between the bottom rear corner 20 of the tray 11 and the lip 58, 62.

Additional options for separating the rows 55 of products from one another are shown in FIGS. 150 and 151. The tray 11 can include a dividing wall 65 extending upwardly from the tray bottom wall 14. The dividing wall 65 can optionally extend the full height of the tray 11 and have an upwardly facing sealing surface 69. As such, the cover 12 can seal to the sealing surface 69 of the dividing wall 65 along with the flange 38 of the tray 11. The result is that two separate compartments, each optionally individually accessible, can be formed using the dividing wall 65. The dividing wall 65 can be integral with the tray 11 or be a separate component attached to the tray 11 by a suitable method, such as adhesive. Multiple dividing walls 65 can be used to provide more than two compartments, such as two dividing walls 65 for three compartments, three dividing walls 65 for four compartments, etc.

In the example of FIG. 150, the dividing wall 65 extends generally parallel to the rear wall 16 to divide the tray interior into two portions to receive the rows 55. If desired, the dividing wall 65 can include tapering or curved surfaces 67 on a bottom thereof to partially support the cookies 13, as described above with respect to the divider 64.

In the example of FIG. 151, the dividing wall 65 is formed from an inverted U-shaped portion of the bottom wall of the tray 11. The result of the inverted, generally U-shaped portion is a flat region at the bottom of the U-shape (upper portion in the inverted orientation of FIG. 151) to provide the upwardly facing sealing surface 69. At the top of the U-shape (lower portion in the inverted orientation of FIG. 151), there is a gap between the legs of the U-shape. Such an inverted U-shaped dividing wall 65 lends the tray 11 to manufacture by thermoforming, although other methods of manufacture can be used. An optional backing card 25 can be adhered to the bottom wall of each compartment of the tray 11 in order to provide additional rigidity to the container, such as by limiting pivoting of the compartments relative to each other about the region of the sealing surface 69 of the dividing wall 65.

These multiple-compartment examples of the tray 11 can further include the first and second adhesives discussed above. For example, the first adhesive, which can be a generally permanent adhesive, can be used on sealing surface 69 of the dividing wall 65 and the second adhesive, which can be a releasable/resealable adhesive, can be used on one or both of the other portions of the peripheral flange 38.

The containers of FIGS. 150 and 151 can optionally be configured to have the two compartments separable from each other. For example, a line of weakness 19 can be formed in the cover 12 of the container of FIG. 150 on one side of the dividing wall 65, and a line of weakness 21 can be formed in the bottom wall of the tray 11 on the same side of the dividing wall 65. The right-side compartment of the container of FIG. 150 can be separated from the left-side compartment along the lines of weakness 19 and 21. This will result in the right-side compartment being opened for access to the food product 13 therein, and the left-side compartment remaining sealed. The lines of weakness 19 and 21 can alternatively be moved to the opposite side of the dividing wall 65, or can be placed on both sides of the dividing wall 65. With respect to the example of FIG. 151, a line of weakness 19 can be formed in the cover 12 adjacent the sealing surface 69 of the U-shaped dividing wall 65 as well as another line of weakness 23 in the underlying portion of the dividing wall 65. If present, the backing card 25 can have a line of weakness 29 in the gap of the dividing wall 65. The lines of weakness 19, 23 and 29 can be broken to divide the container into two compartments, which can remain sealed after their division.

These examples of the tray 11 discussed with respect to FIGS. 150 and 151 can further include the first and second adhesives discussed above. For example, the first adhesive, which can be a generally permanent adhesive, can be used to secure the cover to one or both of the rear and front walls 77, 89 or another such divider, and the second adhesive, which can be a releasable/resealable adhesive, can be used on the other portions of the peripheral flange 38. Further, the use of dividing walls 65 can be used with any of the containers described herein.

If desired and as shown in FIGS. 11-17, the tray 11 can include one or more outward protrusions or feet 53 configured to extend from the rear wall 16 and/or the corner 20. The protrusions 53 can be integral with the tray 11 or attached thereto by any suitable methods. The protrusions 53 provide support for a position of stability of the tray 11 (i.e., resting on the bottom wall 14). In the illustrated form, the tray 11 includes two spaced protrusions 53, but can have more or can utilize wider protrusions as desired. The protrusions 53 are ideally configured to support a tray, such as that shown in FIGS. 11-17, that contains only a single row of products 55.

Each of the tray designs includes one or more positions of stability (i.e., the packages stably rest in the position). For example, the tray 11 of FIGS. 1-10 can be rested on the bottom wall 14, each of the sidewalls 18, and on its top resting on the peripheral flange top portions 42, 50; the tray of FIGS. 11-17 can rest on either the bottom or rear walls 14, 16 with the protrusions 57 providing support for either position; and the tray of FIGS. 18-30 can rest on either sidewall 18, with the side flange portions 48, 50, 52 providing support for the positions of stability on the sidewalls 18. As shown in FIG. 21, the flange 38 can further be cut or shaped to hold the package 11 at an angle.

By one approach, the tray 11 can include ribs or undulations 70 thereon. The ribs 70 can add strength to the compression and stacking strength of the tray 11. In addition, the ribs/undulations 70 can provide a visual indication of the number of products 13 within the tray 11. For example, the tray 11 can include one rib/undulation 70 for, and aligned with, some or all of the individual products 13 within the tray 11. If desired, the undulations 70 can be sized and spaced to receive a user's fingers therein as a grip portion for the package 10. In the form where the tray 11 receives the row 55 of products 13, the undulations 70 can extend in the machine direction—i.e. front to back along the bottom wall 14 and bottom to top along the rear wall 16. With this configuration, the undulations 70 extend generally parallel to the annular sidewalls 56 of the products 13. As shown, the ribs/undulations 70 do not extend to the rear bottom corner 20. If desired, however, the ribs or undulations 70 can extend continuously from the bottom wall 14 to the rear wall 16 through the corner 20. The undulations 70 can extend along the entire width of the tray 11 or along portions thereof.

As discussed previously, the cover 12 is sealed to the peripheral flange 38 of the tray 11. This can be achieved by any suitable method, including hot, cold, induction, and adhesive sealing. In order to access the products 13, a user can partially or completely remove the cover 12 to expose the opening 26.

By one approach, a pressure sensitive adhesive or the like can be used to seal the cover 12 to the tray 11 so that the cover 12 can be re-adhered to the tray 11 during sequential consumption of the products 13. As such, the cover 12 can include the adhesive coated along a perimeter thereof, or the adhesive can be coated on the peripheral flange 38. Alternatively, less than the whole cover 12 can be configured to be opened to allow a consumer access to the products 13 within the tray.

One example configuration is shown in FIGS. 21-23. In this form, an opening feature 72 includes a tab 74 projecting outwardly from the peripheral flange 38, such as at or closely adjacent to one of the sidewalls 18. The tab 74 is configured to be grasped by a consumer and manipulated over itself to pull across the cover 12. The tab 74 can be separate from the peripheral flange 38 or integral therewith. For the integral form, to ease separation of the tab 74 from the rest of the peripheral flange 38, the opening feature 74 can include a notch or weakened/scored line or pattern 76 so that manipulating the tab 74 back over the cover 12 breaks the tab 74 from the rest of the peripheral flange 38. The notch 76 can be cut into the flange 38 or a line of weakness can be scored or cut across the tab 74 where the tab 74 joins the rest of the peripheral flange 38, such as by laser or mechanical methods. The cover 12 preferably extends onto the tab 74 so that when the tab 74 is separated from the tray 11, the tab 74 can then be used to tear the cover 12 generally in the machine direction across the cover 12. When the tab 74 is pulled a sufficient distance to tear an access opening 79 in the cover 12, a consumer can remove one or more products 13 from the tray 11.

Preferably, the cover 12 includes score lines 81 thereacross generally aligned with the tab 74 to define a flap 83. So configured, when a user manipulates the tab 74 back over the cover 12, the cover 12 tears along the score lines 81 to reveal the access opening 79. When a desired number of products 13 have been removed, the consumer can then bring the tab 74 back to its original position to cover the access opening 79. Preferably, the tab 74 includes a resealable adhesive aligned with the peripheral flange 38 so that the opening feature 72 can be resealed.

In an alternative form shown in FIGS. 24-27, an opening feature 78 includes an access opening 80 extending across a portion of the cover 12, such as in the machine direction adjacent to one of the sidewalls 18. The access opening 80 is preferably defined by score lines 85 so that the cover 12 includes a flap 82 of material scored therein that can open cleanly along defined edges and not cause uncontrolled tears across the cover 12. Preferably, the score lines 85 end in a shepard's hook or curve 87 at ends thereof.

Next, the opening feature 78 can include a sealing layer or label 84 adhered to the cover 12 so that the label 84 completely surrounds the access opening 80. The label 84 can further include a tab 86 that projects past the peripheral flange 38 to be easily grasped by a consumer on an opposite side of the opening 80 of the curves 87. As such, when a consumer grasps the tab 86 and pulls the label 84 across the cover 12, the label 84 breaks the score lines 85 defining the opening 80, if attached, and pulls the flap 82 away from the rest of the cover 12 until the curves 87 are reached to expose the opening 80. The curves 87 prevent the sealing label 84 from being removed from the package 11. Then, when a desired number of cookies 13 have been removed through the opening 80, a consumer can lay the label 84 back across the cover 12 to reseal around the opening to preserve and store any remaining cookies 13.

In another form, the cover 12 can be constructed from a two-ply material, such as a two-ply film, and the sealing layer or label 84 can be cut or scored from a top layer of the film and the access opening 80 can be out or scored from a lower layer of the film inwardly of the label 84. In this form, the tab 86 can also be cut or scored from the top layer of film so that a consumer can grasp the tab 86 and pull the label 84 away from the remaining portions of the cover 12. The label 84 breaks along its edges and, due to the adhesive between the layers, pulls the flap 82 up therewith, exposing the opening 80 so that a consumer can access the cookies 13 within the package 10. Similarly, the label 84 outward of the flap 82 can have a resealable adhesive disposed thereon (or disposed on the corresponding lower layer of film) so that a consumer can reapply the label 84 over the opening 80 and seal the label 84 thereto.

The package shown in FIG. 25 includes the smaller opening feature 78 discussed above, as well as a larger opening feature 91 surrounding the smaller feature 78. In this form, the package 11 includes a large sealing layer or label 91 having a tab 93, of which the smaller sealing label 84 is a part. The large sealing label 91 is preferably about the size of the cover 12 to cover substantially all the surface area of the cover 12. Alternatively, the large sealing label 91 could cover 75 percent, 50 percent, or less. Moreover, the smaller sealing label 84 can be a separate label adhered on top of the large label 91, if desired.

Next, the cover 12 includes a large score or cut line 95 that defines a large access opening 97. The ends of the score line 95 preferably include the curves 87 so that the large sealing label 91 is not removed from the package 11 when it is opened. So configured, if a consumer desires more than one or two cookies 13, the consumer can grasp the tab 93 and pull the large sealing label 91 back across the cover 12. As the label 91 is pulled back the score lines 95 break so that a flap 99 adheres to the sealing label 91 and pulls back with it. Therefore, the access opening 97 is revealed so the consumer can access substantially all of the products 13. Advantageously, if a consumer wants less, then the consumer can simply use the smaller sealing label 84. The large sealing label 84 can take either form discussed above.

The opening features are described above with respect to FIGS. 21-27, but it will be understood that the opening features can be similarly utilized on any of the packages described herein.

In an alternative form of the package 10, the bottom and rear walls 14, 16 are connected by an intermediate wall 88. As shown in FIGS. 44-48, the sidewalls 18 can have a small non-planar or arcuate portion 48 and relatively longer linear portions 50, 52, so that the sidewall 18 has a generally triangular appearance. The package 10 can be configured to rest on the intermediate wall 88, as shown, or can be configured to rest on the sidewalls 18, or the cover 12. As such, the cover 12 can be opened from either side to expose the products within the package 10. Preferably, the peripheral flange 38 is sufficiently large so that it extends to be lateral to the intermediate wall 88. With this configuration, the cover 12 is unbroken by folds, lips, edges, or the like from horizontal viewpoints, vertical viewpoints, and any angle therebetween.

As shown in FIGS. 49-58, the package 10 with the intermediate wall 88 discussed above, can further include a sidewall 18 with two non-planar or arcuate portions 48, so that the sidewall 18 includes a third linear portion 90 extending between the arcuate portions 48. The peripheral flange 38 therefore includes two corresponding arcuate portions, so that the cover 12, when it is sealed to the flange 38, includes side portions 92 and a top portion 94 to provide an unbroken (i.e., by folds, edges, lips, etc.) cover that extends onto two sides of the package. As with the triangular form above, this form provides a cover 12 that is visible from the broad range of angles to provide product differentiation and a distinct look on a shelf.

Turning to other forms of packages shown in FIGS. 59-88 and 99-103. In these forms, a package 100 includes a base tray or cup 102 having an upstanding sidewall or sidewalls 104 and a bottom wall 106. As with the earlier forms, the package 100 includes a peripheral flange 108. The peripheral flange 108 extends outwardly or inwardly from a continuous upper edge 110 of the sidewall(s) 104 to provide generally upwardly facing sealing surfaces 112. Alternatively, an upward facing edge of the sidewall(s) 104 could be used as a sealing surface. A cover 114 is sealed to the sealing surfaces 112 of the peripheral flange 108 to seal contents, such as any of the products 13 discussed above, within the cup 102. The upper edge 110 of the sidewall(s) 104 is continuously vertically arcuate. As such, the peripheral flange 108 projecting outwardly thereof is continuously arcuate in both radial and axial directions. Preferably, the arcuate pattern is configured such that opposite points of the peripheral flange 108 have a same height or distance from the bottom wall 106 and a same radial distance from a center point C of the cup 102.

One form, shown in FIGS. 59-78, includes a generally circular bottom wall 106 and a generally annular sidewall 104 extending upwardly therefrom. As shown, the size of the bottom wall 106 and the height of the sidewall 104 can be varied as desired or required by a particular product or to achieve a desired container shape. In the illustrated forms of FIGS. 59-73, the sidewall 104 tapers outwardly so that the upper edge 110 of the sidewall 104 is spaced apart farther than at the wall's connection to the bottom wall 106. The cup 102 can be configured so that the cover 114 is concave (FIGS. 53-63) or convex (FIGS. 64-78).

The peripheral flange 108 includes opposite low points 118 and opposite high points 120, spaced equally from one another, such as generally 90 degrees apart. For the concave cover, the edge 110 is configured so that the cover 114 extends horizontally between the low points 118 and extends laterally upward to the high points 120. For the convex cover, the edge 110 is configured so that the cover 114 extends horizontally between the high points 120 and extends laterally downward to the lower points 118.

An alternative cup 102 is shown in FIGS. 89-98. As with the above form, the upper edge 110 of the cup 102 and the peripheral flange 108 can be configured to provide a concave or convex cover 114 as desired. In this form, however, the cup 102 includes a hemi-spherical bottom portion 116. This cup 102 is ideally configured to contain a spherical product and provide distinctive packaging while also minimizing packing material by avoiding packaging waste in lower portions of the package.

Another cup 102 is shown in FIGS. 79-88. In this form, the cup 102 includes a generally square or rectangular bottom wall 106 and four sidewall portions 104 extending upward from edges thereof. As shown by the various embodiments herein, the bottom wall and corresponding sidewall(s) can take any desired form, include triangular, other closed polygons, curvilinear shapes, or combinations thereof.

With this configuration, the edges 110 are equally spaced from each other, but do not have a uniform spacing from the center point C around the entire edge 110 as with the annular configuration. The square cover 114 includes high and low points 118, 120 to provide concave and convex covers, configured as discussed above. As with the earlier forms, however, the high and low points 120, 118 are spaced equally from the center point C of the cup 102 in relation to each other and are at the same distance from the bottom wall 106.

In yet another form, the cup 102 includes a track-shaped bottom wall 106, so that the sidewall 104 includes corresponding curved ends 122 and intermediate straight sides 124. As shown in FIGS. 99-103, the high points 120 of the upper edge 110 are generally centered on the sides 124 and the low points 118 are generally centered on the curved ends 112 to provide a convex cover 114. As with the other forms, these high and low points 120, 118 can be swapped to switch orientation or be configured to provide a concave cover as desired above.

Turning now to another package 200, shown in FIGS. 104-119. In these forms, the package 200 includes arcuate bottom walls 202 with sidewalls 204 extending generally perpendicular therefrom. Preferably, the sidewalls 204 have a generally uniform height so that an upper edge 206 thereof includes arcuate structure generally complementary to the bottom wall 202. A peripheral flange 208 extending outwardly or inwardly from the upper edge 206 provides sealing surfaces 210 for a cover 212 to seal thereto, as discussed above. Alternatively, upwardly facing edges of the sidewalls 204 could be utilized as a sealing surface.

As such, when viewed from the side, the package 200 includes bottom and top surfaces that have generally complementary arcuate surfaces. This provides distinctive packages that will draw a consumer's eye when looking at shelves otherwise having traditional flow-wrapped packages. In the form shown in FIGS. 103-108, the bottom wall 202 and cover 212 have a single convex curve, while in the form shown in FIGS. 109-113, the bottom wall 202 and cover 212 having two convex curves with an intermediate concave curve therebetween. Other undulating configurations could also be utilized.

Moreover, the bottom wall 202 can take any suitable configuration. For example, as shown in FIGS. 114-119, the bottom wall 202 can have a heart-shaped configuration with sidewalls 204 extending upward from edges thereof. The undulating surfaces can be used to provide distinctive packaging for any suitable novel shape.

Alternatively, a package 250 can include a generally planar bottom wall 252 with sidewalls 254 and end walls 256 extending upwardly therefrom, as shown in FIGS. 120-125. In this form, upper edges 258 of the sidewalls 254 have corresponding undulating patterns 260 so that opposite edges 258 of the sidewalls 254 have a generally equal height. The package 250 includes peripheral flanges 262 that extend outwardly from the upper edges 258 of the sidewalls 254 and end walls 256, but could be alternatively configured as discussed. As shown, the undulating patterns 260 need not be uniform along the sidewall 254, having different wavelengths and depths.

Another type of package 300, shown in FIGS. 126-143, includes an upwardly projecting end 302. This package 300 includes a bottom wall 304 with a generally planar front portion 306 that the package 300 is configured to rest on, and an upwardly curved rear portion 308. Sidewalls 310 extend upwardly from edges 312 of the bottom wall 304 to upper edges 314. The sidewalls 310 can extend perpendicularly from the bottom wall 304 or be offset therefrom. A peripheral flange 316 extends from the upper edges 314 of the sidewalls 310 to provide sealing surfaces 318 for a cover 320, as discussed above. The upper edges 314 of the sidewalls 310 generally follow the configuration of the bottom wall 304 so that the cover 320 includes a corresponding planar front portion 322 and a rear curving portion 324. The rear curving portion 324 provides generally vertical surface area that can be utilized for eye catching indicia, graphics, or text that will differentiate the package 300 from conventional packaging with flat upper surfaces. In the form of FIGS. 126-131, the bottom wall 304 and cover 320 are generally triangular, while in the forms of FIGS. 132-143, the bottom wall 304 and cover 320 are generally rectangular. It will be understood, however, that other shapes and configurations could be utilized, including other closed polygons, curvilinear shapes, or combinations thereof.

The trays and cups described herein can be formed of any suitable materials by any suitable methods, including thermoformed, injection molded, blow-molded, fiberboard, resin impregnated fiberboard, or the like. The covers described herein can similarly be formed of any suitable materials including paper, a paper-laminate combination, metalized foil, a multi-ply laminate, plastic, or the like.

A method of making, such as in a commercial, high speed packaging operation, any of the packages or containers described herein can include the steps of forming the tray, inserting a plurality of discrete food articles into the tray, and attaching the cover to the tray to seal the food articles in the package.

Optional steps include thermoforming the tray from a polymer sheet. The polymer sheet can be a segment of a web of polymer material. The tray can be singulated from the web after thermoforming. The cover can be attached to the tray after the tray has been thermoformed and before the tray has been singulated from the web, or the cover is attached to the tray after the tray has been singulated from the web. Non-limiting examples of methods of manufacturing the packages are described in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 61/608,030, filed Mar. 7, 2012, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

All of the packages described herein provide distinctive packaging that can draw the eyes of consumers when displayed on shelf next to traditional flow-wrap packages or traditional packages having a tray and a flat planar lid. Distinction on a shelf is key for product development, and the packages described herein provide this benefit while staying cost effective by minimizing package material.

Claims

1. A package comprising:

a tray having a rear wall, a bottom wall, and a pair of upstanding side walls defining an interior to receive products therein, the tray including free edges comprising a front edge of the bottom wall, edges of the side walls, and a top edge of the rear wall, the edges of the side walls including non-planar portions;
the free edges of the tray defining an opening to the interior thereof, the opening having a forward opening portion and a top opening portion; and
a cover attached relative to at least some of the free edges to cover the top and front portions of the opening.

2. The package of claim 2, wherein a peripheral flange extends from the free edges of the tray and defines front, side, and top sealing surfaces, the side sealing surfaces having arcuate portions corresponding to the sidewall edge non-planar portions.

3.-7. (canceled)

8. The package of claim 1, wherein the products are generally cylindrical with curved outer edges and the tray is configured to receive two rows of the generally cylindrical products on edge in rows in a horizontally stacked orientation, and the bottom wall includes an upwardly projecting contour that divides the bottom wall into two portions to individually receive the stacked rows of the products, and wherein the upwardly projecting contour optionally has curved sidewalls that are complementary to the curved outer edges of the generally cylindrical products.

9. The package of claim 1, wherein the bottom wall includes an upwardly tapering front portion configured to retain the products within the tray with the front opening portion uncovered.

10.-11. (canceled)

12. The package of claim 1, wherein the upwardly tapering front portion is sized so that an outer edge of the peripheral flange extending outwardly from the front edge of the bottom wall acts as a stabilizing support for the tray.

13. The package of claim 1, wherein the front opening portion and/or the top opening portion are sized and configured such that the products within the tray can be individually accessed and removed therethrough with the other of the top opening portion and front opening portion covered.

14.-16. (canceled)

17. The package of claim 1, wherein the tray further includes one or more protrusions extending outwardly from the rear wall, the protrusions providing a support for a position of stability.

18.-23. (canceled)

24. The package of claim 1, wherein the cover includes an access opening therein and a sealing layer sealed around the access opening.

25. (canceled)

26. The package of claim 1, wherein the peripheral flange includes a breakable tab; and the cover extends to the tab so that the tab can be broken from the peripheral flange and drawn across the cover to tear an access opening in the cover.

27.-29. (canceled)

30. The package of claim 1, wherein the package is configured to rest in a vertical orientation on the sidewall; and the access opening is adjacent to the sidewall.

31. The package of claim 1, wherein the access opening is sized to allow two or less products therethrough with other products being restricted from being removed by the cover adjacent to the access opening.

32.-38. (canceled)

39. The package of claim 1, wherein the tray further comprises a dividing wall extending between the sidewalls thereof and the cover sealingly engages a top surface of the dividing wall.

40.-58. (canceled)

59. A package comprising:

a tray having an interior defined by a pair of generally planar end walls and a substantially curved side wall extending therebetween;
the tray including a free edge of one the end walls, a free edge of the other of the end walls, and a pair of spaced free edges of the sidewall;
the free edges each having a flange such that the flanges combine to at least partially surround an opening to the interior of the tray, the flange of the free edges of the end walls are each substantially arcuate and the flange of each of the free edges of the sidewall are generally planar; and
a cover sealingly engaged relative to the flanges to cover the opening.

60. The package of claim 59, wherein the generally planar flanges of the pair of spaced free edges of the sidewall are angularly off-set relative to each other.

61. (canceled)

62. The package of claim 59, wherein the flange includes a detachable portion thereof, the detachable portion having the cover adhered thereto, the detachable portion being usable to secure the cover in a closed position after opening.

63.-70. (canceled)

Patent History

Publication number: 20150129594
Type: Application
Filed: Mar 7, 2013
Publication Date: May 14, 2015
Inventors: Ronald H. Exner (Icking), Adam Lloyd (Zurich), Stephen P. Wilcox (Glenview, IL), Jo-Ann Clark (Boat of Garten), Vincenzo Disavino (Lausanne), Leonard S. Scarola (Cary, NC), Paul Anthony Zerfas (Glenview, IL)
Application Number: 14/383,562

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: About Line Or Point Of Weakness (220/266); Including Gripping Means For Removing Closure (e.g., Pull Tab) (220/359.2)
International Classification: B65D 77/20 (20060101); B65D 17/00 (20060101);