CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
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STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
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OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of Invention
This invention pertains to a condiment cup. More particularly, this invention pertains to an expandable condiment cup that is configured to attach to a common fast-food type food scoop or other surface to provide hands-free access to a condiment. This invention also pertains to an attachable storage device for holding multiple condiment cups in their collapsed state.
2. Description of the Related Art
In today's fast-paced society, fast-food restaurants and take-out counters are extremely popular and useful. Fast-food restaurants and take-out counters were created to meet the demands of a mobile society. Typically, food products are purchased from such places when there is little or no time to stop for a leisurely meal. With particular food products, such as fried foods, it is often desirable to provide a condiment for dipping or scooping. In the fast-food environment, condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, and various sauces are often desired for immediate consumption with fried foods.
People often purchase these food products with the expectation to enjoy their food while engaged in another activity, such as occupying a car, walking, waiting for a bus, etc. Condiments are typically provided in small pillow packs or cups and are often difficult to use effectively without being seated at a table. The procedure for using a condiment while in fast-paced environments can be very messy. One method of combining sauce to food products is to squeeze out the condiment from the package onto a surplus food wrapper where the consumer can dip their food into the condiment. Other methods such as pouring the condiment onto the food or dipping the food into the condiment container provided by the restaurant are also commonly employed. The condiment is subject to being dropped, which may soil clothing, fingers, and other surroundings. Each of these methods of eating food with a condiment is very inconvenient, oftentimes causing the consumer to not use any sauce, thus diminishing the culinary experience of consuming the food.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,842,634, titled “Folding cup,” issued to Kieler on Dec. 1, 1998, discloses a folding drinking cup that is formed from a single sheet of planar plastic or paper. The folding cup has an inverted pyramid shape formed by folding a planar sheet and sealing the side edge to form a handle with the top open.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,720,429, titled “Food container with flip-out condiment pocket,” issued to Cordle on Feb. 24, 1998, discloses a paperboard container that may be “flipped from a storage position to an operable position.” The '429 patent discloses a food container and condiment pocket formed together from a single blank of paperboard stock.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,364,112, titled “Condiment container for attaching to other objects,” issued to Pitschka on Apr. 2, 2002, discloses a sealed condiment container that includes a hinged adhesive strip that allows the container to be attached to another object.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,230,969, titled “Food container and sauce reservoir arrangement,” issued to Spransy on May 15, 2001, discloses different embodiments of a sauce reservoir that attach to a food container by clips or an adhesive strip. The adhesive strip, protected by a removable strip, is attached to either the food container or the sauce reservoir. Removing the removable strip exposes the adhesive, allowing the sauce reservoir to attach to the food container.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,471,119, titled “Food scoop with condiment holder,” issued to Cai on Oct. 29, 2002, discloses a collapsible, conical food scoop that includes a condiment compartment. The food scoop with condiment holder is formed from a unitary blank of material. The '119 patent further discloses a “flat, collapsed configuration” for storage that may be “shifted to an open, use configuration by squeezing two portions of the container together.” In the flat state, there is “an upper edge portion 34 [that] extends peripherally beyond upper edges 37 and 39 and provides a finger grip location at which the condiment triangular panel 36 can be gripped and pulled out by a consumer.”
U.S. Pat. No. D478,283, titled “Container,” issued to Shimakawa on Aug. 12, 2003, discloses a cone-shaped container formed of a single sheet in which the sides and bottom are sealed.
U.S. Pat. App. No. 2007/0003171, titled “Condiment pouch for food containers,” published on Jan. 4, 2007 for Boosalis, discloses a condiment pouch that is adhesively attached to a food container. The Boosalis application discloses a condiment pouch with a fixed oval bottom portion and smooth, flexible front and back sides.
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OF THE INVENTION
According to one embodiment of the present invention, an expandable condiment cup for attaching to a food scoop is provided. The food scoop has an outside surface. The condiment cup is attached to the outside surface of the food scoop, in one embodiment, by double-sided tape. The condiment cup, in its deployed, or expanded, state, is an inverted, truncated, irregular pentagonal pyramid forming a reservoir for condiments. The five walls that make up the body of the condiment cup are, in one embodiment, made from a single sheet of rigid paperboard or other planar sheet material. When collapsed, the condiment cup is substantially the thickness of two sheets of the paperboard. Deployment of the cup, in one embodiment, is facilitated by a notch that is cut out of one of the two thicknesses of paperboard. The five walls of the condiment cup are developed, in one embodiment, by bending the paperboard along preformed fold lines, or hinges, to form a pyramid and then folding over the apex of the pyramid.
The condiment cup is stored in its collapsed state in a condiment cup holder configured to hold multiple collapsed condiment cups. The condiment cup holder, in one embodiment, is removably attachable to a planar surface. The condiment cup holder, in one embodiment, is made removably attachable by using double-sided tape. In one embodiment, the double-sided tape has an integral non-adhesive tab extending beyond the body of the condiment cup holder to facilitate removal of the condiment cup holder from the surface to which it is attached.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
The above-mentioned features of the invention will become more clearly understood from the following detailed description of the invention read together with the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of a condiment cup in its deployed state attached to a food scoop;
FIG. 2 is a front perspective view of the condiment cup in its deployed state;
FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view of the condiment cup in its deployed state;
FIG. 4 is an exploded diagram showing the condiment cup in its collapsed state and one embodiment of a condiment cup holder;
FIG. 5 is a rear view of the condiment cup holder;
FIG. 6 is a plan view of one embodiment of a unitary blank for forming a condiment cup; and
FIG. 7 is a partial plan view of another embodiment of a unitary blank for forming a condiment cup.
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OF THE INVENTION
An apparatus for an expandable condiment cup 100 and a system for storing the condiment cup 100 is disclosed. The condiment cup 100 is attachable to a planar surface and receives a condiment after it is in its expanded state. The system includes a holder 400 that is attachable to a planar surface and receives and stores a plurality of condiment cups 100 in their collapsed state.
FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of a condiment cup 100 in its deployed, or expanded, state forming a reservoir 102 for a condiment. The condiment cup 100 is attached to a food scoop 104. The illustrated location of the condiment cup 100 allows the consumer to easily access a condiment in the reservoir 102 when dipping the food 106 served in the food scoop 104. In various embodiments, the condiment cup 100 is attachable in other locations and to other planar surfaces. The shape of the condiment cup 100 efficiently uses the condiment. The reservoir 102 is very small at the bottom of the cup 100 and the walls of the condiment cup 100 are angled such that the condiment level rises substantially as the food, French fries in the illustration, 106 is inserted into the condiment. This configuration more completely coats the food 106 than conventional, flat-bottomed containers when using the same amount of condiment.