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Kitchen appliance and method of using same

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20140157995 patent thumbnailZoom

Kitchen appliance and method of using same


A kitchen appliance includes a housing defining a cavity. A heating or cooling element is disposed within the housing. A container is sized and shaped to fit within the cavity. A lid is sized and shaped to at least partially cover an opening of the container. A handle is pivotally mounted to an exterior surface of the side wall of the housing. A first end of the handle is pivotally mounted to the side wall of the housing at a first location. An opposing second end of the handle is pivotally mounted to side wall of the housing at a second location diametrically opposed to the first location. The handle is pivotable between an engaged position which at least a portion of the handle retains the lid in sealing engagement with the container rim and disengage position in which the portion of the handle is spaced-apart from the lid.
Related Terms: Cooling Element

Browse recent Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc. patents - Glen Allen, VA, US
USPTO Applicaton #: #20140157995 - Class: 99337 (USPTO) -
Foods And Beverages: Apparatus > Cooking >Intercontrol Or Safety Control

Inventors: Patrick T. Mulvaney, Michael Garman, Martin Brady

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20140157995, Kitchen appliance and method of using same.

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BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

The present disclosure relates generally to a kitchen appliance and, more particularly, to a slow cooker that can be easily transported with little or no spillage of any contents therein.

Kitchen appliances, and particularly slow cookers, are well known. Conventional slow cookers are generally sized and shaped to allow a user to pick-up and move or transport the slow cooker from one location to another. Often, the user may want to move the slow cooker after it is loaded with contents, such as foodstuff to be cooked and/or other contents to be heated.

However, it can be difficult to move or transport conventional slow cookers when foodstuff, particularly liquid, has been placed therein without spilling some of the foodstuff. The components of conventional slow cookers are not made to close tolerances, and any lid of a conventional slow cooker is typically not securely engaged with a container of the slow cooker when in a closed position. This creates a potential for the lid to inadvertently slide off the container when the slow cooker is being carried from one location to another. Also, because the lid is not usually engaged with a tight fit and because foodstuff cooked in a slow cooker, such as soup, chili, stew, etc., typically has a significant liquid content, there exists the potential of significant spillage if the slow cooker is tilted during transport.

It has heretofore not been discovered how to make the engagement and sealing of the lid to the container of a slow cooker simpler and more user friendly. The device of the present disclosure overcomes and/or eliminates at least one of the above or other shortcomings of conventional appliances.

BRIEF

SUMMARY

OF THE DISCLOSURE

Briefly stated, a preferred embodiment of the present disclosure is directed to a kitchen appliance having a housing with a base and a side wall extending therefrom. The side wall has an exterior surface and an opposing interior surface. At least portions of the interior surface of the side wall and base define a cavity within the housing. The housing has a housing rim at a first, free edge of the side wall defining an opening to the cavity. The housing has a major axis and a minor axis extending generally perpendicularly thereto. A heating or cooling element is disposed within the housing proximate the cavity to heat or cool the cavity. A container has a generally hollow interior and a container rim defining an opening for accessing the interior thereof. The interior of the container is capable of retaining contents therein. The container is sized and shaped to fit within the cavity of the housing. A lid is sized and shaped to at least partially cover the opening of the container when placed on the container. The lid has an exterior surface and an opposing interior surface facing the interior of the container when the lid is placed on the container. A handle is pivotally mounted to the exterior surface of the side wall of the housing. A first end of the handle is pivotally mounted to the exterior surface of the side wall of the housing at a first location along the major axis of the housing. An opposing second end of the handle is pivotally mounted to the exterior surface of the side wall of the housing at a second location along the major axis opposed to the first location. The handle is pivotable between an engaged position which at least a portion of the handle contacts at least a portion of the lid to retain the lid in sealing engagement with the container rim to inhibit linkage of the contents from the interior of the container and disengage position in which the portion of the handle is spaced-apart from the lid to permit the lid to be removed from the container rim.

In another aspect, a preferred embodiment of the present disclosure is directed to a kitchen appliance having a housing with a base and a side wall extending therefrom. The side wall has an exterior surface and an opposing interior surface. At least portions of the interior surface of the side wall and base define a cavity within the housing. The housing has a housing rim at a first, free edge of the side wall defining an opening to the cavity. A heating or cooling element is disposed within the housing proximate the cavity to heat or cool the cavity. A container has a generally hollow interior and a container rim defining an opening for accessing the interior thereof. The interior of the container is capable of retaining contents therein. The container is sized and shaped to fit within the cavity of the housing. A lid is sized and shaped to at least partially cover the opening of the container when placed on the container. The lid has an exterior surface and an opposing interior surface facing the interior of the container when the lid is placed on the container. A handle is pivotally mounted to the exterior of the side wall of the housing. The handle includes a first half and a second half. The first half is separable from the second half. A first end of each half is pivotally mounted to the exterior surface of the side wall of the housing at a first location and an opposing second end of each half is pivotally mounted to the exterior surface of the side wall of housing at a second location generally opposite to the first location. Each of the first and second halves of the handle are pivotable between an engaged position in which at least a portion of each half contacts at least a portion of the lid to retain in sealing engagement with the container rim to inhibit linkage of the contents from the interior of the container and a disengaged position in which the portion of each half is spaced-apart from the lid to prevent the lid to be removed from the container rim.

In yet another aspect, a preferred embodiment of the present disclosure is directed to a kitchen appliance having a housing with a base and a side wall extending therefrom. The side wall has an exterior surface and an opposing interior surface. At least portions of the interior surface of the side wall and base define a cavity within the housing. The housing has a housing rim at a first, free edge of the side wall defining an opening to the cavity. A heating or cooling element is disposed within the housing proximate the cavity to heat or cool the cavity. A container has a generally hollow interior and a container rim defining an opening for accessing the interior thereof. The interior of the container is capable of retaining contents therein. The container is sized and shaped to fit within the cavity of the housing. A lid is sized and shaped to at least partially cover the opening of the container when placed on the container. A handle is pivotally mounted to the exterior surface of the side wall of the housing. A first end of the handle is pivotally mounted to the exterior surface of the side wall of the housing at a first location and an opposing second end of the handle is pivotally mounted to the exterior surface of the side wall of the housing at a second location diametrically opposed to the first location. The handle is pivotable between an engaged position in which at least a portion of the handle contacts at least a portion of the lid to retain the lid in sealing engagement with the container rim to inhibit leakage of the contents from the interior of the container and a disengaged position in which the portion of the handle is spaced-apart from the lid to permit the lid to be removed from the container rim. A biasing member is engaged with at least a portion of the handle for biasing the handle toward the lid in the engaged position.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of the disclosure, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the disclosure, there are shown in the drawings embodiments which are presently preferred. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a top front perspective view of a kitchen appliance according to a first preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein a handle is in an engaged position;

FIG. 2 is a partially exploded top front perspective view thereof, wherein the handle is in an disengaged position;

FIG. 3 is a top front perspective view of the kitchen appliance according to a second preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein the handle is in the engaged position;

FIG. 4 is a partially exploded top front perspective view thereof, wherein the handle is in the disengaged position;

FIG. 5 is a top front perspective view of the kitchen appliance according to a third preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein the handle is in the engaged position;

FIG. 6A is an enlarged cross-sectional elevational view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5 when the handle is in the engaged position;

FIG. 6B is an enlarged cross-sectional elevational view taken along line 6-6 of FIG. 5 when the handle is in the disengaged position;

FIG. 6C is an enlarged cross-sectional elevational view of a portion of the kitchen appliance according to a modified version of the third preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein the handle is in a first locked position;

FIG. 6D is an enlarged cross-sectional elevational view of a portion of the kitchen appliance according to a modified version of the third preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein the handle is in a second locked position;

FIG. 6E is an enlarged cross-sectional elevational view of a portion of the kitchen appliance according to a modified version of the third preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein the handle is in unlocked position;

FIG. 7 is a side elevational view of the kitchen appliance according to a fourth preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein the handle is shown in the engaged position in solid lines and the handle is shown in the disengaged position in broken lines;

FIG. 8 is a side elevational view of the kitchen appliance according to a fifth preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein the handle is shown in the engaged position in solid lines and the handle is shown in the disengaged position in broken lines;

FIG. 9 is a top front perspective view of the kitchen appliance according to a sixth preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein the handle is shown in the engaged position;

FIG. 10 is a top front perspective view thereof, wherein the handle is shown in the disengaged position;

FIG. 11 is a top front perspective view of the kitchen appliance according to a seventh preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein the handle is shown in the engaged position;

FIG. 12 is a top front perspective view thereof, wherein the handle is shown in the disengaged position;

FIG. 13 is a top front perspective view of the kitchen appliance according to an eighth preferred embodiment of the present disclosure, wherein the handle is shown in the engaged and locked position;

FIG. 14 is a top front perspective view thereof, wherein the handle is shown in the engaged position and an unlocked position;

FIG. 15 is a top front perspective view thereof, wherein the handle is shown in the disengaged position and the unlocked position;

FIG. 16A is an enlarged cross-sectional elevational view taken along line 16A-16A of FIG. 13;

FIG. 16B is an enlarged cross-sectional elevational view taken along line 16B-16B of FIG. 14;

FIG. 16C is an enlarged cross-sectional elevational view taken along line 16C-16C of FIG. 15;

FIG. 17 is an enlarged partially cross-sectional exploded top perspective view of a portion of the kitchen appliance of FIGS. 13-15;

FIG. 17A is an enlarged partially cross-sectional top perspective view of a portion of the kitchen appliance shown in the configuration of FIGS. 13 and 16A;

FIG. 17B is an enlarged partially cross-sectional top perspective view of a portion of the kitchen appliance shown in the configuration of FIGS. 14 and 16B; and

FIG. 17C is an enlarged partially cross-sectional top perspective view of a portion of the kitchen appliance shown in the configuration of FIGS. 15 and 16C.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF THE DISCLOSURE

Certain terminology is used in the following description for convenience only and is not limiting. The words “lower,” “bottom,” “upper” and “top” designate directions in the drawings to which reference is made. The words “inwardly” and “outwardly” refer to directions toward and away from, respectively, the geometric center of the kitchen appliance, and designated parts thereof, in accordance with the present disclosure. Unless specifically set forth herein, the terms “a,” “an” and “the” are not limited to one element, but instead should be read as meaning “at least one.” The terminology includes the words noted above, derivatives thereof and words of similar import.

Referring to the drawings in detail, wherein like numerals indicate like elements throughout, FIGS. 1 and 2 show a kitchen appliance, generally designated 10, according to a first preferred embodiment of the present disclosure. The kitchen appliance 10 is illustrated as a slow cooker for warming and/or cooking (collectively referred to as heating) contents (none shown), such as foodstuff or another object, therein. However, the present disclosure is not limited to such a device or functionality. For example, the kitchen appliance 10 may be any of a variety of devices typically used in a kitchen, such as a deep fryer, roaster oven, or the like. In fact, the kitchen appliance 10 could be any type of device having a lid and a container, as described in detail below. The term “foodstuff,” as used herein, is sufficiently broad to cover any substance that is capable of being consumed by a user, such as a pork roast, vegetables, water, milk or the like, or any combination thereof. The kitchen appliance 10 is also capable of heating or cooling one or more objects (not shown) other than foodstuff, such as a baby\'s bottle, one or more stones or towels for a massage, or the like.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the kitchen appliance 10 includes a housing 12 having a base 12a and a side wall 12b extending therefrom. The side wall 12b preferably extends at least generally perpendicularly to the base 12a. The side wall 12b includes an exterior surface 13 that faces and/or is exposed to the external environment and an opposing interior surface (not shown). At least portions of the interior surface of the side wall 12b and an interior or upper surface of the base 12a surround and/or define a cavity of the housing 12. As shown in FIG. 2, the housing 12 also includes a housing rim 12c at an upper free edge of the side wall 12b. The housing rim 12c surrounds and/or defines an opening to the cavity of the housing 12.

Preferably, the base 12a, the side wall 12b and the housing rim 12c are generally ovular or elliptical in shape when viewed from above or below. Thus, the housing 12 preferably has a major axis A1 and a minor axis A2 extending generally, but preferably exactly, perpendicularly thereto. While the ovular or elliptical shape is preferred, the base 12a may have a different shape, such as, but not limited to, circular or rectangular in plan view. The base 12a may include several generally spaced-apart, rounded protrusions or feet (not shown) extending downwardly from a bottom surface thereof for supporting the kitchen appliance 10 on a support surface (not shown), such as a countertop, and spacing the bottom surface of the base 12a at least slightly above the support surface. Alternatively, the kitchen appliance 10 may include no feet, such that the kitchen appliance 10 is supported by the bottom surface of the base 12a directly on the support surface. The side wall 12b may include two equidistantly spaced-apart housing handles 20 (only one shown in the present embodiment, but two are shown and described in the seventh preferred embodiment of FIGS. 11 and 12) that extend outwardly from the exterior surface 13. Each handle 20 preferably extends outwardly from the side wall 12b of the housing 12 below the housing rim 12c. Each handle 20 may be vertically aligned with the control knob 24. However, the handles 20 are not limited to such a size, shape, configuration or location, as the handles 20 may be positioned anywhere on the housing 12 that provides the intended functionality allowing the kitchen appliance 10 to be quickly and easily lifted and/or transported.

Referring specifically to FIG. 1, a heating or cooling element 14 (shown in phantom) is preferably disposed within the housing 12 proximate the cavity to heat and/or cool the cavity. The heating or cooling element 14 may be located within or on the interior surface of the side wall 12b of the housing 12, or may be disposed within the base 12a of the housing 12 in addition to or instead of the side wall 12b. The heating or cooling element 14 may be electrically powered and is preferably a resistance-type heating element, such as a calrod or mica board heating element. However, a different type of heating or cooling element may be used, provided the heating or cooling element functions to heat and/or cool the cavity of the housing 12.

A control knob 24 preferably extends outwardly from the side wall 12b of the housing 12 to enable a user to control the heating or cooling element 14. Thus, the control knob 24 is preferably operatively connected to the heating or cooling element 14. It is preferred that rotation of the knob 24 by a user toggles the heating or cooling element 14 between at least one “on” setting and an “off” setting. It is further preferred that the heating or cooling element 14 have at least two “on” settings, specifically a “high” heat setting and a “low” heat setting. Although two heat settings are preferred, it is further contemplated that alternate configurations may be used, such as, but not limited to, rotation of the knob 24 actuating a thermostat (not shown) to cause the heating or cooling element 14 to heat and/or cool the cavity of the housing 12 to a specific user selected temperature. The kitchen appliance 10 is not limited to the size, shape, configuration and/or functionality of the control knob 24 shown and described herein. Instead, the kitchen appliance 10 may have a control interface (not shown), with one or more buttons, switches or the like, in addition to or in place of the control knob 24.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the kitchen appliance 10 preferably includes a container 30 sized and/or shaped to fit within the cavity of the housing 12 for heating and/or cooling thereof by the heating or cooling element 14. More specifically, an exterior of the container 30 is preferably at least slightly smaller than the interior of the cavity of the housing 12, such that at least a majority of the container 30 fits within the cavity of the housing 12. The container 30 is preferably made of stoneware or ceramic. However, the container 30 may be made of a different material, such as cast iron with a porcelain enamel coating, for instance, provided the container 30 is capable of functioning as described herein. Additionally, it is preferable that the container 30 be easily removable from the housing 12 to facilitate cleaning thereof without exposing the housing 12, and specifically the heating or cooling element 14 and other electrical components thereof, to water and/or cleaning detergents or solvents.

The container 30 preferably includes a generally hollow interior 30a (see FIG. 2) and a container rim 30b defining an opening for accessing the interior 30a. The interior 30a of the container 30 is capable of retaining the contents therein. The phrase “container rim,” as used herein, may simply be a top or upper-most horizontal edge of a side wall of the container 30. Additionally and/or alternatively, the phrase “container rim” may be at least a portion of a ledge 30b′ (see FIG. 2) spaced inwardly and at least slightly downwardly from the upper-most horizontal edge of the side wall of the container 30.

Referring to again FIGS. 1 and 2, the kitchen appliance 10 preferably includes a lid 40 sized and shaped to at least partially and preferably completely cover the opening of the container 30 when the lid 40 is placed on or adjacent to the container rim 30b. The lid 40 includes a top or exterior surface 40a and an opposing bottom or interior surface (not shown) that faces the interior 30a of the container 30 when the lid 40 is placed on or adjacent to the container rim 30b. A lid handle 42 preferably extends outwardly or upwardly from the exterior surface 40a of the lid 40. Preferably, the lid 40 has at least a slightly arcuate shape, such that the exterior surface 40a is generally convex and the interior surface is generally concave. Alternatively, at least one or both of the exterior surface 40a and the interior surface of the lid 40 may be at least partially or entirely flat. The lid 40 is preferably predominantly made of glass, although the lid 40 may be made of a different, preferably transparent or translucent material, such as a polymeric material, for instance, provided the lid 40 functions as described herein.

The lid 40 is preferably generally ovular or elliptical when viewed from above or below to correspond to or at least generally match the shape of the opening of the container 30. Preferably, when placed on the container rim 30b, the lid 40 covers the entire opening of the container 30 such that an entire outer periphery of the lid 40 engages and/or is placed adjacent to the container rim 30b. The lid 40 is shown herein to have an outer periphery and a diameter that is at least slightly smaller than an outer periphery and a diameter of the container rim 30b, because at least a portion of the outer periphery of the lid 40 rests on the ledge 30b′ (see FIG. 2) at least slightly inwardly from the outer periphery of the container 30. However, in an alternative embodiment, such as that shown in FIG. 5 of the third preferred embodiment described in detail below, the outer periphery of the lid 40 may match or be about the same size as or slightly smaller than the outer periphery of the container 30.

Referring to FIG. 2, a gasket 41 preferably extends around and/or below one of the outer periphery or edge of the lid 40 and the container rim 30b for sealing the lid 40 to the container 30. More specifically, when the lid 40 is removed from the container 30, the gasket 41 may extend around and/or be attached to the outer edge or periphery of the lid 40 or the interior surface of the lid 40 proximate the outer edge thereof. Alternatively, the gasket 41 may be extend around and/or be attached to the container rim 30b. The gasket 41 is preferably formed of a resiliently flexible material, such as an elastomeric or rubber material. The gasket 41 may be identical to that disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,947,928, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety. However, instead of a circular or ovular cross-sectional shape, the gasket 41 may has a Z or zig-zag shape. Regardless or the cross-sectional shape of the gasket 41, the gasket 41 is preferably at least slightly compressible to create at least a liquid-tight seal between the lid 40 and the container rim 30b when the lid 40 is properly placed on the container 30.

Referring again to FIGS. 1 and 2, the kitchen appliance 10 includes at least one handle 16 pivotally mounted to the outermost portion of the exterior surface 13 of the side wall 12b of the housing 12. Thus, the handle 16, including an inner surface thereof, preferably extends radially outwardly beyond the exterior surface 13 of the side wall 12b of the housing 12. The handle 16, which may be referred to as a bail handle, includes a first end 16a and an opposing second end 16b. A gripping member 32 may be positioned equidistantly between the first and second ends 16a, 16b of the handle 16. The first end 16a of the handle 16 is preferably pivotally mounted to the exterior surface 13 of the side wall 12b of the housing 12 at a first location L1 along the major axis A1 of the housing 12. The second end 16b of the handle 16 is preferably pivotally mounted to the exterior surface 13 of the side wall 12b of the housing at a second location L2 (not shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, but shown in the figures of other embodiments) along the major axis A1 of the housing 12 diametrically opposed to the first location L1. However, the handle 16 is not limited to extending along or parallel to the major axis A1 of the housing 12, as the handle 16 may extend along or parallel to the minor axis A2 of the housing 12, or at a location therebetween. The handle 16 may be one, continuous element that extends uninterrupted or continuously from the first end 16a to the second end 16b. Alternatively, the handle 16 may be formed of two separate and spaced-apart elements, one of which is located proximate to the first end 16a and the other of which is located proximate to the second end 16b.

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the handle 16 is preferably at least slightly or partially arcuate in shape. More specifically, the handle 16 preferably includes a first generally straight portion 18 extending from the first end 16a thereof. A first arcuate portion 22 of the handle 16 preferably extends directly from the first generally straight portion 18 opposite the first end 16a. A second generally straight portion 28 of the handle 16 preferably extends directly from the first arcuate portion 22 opposite the first generally straight portion 18. A second arcuate portion 26 of the handle 16 preferably extends indirectly from the first arcuate portion 22 thereof and directly from the second generally straight portion 28. The first arcuate portion 22 is preferably generally convex with respect to the housing 12 and has a first radius of curvature. The second arcuate portion 26 is preferably generally concave with respect to the housing 12 and has a second radius of curvature.

The first and second radii of curvature may be generally or exactly equal, or the second radius of curvature of the second arcuate portion 26 may be greater than the first radius of curvature of the first arcuate portion 22. The shape of the handle 16 proximate the first end 16a is preferably duplicated or mirrored proximate the second end 16b, such that the handle 16 includes the above-described generally straight and arcuate portions 18, 28, 22, 26 in the same configuration proximate the second end 16b of the handle 16.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20140157995 A1
Publish Date
06/12/2014
Document #
14057149
File Date
10/18/2013
USPTO Class
99337
Other USPTO Classes
220322
International Class
/
Drawings
14


Cooling Element


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