Patent application title: DUAL PACK
Jean-Yves Latour (White Plains, NY, US)
THE DANNON COMPANY, INC
IPC8 Class: AB65D3022FI
Class name: Flexible bags compartmented
Publication date: 2011-07-14
Patent application number: 20110170806
A side-by-side or dual pouch comprising a pair of parallel longitudinal
compartments each compartment including sealed top, bottom and medial
margins with the medial margins in sealed abutment and providing a sealed
longitudinal strip separating the compartments. Each compartment may
contain different components, such as different types of food products. A
single or dual tear-promoting element(s) appears on the side of the
sealed upper margin of each compartment to facilitate separate opening of
each compartment and controlled dispensing of the contents.
1. A pouch comprising: a pair of parallel longitudinal compartments each
including a neck; each of the compartments including sealed top, bottom,
and medial margins with the medial margins in sealed abutment and
providing a sealed longitudinal strip separating the compartments; and
each compartment having an external top corner including a tear-promoting
element; wherein the tear-promoting element is a single horizontal tear
feature crossing the necks of both of the compartments.
2. The pouch of claim 1, wherein the sealed bottom margin of one of the compartments is longer than that of the other compartment.
3. The pouch of claim 2, wherein one of the compartments has 50-99% of the volume of the other compartment.
4. The pouch of claim 2, wherein one of the compartments has less than 50% of the volume of the other compartment.
5. The pouch of claim 1, wherein the sealed bottom margins of the compartments have the same length and the same width, thus providing compartments having the same volume.
6. The pouch of claim 1, wherein the compartments are symmetrical and of equal volume.
7. The pouch of claim 1, wherein each of the compartments contains an upper neck that ranges from 25-50% of the width of the compartment between the medial sealed margin and an external upper sealed portion containing the tear feature.
8. The pouch of claim 1, wherein each of the compartments includes a widened sealed portion extending across a top portion of the top margin.
9. The pouch of claim 1, wherein the top and bottom margins comprise horizontal sealing corrugations.
10. The pouch of claim 9, wherein the horizontal sealing corrugations do not extend to outer edges of the top margins.
11. The pouch of claim 1, wherein one of the compartments is wider than the other compartment.
12. The pouch of claim 2, wherein one of the compartments is wider than the other compartment.
13. The pouch of claim 1, wherein both of the compartments are a same width.
14. The pouch of claim 1, wherein the compartments are made from a single sheet or from a roll of plastic.
15. The pouch of claim 1, wherein the compartments are made from a single sheet of plastic suitable for use in a food product.
16. The pouch of claim 1, wherein at least one of the compartments contains a food product.
17. The pouch of claim 1, wherein one of the compartments contains a fermented dairy product and the other compartment contains a food product that may be mixed with or consumed along with the fermented dairy product.
18. The pouch of claim 1, wherein each of the compartments contains a fermented diary product which may be the same or different, and which have viscosities ranging from 1,000 mPas to 2,500 mPas.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This application claims priority to U.S. Application No. 61/295,071, the entire contents of which are incorporated by reference herein.
 This application is related to U.S. application Ser. No. 12/247,775, the entire contents of which are incorporated by reference herein.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 Sealed packaging comprising two side-by-side compartments that can be separately opened and which allow for controllable dispensing of the contents of each compartment.
 2. Description of the Related Art
 Three-sided pouches having parallel and symmetric longitudinally extending compartments have been described by Mobs, et al. in U.S. Pat. No. 6,789,945. This patent describes a three-sided pouch having two parallel longitudinally extending chambers with a medial widened portion having tearing aid for opening both chambers at the same time. Mobs, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,352,364 describes tubular bag packaging containing tearing notches or grooves to remove impediments to tearing open the top of the bag. Tubular packaging is also used in popular yogurt products such as Go-Gurt®, but once opened it is difficult to control or meter consumption of such products. Methods and machines useful for making three-sided pouches are described by Davis, et al. in U.S. Pat. No. 6,006,501. However, a need has developed for side-by-side packaging that permits a user to open and control the dispensing of the contents of separate compartments without having to tear off the entire top of the package or open both compartments of a side-by-side pouch at the same time. Moreover, users now demand a way to easily dispense the contents of dual packaging in a controlled manner to reduce waste and mess associated with uncontrolled opening of the compartments of side-by-side packaging and to pace consumption, use, or expression of the contents of each compartment. Additionally, consumers wish to be able to control the organoleptic properties of foods, for example, by mixing different food components to their individual tastes. With these objectives in mind the inventor has developed the present invention.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention solves these problems by providing for side-by-side, dual-pouch packaging which permits separate opening of each compartment, allowing the contents of one compartment to be saved for later use, or shared or separately dispensed to different individuals, as well as for the controlled release of the contents of each compartment without the mess associated with tearing off the entire top of each compartment. The invention also provides users a way to control the organoleptic properties, such as taste, texture, and color of their foods by allowing for controlled mixing of different amounts of the contents of each compartment. The invention provides a high level of convenience and control absent from prior art products.
 One aspect of the invention is a side-by-side pouch, or dual pouch, comprising a pair of parallel longitudinal compartments (1); each compartment including a neck (2) for dispensing its contents, sealed top (3), medial (4) and bottom (5) margins with the medial margins in sealed abutment and providing a sealed longitudinal strip separating the compartments; and each compartment having a top corner including a tear-promoting element, wherein the tear-promoting element is a single horizontal tear feature crossing the necks of both of the compartments. Each compartment may have a different height and/or width so as to provide different volumetric capacities. To maintain the overall rectangular shape of the dual pouch, the sealed bottom margin of the shorter compartment may be extended upward. In a preferred embodiment, both compartments have the same height and width and symmetrical top and bottom margins.
 In a preferred embodiment each compartment of the dual pouch is configured to have a widened sealed portion, which is generally sealed by horizontal corrugations, but which may be optionally sealed in an alternative manner, extending across a portion of the top margin at each top corner and at least one tear-promoting element or means (see e.g., 5D in FIGS. 19 and 25) disposed horizontally across the medial margin in respect to said widened sealed portions.
 The tear promoting element is singular to facilitate opening of both compartments at the same time. An example of such an element would be a horizontal element intersecting the necks of each compartment extending across the longitudinal sealed portion separating each pouch as shown in FIGS. 19 and 25.
 The tear promoting element or elements will intersect the necks at the top of each compartment, but need not be horizontally disposed. For example, it or they may be symmetrically arranged at a diagonal acute angle to slope upwards from the side of the sealed top margin toward the longitudinal seal separating the two compartments. Similarly, they need not be linear and may arc along a similar path so long as they intersect the necks of each compartment to permit its opening. These elements may also contain a series of line segments or curves, such as S-shaped or Z-shaped segments. Such a configuration is depicted in FIGS. 1, 2, 7 and 8 and contains a lower diagonal arm slanting upward (5A), an elbow (5B), forearm and horizontal hand (5C). The hand portion is oriented toward the neck through which the contents of the compartment will be released once the tear promoting means is activated. If desired more than one tear promoting means may be provided for each or both compartments.
 The tear promoting means may directly intersect the necks of each compartment or can go part way into the sealed upper margin and terminate adjacent to each neck. Tear promoting elements that intersect the necks of each compartment will be such that the compartments remained sealed until the tear element is used.
 These elements or features may be lines of weakness, narrow unsealed portions of the upper margin, perforation lines, dots, or notches.
 A tear-promoting or tear-inhibiting means (6) may also be provided at the top of the medial sealed margin (4).
 In another embodiment, each compartment of the dual pouch will contain the same or different food products, such as liquid or semisolid foods having viscosities within the range of 1,000-2,500 mPa.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a first embodiment of the Dannon Dual Pack having equal sized compartments;
 FIG. 2 is a rear elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 3 is a right side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 4 is a left side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 5 is a top plan view thereof;
 FIG. 6 is a bottom plan view thereof;
 FIG. 7 is a front elevational view of a first embodiment of the Dannon Dual Pack having unequal sized compartments;
 FIG. 8 is a rear elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 9 is a left side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 10 is a right side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 11 is a top plan view thereof;
 FIG. 12 is a bottom plan view thereof;
 FIG. 13 is a front elevational view of a second embodiment of the Dannon Dual Pack having unequal sized compartments, showing the design thereof;
 FIG. 14 is a rear elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 15 is a left side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 16 is a right side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 17 is a top plan view thereof;
 FIG. 18 is a bottom plan view thereof;
 FIG. 19 is a front elevational view of a second embodiment of the Dannon Dual Pack having equal sized compartments;
 FIG. 20 is a rear elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 21 is a right side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 22 is a left side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 23 is a top plan view thereof;
 FIG. 24 is a bottom plan view thereof;
 FIG. 25 is a front elevational view of a third embodiment of the Dannon Dual Pack having equal sized compartments;
 FIG. 26 is a rear elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 27 is a right side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 28 is a left side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 29 is a top plan view thereof;
 FIG. 30 is a bottom plan view thereof;
 FIG. 31 is a front elevational view of a third embodiment of the Dannon Dual Pack having unequal sized compartments;
 FIG. 32 is a rear elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 33 is a right side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 34 is a left side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 35 is a top plan view thereof;
 FIG. 36 is a bottom plan view thereof;
 FIG. 37 is a front elevational view of a second embodiment of the Dannon Dual Pack having unequal sized compartments;
 FIG. 38 is a rear elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 39 is a right side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 40 is a left side elevational view thereof;
 FIG. 41 is a top plan view thereof; and
 FIG. 42 is a bottom plan view thereof.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 The side-by-side pouch, or dual pouch, of the invention generally comprises a pair of parallel longitudinal compartments or pouches; each compartment including a neck for dispensing its contents, sealed top, bottom and medial margins with the medial margins in sealed abutment and providing a sealed longitudinal strip separating the compartments; and each compartment having a top corner including a tear-promoting element.
 The bottom margin of each compartment of the dual pouch may be of the same width, but have a different height, so as to form compartments of different lengths and different packaging capacities (FIGS. 7 and 8). For example, one compartment of the dual pouch may have a volumetric capacity of 50 to <100% of the volume of the other compartment. This variable capacity includes all intermediately values and subranges, such as 50, 51, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 82.5, 85, 90, 95 and 99% of the capacity of the adjoining compartment or pouch. Preferably, the sealed bottom margin of the shorter compartment having less capacity will be taller than that of the longer compartment thus preserving the overall rectangular appearance of the dual pouch as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8.
 Generally, each side of the dual pouch will have the same or similar width and same height providing compartments with equal volumetric capacities (FIGS. 1 and 2). However, each compartment may be designed to have a different width or differing heights. Side-by-side compartments with different volumetric capacities can be produced by varying the width of one compartment. For example, the narrower compartment may have 25 to <100% the width of the wider compartment. This range in compartment width includes all intermediate values and subranges, such as a narrower compartment having a width of 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 72.5, 75, 80, 85, 90, and 95% of the width of the wider compartment. By keeping the height of each compartment uniform, different volumetric capacities are provided. Care must be taken that the width of each compartment is sufficient to provide for necks of an appropriate size for dispensing the contents of each compartment as well as for the tear promoting means at the outer upper corners of each compartment.
 The width of dual pack taking into account the width of both compartments, preferably ranges from 2.0 to 6.0 inches, more preferably, about 3.0 to 4.5 inches, and most preferably about 2.75 to 3.25 inches or about 3 inches in width. These ranges include all intermediate subranges and values, such as 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.25, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, and 6.0 inches.
 The volumetric capacity of each compartment preferably ranges from 0.5 to 3.5 oz., more preferably about 0.75 to 1.5 oz, for example, a capacity about 0.5, 0.75, 0.95, 1.0, 1.1, 1.25 or 1.50 oz as well as all intermediate subranges and values. The overall height of the dual pack preferably ranges from about 4 to 10 inches in length, such as 4, 5, 6, 7, 7.5, 8, 9, 9.5 or 10 inches as well as all intermediate subranges and values.
 Each compartment has an upper neck (2) formed between the medial sealed margin (4) separating the two compartments (1) and the tear promoting area at the upper outer corner of each compartment. The width of each neck permits controlled release of the contents of each compartment. The necks of each compartment define the aperture size through which the product is removed once the compartment is torn open. While any neck size less than the width of each compartment may be selected depending on the nature of the contents, preferably, the necks will be about 10% to 50% of the width of each compartment, more preferably from about 20% to 30% of the width of each compartment. These ranges include all intermediate values and subranges, for example, the neck width may be 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 47.5 and 50% of the internal or external width of each compartment. For example, a compartment having an external width of about 1.6'' (4 cm) may employ a neck having a width of about 0.4'' (1 cm) at the upper margin. When torn open, the about 0.4'' aperture formed across the torn neck permits the contents of the 1.6'' wide compartment to be released in a controlled fashion. In contrast, an otherwise similar, but neckless compartment, when torn open would release its contents in an uncontrolled fashion through a 1.6'' wide opening.
 However, as discussed above, the neck should be sized depending on the nature of the contents of each compartment. A neck size for a dual pack containing frozen yogurt or other frozen, highly viscous, or particulate product, for example, could extend up to 99% of the compartment to facilitate its release and consumption.
 Generally, the necks of each compartment will be symmetric and form similar sized openings for product release (FIGS. 1, 2, 7 and 8). However, if desired, the necks may be of different widths to permit the contents of one side to be released at a different rate than those of the other. When the contents of one compartment have a higher viscosity or contain particulate matter that impedes release compared to the contents of the other compartment, the neck size may be adjusted to provide for release of both products at the same rate or at any differential rate.
 Preferably, both the top and bottom margins have horizontal corrugations (3) of about 0.5-2.0 mm in height, such as 1 mm corrugations, although either margin may also be sealed to form a smooth margin without corrugations. In FIGS. 1-18, the horizontal corrugations (3) do not extend all of the way across the top and bottom of the dual pack. In FIGS. 19-42, the horizontal corrugations (3) do extend all of the way across the top and bottom. In an alternative embodiment, the horizontal corrugations (3) could extend all of the way across one end (the top or bottom), but not extend all of the way across the other end of the dual pack.
 The dual pouch may also have a fold line, crease, or line of weakness down the medial sealed margin between the compartments to facilitate folding and alignment of the compartments over one another. Alternatively, the medial margin may be sealed or reinforced in a manner to prevent folding.
 The upper margin of the dual pack contains a tear-promoting feature (5) for each compartment. The dual tear promoting features permit each compartment to be separately opened by application of force to the element so as to tear across the neck. Once torn, the contents of the compartment may be easily directed outward through the thus formed aperture having the size defined by the width of the neck.
 In one embodiment, the tear promoting element will angle diagonally upward (5A) toward the upper margin of the compartment, and have an elbow (5B) and a small tear line at its hand (5C) pointed toward the inner neck of the compartment as shown in FIG. 1.
 In another embodiment, the tear promoting element may have one horizontal tear line (5D), as shown in FIG. 19, multiple horizontal tear lines providing tear lines across the neck of the compartment at different points. Multiple tear lines may be used when the neck of the pouch is tapered, and provide a choice of tear points that define different aperture sizes.
 In another embodiment, at least some of the horizontal corrugations do not extend all of the way to an outer edge of the top of the dual pack. In FIG. 25, a semi-circular shape (7) is formed on the left and right edges of the top of the dual pack by not extending the horizontal corrugations to the edges. Of course, alternative shapes, including but not limited to triangles, squares, and rectangles, could be formed.
 In the area where the horizontal corrugations do not extend, by avoiding welding the two plies of plastic on the edge, once torn the corner of the pack will have two ply thin film that will remain flexible. If the plies would be welded to the edge by the horizontal corrugations, the corner would be more rigid. This softens the corner of the pack and makes it comfortable to the user when handling by hands or when introducing the pack in the mouth at time of consumption. This feature also softens the upper edge so as to make handling and consumption of the product safer.
 A medial tear promoting area may also be provided on the longitudinal strip separating the two compartments to facilitate opening the necks of both compartments at the same time. This may be a small slit horizontally aligned with each neck or one or more perforations. Alternatively, the medial longitudinal area between the necks of the two compartments may be configured to inhibit tearing across the medial margin (4). A vertical slit or reinforcement, such as a reinforced seal, vertical corrugations, or thickened plastic bead may be placed at (6) or along (4) to prevent the tearing open of both compartments at one time.
 The necks of each compartment will generally have the same width along their entire height and be aligned with the tear feature as to provide a standard sized aperture when the tear feature is activated. However, the necks may also be tapered in conjunction with a tear feature that offers several alternative tear lines. This permits a use to select a tear line that provides a select aperture size. For example, a compartment having a width of about 1.6'' (4 cm) may have a neck which tapers from about 0.4'' (1 cm) at its base to about 0.1'' (0.25 cm) at its top. A corresponding tear promoting element would have multiple tear lines aligned with the base, middle and top of the neck, which when torn open would provide apertures ranging from about 1 cm at the base, 0.2'' (0.5 cm) in the middle, and 0.1'' (0.25 cm) at the top of the neck.
 Various products may be contained in the dual pack, especially products in which dual dispensing or controlled mixing of separate components is desired. It is especially useful for containing food products, such as semi-solid or semi-liquid products having viscosities ranging from 1,000 mPa to 2,500 mPa. These products include dairy products and corresponding vegetable-based products, such as yogurt, yogurt-like products, frozen yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, semisoft cheeses, soy-yogurt, tofu, and tofu-based products, and products containing oils, including salad dressings and mayonnaise, fruit purees, jellies and preserves, puddings, gravies, sauces, soups, syrups, drink mixes, condiments, and baby foods. The dual pack format is useful for complementary food products, such as combinations of different yogurt flavors, yogurt and fruit puree, or multicomponent foods which must be mixed immediately before preparation or consumption. The contents of each compartment may be prepared using conventional food processing technologies, such as those described in the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, 5th edition, "Food Processing". For example, package contents may be heat-treated or irradiated as described by any of the processes described by sections 4.3, 4.4 and 4.6-4.8 of this reference and which are hereby specifically incorporated by reference. Non-food products may also be separately packaged using the dual pack package of the invention.
 The viscosity of the contents of the dual pack compartments may range from about 1,000 mPas to about 2,500 mPas. If the contents of the compartments have a viscosity below 1,000 it becomes difficult to control the release of the contents and it becomes more difficult to remove the product through the dual pack aperture when viscosity is higher than 2,500 mPas. Viscosity may be determined using a Rheomat 180, 2-2 system at 64 rpm and 10 sec.
 If the contents contain particles, such as fruit, nut, cereal, fiber, vegetable, or confectionary particles, the average diameter of the particles may range from >0 to 5 mm, preferably less than 3 mm, and more preferably less than 1 or 2 mm. While larger particles up to the width of the neck of each compartment, such as particles up to 1 cm in diameter, may be accommodated by the dual pack compartments, such particles may agglomerate and interfere with smooth release of the product.
 The dual compartments may contain the same type of product, such as two fermented yogurt products, which may be the same flavor and color or different flavors and colors, or may contain different types of food products, such as a yogurt product on one side and a fruit component on the other side.
 If desired, a user of the dual pack may separately tear open each compartment and remove the contents of each side simultaneously, for example, by folding a dual pack designed to be folded along its longitudinal axis (4), and squeezing both compartments together. This process provide simultaneous controlled release of the contents of the doubled-over compartments through their respective necks.
 In another embodiment, each compartment will have a different length. This permits the quantity of product on each side to be optimized. For example, when it is desired to provide a yogurt and fruit puree mixture in a ratio of 2:1, each compartment may have the same width, but the yogurt containing compartment may be twice as long as the fruit puree containing compartment. To maintain the overall rectangular shape of a dual pack the bottom sealed margin of the shorter compartment may be extended upward or this area may be used to provide labeling, an embossed logo, removable stickers, punch out areas, holes to facilitate dispensing or binding of multiple dual packs together, or other useful features.
 In addition to a foldable configuration, the dual pack may also be formulated to be tearable along its medial axis (4), for example, by inclusion of a crease, groove or perforations along the medial longitudinal strip so as to permit a user to remove or separate one compartment from the other either before or after its use.
 The dual pack may be produced using various machines or apparatuses known in the art, for example, machines such as those described by Davis, et al. in U.S. Pat. No. 6,006,501 and the other art described in the Background section which are hereby incorporated by reference with respect to how to make side-by-side pouches. However, the machines must be configured so as to provide the unique features of the dual pack, such as the necks through which product is dispensed and the tear promoting area and tear features. These features are provided by unique heat sealing means, such as novel jaws or stamps, as well as by cutting means, such as one or more punch knives or blades designed to provide the tear promoting means of the invention, such as those illustrated in the figures.
 The dual pack may be produced from a barrier or non-barrier type plastic film, such as poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) or other non-toxic plastics or thermoplastics known in the art and which are also incorporated by reference to Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, 5th edition, vol. 18, "Packaging Food", section 4 "Plastic Packaging". The properties and characteristics of PET are specifically incorporated by reference to page 18 "Polyester" of the above reference and one example is a 1.8 mil, 48 gauge WINPAC PET. The packaging material will be non-toxic and have a tensile strength suitable for commercial packaging and distribution of foods and preferably will be a printable plastic. Other plastic packaging materials such as those described by Table 1 of Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, 5th edition, vol. 18 in laminated or unlaminated forms may be used. These materials and their properties are incorporated by reference to Table 1 of the above reference.
Dual Pack Production Method
 A single roll of film is fed into a form fill seal machine. The web width is cut in as many bands as dual pouches to form. Each band undergoes a folding pattern when passing through rigid guides. Once the tubes are formed, a unique design jaw mechanism presses heating pad onto the film and seals the top margin of pre-filled dual pouches and the center seam and bottom margin of the next set of dual pouches. A unique heat seal in the shape depicted in FIG. 1 is produced. Blades are used to cut along the length of this heat seal, thus forming the tearable feature of the dual pack, to produce a medial tear or perforation, and to separate each pair of filled dual pack units. The machine releases the finished pouches onto a conveyer or into another container and cycles the forming of another set of pouches. The filling of product is accomplish during the cycling of the machine between the sealing jaw compression time. Product(s) are filled into each side of the pouch with filling tubes.
Dual Pack Containing Different Types of Yogurt
 A dual pack approximately 10 inches tall, and 3 inches wide was produced from a single roll of PET film, having a gauge of 1.8 mil obtained from WINPAC. Each compartment had a internal diameter measured from the medial longitudinal seal to the outer edge of about 1.375'' (3.5 cm) and symmetrical necks having a width of about 0.5'' (1.5 cm). One compartment is filled with about 1.5 oz of a yogurt product and the other is filled with about 1.5 oz of a fruit puree having a viscosity of about 1,500 mPa.
Patent applications by Jean-Yves Latour, White Plains, NY US
Patent applications by THE DANNON COMPANY, INC
Patent applications in class COMPARTMENTED
Patent applications in all subclasses COMPARTMENTED