Patent application title: Combination Nut/Shell Bowl
Dale Vaness (Richfield, MN, US)
Linda Vaness (Richfield, MN, US)
IPC8 Class: AB65D8500FI
Class name: Special receptacle or package combined or convertible
Publication date: 2012-08-16
Patent application number: 20120205265
An adaptable, two-piece, interlocking container system for use with food
items (such as nuts in shells) that have both an edible portion and a
waste portion, and/or are typically supplied with tools and/or
accessories; and which can be easily lifted and transported as a single
unit. A utility bowl, to hold the food items and accessories, nests
inside of a separate waste receptacle; affording independent usage and
maximum capacity of both bowls. The waste receptacle is equipped with a
connecting stem that passes through a corresponding hole in the utility
bowl, effectively interlocking the two bowls. This connecting stem is
also the means by which a fixed or detachable handle is connected. This
configuration provides for a decorative display and total access to both
the food items and accompaniments; a broad scope of application; and,
with a detachable handle, a very compact unit for storing
1. An apparatus for use with food-type items that have both an edible
portion and a waste portion, and/or require or are typically supplied
with various tools, condiments, or accompaniments, and comprising: a
utility bowl which includes a top side comprising a product storage area
to hold the food-type items being offered, and an accessory storage area
containing accessory holders to hold the tools or accompaniments supplied
for the food-type items offered, and a centrally located connecting hole,
and a bottom side; a waste receptacle of a size and shape that allows it
to nest under and outside of the utility bowl and which includes a top
side, comprising a waste storage area to hold the waste generated by the
consumption of the food-type items being offered, and a centrally located
connecting stem of a size and shape which allows it to pass through the
connecting hole from the bottom side of the utility bowl, and a bottom
side; a connecting system, which interlocks the utility bowl and the
waste receptacle, comprising: the connecting hole of the utility bowl,
and the connecting stem of the waste receptacle comprising a top end and
a bottom end; and a handle means for easy lifting and transporting of the
utility bowl and waste receptacle as a single unit; and which is
connected to, or made to be an extension of, the top end of the
2. An apparatus as defined by claim 1, in which the handle means is comprised of: a detachable handle which includes a top end, and a bottom end which contains a fastening device; and the connecting stern of the waste receptacle which includes a receiving device on the top end as a means of holding said handle.
3. An apparatus according to claim 2, in which the connecting stein includes a threaded aperture as the receiving device; and the detachable handle includes a threaded protrusion as the fastening device.
4. An apparatus according to claim 3, in which the detachable handle is of a size and shape allowing it to pass through the connecting hole of the utility bowl from the bottom side.
5. An apparatus according to claim 1 or 2, further comprising product dividers in the product storage.
6. An apparatus according to claim 1 or 2, further comprising a recess on the bottom side of the utility bowl, located under the accessory storage area.
7. An apparatus according to claim 1 or 2, further comprising risers on the bottom side of the waste receptacle.
8. An apparatus according to claim 2, in which the connecting stem of the waste receptacle is of a size and shape that allows it to be inserted into the connecting hole of the utility bowl from the top side without extending past the bottom side of the utility bowl, and the waste receptacle is of a size and shape that allows it to be inverted and placed on top of the utility bowl and function as a cover or lid.
 We acknowledge the duty to disclose information which is material
to patentability as defined in 37 CFR 1.56, including for
continuation-in-part applications, material information which became
available between the filing date of prior application and national or
PCT international filing date of the continuation-in-part application.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
TABLE-US-00001  1,392,134 September 1922 Farber Nut-Bowl 211/60.100 1,429,444 September 1922 Mallory Nut Bowl and Cracker 99/581 1,639,627 August 1927 Bailey Nut Bowl Fitting 269/15 1,832,585 November 1931 Sample Combination Nut Bowl 206/103 1,945,995 February 1934 Quackenbush Bowl 211/60.100 2,240,842 May 1941 Gehring Combination Nut Bowl 211/60.100 2,473,026 June 1949 Heath Nut Dish 211/60.100 2,693,686 November 1954 Pierce Nut Bowl with Follower 220/531 3,756,462 September 1973 Cain Nut Bowl 220/23.83 4,981,240 July 1989 Missalla Nut Dispenser 222/129 5,174,026 December 1992 Writt Nut Cracker w Receptacle 30/120.200
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 Not Applicable
REFERENCE TO A SEQUENCE LISTING, A TABLE, OR A COMPUTER PROGRAM, LISTING COMPACT DISC APPENDIX
 Not Applicable
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to a device to hold and display food-type items, and the paraphernalia and/or accompaniments that are typically associated with those food-type items. The invention also addresses the need to easily transport and store all elements together as a combined, single unit.
 The term `food-type items` includes, but is not limited to, items which have both an edible portion and a waste portion, thus requiring a separate receptacle for the waste material. This includes items such as nuts in shells, olives with pits, candy in wrappers, hard-boiled eggs in shells, and meat on bones (ex: ribs and chicken). The term `food-type items` also includes edible products that require, or are typically offered with, separate tools, condiments or accompaniments; such as nut crackers and picks, dip or salsa, napkins, toothpicks, salt and pepper shakers, and other utensils and/or condiments; and whereas a place to store said items would be favorable.
 To demonstrate the design and functionality of the invention, this patent application will address the fundamental elements related to `nuts in shells`, which require a utility bowl, and both a receptacle to retain the waste material and a storage area for the tools required.
 Over the years, there have been many attempts to combine these elements; but none have successfully incorporated all aspects in a way that is efficient, fully functional and convenient; and which can be easily transported.
 In many households, especially during the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season, unshelled nuts are set out for consumption by family and visitors, often in attractive bowls as part of the holiday decorations. In order to remove the edible portion of the nuts, various tools are needed such as nutcrackers and nut picks; and which are usually provided separately. After the removal of the edible fruit portion, the shell remains; and a separate receptacle is then required to hold this waste material. When the nuts are no longer being consumed, the tools are collected and either placed on top of the remaining nuts or stored elsewhere, and the shell dishes emptied and returned to the cupboard or cabinet.
 Quackenbush U.S. Pat. No. 1,945,995 February 1934 is a single, metallic, bowl with tool storage in the center; but does not address the need for a dish or receptacle to hold the waste material.
 Heath U.S. Pat No. 2,473,026 June 1949 incorporates all three aspects, but restricts its use exclusively to nuts and the configuration limits its functionality. The relatively small opening to the shell container would make it difficult for a person to accurately drop the shells into the shell container during the cracking process, without some of the shells landing outside on the un-cracked nuts. And the use by more than one person at a time would be inconvenient. Also, the arrangement of the nut bowl and shell container makes it difficult to lift or transport the invention as a combined unit. In this two-piece design, the nut bowl slides over a tall extension of a shell container and extends outward past the sides of the shell container. This configuration would make it awkward to grasp the lower portion of the shell container due to its position being set in and underneath the nut bowl. Since the tools are located on the inside edge of the nut bowl and in close proximity to the shell container's extension, it would also be difficult to grasp the top of the shell container without first removing the tools. And attempting to lift the unit by grasping the side of the nut bowl would just result in the nut bowl sliding off the shell container extension. The only effective way to lift this configuration as a single unit would be to slide the combined unit to the edge of the surface it is sitting on in order to place your hand underneath the base of the shell container.
 Cain U.S. Pat. No. 3,756,462, September 1973 also combines all fundamental elements, but limits its use exclusively to nuts and its basic design is restrictive. In this two-piece configuration, the contents of the nut bowl is partially obstructed and reduced by the space taken up by the placement of the shell bowl. Once the majority of the nuts are removed, especially with the claimed partitions, the nuts would be extremely difficult to reach without first removing the shell bowl or tipping the unit so that the nuts would slide out from underneath the shell bowl. The small size of the shell howl would make it necessary to empty it more frequently; and the placement of the tool storage makes removing and replacing the shell bowl difficult.
 Missalla U.S. Pat. No. 4,981,240 January 1991, preferred embodiment is similar in design to that of Heath, and has the same drawback with the relatively small opening to the shell container. In this design the opening has been widened by the use of a funnel, but the funnel would then have to be removed in order to access the product storage area. Also, due to the narrow tube and sharp angle at the base of the shell container, the shells would have a tendency to mount up at the bottom of the tube and backup into the tube. The product storage area is covered and dispenses the products down into a lower tray as they are consumed. Although stating that the invention can be used for other items, this functionality would limit the size of the items being dispensed to that of small nuts, candy. etc. If a product such as mixed nuts is used, the consumer is limited to the type nuts that have found their way into the dispensing tray, although more might be available in the storage area. And since this is a one piece design, the entire unit would need to be taken to the trash so that the bottom can be opened and the shells emptied. The alternative embodiment, and the one for which is claimed, is a one piece disposable unit which includes compartments for both edible product and waste material, but does not include tool storage for items requiring such like unshelled nuts. With the two compartments combined in one unit, emptying the waste compartment would be problematic and cumbersome if there were any contents remaining in the other compartment.
 And, Writt U.S. Pat. No. 5,1.74,026 December 1992, although combining all three elements in a single unit, confines it use exclusively to hard-shelled nuts and more specifically to the means of cracking those nuts by person of impaired or limited mobility. The shell compartment was purposefully designed much smaller in size due to the inventor's claim that the shells take up far less room than the unshelled nuts. We have not found this to always be the case and feel that a small waste container would just require it to be emptied more often. Also, being a single unit which includes a built in nut cracker, the emptying of the shell compartment would be messy and awkward.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 This invention brings together the fundamental elements needed for the consumption of food-type items that require or are typically presented with, a waste receptacle and/or tools or other accessories. This invention also provides for the easy transportation and storage of all elements as a combined unit.
 The invention can be manufactured from a variety of different materials including wood, clay, metal, etc. Our material of choice would be that of a plastic-type due to its lower manufacturing costs, durability, flexible design options, and lower maintenance.
 While the invention is not restricted to `nuts in shells`, this application will address the fundamental elements related to `nuts in shells` to demonstrate the functionality and advantages of this invention over previous designs.
 The fundamental elements for `nuts in shells` are: a utility bowl to hold the unshelled nuts, a waste receptacle to hold the shells after removal, and a storage area to hold the tools needed to separate the edible portion from the shell.
 In this invention, the utility bowl consists of both product and accessory storage areas, and nests inside and on top of a separate waste receptacle. The waste receptacle is equipped with a connecting stem that inserts through a hole in the utility bowl, affectively interlocking the two containers. This stem is also the means by which a fixed or detachable handle is secured. When nested together the two bowls create a single unit; but when separated, both bowls function independent of one another.
 This invention effectively resolves the problems and restrictions presented in previous designs, and its functionality broadens the scope of its application. When not in use both bowls nest together, effectively inter-locked; and with the utility bowl on top, the food products and the accessories are attractively displayed and totally accessible. Having the waste receptacle nest underneath the utility bowl allows for a compact single unit, and maximum capacity of each bowl. When separated, the waste receptacle can be emptied and the utility bowl refilled without any interference or obstruction by the other. The accessory storage area can be designed to accommodate a variety of tools and/or accompaniments that might be needed for the particular food-type items being offered. The handle is readily available to allow all items to be effortlessly lifted and carried together as a single unit, but which also allows the bowls to be easily separated when desired. And with a detachable handle, the invention provides for a very compact, all inclusive, combined unit for storage or shipping.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING
 In the drawings, which form a part of this specification, several embodiments are shown to depict the functionality of the invention, but do not represent all design possibilities.
 FIG. 1 is a prospective top view showing the functional elements that make up the `Combination Nut/Shell Bowl`, and is the `illustration of the Invention`.
 FIGS. 2 and 3 are prospective views illustrating the utility bowl being lifted off of a waste receptacle having the preferred handle design.
 FIG. 4 is an exploded view of the invention, showing the utility bowl and waste receptacle totally separated from one another.
 FIG. 5 is a perspective top view of the utility bowl alone; illustrating the connecting hole and depicting one possible accessory storage area design.
 FIG. 6 is a top view of one embodiment of the utility bowl, depicting a product storage area that is equipped with optional product dividers.
 FIG. 7 is a perspective bottom view of the utility bowl, indicating the connecting hole that accepts the connecting stem of the waste receptacle.
 FIG. 8 is also a perspective bottom view of the utility bowl but with an optional recess under the accessory storage area.
 FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the waste receptacle with the handle, either fixed or detachable, in place.
 FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the waste receptacle with the optional detachable handle removed, and the connecting stem indicating a receiving device where the handle would attach.
 FIG. 11 is a side view of the preferred handle design; a detachable handle, of a size and shape to allow it to pass through the connecting hole of the utility bowl.
 FIG. 12 is a detailed view of the bottom portion of a detachable handle, and showing a threaded fastening device as one means of securing it to the stem.
 FIG. 13 is a detailed view of the top portion of the connecting stem and indicating a threaded receiving device.
 FIG. 14 is a bottom view of the waste receptacle with optional riser configurations.
 FIG. 15 is a side view of the invention, with the handle in place, and indicating the plane upon which the sectional view of FIG. 16 is taken.
 FIG. 16 is a side sectional view of the invention with an optional recess under the accessory storage area; taken along the line indicated in FIG. 15 and looking in the direction of the arrows.
 FIG. 17 is a prospective side view of an alternative detachable handle design, and showing a threaded fastening device at the base.
 FIG. 18 is a prospective side view of the waste receptacle with an alternative detachable handle in place.
 FIG. 19 is a prospective side view of the utility bowl and waste receptacle as a combined unit, and with an alternative detachable handle.
 FIGS. 20 and 21 are prospective views of alternative embodiments of the invention.
 FIG. 22 is a prospective top view of the utility bowl with an alternative accessory storage area.
 FIG. 23 is a perspective side view of the waste receptacle, with detachable handle removed, being used as an optional cover or lid for the utility bowl.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 The Combination Nut/Shell Bowl, as depicted in FIG. 1 and which is the Illustration of the Invention, includes three fundamental elements; a utility bowl 1, a waste receptacle 2, and an accessory storage area 3; along with the ability for all elements to be easily transported as a single unit by the use of a handle 4. Providing all of the fundamental elements in one easily transported combined unit, is one of the functionalities of this invention which makes it an improvement on previous designs.
 The utility bowl 1 consists of a product storage area 8 for the food-type items being offered, and a centrally located accessory storage area 3 for the tools and/or accompaniments; and nests inside and on top of the waste receptacle 2, When nested together, there is unrestricted view of and access to the product storage area 8 and the accessory storage area 3; allowing the invention, when not in use to also serve as an attractive and decorative display of the food items and the accompaniments.
 The unobstructed product storage area 8 allows for maximum capacity since the food items can actually extend above the confines of the utility bowl 1. This larger capacity means the utility bowl 1 would need to be refilled less often.
 The centrally located accessory storage area 3 provides convenient access to the accessories used with the food-type items in the outer product storage area 8; and has a center connecting hole 5, which accepts the connecting stem 6 of the waste receptacle 2.
 The waste receptacle 2 is of a size and shape that allows it to nest beneath the utility bowl 1, and consists of a waste storage area 9 and a centrally located upstanding connecting stem 6. Having the waste receptacle 2 nest under the utility bowl 1 provides for a compact single unit when not in use, and a larger capacity waste storage area 9 when in use.
 The connecting stem 6 is of a size and shape that allows it to pass through the connecting hole 5 of the utility bowl 1, affectively interlocking the utility bowl 1 and the waste receptacle 2. The connecting stem 6 is also the means by which a fixed or detachable handle 4 is secured to the waste receptacle 2.
 A fixed handle 4 is one that is permanently attached to, or fashioned to be an extension of, the connecting stem 6. A fixed handle 4 must also be of a size and shape able to pass through the connecting hole 5 of the utility bowl 1.
 A detachable handle 4 is one that is separate from the waste receptacle 2, but which can easily be attached to the connecting stem 6. Since a detachable handle 4 is not required to pass through the connecting hole 5 of the utility bowl 1, it is open to more design possibilities; and since it is removable, it provides for a more compact unit when storing. The only disadvantage to a detachable handle 4, depending on its configuration, is that it might need to be removed in order to separate the two bowls.
 The preferred handle design, and the one depicted in the majority of the drawings attached to this application, is that of a detachable handle 4, but of a size and shape that allows it to pass through the connecting hole 5. This affords the benefits of a detachable handle 4, but also allows it to remain in place when separating the bowls.
 FIGS. 2. 3 and 4 illustrate how the utility bowl 1 is disengaged from the waste receptacle 2, resulting in two separate and independent containers. By grasping the sides of the utility bowl 1, it can be easily lifted up and over the connecting stem 6 and preferred handle 4 of the waste receptacle 2; without disturbing the contents of the product storage area 8, or interference by any tools or accompaniments in the accessory storage area 3 of the utility bowl 1.
 FIG. 4 shows the utility bowl 1 totally separated from the waste receptacle 2. When in use, the utility bowl 1 would be typically placed next to the waste receptacle 2, allowing total and unobstructed access to both bowls. Having two separate and independent containers allow the utility bowl 1 to be refilled and the waste receptacle 2 to be emptied without any interference by the other. If a waste receptacle 2 is not required for the particular food-type items being offered, it can be used as a supplemental bowl for additional food items or accompaniments, or can remain out of the way in its nested position under the utility bowl 1.
 FIGS. 5 through 8 are several views of the utility bowl 1, separate and independent from the waste receptacle 2.
 The accessory storage area 3 provides space for the accessory holders 7, and includes the connecting hole 5, which is an integral part of the connecting system that interlocks the two bowls. The specific configuration of the accessory storage area 3 depends on what tools are required or accompaniments are typically supplied for the particular food-type items being offered; but it does need to be of sufficient mass to securely support the connecting stem 6 of the waste receptacle 2.
 The accessory holders 7 retain the various tools or accompaniments being provided, and could include any of a variety of apertures in, or mechanical devices attached to the accessory storage area 3. Depending on the food items being offered, the accessory holders 7 could include such items as recesses for salt and pepper shakers, napkin holders, tooth pick dispenser, cavities for dips or salsa, etc.
 For consistency, the majority of the illustrations show an accessory storage area 3 of a size able to hold the tools associated with unshelled nuts; and the accessory holders 7 are depicted as holes in the accessory storage area 3 of a size and depth to hold two standard nut crackers and four nut picks.
 The product storage area 8 can be configured as one unobstructed area, or could include optional product dividers 10, as shown in FIG. 6, if a segmented utility bowl 1 is desired. These product dividers 10 could be fashioned to be permanently attached to the utility bowl 1 or removable.
 FIGS. 7 and 8 are bottom views of the utility bowl 1 showing the connecting hole 5. The only requirement of the connecting hole 5 is that it be of a size and shape that will allow the connecting stem 6, and handle 4 if permanently attached, to pass through it from the underside of the utility bowl 1. FIG. 8 also illustrates an optional recess 11 under the accessory storage area 3, if a thinner wall is desired for weight or manufacturing purposes.
 FIGS. 9 and 10 are two illustrations of the waste receptacle 2, showing the waste storage area 9 and center connecting stem 6. FIG. 9 illustrates the waste receptacle 2 with the handle 4, either fixed or detachable, in place. FIG. 10 illustrates a waste receptacle 2 with a detachable handle 4 (see FIG. 11) removed, and depicting an aperture as the receiving device 12 at the top of the connecting stem 6.
 FIG. 11 illustrates one example of a possible detachable handle 4, and depicting a protrusion at its base as the fastening device 13. There are many ways by which a detachable handle 4 might be secured to the connecting stem 6 of the waste receptacle 2. Fastening systems could include friction fit, a twist locking method, or the use of a spring clip or other mechanical devices. Our preferred fastening method, as illustrated in FIGS. 12 and 13, would be that of a threaded receiving device 12 along with a protruding threaded fastening device 13. We feel that this fasting system would be the most durable, easy to produce and use, and would hold the handle 4 securely in place.
 The underside of the waste receptacle 2 could be flat and unadorned, or fashioned to include various riser configurations 14 to elevate it off the surface it is sitting on. A riser configuration 14 could include the use of individual feet or a continuous ring, as depicted in FIG. 14; or a larger single center pedestal, etc.; and could be an augmentation of, or an appendage to the waste receptacle 2.
 FIG. 15 is a side view of the invention, with the handle 4 in place, and indicating the plane upon which the sectional view of FIG. 16 is taken.
 FIG. 16 is a side sectional view of the invention with an optional recess 11 under the accessory storage area 3. It illustrates how the utility bowl 1 nests inside and on top of the waste receptacle 2. In this depiction, the size and shape of the waste receptacle 2 is designed to match that of the utility howl 1, and so that the outer edges line up. This specific embodiment is purely optional for visual affect, and is not required for functionality.
 A detachable handle 4 is not restricted to a specific size or shape, providing a wide variety of design possibilities. Obviously, if the handle 4 cannot pass through the connecting hole 5, as depicted in FIGS. 17-19, it would need to be removed in order to separate the utility bowl 1 from the waste receptacle 2. FIG. 17 also shows a protruding threaded fastening device 13 as the means by which the handle 4 would be secured.
 FIGS. 20 and 21 illustrate two alternative configurations of the invention, both of which could also utilize an alternative detachable handle 4, and showing how the functionality of the invention allows for a variety of design possibilities. FIG. 22 is a possible embodiment for an alternative use, other than for nuts in shells, demonstrating the adaptability of this invention. In this illustration, the accessory holders 7 are depicted as recesses in an enlarged accessory storage area 3. This configuration could be used for food items such as chips, raw vegetables, or French fries, where condiments such as dip, ketchup, etc would be desirable. If the waste receptacle 2 is not needed for the particular food items provided, it can remain nested under the utility bowl 1, or be used as a supplemental dish for additional food items or condiments.
 The flexibility of this inventions allows for a wide variety of design possibilities and applications, without losing its basic functionality and the advantages it provides over previous inventions. The only restriction to the size and shape of the waste receptacle 2 is that it can nest under the utility bowl 1. There is no restriction as to the size or shape of the accessory storage area 3 as long as it is adequate to hold the particular accessories provided, and that it is of sufficient mass to securely hold the connecting stem 6 of the waste receptacle 2. The connecting stem 6 is only limited to the degree that it fits through the connecting hole 5 from the underside of the utility bowl 1. And the handle 4 can be fixed or detachable;
 With a little refinement of the four elements listed in Paragraph , this invention also offers a unique, optional functionality of the waste receptacle 2; as illustrated in FIG. 23. If the handle 4 is detachable and removed, and the size and shape of the connecting hole 5 accepts the connecting stem 6 from the top side; the waste receptacle 2 could be inverted and act as a lid or cover for the utility bowl 1. This functionality would not only be preferable for more perishable food items that might dry out or need refrigeration prior to consumptions, it would also be beneficial for storing and shipping. The detachable handle 4 and any tools or accessories could be placed in the product storage area 8 of the utility bowl 1 and then covered by the waste receptacle 2, allowing for a very compact, all-inclusive, and semi-protected unit.
Patent applications in class COMBINED OR CONVERTIBLE
Patent applications in all subclasses COMBINED OR CONVERTIBLE