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Title:
FOOD IMPRESSIONING DEVICE AND METHOD AND IMPRESSED FOOD
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/021310
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An impressioning plate useful for creating impressions in previously-cooked products; a process for creating the impressions and an improved previously-cooked product formed thereby. The impressioning plate includes a plurality of ridges which extend outwardly from the front face of the plate. The plate is pushed into contact with a cut outer surface of the previously-cooked product and the outwardly extending ridges compress portions of the outer surface and form recesses in the outer surface of the product. The recesses are configured in the mirror image of the design of the ridges in the plate. The compressed portions can then be filled with edible substances. The impressioning plate may be hand-held or mechanized.

Inventors:
AREND, Karsten Achim Richard (1 Bridle Heath Gate, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 2B3, CA)
Application Number:
CA2007/001424
Publication Date:
February 19, 2009
Filing Date:
August 16, 2007
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
AREND, Karsten Achim Richard (1 Bridle Heath Gate, Don Mills, Ontario M3B 2B3, CA)
International Classes:
A23P1/10; A21D13/00; A21D15/00
Foreign References:
CA2498611A12006-08-28
GB2423051A2006-08-16
CA2152972A11996-12-30
CA2282657A11998-09-03
US20060182859A12006-08-17
US5409363A1995-04-25
CA2094811A11993-03-13
CA2356035A12002-09-02
GB2319494A1998-05-27
GB2302303A1997-01-15
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RIDOUT & MAYBEE LLP (225 King Street West, 10th FloorToronto, Ontario M5V 3M2, CA)
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Claims:

CLAIMS

1. A method of forming impressions on a cooked food product comprising : impressing a first design onto a first surface of a cooked food product using a first impressioning plate having one or more impressioning ridges that extend from a surface the plate; and impressing a second design onto a second surface of the cooked product using a second impressioning plate having one or more impressioning ridges that extend from a surface the second impressioning plate, the second design being complimentary to the first design.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the first design includes a mathematical equation and the second design includes an answer to the mathematical equation.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein the first design includes a pictures and the second design includes a word describing the picture.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein the first design includes a letter and the second design includes a word beginning with that letter.

5. The method of claim 1 wherein the first design includes an uppercase letter and the second design includes a corresponding lowercase letter.

6. The method of claim 1 wherein the first design includes a word in one language and the second design includes a foreign language translation of the word.

7. The method of any one of claims 1 to 6 including heating at least one of the impressioning plates prior to impressing the respective designs onto the food product.

8. The method of any one of claims 1 to 7 including applying one or both of a fluid or a fine particle powder as a release agent to at least one of the impressioning plates prior to impressing the respective designs onto the food product.

9. The method of any one of claims 1 to 7 including applying one or both of a burst of fluid or fine particle powder from at least one of the impressioning plates after impressing the first or second design.

10. The method of claim 9 wherein the burst of fluid or fine particle powder is selectively applied to impressed portions of the food product through outlets provided in the one or more impressioning ridges.

11. The method of anyone of claims 8 to 10 wherein the fluid or fine particle powder includes a one or both of a coloring agent or a further edible food product.

12. The method of anyone of claims 1 to 11 wherein impressing of the first design and impressing of the second design are carried out simultaneously on opposite sides on the food product.

13. The method of any one of claims 1 to 11 wherein impressing of the first design and impressing of the second design are carried out sequentially on the food product.

14. The method of any one of claims 1 to 13 wherein the food product is a slice of bread, and the first and second surfaces thereof are opposite facing surfaces of the slice of bread.

15. The method of any one of claims 1 to 14 wherein the cooked food product is part of a set of cooked food products, the method including impressing different

designs using different impressioning plates on a plurality of the cooked food products in the set, wherein the different designs have a common theme.

16. The method of claim 15 wherein the designs are each part of a sequence of commonly known symbols.

17. The method of claim 15 or claim 16 wherein the cooked food products are slices of bread and the set is a loaf of bread.

18. A cooked food product having first and second surfaces, wherein one of the surfaces has been impressed with a first design and the second of the surfaces has been impressed with a second design that is complementary to the first design.

19. The cooked food product of claim 18 wherein (a) the first design includes a mathematical equation and the second design includes an answer to the mathematical equation; (b) the first design includes a pictures and the second design includes a word describing the picture; (c) the first design includes a letter and the second design includes a word beginning with that letter; (d) the first design includes an uppercase letter and the second design includes a corresponding lowercase letter; or (e) the first design includes a word in one language and the second design includes a foreign language translation of the word.

20. The cooked food product of claim 18 or 19 wherein the food product is a slice of bread, and the first and second surfaces thereof are opposite facing surfaces of the slice of bread.

21. A method of forming impressions on a set of cooked food products comprising :

impressing different designs onto surfaces of a plurality of the cooked food product in the set using a plurality of impressioning plates each having one or more impressioning ridges that extend from a surface thereof, the different designs each pertaining to a common theme.

22. The method of claim 21 wherein the theme relates to a story line, with sequential images representing the story line being impressed on sequential food products within the set.

23. The method of claim 21 wherein the theme relates to a mathematical or alphabetic sequence with sequential members of the sequence being impressed on sequential food products within the set.

24. The method of any one of claims 21 to 23 wherein the cooked food products are slices of bread and the set is a loaf of bread.

25. A set of cooked food products, at least some of the cooked food products being impressed with different designs onto surfaces thereof using a plurality of impressioning plates each having one or more impressioning ridges that extend from a surface thereof, the different designs each pertaining to a common theme.

26. The set of claim 25 wherein the theme relates to a story line, with sequential images representing the story line being impressed on sequential food products within the set.

27. The set of claim 25 wherein the theme relates to a mathematical or alphabetic sequence with sequential members of the sequence being impressed on sequential food products within the set.

28. The method of any one of claims 25 to 27 wherein the cooked food products

are slices of bread and the set is a loaf of bread.

29. A method of processing a hamburger bun having first and second halves that can be opened to expose substantially planar food-contacting surfaces that oppose each other when the halves are closed together, the method comprising: opening the first and second halves of the hamburger bun; applying an impressioning plate having one or more ridges extending outward from a plate surface thereof to form compressed recesses for receiving condiments in at least one of the food-contacting surfaces.

30. The method of claim 29 wherein the compressed recesses are arranged as a plurality of concentric rings on the at least one food-contacting surface.

31. The method of claim 29 wherein at least some of the rings include interruptions and the interruptions between adjacent rings are off-set relative to each other.

32. A hamburger bun formed according to the method of any one of claims 29 to 31.

33. A method of processing a hot-dog or sausage bun having elongated first and second halves that can be opened to expose substantially planar food-contacting surfaces that oppose each other when the halves are closed together, the method comprising : opening the first and second halves of the hot dog bun; applying an impressiong plate having one or more ridges extending outward from a plate surface thereof to form compressed recesses in at least one of the food-contacting surfaces, the recesses including at least one condiment recess for receiving condiments and an elongated recess for receiving a wiener or sausage in at least one of the food-contacting surfaces.

34. The method of claim 33 wherein the first and second halves are connected by an elongate hinges portion, the elongated recess being located closer to the hinge than the at least one condiment recess.

35. The method of claim 33 or 34 wherein the recesses are formed in each of the food contacting surfaces and at least the elongate recess in one of the food contacting surfaces aligns with the elongate recess in the other of the food contacting surfaces for jointly receiving a sausage or wiener therein.

36. The method of claim 33, 34 or 25 including placing the hot-dog bun onto a support surface having recesses for receiving the halves prior to applying the impressioning plate.

36. A hot dog bun formed according to the method of any one of claims 32 to 35.

37. An impressioning device for forming an impression in an outer surface of a previously-cooked edible product, comprising: an impressioning plate having one or more ridges extending outwardly from a surface thereof, said one or more ridges being shaped and arranged so as to form a pattern on the plate surface and adapted to form a plurality of complementary-shaped recesses in the outer surface of the previously-cooked edible product when the one or more ridges are pushed into contact with the outer surface of the edible product; and a heating element for heating the impressioning plate.

38. The device of claim 37 wherein the heating element is embedded in the impressioning plate.

39. The device of claim 37 or 38 wherein the plate surface is substantially planar.

40. The device of claim 37 or 38 wherein the impressioning plate is cylindical with the one or more ridges being arranged about the circumference of the cylindrical impressioning plate.

41. The device of claim 40 including a further cylindrical impressioning plate arranged in opposition to the cylindrical impressioning plate to impress a further design on an opposite outer surface of the edible product.

42. An impressioning device for forming an impression in an outer surface of a previously-cooked edible product, comprising : an impressioning plate having one or more ridges extending outwardly from a surface thereof, said one or more ridges being shaped and arranged so as to form a pattern on the plate surface and adapted to form a plurality of complementary-shaped recesses in the outer surface of the previously-cooked edible product when the one or more ridges are pushed into contact with the outer surface of the edible product; and an automated actuator for bringing the impressioning plate into contact with the outer surface of the edible product.

43. The device of claim 42 including a support surface opposing the impressioning plate for supporting the edible product, the support surface defining a recess for receiving at least a portion of the edible product.

Description:

FOOD IMPRESSIONING DEVICE AND METHOD AND IMPRESSED FOOD

BACKGROUND

This invention generally relates to previously-cooked products, and to a process and apparatus for forming a decorative impression in the cooked products.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Parents are always seeking novel ways for encouraging small children to eat healthy foods. Children tend to find decorative designs and patterns in their food to be appealing and are therefore more easily convinced to eat such aesthetically pleasing creations. One of the ways parents have adopted this approach, is by arranging different vegetables, meats and sauces to form the component parts of faces for example, or by drawing appealing designs on the child's food using ketchup or other similar substances.

SUMMARY

According to one example embodiment is a method of forming impressions on a cooked food product comprising: impressing a first design onto a first surface of a cooked food product using a first impressioning plate having one or more impressioning ridges that extend from a surface the plate. The method can also include impressing a second design onto a second surface of the cooked product using a second impressioning plate having one or more impressioning ridges that extend from a surface the second impressioning plate, the second design being complimentary to the first design.

According to another example embodiment is a method of forming impressions on a set of cooked food products comprising : impressing different designs onto surfaces of a plurality of the cooked food product in the set using a plurality of impressioning plates each having one or more impressioning ridges

that extend from a surface thereof, the different designs each pertaining to a common theme.

Food products formed by such methods are also provided according to example embodiments. According to example embodiments, there is also provided an impressioning plate useful for creating impressions in previously-cooked products; a process for creating the impressions and an improved previously-cooked product formed thereby. The impressioning plate includes a plurality of ridges which extend outwardly from the front face of the plate. The plate is pushed into contact with a cut outer surface of the previously-cooked product and the outwardly extending ridges compress portions of the outer surface and form recesses in the outer surface of the product. The recesses are configured in the mirror image of the design of the ridges in the plate. The compressed portions can then be filled with edible substances. The impressioning plate may be hand-held or mechanized. Additional embodiments and aspects are described below and set out in the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Example embodiments of the invention are set forth in the following description and are shown in the drawings. The same reference numbers may be used throughout the drawings to indicate similar components or features in different embodiments.

Fig. 1 is a perspective view of an impressioning plate in accordance with an example embodiment of the present invention; Fig. 2 is a front view of the impressioning plate of Fig. 1;

Fig. 3 is a side view of the impressioning plate of Fig. 1; Fig. 4 is a perspective view showing the impressioning plate being used on a slice of bread;

Fig. 5 is a perspective view of an impressioning plate in accordance with example embodiments of the present invention, showing a second ridge design

extending outwardly from the front face of the plate;

Fig. 6 is a front view of the impressioning plate of Fig. 5;

Fig. 7 is a side view of the impressioning plate of Fig. 5;

Fig. 8 is a perspective view showing the impressioning plate of Fig. 5 being used on a slice of bread;

Fig. 9 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of mechanized impressioning plate being used on a slice of bread;

Fig. 10 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of mechanized impressioning plate being used on a series of slices of bread; Fig. 11 is a side view of the impressioning plate of Fig. 10;

Fig. 12 is a perspective view of a slice of bread showing an example of a 3D impression;

Fig. 12A is a sectional view taken along the lines 12A of Fig. 12;

Figs. 13A to 16B show slices of bread representing images that can be applied to slices of bread according to example embodiments;

Fig. 17 shows a perspective representation of slices of a loaf of bread with impressions according to an example embodiment;

Fig. 18 shows a perspective representation of slices of a loaf of bread with impressions according to a further example embodiment; Figs. 19A and 19B show slices of bread representing additional images that can be applied to slices of bread according to example embodiments;

Fig. 20 is a perspective view of an open hamburger bun according to an example embodiment;

Fig. 21 is a perspective view of an open hot dog bun according to an example embodiment;

Fig. 21A is a sectional view of the hot dog bun of Fig. 21 in a closed position;

Figs. 22A-22C are perspective views representing patterns that can be applied to bread slices according to example embodiments;

Fig. 23 is a perspective view illustrating an impressioning device according to example embodiments;

Fig. 24 is a perspective view illustrating another impressioning device according to example embodiments;

Fig. 24A is a side view illustrating another impressioning device according to example embodiments; Fig. 25 is a perspective view illustrating another impressioning device according to example embodiments;

Fig. 26 is a sectional view taken along the lines A-A of Figure 25;

Fig. 27 is a sectional view illustrating a mode of operation of a impressioning device; Fig. 28 is a diagrammatic representation of an impressioning device according to an example embodiment;

Figs. 29A and 29B are perspective views illustrating bread slices according to example embodiments;

Figs. 30A-30C are sectional views illustrating an impressioning plate according to an example embodiment;

Fig. 31 illustrates an impressioning support plate according to an example embodiment;

Fig. 32 shows a sectional view of the support plate of Fig. 31 in combination with an impressioning plate; and Figures 33 to 35 each show diagrammatic representations of impressioning plates that have curved surfaces, according to other example embodiments.

DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

Referring to Figs. 1-4, there is shown a hand-held impressioning plate in accordance with the present invention and generally indicated at 10.

Impressioning plate 10 comprises a base 12 having a planar front face 12a and a rear surface 12b shaped to form a handle 14 (Fig. 3). Base 12 further includes an upper edge 16, a lower edge 18 and sides 20, 22. Front face 12a of base 12 is substantially continuous, being free of apertures which extend from front face 12a through to rear surface 12b of base 12. In one example embodiment, base 12 is

shaped like a slice of bread, but it will be understood that the overall shape of base 12 may take other forms without departing from the spirit of the invention. Base 12 can be shaped in the form of the previously-cooked product upon which it is intended to be used. Base 12 and impressioning plate 10 can, in an example embodiment, be manufactured from a dishwasher safe plastic, from a metal or any other rigid material suitable for use with foods.

In accordance with one example embodiment, , a plurality of raised ridges 24 extend outwardly from front face 12a for a maximum distance "C" (Fig. 3). Ridges 24 are shaped and arranged to form a design, such as the happy-face shown in Figs. 1-4. So, for example, in the case of the happy-face design, ridges 24 are shaped and spaced to form a pair of eyes and a smile and may include regions where no ridge is present such as at "A" and "B" (Fig. 2). It should be understood that different ridges 24 or different portions of ridges 24 can extend outwardly from front face 12 for different distances to aid in forming the design. In at least some example embodiments, ridges 24 are spaced a distance inwardly from upper and lower edges 16, 18 and from sides 20, 22 for reasons which will be later explained. Furthermore, in at least some example embodiments, ridges 24 have rounded outermost edges 24a (Figs. l& 3) and do not include any cutting surfaces, so that when impressioning plate 10 is pushed into contact with an outer surface 26a of a cooked product 26 such as a cut slice of bread (Fig. 4), ridges 24 will compress regions on the outer surface of the previously-cooked product, but will not cut through to the underside of the cooked product. Furthermore, ridges 24 extend outwardly from front face 12a of base 12 for a maximum distance "C" (Fig. 3), which distance is smaller than the thickness "D" (Fig. 4) of the cooked product for which the impressioning plate 10 is designed to be used. The difference in the height "C" of ridges 24 and thickness "D" of the bread 26, aids in preventing ridges 24 from cutting through the slice of bread 26 when impressioning plate 10 is pushed downwardly into contact with the outer surface 26a of the same.

Referring to Fig. 4, impressioning plate 10 is used in the following manner on a slice of bread 26. The slice of bread 26 presents a cut outer surface 26a with

outer edges 28, 30, 32 and 34 which form a perimeter for bread 26. Outer surface 26a is a cooked, cut, flat surface of the product, but is yieldable and therefore can be compressed and compacted by applying pressure thereto. The consumer grasps handle 14 of impressioning plate 10 and preferably aligns the edges 16, 18, 20 and 22 of impressioning plate 10 with the respective edges 28, 30, 32 and

34 of the slice of bread 26. Impressioning plate 10 is moved downwardly toward outer surface 26a of bread 26 in the direction of arrow "E" and until ridges 24 come into contact with outer surface 26a of bread 26. The consumer continues to apply downward pressure on plate 10 until those portions of outer surface 26a in contact with ridges 24 become inwardly compressed and compacted. Downward pressure on plate 10 also continues until the flat regions 60 (Fig. 2) on front surface 12a of plate 10 surrounding ridges 24, lie in abutting contact with the outer surface 26a of cooked product 26. Ridges 24 thereby form recesses 36 which mirror the shapes and configuration of ridges 24. It should be understood that the force applied by the plate 10, i.e., the downward pressure in the direction of arrow

"E", is a one-directional force applied perpendicularly to the outer surface 26a of the cooked product 26. Spreads, such as peanut butter or jelly (not shown) can then be applied to outer surface 26a and these spreads will tend to accumulate in recesses 36 thereby highlighting the features of the design of the ridges 24. So, in the example shown in Figs. 1-4, the recesses 36 take the form of a pair of eyes

36a and a smiling mouth 36b. A first spread can be applied to the first recesses 36a and a different spread can be applied to the second recess 36b to create a more aesthetically appealing design. A second slice of bread (not shown) may be placed over the outer surface 26a to form a sandwich. The recesses 36 would then help keep the spreads from leaking out of the sandwich. If the slice of bread 26 is kept as an open sandwich, the recesses lend aesthetic appeal to that open sandwich. It is advantageous that ridges 24 do not extend to the edges 16, 18, 20 or 22 of plate 10 because the recesses 36 then created would extend to the edges 28, 30, 32 or 34 of bread 26 and would therefore potentially allow the spreads to leak out of recesses 36. Alternatively, a design can be applied to the

outside surfaces of bread slices used in a closed sandwich.

A second possible ridge design is shown in Figs. 5-8 with the ridges being generally indicated at 124. Ridges 124 again have rounded outer edges 124a and extend outwardly from a front face 112a of base 112. When plate 110 is pressed downwardly into contact with a cooked product, such as a slice of bread 126, ridges 124 form a plurality of recesses 136 in the outer surface 126a of bread 126. Spreads applied to outer surface 126a tend to accumulate in recesses 136 and thereby create both a visually appealing open sandwich and a non-leaking closed sandwich. While the previously described embodiments of impressioning plate 10, 110 have a handle 14, 114, respectively, which extends from the rear surface thereof and the plate 10, 110 is manipulated by means of that handle 14, 114, it will be understood that the plate may alternatively be gripped in any other manner and manipulated into contact with the outer surface of a previously-cooked edible product. For example, the impressioning plate 10, 110 could be used in an automated environment in which impressed cooked products are mass produced. So, for instance, as is seen in Fig. 9, impressioning plate 110 may include a female socket 150 on its rear surface 112b. Socket 150 may be threadably or otherwise connected to an arm 152 of a reciprocating stamping machine 154. Arm 152 selectively moves downwardly to push ridges 124 into contact with the outer surface 126a of a previously-cooked product 126, thereby causing the pattern of ridges 124 to be stamped into cooked product 126. Arm 152 is then moved upwardly out of contact with product 126, leaving a plurality of recesses 136 formed in product 126. Stamping machine 154 moves the front face 112a of plate 110 up and down substantially parallel to the outer surface 126a of the previously-cooked product 126, which is supported by a support surface 210 of a backing plate 212. Plate 110 may also be heated to facilitate compression of the ridges 24, 124 into the cooked product, and removal of the plate 110 from the cooked product 126. In one example embodiment, an electrical heating element 145 is embedded in plate 110 to heat it In other embodiments, the heating

element may be external to the plate 110 for applying heat to it, such as a heated blower directed at the plate 110, for example.

Alternatively, as is shown in Fig. 10, a plurality of impressioning plates 110 may be connected to a rotatable wheel 160. A conveyor belt 162 (which provides support surface 210) moves a plurality of previously-cooked products 126 sequentially beneath wheel 160. As wheel 160 rotates, each plate 110 sequentially come into contact with the outer surface 126a of one of products 126. The front face 112a of each plate 110 rotates into contact with outer surface 126a of product 126. The design of ridges 124 is therefore sequentially stamped into outer surface 126a unlike the manner in which the design is stamped into the product

126 using the stamping machine 152, where the design is formed all at the same time. Once the products 126 have the recesses 136 stamped into them, the products 126, which are slices of bread in this instance, may then be reassembled into sliced loaves of bread, which are subsequently packaged and sold to consumers.

It will be understood that while a happy-face and a geometric design of ridges 24 have been disclosed above, any other desired pattern or design could be formed by ridges 24 on front face 12a of impressioning plate 10, 110. By way of example, ridges 24 could be configured to provide the following designs, among other things: sea shells, puzzles, 3d puzzles, a tree, leaf, stone, river, planet, globe, continent(s), ocean, country, state, province, territory, flag, car, boat, plane, submarine, train, subway, tunnel, road, traffic signs, stop sign, yield sign, merge sign, do not cross sign, crosswalk sign, safety signs, warning signs, traffic light, letters in lower case, letters in upper case, words(car, plane, thank you, please, yes , no, etc), words in multiple languages, numbers, plus sign, minus sign, multiplication sign, division sign, equals sign, formulas, logos, cartoon characters, fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, lanmarks, buildings, animals, dog, cat, zebra, elephant, giraffe, monkey, ape, bull, cow, sheep, lamb, calve, chicken, rooster, egg, pig, mouse, rat, snake, duck hippopotamus, horse, mule, wolf, fox, tiger, lion, jaguar, panther, squirrel, chipmunk, skunk, ant, beetle, bee, butterfly,

fly, insects, fish, birds, reptiles, man, woman, child, baby, mammals, elements of board or other games like tic tac toe, licensed elements or images from games, contests, puzzles, maps, images of activities like sports, team logos, players jersey's, player's numbers, player's names, league logos, homes, hospital, church, holiday images, Christmas tree, religious images, festival images, images of famous people, famous objects, images of toys, phones, cell phones, computers, cameras, pencils, pens, paper, book, glass, knife, fork, spoon, bowl, plate, cup, dish, tray, chair, bed, table, couch, bed, carpet, cupboard, fridge, oven, stove, freezer, door, roof, door knob, door lock, key, bath tub, shower, sink, toilet, shower, garbage can, stairs, washer, dryer, dish washer, microwave, seasonal images like a snow man, beach ball, umbrella, snowflake, flower, weather images like rain drops, snowflakes, leaves, sun, stars, moon, clothes, swing, glove, ball, bat, helmet, net, racket, club, clubs, circle, square, rectangle, diamond, star, crescent moon, oval, line, watch, scissors, shovel, clock, desk, topographical 3D renderings like a sea shell or a map of the US, poems, songs, bible or other religious verses.

By way of example, Figures 12 and 12A show a topographical 3D impression of a sea shell on a slice of bread 26 that can be made usinga suitable configured impressioning plate 10, 110. In some example embodiments, a set of plates 10, 110 each having different ridge configurations can be used to impression different but complementary images onto different sides of a baked product or onto consecutive pieces of a baked product in a set of baked products. By way of example, Figures 13A and 13B show a math-themed bread product in which the equation "1+2" has been impressed onto a first surface 26a of a bread slice 26 and the answer "3" has been impressed onto the opposite-facing surface 26b of the bread slice 26. Using a plurality of different plates 10,110, an entire set of different equations with corresponding answers can be applied to the slices of bread in a loaf of bread, and used as a tool to teach a child to count, add, multiply, subtract, etc. For example, a sequence of equations from the times table could be applied to the slices of a

loaf of bread, with the corresponding answers on the opposite side of each piece of bread (eg. each of the following equations can be on a respective slice of bread in a loaf: "3 X 1"; "3 X 2"; "3 x 3"; "3 X 4".... "3 X 10", with the corresponding answers "3"; "6"; λλ 9"; "12" .... "30" on the opposite sides of the respective slices. In some example embodiments, the answers and corresponding equations can be placed on different slices of bread within a loaf so that a child can then locate the slice that has an answer that corresponds to the equation on another slice.

Similar to the complementary impressions described in respect of Figures 13A and 13B, Figures 14A through 16B illustrate other examples of complementary themed images that are provided either on opposite surfaces or sides of cooked products or on multiple cooked items in a set of cooked items. For example, Figure 14A illustrates a language theme in which a word in one language (eg. "Yes" in English) is impressed on one surface 26A of a slice of bread 26 and a translation of the word in a different language (eg. "Oui" in French) is impressed on an opposite surface 26B of the bread slice (or on a different slice of bread in the same loaf). Figures 15A and 15B show an example where either a letter (eg. "A") or a picture (eg. picture of an apple) is impressed on one surface 26a of a slice of bread and a corresponding word ("apple") that begins with the letter or which corresponds to the picture is impressed on an opposite surface 26b of the bread slice (or on a different slice of bread in the same loaf). Multiple letters of the alphabet with corresponding pictures or words can be used throughout a loaf of bread. Figures 16A and 16B show an example where either a capital letter (eg. "A") is impressed on one surface 26a of a slice of bread and a corresponding lower case letter (eg. "a") is impressed on an opposite surface 26b of the bread slice (or on a different slice of bread in the same loaf). Multiple letters of the alphabet can be used throughout a loaf of bread.

The example impressions described above can be applied either by a consumer who has taken delivery of or purchased a cooked product, or by the distributor or producer of the cooked product before the product is packaged and shipped for retail sale. For example, a bread producer may bake the bread, and

during or after the bread slicing process, impression the individual slices of bread in a loaf, then reassemble the loaf with impressed bread slices and package it. Figure 17 provides an example of a loaf 220 of bread with a sports theme, having a plurality of bread slices 26( l)-26(n), at least some consecutive slices of which have different sports action poses impressed thereon using impressioning plates similar to plates 10,110. For example, slice 26( 1) of Figure 17 has been impressed with an image of a football player running, slice 26(2) has been impressed with an image of a soccer player kicking a ball, and slice 26(3) has been impressed with an image of a football quarterback. Similarly, consecutive slices in a loaf of bread could be impressed with a sequence of images representing a storyline. By way of example, Figure 18 shows a sequence of bread slices in loaf 220 with impressions that illustrate a story line across consecutive slices of bread - slice 26( 1) is impressed with an image of a bear who has found a pot of honey, consecutive slice 26(2) is impressed with an image of the bear eating the pot of honey, and next slice 26(3) impressed with an image of the bear sleeping after eating the pot of honey. Figures 19A and 19B represent yet another example of complementary or themed images being impressed on consecutive slices of bread in a loaf, with the first slice 26( 1) having impressed thereon the first character in a recognized character or symbol sequence (for example "A" or "1" or both) and the second slice having impressed thereon the second character in a recognized character or symbol sequence ( for example "B" or "2" or both), with the sequence continuing through the remaining slices in the loaf of bread.

It will be appreciated that complementary themed images such as described above could be applied using impressioning plates 10, 110 to food products other than bread slices that also have either multiple impressionable surfaces or are sold in sets or both, such as for example cheese slices and meat slices (for example bologna slices).

As discussed above, the impressions formed in a cooked food product by using impressioning plates 10, 110 can have structural function. Figure 6 described above shows a slice of bread in which a series of interrupted, generally

concentric groves 136 are impressed on bread slice 26 to help trap condiments applied to the bread slice. Such impressioning can also be applied to other cooked food products, such as hamburger and hot dog buns to allow complimentary condiments and other food products to be retained within the buns. For example, Figure 20 shows half of a hamburger bun 250 in which an inner surface 254 of the bun has been impressed with a series of concentric, interrupted rings 252 using an impressioning plate similar to plate 110 described above. The interruptions 256 in the rings 252 are offset in consecutive rings in one example embodiment so that condiments that travel radiall outward through the gap or interruption in one ring 252 will encounter the impressed portion of the next concentric ring 252.

Although rings 252 in Figure 20 are shown as being made up as semicircular arc- like impressions, other impressions could be used in different configurations. In some embodiments, the impressions 252 can provide increased surface area on the burger-contacting inside surfaces of bun 250 for holding condiments. Figure 21 shows yet another example embodiment of a baked food product that has been impressed using plates similar to plates 10, 110 to form functional recesses in its food receiving surfaces. In particular, Figure 21 shows an open hot dog bus 260 that includes a first halve 262a and a second halve 262b that are hinged together along a central joint 270 to fold between open and closed positions, as is typical with a hot dog bun. In the present embodiment, the inner surfaces 264a, 264b of the hot dog bun 260 have each been impressed using a suitably configured impressioning plate to form a series of condiment recesses or cavities 266a and 266b therein, as well as a groove or elongate cavity 268a, 268b for receiving a hot dog weiner or a sausage. In at least one example embodiment the impressions created on the bun are bi-symetrical such that a row comprising a plurality of adjacent but separate condiment cavities 266a is impressed along the inner surface 264a of one side 262a of the bun, and a further row comprising a plurality of adjacent but separate condiment cavities 266b is impressed along the inner surface 264b of the other side 262b, and when the bun 260 is closed each cavity 266a lines up with a corresponding cavity 266b in the other half 262b.

Similarly, the groove 268a lines up with the groove 268b when the bun 260 is closed. Providing an impression 268a, 268b where the hot dog or sausage will reside may in some bun configurations reduce the strain on the hinge 270 after the hot dog/sausage is inserted and squeezed by the human hand, thereby reducing the likelihood of the hinge tearing. Impressioning multiple compartments

266a and 266b for the hot dog bun to hold condiments mitigates against condiments squishing out of or dripping from the bun, and can also allow the bun to hold more condiments and or toppings than before. Figure 21A shows a sectional view of the hot dog bun 260 closed, with a wiener or sausage 271 received in grooves 268a and 268b and condiment 269 received in at least one of the condiment recesses 266a, 266b.

Other designs that can be impressed on bread slices 26 using plates such as plates 10, 110 are illustrated in Figures 22A-22C. In Figure 22A, the bread slice 26 has been impressed with a plurality of elongate, parallel grooves 280. In some embodiments, such grooves may provide more surface area exposed to a toasting element, thereby resulting in stiffer, crispier and/or crunchier toast, as well as providing increased syrface area for condiments. Other impressed patterns, such as a checkerboard pattern, may offer similar results. In this regard, Figure 22B illustrates a quilted pattern impressed onto a surface of a slice of bread, and Figure 22C illustrates a waffle pattern impressed on a further slice of bread 26.

Further embodiments of the plate 10, 110 and cooperating components that can be used to impression food products will now be described. As shown in Figure 23, in one example embodiment, a release agent 302 (by way of non limiting examples, a non-stick liquid or fine particle spay) is applied using a spraying source 300 to one or both of the impressioning plate 10, 110 and the support surface 210 of backing plate 212 or conveyor belt 162, in order to facilitate the removal of the food product 26 from the impressioning plate 10, 110 and the support surface 210 after impressioning has occurred. As shown in Figure 24, the release agent 302 can be applied using a source other than or in addition to a spray nozzle 300, including for example using one or more rollers 304 to roll the

release agent 302 onto one or both of the impressioning plate 10, 110 and the support surface 210 of backing plate 212 or conveyor belt 162. In some example embodiments, the release agent is additionally or alternatively applied to the surfaces of the food product 26 that contact the one or both of the impressioning plate 10, 110 and the support surface 210. As shown n Figure 24A, the release agent can alternatively be applied to the plate 10, 110 by first dipping impressioning ridges 24, 124 into a reservior 303 that contains the release agent 302, prior to impressioning a food product. The release agent can be colored or clear, a powder, a liquid or combinations of the forgoing in various embodiments. Multiple layers, including layers of different types of release agents may be applied. In some embodiments, the primary purpose of the agent 302 may not be as a release agent, but rather to apply coloring or icing or other edible material to the compressed cavities formed in the food product by the impressioning ridges 24, 124. As indicated in Figures 25 and 25A, in one example embodiment, a non-stick surface is provided on the leading edge of the impressioning ridges 24, 124 by a plurality of microdimples 310 that trap air between the ride and the food product. Micordimples can also be provided on the other fodd-contacting surfaces of the impressioning plate 10, 110. As shown in the sectional drawing of Figure 26, taken along the lines A-A of Figure 25, in some embodiments a non-stick surface or coating 306 is permanently applied to one or more of the food-contacting surfaces of the plate 10, 110 (and the support surface 210). Surface or coating 306 can be provided by the aforementioned microdimples 310 or by a teflon™ coating for example. As indicated previously, in some example embodiments, one or both of the impressioning plate 10, 110 and the support surface 210 can be heated to assist with impressioning and subsequent removal of the impressed food product. In one example embodiment, as illustrated in Figure 27, the food contacting ridges 24, 124 and surfaces of the plate 10 and the food contacting support surface 210 of backing plate 212 (or conveyor 212 as the case may be) are sufficiently heated

that some of the the moisture on or in the baked good 26, 126 is vaprorized such that vapor barriers 312, 314 are formed between the baked good 26, 126 and the surfaces that contact it, thereby mitigating against sticking of the baked good to the surfaces. Moisture can be applied to the baked good 26, 126 prior to the impressioning in order to encourage the formation of vapor barriers 312, 314.

In some example embodiments, either one or both of the plate 10, 110 or the support surface 210 can be mechanically vibrated at high speed to facilitate separation of the plate 10, 110 and the support surface 210 from the baked good once it has been impressed. Additionally, or alternatively, the plate 10, 110, can be quickly retracted from the baked good to facilitate separation therefrom.

Additionally, or alternatively, the plate 10, 110, can be quickly partially rotated one or multiple times (including quick, small back and forth partial rotations) as it is retracted from the baked good to facilitate separation therefrom.

As illustrated in Figure 28, in a conveyor belt system such as described above in respect of Figures 10-11, a scraper blade 330 can be used to help remove an impressed baked good 26, 126 from the support surface 210 of conveyor belt 162.

As shown in Figures 29A and 29B, in at least some example embodiments a thin anti-stick substrate 332 such as wax paper can be applied to the back surface of baked product 26 before impressioning occurs to facilitate removal of the baked product from support surface 210 after impressioning has occurred. The baked product can in at least some embodiments be subsequently shipped or sold individually or in a set with the substrate 332 still attached.

Figures 3OA to 3OC illustrate another possible embodiment of a food impressioning device in which one or more passages 334 are defined through the ridges 24, 124 of plate 10, 110 such that a blast of air 336 or other fluid can be provided through the ridge 24, 124 to help release the food product 26 after the plate has applied an impression. A plurality of spaced apart channels 334 can be provided along impressioning ridge 24, 124, each having an outlet 340 at the leading or compressing edge of the ridge, with fluid from a pressurized fluid

source being pushed through the channels 334 at the end of an impressioning cycle. By way of example, the fluid pushed through the channel 34 could include air or another gas, powder, icing, dough, other edible product, coloring, water or combinations of the forgoing, among other things. Thus, coloring or icing or another edible product, for example, can be selectively added to the compressed regions 36 of a food product, while at the same time helping to release the food product from the plate 10, 110. As shown in Figures 3OB and 3OC, the channel outlets 340 can take different nozzle type configurations, with Figure 3OC showing an outwardly tapering outlet 340 for diffusing the fluid 336, and Figure 3OB showing a tapering outlet 340 with a central flow director 338.

In some example embodiments, contours or cavities can be provided in the support surface 210 to assist in positioning or holding the food product during impressioning. For example, Figures 31 and 32 illustrate an example of a support plate 212 and a corresponding impressioning plate 10 for forming the impressions shown in the hot dog bun of Figures 21 and 21A described above. A cavity 348 is formed in the support surface 210 of the support plate 212 that includes two adjacent half-bun shaped cavities 350a and 350b for each receiving a respective hot-dog bun half 262a and 262b of open hot dog bun 260, as shown in Figure 32. The cavity 348 helps retain the bun 260 in correct alignment with the impressing ridges 24 of plate 10 (which can be manually or automatically activated) such that the grooves 268a and 268b and condiment cavities 266a and 266b are formed in the correct locations. In some example embodiments, one or more impressioning ridges such as represented by the phantom line 360 in Figure 31 can also be formed in the support surface 210, such that patterns or images can simultaneously be impressed into the opposite facing surfaces of a food product, which can be useful for example for forming the double sided impressed bread slice products described above in respect of Figures 13A-16B.

In the embodiments described above, the impressioning plate 10, 110, has been shown as having a substantially planar surface 12a from which impressioning ridges 24, 124 extend. However in other example embodiments, the

impressioning plate could have a curved surface from which ridges extend and which is rolled over the surface of the food product to create an impression. By way of example Figure 33 shows an example embodiment of a further impressioning device in which the impressioning ridges 24 extend from the curved surface 12a of a cylindrical drum plate 410 that rotates about a central axis 412.

The cylindrical plate 410 can be configured with ridges 24 to impress any of the previously described images or patterns onto a food product 26 (such as a bread slice, hamburger bun, hot dog bun, etc) as the plate 410 is rolls across and is pressed into a surface of the food product. In some embodiments, the support surface 210 may be the top of a stationary support plate 212 such that the cylindrical plate axis 412 moves parallel to the surface 210 to impression food product 26. In other embodiments, the food product itself may be moving and the axis 412 stationary, with support surface 210 being part of a conveyor belt 212. The cylindrical impressioning plate 410 may be rotated manually or be powered, for example by an electrical mechanical rotator.

Figure 34 illustrates yet another embodiment of an impressioning device having a curved impressioning surface 12a with impressioning ridges 24 extending therefrom. The imprssioning surface is part of an arc-shaped impressioning plate 450 that pivots about a pivot axis 452. The impressioning plate 450 can impression food products 26 in manner similar to that described above in respect of plate 410.

Figure 35 shows yet another embodiment in which a food product 26 can be simultaneously impressed on opposite sides with the same or different patterns by passing between two of the cylindrical plates 410. Two arc-plates 450 could be arranged in a similar manner. As with plates 10 and 110, the plates 410 450 can also be heated using an embedded heater element or an external heater element.

In the foregoing description, certain terms have been used for brevity, clearness, and understanding. No unnecessary limitations are to be implied therefrom beyond the requirement of the prior art because such terms are used for descriptive purposes and are intended to be broadly construed.

Moreover, the description and illustration of the invention is an example and the invention is not limited to the exact details shown or described.