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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
FOODSERVICE SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/173233
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A foodservice system includes one or more plates (20, 90) and one or more bowls (30, 80) in a stacking arrangement where the bowls (30, 80) can act as lids for the plates (20, 90), and the plates (20, 90) can act as lids for the bowls (30, 80). The one or more plates (20, 90) can hold food items on one surface while acting as a lid for a bowl (30, 80) positioned beneath the plate (20, 90). These bowls (30, 80) and plates (20, 90) of the foodservice system can be arranged on a tray (10, 110, 40, 60). The tray (10, 110, 40, 60) can be sized to hold various arrangements of plates (20, 90), bowls (30, 80), and other items.

Inventors:
GEBHARDT, Paul, E. (171 Skinner Road, Oneida, NY, 13421, US)
MILLER, Garet, R. (646 West 5th Street, Chillicothe, OH, 45601, US)
Application Number:
US2017/025314
Publication Date:
October 05, 2017
Filing Date:
March 31, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ONEIDA LTD. (519 North Pierce Avenue, Lancaster, OH, 43130, US)
International Classes:
A47G19/23; A47G23/06
Foreign References:
US2342486A1944-02-22
GB242877A1925-11-19
CN204351490U2015-05-27
US20080000795A12008-01-03
US2210283A1940-08-06
FR1014442A1952-08-14
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VISCONTE, Barry, M. et al. (Frost Brown Todd LLC, 3300 Great American Tower301 East Fourth Stree, Cincinnati OH, 45202, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
I/We claim:

1. A foodservice system comprising:

(a) at least one bowl comprising a base, a side extending upward from the base, a first engaging member positioned along a top of the side, and a second engaging member connected with the base;

(b) at least one plate comprising a base, a side extending upward from the base, a first engaging member positioned along a top of the side, and a second engaging member connected with the base;

(c) wherein the at least one bowl and the at least one plate are stackable in a

stacked configuration; and

(d) wherein the at least one bowl is operable as a lid for the at least one plate, and the at least one plate is operable as lid for the at least one bowl.

2. The foodservice system of claim 1, wherein the side of the at least one bowl extends upward from the base in an outward fashion such that the first engaging member of the at least one bowl is located further outward from a center point of the base relative to the location of the second engaging member of the at least one bowl relative to the center point of the base.

3. The foodservice system of claim 1, wherein the first engaging member of the at least one bowl is engageable with the first engaging member of the at least one plate in the stacked configuration.

4. The foodservice system of claim 3, wherein the at least one plate is positioned upside-down relative to the at least one bowl.

5. The foodservice system of claim 3, wherein the at least one plate is positioned right-side-up relative to the at least one bowl.

6. The foodservice system of claim 1, wherein the second engaging member of the at least one bowl is engageable with the second engaging member of the at least one plate in the stacked configuration.

7. The foodservice system of claim 6, wherein the second engaging member of the at least one bowl is positioned closer to a center of the base of the at least one bowl compared to a distance between the second engaging member of the at least one plate and the center of the base of the at least one bowl.

8. The foodservice system of claim 1, wherein a center of the at least one bowl and a center of the at least one plate are aligned along an axis in the stacked configuration.

9. The foodservice system of claim 1, wherein the first engaging member of the at least one bowl comprises a rounded edge, wherein the rounded edge is thicker than the side.

10. The foodservice system of claim 1, wherein the first engaging member of the at least one plate comprises a joined lateral protruding portion and a vertical protruding portion.

11. The foodservice system of claim 1, wherein the second engaging member of the at least one bowl and the second engaging member of the at least one plate each comprise a rounded protruding shape.

12. The foodservice system of claim 1, wherein the at least one bowl and the at least one plate are closely-fitted in the stacked configuration where the at least one plate is positioned as a lid for the at least one bowl.

13. A foodservice system comprising:

(a) a tray comprising a first surface and a second surface extending around the circumference of the first surface, wherein the first surface is recessed relative to the second surface;

(b) at least one bowl; and (c) at least one plate;

wherein the at least one bowl and the at least one plate are arrangeable on the tray; wherein the at least one bowl and the at least one plate are stackable such that the at least one bowl is operable as a lid for the at least one plate, and the at least one plate is operable as lid for the at least one bowl.

14. The foodservice system of claim 13, wherein the tray comprises a pair of rails extending along a select one of the width and the length of the tray.

15. The foodservice system of claim 13, further comprising a plurality of trays, wherein the plurality of trays are stackable in a close-fitting stacked configuration.

16. A method of arranging a foodservice system comprising at least one bowl and at least one plate, wherein the at least one bowl and the at least one plate each comprise a base, a side extending upward from the base, a first engaging member positioned along a top of the side, and a second engaging member connected with the base, the method comprising stacking the at least one plate with the at least one the bowl such that the first engaging member of the at least one bowl engages the first engaging member of the at least one plate, and wherein the at least one plate is positioned as a lid for the at least one bowl when stacked.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the at least one plate is positioned right-side-up relative to the at least one bowl, and wherein the at least one plate is configured to receive one or more items of food on a top surface of the at least one plate when the at least one plate is positioned as a lid for the at least one bowl.

18. The method of claim 16, wherein the at least one plate is positioned upside-down relative to the at least one bowl.

19. The method of claim 16, further comprising stacking the at least one plate with the at least one bowl such that the second engaging member of the at least one bowl engages the second engaging member of the at least one plate.

20. The method of claim 16, further comprising arranging the at least one bowl and the at least one plate on a tray.

Description:
FOODSERVICE SYSTEM

BACKGROUND

[0001] Foodservice systems include various serving items, such as plates, bowls, glasses, cups, silverware, trays, serving carts, among others. In foodservice applications, some considerations include storage space, food presentation, food transport, food temperature, among others. While a variety of foodservice systems have been made and used, it is believed that no one prior to the inventor(s) has made or used an invention as described herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0002] While the specification concludes with claims which particularly point out and distinctly claim the invention, it is believed the present invention will be better understood from the following description of certain examples taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals identify the same elements.

[0003] FIG. 1 depicts a perspective view of an exemplary foodservice system in a first configuration.

[0004] FIG. 2 depicts a perspective view of exemplary stacked trays of the foodservice system of FIG. 1.

[0005] FIG. 3 depicts a perspective view of the foodservice system of FIG. 1 in a second configuration.

[0006] FIG. 4 depicts a perspective view of the foodservice system of FIG. 1 in a third configuration.

[0007] FIG. 5A depicts a perspective view of an exemplary tray of the foodservice system of FIG. 1.

[0008] FIG. 5B depicts a top view of the tray of FIG. 5A.

[0009] FIG. 5C depicts a first side view of the tray of FIG. 5A.

[00010] FIG. 5D depicts a second side view of the tray of FIG. 5A.

[00011] FIG. 6A depicts a perspective view of another exemplary tray of the foodservice system of FIG. 1.

[00012] FIG. 6B depicts a top view of the tray of FIG. 6A.

[00013] FIG. 6C depicts a first side view of the tray of FIG. 6A.

[00014] FIG. 6D depicts a second side view of the tray of FIG. 6A.

[00015] FIG. 7A depicts a top view of an exemplary bowl of the foodservice system of

FIG. 1.

[00016] FIG. 7B depicts a cross section view of the bowl of FIG. 7A taken along line

7B-7B of FIG. 7A.

[00017] FIG. 8A depicts a top view of an exemplary plate of the foodservice system of

FIG. 1.

[00018] FIG. 8B depicts a cross section view of the plate of FIG. 8A taken along line

8B-8B of FIG. 8A.

[00019] FIG. 9A depicts a top view of another exemplary bowl of the foodservice system of FIG. 1.

[00020] FIG. 9B depicts a cross section view of the bowl of FIG. 9 A taken along line

9B-9B of FIG. 9A. FIG. 10A depicts a top view of another exemplary plate of the foodservice system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 10B depicts a cross section view of the plate of FIG. 10A taken along line 10B-10B of FIG. 10A.

FIG. 11 depicts a cross section view of an exemplary configuration of stacked bowls and plates of FIGS. 7 and 8.

FIG. 12 depicts a cross section view of an exemplary configuration of stacked bowls and plates of FIGS. 9 and 10.

FIGS. 13A-13C depict exemplary configurations of bowls and plates of the foodservice system of FIG. 1 arranged on an exemplary tray of the foodservice system of FIG. 1.

FIGS. 14A-14C depict exemplary configurations of bowls and plates of the foodservice system of FIG. 1 arranged on another exemplary tray of the foodservice system of FIG. 1.

The drawings are not intended to be limiting in any way, and it is contemplated that various embodiments of the invention may be carried out in a variety of other ways, including those not necessarily depicted in the drawings. The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification illustrate several aspects of the present invention, and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention; it being understood, however, that this invention is not limited to the precise arrangements shown. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[00028] The following description of certain examples of the invention should not be used to limit the scope of the present invention. Other examples, features, aspects, embodiments, and advantages of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description. As will be realized, the invention is capable of other different and obvious aspects, all without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the drawings and descriptions should be regarded as illustrative in nature and not restrictive.

[00029] FIGS. 1-4 illustrate an exemplary foodservice system (100) in various configurations and/or various items usable with the foodservice system (100). In the version depicted in FIG. 1, the foodservice system (100) comprises a tray (10), one or more plates (20), one or more bowls (30), as well as other food serving items. Referring to FIG. 2, multiple trays (10) are shown in a stacked configuration. Also, another exemplary tray (40) is shown in a stacked configuration. Referring to FIG. 3, the foodservice system (100) is shown with the plate (20) used as a lid or cover for the bowl (30), as well as the bowls (30) used as a lid or cover for the plates (20). This configuration and certain features of the bowls (30) and plates (20) that provide this dual function will be discussed in greater detail below. In the version depicted in FIG. 4, another configuration is shown for the foodservice system (100) that includes glassware (50). Glassware (50) may include beverage glasses, pitchers, vases, and/or other containers. Glassware (50) is not required to be made from glass in all versions, and could be made of porcelain, plastic, or other materials that will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the teachings herein.

[00030] FIGS. 5A-6D illustrate trays (10, 60). The trays (10, 60) can be constructed in various sizes, and such sizes will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the teachings herein. Tray (10) includes rails (12) that extend along the length and width of the tray (10). In the illustrated version of tray (10), the rails (12) along the width of the tray (10) extend away from the sides of the tray (10) such that there is a space or gap between the rails (12) and the tray (10). In this configuration with the space or gap, convenient access is provided to a user for grasping and transporting the tray (10). While the illustrated example shows the rails (12) extending along the length and width of the tray (10), and further the rails (12) connecting so as to be continuous around the tray (10), in other versions the rails (12) may be limited to extending along only the sides of the tray (10) along the length or the sides of the tray (10) along the width. In view of the teachings herein, other ways to configure the tray (10) and the rails (12) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

[00031] Tray (60) is similar to tray (10) except for dimensional differences and that where the rails (12) for tray (60) extend along the length of the tray (60), the rails (12) extend away from the sides of the tray (60) such that there is a space or gap between the rails (12) and the tray (60) for access as discussed above. Similar to tray (10), while the illustrated example of tray (60) shows the rails (12) extending along the length and width of the tray (10), and further the rails (12) connecting so as to be continuous around the tray (60), in other versions the rails (12) may be limited to extending along only the sides of the tray (60) along the length or the sides of the tray (60) along the width. In view of the teachings herein, other ways to configure the tray (60) and the rails (12) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

[00032] For the purpose of this description, it should be understood that the length of a tray is the longer dimension of the tray, and the width is the shorter dimension of the tray, when comparing the dimensions of the sides of the tray. Also, in other versions trays (10, 60) can have the same or similar dimensions. As shown in FIGS. 5C, 5D, 6C, and 6D the trays (10, 60) comprise a first surface (14) that connects with a second surface (16). The first surface (14) is recessed relative to the second surface (16). The second surface (16) extends around the circumference of the first surface (14). With this configuration, the trays (10, 60) can be arranged in a close-fitting stacked arrangement as shown in FIG. 2.

[00033] FIGS. 7A and 7B illustrate bowl (30). Bowl (30) is symmetrical and comprises a base (32) and sides (34) extending from the base (32) in an upward and outward fashion. In the illustrated example, the bowl (30) comprises a square shape such that there are four sides (34) extending from the base (32), with each side (34) connecting with its adjacent sides (34). As will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the teaching herein, other bowls may have greater or fewer sides depending on their shape— e.g. a round bowl having a single side with ends connecting in a seamless fashion.

[00034] The base (32) of the bowl (30) defines a top surface (31), and a bottom surface

(33) . The bowl (30) includes first engaging members (36) along a top of each side

(34) . Furthermore, the bowl (30) includes second engaging members (38) connected with the base (32) and extending along each side of the bowl (30). Each first engaging member (36) connects with its adjacent first engaging members (36) defining an outer perimeter around the top or upper portion of the bowl (30). Similarly, each second engaging member (38) connects with its adjacent second engaging members (38). In this manner, the combined first engaging members (36) form a continuous loop, and the combined second engaging members (38) form a continuous loop. It should be noted that this continuous loop configuration for the first and second engaging members (36, 38) are not required in all versions, and that the term "loop" is not limited to circular shapes, but can also include oval, rectangular, and other polygonal shapes. As best seen in the cross section of FIG. 7B, the sides (34) extend upward and outward from the base (32) such that the first engaging members (36) are located further outward from a center of the base (32) compared to the second engaging members (38).

[00035] FIGS. 8A and 8B illustrate plate (20). Plate (20) is symmetrical and comprises a base (22) and sides (24) extending from the base (22) in an upward and outward fashion. In the illustrated example, the plate (20) comprises a square shape such that there are four sides (24) extending from the base (22), with each side (24) connecting with its adjacent sides (24). As will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the teaching herein, other plates may have greater or fewer sides depending on their shape— e.g. a round plate having a single side with ends connecting in a seamless fashion.

[00036] The base (22) of the plate (20) defines a top surface (21), and a bottom surface

(23) . The plate (20) includes first engaging members (26) along a top of each side

(24) . Furthermore, the plate (20) includes second engaging members (28) connected with the base (22) and extending along each side of the plate (20). Each first engaging member (26) connects with its adjacent first engaging members (26) defining an outer perimeter around the top or upper portion of the plate (20). Similarly, each second engaging member (28) connects with its adjacent second engaging members (28). In this manner, the combined first engaging members (26) form a continuous loop, and the combined second engaging members (28) form a continuous loop. It should be noted that this continuous loop configuration for the first and second engaging members (26, 28) are not required in all versions, and that the term "loop" is not limited to circular shapes, but can also include oval, rectangular, and other polygonal shapes. As best seen in the cross section of FIG. 8B, the sides (24) extend upward and outward from the base (22) such that the first engaging members (26) are located further outward from a center of the base (22) compared to the second engaging members (28).

[00037] FIGS. 9A and 9B illustrate bowl (80). Bowl (80) is symmetrical and comprises a base (82) and sides (84) extending from the base (82) in an upward and outward fashion. In the illustrated example, the bowl (80) comprises a square shape such that there are four sides (84) extending from the base (82), with each side (84) connecting with its adjacent sides (84). As will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the teaching herein, other bowls may have greater or fewer sides depending on their shape— e.g. a round bowl having a single side with ends connecting in a seamless fashion.

[00038] The base (82) of the bowl (30) defines a top surface (81), and a bottom surface

(83) . The bowl (80) includes first engaging members (86) along a top of each side

(84) . Furthermore, the bowl (80) includes second engaging members (88) connected with the base (82) and extending along each side of the bowl (80). Each first engaging member (86) connects with its adjacent first engaging members (86) defining an outer perimeter around the top or upper portion of the bowl (80). Similarly, each second engaging member (88) connects with its adjacent second engaging members (88). In this manner, the combined first engaging members (86) form a continuous loop, and the combined second engaging members (88) form a continuous loop. It should be noted that this continuous loop configuration for the first and second engaging members (86, 88) are not required in all versions, and that the term "loop" is not limited to circular shapes, but can also include oval, rectangular, and other polygonal shapes. As best seen in the cross section of FIG. 9B, the sides (84) extend upward and outward from the base (82) such that the first engaging members (86) are located further outward from a center of the base (82) compared to the second engaging members (88).

[00039] FIGS. 10A and 10B illustrate plate (90). Plate (90) is symmetrical and comprises a base (92) and sides (94) extending from the base (92) in an upward and outward fashion. In the illustrated example, the plate (90) comprises a square shape such that there are four sides (94) extending from the base (92), with each side (94) connecting with its adjacent sides (94). As will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the teaching herein, other plates may have greater or fewer sides depending on their shape— e.g. a round plate having a single side with ends connecting in a seamless fashion.

[00040] The base (92) of the plate (90) defines a top surface (91), and a bottom surface

(93) . The plate (90) includes first engaging members (96) along a top of each side

(94) . Furthermore, the plate (90) includes second engaging members (98) connected with the base (92) and extending along each side of the plate (90). Each first engaging member (96) connects with its adjacent first engaging members (96) defining an outer perimeter around the top or upper portion of the plate (90). Similarly, each second engaging member (98) connects with its adjacent second engaging members (98). In this manner, the combined first engaging members (96) form a continuous loop, and the combined second engaging members (98) form a continuous loop. It should be noted that this continuous loop configuration for the first and second engaging members (96, 98) are not required in all versions, and that the term "loop" is not limited to circular shapes, but can also include oval, rectangular, and other polygonal shapes. As best seen in the cross section of FIG. 10B, the sides (94) extend upward and outward from the base (92) such that the first engaging members (96) are located further outward from a center of the base (92) compared to the second engaging members (98).

[00041] FIG. 11 illustrates plates (20) and bowls (30) in a stacking arrangement where the bowls (30) are operable as lids or covers for the plates (20), and the plates (20) are operable as lids or covers for the bowls (30). Furthermore, the plates (20) are operable in some configurations to hold food items on the top surface (21) while acting as a lid or cover for a bowl (30) positioned beneath the plate (20). For instance, in the illustrated version, the lower plate (20) positioned upside-down is operable as a lid for the lower bowl (30), whereas the upper plate (20) positioned right-side-up is operable as a lid for the middle bowl (30), and as a serving piece for holding food items on the top surface (21) of the upper plate (20). Similarly, the upper bowl (30) positioned upside-down is operable as a lid for the upper plate (20) and the middle bowl (30) that is right-side-up is operable as a serving piece for holding food items on the top surface (31).

[00042] For the avoidance of doubt, the directional language used herein follows the orientation of the drawings and figure numbering such that the top of the sheet containing the drawing as evidenced by the orientation of the figure numbering coincides with the top or upper portion of the items shown. For instance in FIG. 11 the upper plate (20) illustrated is right-side-up with the top surface (21) of the plate (20) facing or oriented upward toward the top of the stacked arrangement.

[00043] As shown in the illustrated version, the first engaging members (36) of the bowls

(30) meet with the first engaging members (26) of the plates (20). This is achieved by the square bowl (30) and square plate (20) having the same or similar length and width dimensions at their respective perimeters. As shown in the illustrated version, the second engaging members (38) of the bowls (30) are configured to fit within the space between the second engaging members (28) of the plates (20). This is achieved by the second engaging members (38) of the bowls (30) being located closer to the center of the base (32) of the bowls (30) compared to the location of the second engaging members (28) of the plates (20) relative to the center of the base (22) of the plates (20). In the present example, when a plate (20) is positioned above or below a bowl (30), the centers of the respective bases (22, 32) will fall along the same axis. In other words, when in the stacked arrangement as shown in FIG. 11, the stacked arrangement defines a longitudinal axis that extends through the center of the stacked plates (20) and bowls (30). In this arrangement, the second engaging members (38) of the bowls (30) are located closer to the longitudinal axis compared to the location of the second engaging members (28) of the plates (20) with respect to the longitudinal axis.

[00044] In the illustrated version, the second engaging members (38) of the bowls (30) and the second engaging members (28) of the plates (20) are closely positioned when in the stacked arrangement shown. This close positioning reduces the freedom of movement between the adjacent pieces to promote stability in the stacked arrangement. In some versions, the spacing between opposing second engaging members (38) is about 0.25 inches less than the spacing between opposing second engaging members (28). In view of the teachings herein, other spacing dimensions for the second engaging members (28, 38) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

[00045] FIG. 12 illustrates plates (90) and bowls (80) in a stacking arrangement where the plates (90) are operable as lids or covers for the bowls (80). Similar to FIG. 11, in stacking plates (90) and bowls (80), the bowls (80) are operable as lids or covers for the plates (90) also. Furthermore, similar to FIG. 11, the plates (90) are operable in some configurations to hold food items on the top surface (91) while acting as a lid or cover for a bowl (80) positioned beneath the plate (90). For instance, the plate (90) in an upside-down orientation is operable as a lid for the lower bowl (80) as shown. The plate (90) in a right-side-up orientation is also operable as a lid for the lower bowl (80), and as a serving piece for holding food items, similar to that which is shown in FIG. 11 with respect to plates (20) and bowls (30).

[00046] As shown in the illustrated version, the first engaging members (86) of the bowls

(80) meet with the first engaging members (96) of the plates (90). This is achieved by the square bowl (80) and square plate (90) having the same or similar length and width dimensions at their respective perimeters. As shown in the illustrated version, the second engaging members (88) of the bowls (80) are configured to fit within the space between the second engaging members (98) of the plates (90). This is achieved by the second engaging members (88) of the bowls (80) being located closer to the center of the base (82) of the bowls (80) compared to the location of the second engaging members (98) of the plates (90) relative to the center of the base (92) of the plates (90). In the present example, when a plate (90) is positioned above or below a bowl (80), the centers of the respective bases (92, 82) will fall along the same axis. In other words, when in the stacked arrangement as shown in FIG. 12, the stacked arrangement defines a longitudinal axis that extends through the center of the stacked plate (90) and bowls (80). In this arrangement, the second engaging members (88) of the bowls (80) are located closer to the longitudinal axis compared to the location of the second engaging members (98) of the plates (90) with respect to the longitudinal axis.

[00047] In the illustrated version, the second engaging members (88) of the bowls (80) and the second engaging members (98) of the plates (90) are closely positioned when in the stacked arrangement shown. This close positioning reduces the freedom of movement between the adjacent pieces to promote stability in the stacked arrangement. In some versions, the spacing between opposing second engaging members (88) is about 0.25 inches less than the spacing between opposing second engaging members (98). In view of the teachings herein, other spacing dimensions for the second engaging members (98, 88) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

[00048] In the illustrated examples of FIGS. 7A-12, the first engaging members (36, 86) of bowls (30, 80) comprise a rounded edge with the first engaging members (36, 86) being slightly thicker than the thickness of the sides (34, 84) of the bowls (30, 80). The second engaging members (38, 88, 28, 98) of bowls (30, 80) and plates (20, 90) comprise a rounded protruding shape. The first engaging members (26, 96) of plates (20, 90) comprise a joined lateral protruding portion (26A, 96A) and vertical protruding portion (26B, 96B). In the present example, the lateral protruding portion (26A, 96A) and vertical protruding portion (26B, 96B) are formed as a single piece. Also in the present example, in cross-sectional profile, longitudinal axes that are defined by the respective lateral protruding portions (26 A, 96 A) and the vertical protruding portions (26B, 96B) intersect to form an obtuse angle, or in some cases a right angle. An example of this is illustrated by longitudinal axis (LAI) and longitudinal axis (LA2) and the angle (Al) formed therebetween as shown in FIG. 8B. It will be understood in view of the teachings herein that the same angle exists with the first engaging member (96) of plate (90) shown in FIG. 10B. Still in some other versions, depending on the lengths of the respective lateral protruding portions and vertical protruding portions acute angles may be defined by the intersection of the respective longitudinal axes as described above.

[00049] With these dual protruding portions of the first engaging members (26, 96), when plates (20, 90) are stacked with bowls (30, 80) respectively, the first engaging members (26, 96) of plates (20, 90) can contact the first engaging members (36, 86) of bowls (30, 80) at multiple points. For example, as shown in FIG. 11, the first engaging members (36) of the bottom bowl (30) contacts the first engaging members (26) of the upside-down plate (20) along both the lateral protruding portion (26 A) and the vertical protruding portion (26B). This multi-point contact can provide for greater stability when stacking, which can allow for stacking arrangements with greater numbers of stacked components. In view of the teachings herein, other ways to configure the first engaging members (26, 96) of the plates (20, 90) and/or other ways to configure the first engaging members (36, 86) of the bowls (30, 80) to achieve a multi-point contact as described above will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Still yet, in other versions, the second engaging members (28, 98) of the plates (20, 90) and/or second engaging members (38, 88) of the bowls (30, 80) may be modified and/or configured to provide multi-point contact as described above.

[00050] FIGS. 13A-13C illustrate exemplary configurations of bowls (30, 80) and plates

(20, 90) of the foodservice system (100) arranged on tray (60). The tray (60) can be sized to hold various arrangements of plates (20, 90), bowls (30, 80), and other items. For example, in some instances the tray (60) has a length and width dimension configured to accommodate a sequence of plates (20, 90) and/or bowls (30, 80) positioned adjacent to one another such that the plates (20, 90) and/or bowls (30, 80) fit on the first surface (14) of the tray (60) while abutting up against the raised second surface (16) of the tray (60), or being closely positioned thereto. In such a configuration, further stability is achieved with the foodservice system (100) when transporting the foodservice system (100) between locations. In view of the teachings herein, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate the various ways for loading trays (60) with various plates (20, 90) and bowls (30, 80) in stacked and/or non- stacked arrangements. Furthermore, the description here with respect to tray (60) applies equally to tray (10).

[00051] FIGS. 14A-14C depict exemplary configurations of bowls (30, 80) and plates (20,

90) of the foodservice system (100) arranged on another exemplary tray (110). The tray (110) can be sized to hold various arrangements of plates (20, 90), bowls (30, 80), and other items. For example, in some instances the tray (110) has a length and width dimension configured to accommodate a sequence of plates (20, 90) and/or bowls (30, 80) positioned adjacent to one another such that the plates (20, 90) and/or bowls (30, 80) fit on a first surface (114) of the tray (110) while abutting up against a raised second surface (116) of the tray (110), or being closely positioned thereto. In such a configuration, further stability is achieved with the foodservice system (100) when transporting the foodservice system (100) between locations. In view of the teachings herein, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate the various ways for loading trays (110) with various plates (20, 90) and bowls (30, 80) in stacked and/or non-stacked arrangements.

[00052] In the present example of FIGS. 14A-14C, tray (110) is one continuous piece and lacks the rails described above. Instead of the rails, tray (110) comprises sides with one or more edges that extend upward from the food serving surface or top surface of the tray (110). Other ways to configured tray (110) will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the teachings herein. [00053] Trays (10, 60, 110) may be constructed of various materials. By way of example only and not limitation, trays may be constructed of stainless steel or another suitable metal. For instance, in some examples, trays (10, 60) are constructed of stainless steel. Still by further way of example, and not limitation, trays may be constructed of plastic. For instance, in some examples, tray (110) is constructed of melamine. In some versions, a single tray may be made of more than one type of material. In view of the teachings herein, other materials for constructing the trays will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art.

[00054] It should be understood that any one or more of the teachings, expressions, embodiments, examples, etc. described herein may be combined with any one or more of the other teachings, expressions, embodiments, examples, etc. that are described herein. The following-described teachings, expressions, embodiments, examples, etc. should therefore not be viewed in isolation relative to each other. Various suitable ways in which the teachings herein may be combined will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in view of the teachings herein. Such modifications and variations are intended to be included within the scope of the claims.

[00055] Having shown and described various embodiments of the present invention, further adaptations of the methods and systems described herein may be accomplished by appropriate modifications by one of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the scope of the present invention. Several of such potential modifications have been mentioned, and others will be apparent to those skilled in the art. For instance, in some versions, trays (10, 60, 110), plates (20, 90), and/or bowls (30, 80) can have other shapes such as rectangular, oval, circular, etc. Also for instance, the examples, embodiments, geometries, materials, dimensions, ratios, steps, and the like discussed above, and/or depicted in the drawings, are illustrative and are not required. Furthermore, the terms used herein for first and second engaging members may be understood by other terms understood to those of skill in the art. For instance, first and second engaging members may also be referred to as first and second contacting members or simply first and second members, among other terms. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention should be considered in terms of the following claims and is understood not to be limited to the details of structure and operation shown and described in the specification and drawings.