U is for what?

The Daughter knows that an R or a TM in a circle on a package means that somehow the design of the packaging has some intellectual property protection. Specifically, they mean trademarked or registered, respectively; in the United States, that’s handled by the US Patents and Trademark Office. And a C in a circle suggests copyright protection; in the US that’s a function of the Copyright Office.

But she asked me: what does that U in a circle mean on her bottle of ketchup, something I barely remembered even seeing? I did not know, but, of course, I looked it up.

Now, if I tell you right away, then the post will be done. So here are some other letters in a circle:

A in a circle is the symbol for anarchism.
i in a circle means information.
X in a circle is the Greek letter theta.

A couple more intellectual property symbols:
M in a circle is copyright on mask work, which has SOMETHING to do with integrated circuit boards.
P in a circle represents the copyright on a sound recording (originally a phonograph record).

OK, now. According to the Heinz people: “Commonly known as ‘Circle U,’ the circle graphically represents the letter O for ‘Orthodox,’ and the U inside stands for ‘Union.'” Specifically, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (OU) in Manhattan, New York City has certified the product to be kosher, i.e., acceptable, according to Jewish dietary laws. If you see any of the symbols that are represented, which also includes a K in a circle, it means “the food has been inspected by one of the many kosher certifying agencies in the United States. Each agency identifies itself by its own unique symbol.”
The New York Times makes a nonkosher mistake

ABC Wednesday – Round 12

34 thoughts on “U is for what?”

  1. I’ve always seen it around an underground facility. Very interesting. Circle K I think of the Circle K stores but the K interrupts the circle in those.


  2. Believe it or not, in Canada, we have something called the MAPL system, whose logo includes an M, an A, a P, and an L all crammed into a circle that shows broadcasters at a glance how Canadian a piece of music is. http://www.brandsoftheworld.com/logo/mapl If all four quadrants are black, it means the Music was composed entirely by a Canadian, the performing Artist is a Canadian, the Performance was recorded in Canada, and the Lyrics were written by a Canadian.


  3. Very interesting, Roger – I will make room upstairs for a little drawer to tuck this information away, – but can’t guarantee that the drawer won’t stick shut, given the age of the equipment…


  4. I have never noticed that but will check my bottle of ketchup. Could be a great trivia question some day.

    abcw team


  5. I’ve noticed messages on packaging that it is kosher but never the U. Of course I had to have a look on my ketchup bottle. It had MK in a circle which apparently is kosher in England and means the Manchester Beth Din (house of judgement). Who knew.


  6. I always learn something new from you, Roger. Great piece of information — and how like children to ask the questions we’ve never even thought about.


  7. At Wegmans, a G inside a circle, at least on their products, means it’s gluten free.
    Now if I see a U inside a circle, I will know it’s Kosher. That’s some useful information… maybe. 🙂


  8. this is quite interesting! i never noticed U and K in a circle, now I have to check if we have them here.:p

    my guess is they’re in our food products for export. great info!


    1. Gemma – I’m sure there will be a similar, though not the same designation where you are, unless the food was imported from the US.


  9. You’re absolutely right, it’s something I’ve noticed but only barely! What Utterly Unique fascinating info – thank you! (And I’ve recalled the NYTimes making a nonkosher mistake or two the past week alone, haha:)


  10. I have never seen this sign ! I only know an “a” in a unclosed circle @. But I can live with that, lol !

    BTW some Germans call the @ “Monkey tail” …


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