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

35 Responses to “U is for what?”

  • Great info. I’d never have got that.

  • Ann says:

    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.

  • Carver says:

    I learned something new with this post. Perfect for U.

  • Richie says:

    I now have even more fascinating trivia to overwhelm people with. 🙂
    An Arkies Musings

  • Roy Schulze says:

    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. 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.

  • photowannabe says:

    Very UNIQUE.
    The only reason I knew the answer is that I used to work doing Food Shows for the Trade and we featured many Kosher products.
    Great post today.

  • Meryl says:

    I knew, but you relayed the information accurately and set up the suspense brilliantly!!! Have a great week.

  • Hildred says:

    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…

  • Reader Wil says:

    Interesting post Roger! Now I am going to pay more attention to the food I buy!
    Have a great week.
    Wil, ABCW Team

  • Robyn says:

    Great information to store away in case I ever go on Jeopardy! 🙂

  • Leslie says:

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

    abcw team

  • Marleen, NL says:

    Never knew that, thanks Roger.

  • Joy says:

    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.

  • Leovi says:

    Yes, I like, an interesting tour of the letters framed by a circle. Greetings.

  • Nonnie says:

    how informative…and fun to know! thank you, dear Roger

  • Dina says:

    Ah yes, the ubiquitous circle U kashrut stamp.

    Thanks for this kosher post, Roger. Shalom from Jerusalem.

  • ChrisJ says:

    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.

  • Jama says:

    Always an interesting and informative post. Roger!

  • Martha says:

    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. 🙂

  • Cindi says:


  • Luna Miranda says:

    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!

  • Wanda says:

    Well, now we know! Glad your daughter inquired…and glad Dad came to the rescue!!

  • ann nz says:

    Orthodox Jewish Congregations will only eat food with a U in a circle? LOL, just like the Muslims eat H for Halal food?

  • Hazel says:

    Going to a Jewish restaurant and grocecry… I’ll see if I can find or notice a K in a circle in some Kosher food product.

  • magiceye says:

    Wow!! That sure is informative!

  • Rajesh says:

    Great, I did not know this before.

  • I wonder the U sign if only applies to the States or applies in other countries too! I have never seen it in Australia, but I’ll be looking now!

  • Roger says:

    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.

  • Londonlulu says:

    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:)

  • Gattina says:

    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” …

  • lisa says:

    I had no idea! Thanks for the insight.

  • bettyl says:

    The things we learn!

  • Lise says:

    U are always an unbelievable wealth of information!!!

  • You are like a living encyclopedia Roger, lots of information stored in your brain hehehe.

    Universal Wrap
    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

  • November5th says:

    It’s known as the KOSHAR MAFIA. Watch the YouTube vid. 1.8% Jewish in this country so why does the food have to be Koshar. Because the Jewish power in this country will ruin any business/company that does not allow the UNION OF RABBI’s (that’s what the U stands for) to come to you factory line and have a RELIGIOUS figure make sure it’s done as the JEWISH RELIGION dictates at the expense of the company to make sure it’s Clean and no filthy GENTILE TOUCHED IT AND MADE IT UNCLEAN. If the Company/business does not ……well you know what would happen to that company.

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