What Shape Is Your Food?

December 28, 2010 | By

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Kosher symbols, called hekshers, appear on all sorts of food, from meats and cheeses to potato chips and soft drinks. Some, such as a U or a K in a circle, are commonly known. But what if you found a kosher symbol in the shape of a hexagon? Or a circle with a horizontal rectangle growing out of it? Or the shape of Texas? Can these be trusted?

The site Hekshers.info is an astonishing database of these symbols–over 700 of them. And the site’s weirdest and most surprising area is a section where you can look up kosher symbols by shape.

Some are confusing (there are 7 different shapes described as “shields,” none of which look remotely similar…and four circles with rectangles attached, which all look very similar). Some are straight-up bizarre (a sideways oval surrounded by garlands and surmounted by a wavy script).

Why do people look for these in the first place? As Sue Fishkoff, author of Kosher Nation, wrote on MJL’s Authors Blog: “Many Jewish people buy kosher products for the same reason as non-Jews: they believe it’s safer or of higher quality. But many more do it for reasons of community, tradition and Jewish identity.” Or maybe they just think that the symbols look cool.

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