What do OMG, BFF, SKU, USB, OU, YKK, PVC, OTIS and LOL have in common? Read on.



By now, many of you know about our favorite saying here at KHT Headquarters… We Love Your PIA (Pain in the @%$) Jobs! Like many acronyms, for us, and our customers, it’s become our mantra – got an issue with a part… keeping you up at night? – send it our way and we’ll get right on it, saving you time and money… and headaches. Now my wife Jackie is absolutely amazing with acronyms, not my strength!  Some words and letters are such a familiar part of everyday life that they often go unnoticed. From markings on your electronics, food packaging, and clothes to the words you see on water bottles and inside elevators, here are the meanings behind some mysterious letters you might see every day, along with some everyday leaders from social media.  Enjoy, and thanks to and for the info.


The letters “UL” can be found on many things, including electric plugs, heaters, smoke alarms, and personal flotation devices. UL stands for “Underwriters Laboratories,” a company that’s been conducting product safety testing for more than a century. If an item meets UL’s safety standards, it earns the right to bear a “UL” mark.  The man who founded what became UL, William Henry Merrill Jr., got the idea to set up an electrical testing laboratory after being dispatched to check fire risks at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The Underwriters Electrical Bureau was founded in 1894, and Underwriters Laboratories was incorporated in 1901. UL began offering its label service to certify products it had tested in 1906.


You may have spotted a “CE” on eyeglass frames, mobile phones (or their packaging), appliances, electronics, and more. CE stands for the French phrase “Conformité Européenne,” which means “European compliance.” The CE designation indicates an item has met the standards to be sold in the European Economic Area..


Mobile phones, earbuds, television stations, and other communication devices operate on radio frequencies. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission checks to make sure these devices can function with no harmful interference. The FCC also ensures a device won’t overexpose users to radiofrequency (RF) energy.,


OTIS refers to the Otis Elevator Company.  In the 1830s and ’40s, passengers regularly died in elevators when lifting cables broke. Inventor Elisha Graves Otis created an elevator safety brake, and in 1853, showed off his invention at New York City’s Crystal Palace Convention by ascending on an open platform, cutting the hoisting rope with an ax, and not falling thanks to the safety brake. Four years later, E.V. Haughwout and Company’s department store in Manhattan became the first business to use elevators equipped with this special brake.  After the Otis Elevator Company was founded in 1853 and Otis patented his invention in 1861, Otis elevators helped transform cities. (they made an elevator for the Eiffel Tower!) Today, the company continues to make elevators with the name “Otis” displayed inside, sticking to the same basic engineering principles that Otis originally used.


For folks around here, it means Ohio University, and OSU is of course Ohio State University. But for people who don’t “keep kosher” they may have seen the letter “U” inside a circle on some food items and not have known this indicated the item was processed according to Jewish dietary laws. This letter “U” is actually inside an “O,” not a circle; “OU” stands for “Orthodox Union Kosher.” Some products may be marked with “OU-D” to indicate that they contain dairy or were made on equipment that handled dairy. “OU-P” tells people an item is kosher for Passover. “OU” isn’t the only way to signal that a food item is Kosher. A “K” inside a circle or a star are other well-known marks for kosher foods.


You can find the letters “PET” on many plastic bottles. . PET is an acronym for the plastic “polyethylene terephthalate,” which is part of the polyester family of polymers. Above the word “PET” on these bottles, you’ll also usually see a 1 in a triangle made up of arrows. This is a recycling code. PET bottles can successfully be recycled, To see all the plastic codes/icons, click here:


USB is such a familiar term that you may not be aware it’s an acronym for “universal serial bus.” USB really did live up to the “universal” part of its name. Before USB, serial ports, parallel ports, and more were used to connect external devices like keyboards, mice, and printers. USB made it possible for these different devices to hook up to computers via the same connection.


Zippers are part of our daily lives, whether on our jeans, coats, or bags, and as long as they work, they usually don’t receive intense scrutiny. However, a closer look at various zippers will likely reveal that many of them are inscribed with the letters “YKK.”  YKK stands for “Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha,” which roughly translates to “Yoshida Manufacturing Shareholding Company.” This company, founded in 1934, uses its own brass, polyester, threads, and even zipper machines. By controlling so much of the process, YKK can deliver high-quality zippers, and explains why half of the world’s zippers have YKK zippers.


QR codes are those pixelated-looking black-and-white squares that you can scan with your phone for more information about something, whether it’s an advertisement or a piece of art. They’ve become ubiquitous, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic popularized contactless menus and payment. However, they’re very rarely called by their full name.

“QR” actually stands for “quick response,”. The technology was first developed by a Toyota subsidiary in the mid-’90s as a way to track auto parts.


You’ve probably noticed a UPC while out shopping, especially if you use self-checkout. It stands for “universal product code.” UPCs have two parts, both of which communicate information to a computer: a barcode, and a 12-digit product code called a Global Trade Item Number, or GTIN, includes a company code for the manufacturer and a product code for the item itself. Manufacturers have to buy each individual code from GS1, a nonprofit industry group that tracks everything.


You’ll most commonly see “SKU” in online shopping carts, but occasionally someone will use it as a synonym for “product.” It stands for “stock keeping unit,” and like UPCs, it keeps track of products for sale. Unlike UPCs, which are universal across different companies, a SKU refers to an inventory item internally within one company.


If you’re a crafter or handyperson, you’ve probably come across PVC pipe. Typically, it’s used in water systems from home plumbing to city utilities, but clever DIYers have used it for everything from storage to cosplay, because it’s waterproof, sturdy, durable, and cheap. PVC stands for “polyvinyl chloride.” One of the most-used plastics in the world.


VR and AR

You’ve probably seen the terms “VR” and “AR” in arcades, science fiction, and buzzy new technology products. VR stands for “virtual reality,” and refers to an environment that’s entirely simulated. Some gamers use VR headsets to immerse themselves fully in a video game with a full, 360-degree view of a digital world (check out the new Apple headset:  AR, or “augmented reality,” adds simulated digital elements to the actual world around you. If you’ve played Pokemon Go — which superimposes Pokemon characters and other game elements on top of your surroundings using a smartphone camera — you’ve experienced an augmented reality application.


GIF images — that’s Graphics Interchange Format — have been used for more than three decades, although these days they’re mostly used for brief animations. The format was invented in 1987 by the CompuServe internet service provider, and once upon a time it was often used for still images. Because it uses limited colors, it kept file sizes low, which was especially critical when internet speeds were much slower.,


You may have seen “PU” a lot recently to describe PU leather, a material used to create clothing, accessories, and upholstery. PU stands for polyurethane, a kind of artificial material commonly used in spandex.


JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, which is the name of the committee that created the standard in 1983. It is a commonly used method of lossy compression for digital images, particularly for photographs. The JPEG compression algorithm works by reducing the file size of an image by selectively discarding certain information that the human eye is less likely to notice. This compression makes JPEG an efficient format for storing and transmitting digital images, as it reduces file sizes while still maintaining reasonable image quality.

And some favorite social media abbreviations:

LOL        – Laugh Out Loud

BRB       – Be Right Back

OMG     – Oh My God

FYI          – For Your Information

IMO       – In My Opinion/In My Humble Opinion

TBH       – To Be Honest

SMH      – Shaking My Head

BTW      – By The Way

ASAP    – As Soon As Possible

TFW       – That Feeling When

BFF        – Best Friends Forever (me and my loving wife Jackie!!)

The Acronym Song



Me, too.

As you may know the Kowalski Heat Treating logo finds its way
into the visuals of my Friday posts.
I.  Love.  My.  Logo.
One week there could be three logos.
The next week there could be 15 logos.
And sometimes the logo is very small or just a partial logo showing.
But there are always logos in some of the pictures.
So, I challenge you, my beloved readers, to count them and send me a
quick email with the total number of logos in the Friday post.
On the following Tuesday I’ll pick a winner from the correct answers
and send that lucky person some great KHT swag.
So, start counting and good luck!  
Oh, and the logos at the very top header don’t count.
Got it? Good.  :-))))
Have fun!!


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