Fact Check

Did a University of North Texas (UNT) Mug Spell a Vulgar Word?

Some social media commenters asserted the joke was a well-known one at UNT.

Published Jul 22, 2021

A picture shows a University of North Texas (UNT) mug whose design spelled out a vulgar word.

A mug purportedly offered for sale by the University of North Texas will live forever in internet infamy due to the unfortunate combination formed by the shape of the mug's handle ("C") and the acronymic version of the school's name ("UNT"):


This mug was indeed offered for sale on a University of Texas online store site hosted by Barnes & Noble, but it was removed in mid-2016 after the above-displayed viral picture focused attention on it.

According to a contemporaneous News & Observer article on the subject, a UNT spokesperson denied that the vulgarity spelled out by the mug was intentional, although some commenters didn't buy that explanation:

Users on picture-sharing website Imgur argued back and forth about whether the curse word on the coffee mug had been a purposeful act by the university.

A University of Texas spokeswoman confirmed Friday that the mug’s potentially offensive design — it had the acronym UNT with the coffee mug handle make a C — was completely unintentional.

“It was an unfortunate design mistake,” said Leslie Minton, spokeswoman for UNT.

Minton said the mug is not on sale anywhere anymore and was originally produced for an event about a year and a half ago. She said they weren’t aware of the insult caused by the handle until the image went viral, but that they had gotten barely any negative backlash.

“Mostly it seems people are getting a good laugh,” Minton said.

Some posts on social media assert the joke is a well-known one at UNT.

“The University of North Texas knows about this joke. They’ve been making it for years,” one Facebook user wrote. “That’s what happens when a bunch of PhD students get together in one place. Smart people can see a joke as a joke and realize it’s not aimed at anyone.”

Although UNT itself no longer sells this particular item, similar versions are available through various commercial websites:


David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994 as a creative outgrowth of his wide-ranging interests in a variety of subjects (particularly folklo ... read more