Take a second and close your eyes. Think of an ice cream truck. Do you instantly hear the characteristic ice cream truck jingle, Turkey in the Straw? The Good Humor Ice Cream truck (when it was still around) played the song for while handing out strawberry shortcake ice cream bars to kids and adults alike. But did you know the widely-known jingle has racial roots?
According to Good Humor, Turkey in the Straw's melody originated from British and Irish folk songs, however, it didn't gain popularity as a song until it was used in minstrel shows in the 1800s using offensive and racist lyrics.
Then during the 19th century, the song (without the lyrics) was played in ice cream parlors and later taken to the ice cream truck. Good Humor shares, "While these associations of "Turkey in the Straw" are not the only part of its legacy, it is undeniable that this melody conjures memories of its racist iterations".
The ice cream company recently learned about the racist past of the song so, in an effort to be a part of the solution, Good Humor partnered with RZA of the popular hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan to create a new ice cream truck jingle. Take a listen for yourself.
Russel Lilly, a senior director at Unilever, the parent company of Good Humor, shared the company no longer owns ice cream trucks but wanted to be an integral part of the change.
"Good Humor invented the ice cream truck and is the maker of some of today's most iconic ice cream truck treats. And while we have not owned ice cream trucks since 1976, we wanted to be part of the solution and offer ice cream truck drivers a jingle that can bring joy to every community," Lilly said in a statement. "So, to create a new jingle, we knew we had to team up with the mastermind behind some of the most memorable melodies of our time."
Good Humor does not own any ice trucks at the time but is hoping the new ice cream jingle will find its way to ice cream trucks across the United States. A statement on Goodhumor.com notes,
Good Humor has not owned ice cream trucks since the 1970s, nor did we create "Turkey in the Straw" or any other jingles. However, as a leader in the industry, and the creator of the original ice cream truck, we want to be part of the solution on this issue, particularly since we work closely with so many ice cream truck drivers across the country.
Good Humor made the new jingle available to ice cream truck drivers nationwide (for use in perpetuity) starting this month through Nichols Electronics, the family-owned, Minneapolis-based manufacturer of ice cream truck music boxes and on GoodHumor.com/jingle.
So the next time you are craving a frozen treat or popsicle, keep an ear out for a new song playing from the ice cream truck. Wu-Tang is for the children.