We know ice cream trucks are one of the joys of summer, but did you know that the origins of a familiar ice cream truck tune are actually not joyful at all? ‘Turkey in the Straw’ is a 200-year-old song with surprisingly racist roots — it first became popular in minstrel shows and can still be heard in ice cream trucks today.
Good Humor learned about this melody’s history and decided to take action. The ice cream maker has teamed up with legendary music producer and founder of the Wu-Tang Clan, The RZA, to create a new ice cream truck jingle for a new era, available to ice cream trucks nationwide starting this month.
While Good Humor did not create ‘Turkey in the Straw’ or other ice cream truck jingles, the brand is using its influence to acknowledge the song’s history, educate drivers and fans, and help the ice cream truck industry remove it from use.
“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,” said Russel Lilly, Senior Director, U.S. Ice Cream at Unilever. “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.”
To create an original jingle, The RZA drew inspiration from his own childhood memories of chasing after the ice cream truck in his neighborhood. The track borrows from traditional ice cream truck music and adds jazz and hip-hop elements. Expect trap drumbeats, some old-school bells that reference Good Humor’s original ice cream trucks, and a distinct RZA hook that you will not be able to get out of your head.
“I remember the days when I would hear that iconic ice cream truck jingle outside, and I would drop what I was doing to chase it down for a treat. When I learned about that song’s problematic history this summer, I knew I had to get involved and do something about it,” said RZA. “I’m excited to share this new jingle with a new era of ice cream truck fans and continue to spread that joy with Good Humor.”
The new jingle is available to ice cream truck drivers nationwide starting this month on GoodHumor.com and through Nichols Electronics, the family-owned, Minneapolis-based manufacturer of ice cream truck music boxes. Good Humor will also be providing resources to help educate drivers about ‘Turkey in the Straw’s’ history and instructions for how to replace it in their trucks.
Good Humor is proud to be part of Unilever and its family of brands who have pledged more than $8 million in 2020 to organizations and activists working for social justice and racial equality. As part of Unilever:
- We will continue to increase our work with and investment in diverse suppliers
- We continue to work to ensure the diversity of our workforce fully reflects the communities we serve
- We uphold a zero-tolerance policy on intolerance – both among Unilever employees and the suppliers, customers and partners that work with us
- We will add our voice and influence to advocate for safe and fair access to voting this November