Most of us can probably remember hearing the ice cream truck jingle from down the street and running over to order from a selection of Chipwiches, Blue Bunny ice cream cups and snow cones. However, that same jingle that used to spark joy in the hearts of hungry kids, “Turkey in the Straw,” has racist roots as a popular minstrel show tune and has often been paired with offensive lyrics.
After learning this little-known fact, Good Humor decided to partner with music producer and Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA to create a new melody for ice cream trucks in hopes of leaving the old tune, created over 200 years ago, behind.
While it has not owned an ice cream truck since 1976, Good Humor did invent them and still creates treats that are staples of the mobile shops.
“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 of U.S. ice cream at Unilever, in a statement.
In order to do that, RZA pulled from traditional ice cream music and mashed it up with jazz, hip-hop, trap, bells and anything else that reminded him of the joy he felt running to the trucks as a kid.
“When I learned about that song’s problematic history this summer, I knew I had to get involved and do something about it,” RZA said in a statement. “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 song will be available to drivers nationwide this month via a partnership between GoodHumor.com and Nichols Electronics, an ice cream truck music box manufacturer based in Minneapolis, along with resources on the racist history of “Turkey in the Straw”.
The new song is part of Unilever’s recent commitment to combating systemic racism. The brand has also pledged over $8 million this year to organizations and activists fighting for justice and equality and promised to increase its investment in diverse suppliers, create a zero-tolerance policy on intolerance, advocate for safe and fair voting access for the upcoming presidential election and diversify its workforce to better reflect its consumer base.
The death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black lives sparked a rise in the social justice movement that inspired brands to take action, especially as consumers call for it. Ben & Jerry’s, known for speaking out against social injustice, created a Justice ReMix’d flavor in part of its larger effort in the Black Lives Matter and prison reform movements, and PepsiCo released a plan to support the Black community and foster diversity within its workforce.
Listen to the revamped jingle below.