Home / Entertainment / RZA came up with a new ice cream van jingle because the old one was used in minstrel shows

RZA came up with a new ice cream van jingle because the old one was used in minstrel shows

Wu-Tang’s hip-hop icon has teamed up with ice cream brand Good Humor to envision the signature jingle “Turkey in the Straw” played by ice cream vans across the country. Because, as it turns out, the melody has a problematic past.
“Do you remember the ice cream jingle? Of course we all know,” said RZA in a promotional video for Good Humor owned by Unilever. “I’m not going to play it now because we find out that it has racist roots.”
“Turkey in the Straw” was born from a traditional British tune brought to the American colonies by Scottish-Irish immigrants, according to scholar Theodore R. Johnson in his 201
4 article for NPR.

The original song has no racist undertones. But the melody for “Turkey in the Straw” was used by minstrels in black letters and set on very racist texts – and that’s how it became known in the USA, wrote Johnson. Ice cream parlors often played minstrel songs in the 19th century, which eventually became ice cream van jingles.

“While those associations of ‘Turkey in the Straw’ aren’t the only part of its legacy, there’s no denying that this tune brings back memories of its racist iterations,” Good Humor said in a statement.

Good Humor urged all ice cream truck drivers to stop playing “Turkey in the Straw” and said RZA’s new jingle would make ice cream trucks available across the country. The jingle will also be added to industry-standard ice cream truck music boxes, the company said.

“Good Humor hasn’t owned ice cream trucks since the 1970s, nor have we created ‘Turkey in the Straw’ or other jingles,” the company wrote in a statement.

“However, as the industry leader and developer of the original ice cream truck, we want to be part of the solution to this problem, especially as we work closely with so many ice cream truck drivers across the country.”

Listen to the new jingle here.

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