Wu-Tang Clan rapper RZA has produced a new jingle for ice cream trucks across America, replacing the current sound that has racist roots and has created renewed controversy.
RZA is partnering with ice cream maker Good Humor on the fresh chime, which will debut on trucks this month. According to Good Humor, the collaboration is a step to fight racism.
The much-needed tune-up will take the place of “Turkey in the Straw,” the roughly 200-year-old ice cream truck song that in recent weeks has surfaced in discussions about its racist origins.
The song first become popular in the minstrel show performances. Music sheets for the song featured Black caricatures. It has been blasted for its racism. This clear breakdown on the song’s nasty history was posted by actress Viola Davis on her Instagram account.
The new jingle comes as many U.S. companies are re-branding or re-naming everything from pancake syrup to theme park rides amid national protests and riots sparked by the death of George Floyd.
To create the new “It’s Good” jingle, RZA drew inspiration from his own childhood memories of chasing after the ice cream truck in his neighborhood, according to a news release. The track borrows from traditional ice cream music and adds jazz and hip-hop elements.
“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,” RZA said. “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.”
Launched around 1920 in Youngstown, Ohio, Good Humor started with the first ice cream on a stick and an original ice cream truck, according to its website. In 1976, Good Humor sold its fleet of vehicles to focus on selling its ice cream in grocery stores.
The company did not create the controversial “Turkey in the Straw” or other truck jingles. However, Good Humor claims it is using its influence to acknowledge the song’s history, educate drivers and fans, and remove it from use across the industry. Good Humor’s ice cream products are sold on trucks used by vendors who might use the new jingle.
“Good Humor is the original inventor of the ice cream truck and the maker of some of today’s most iconic ice cream truck treats. So, to create a new jingle, we knew we had to team up with the mastermind behind some of the most iconic melodies of our time,” said Russel Lilly, senior director, U.S. Ice Cream, at Unilever. “As we mark our 100th anniversary, we are proud to have created a jingle that can bring joy to every community for the next century.”
The new tune is available to truck drivers nationwide via Nichols Electronics, the Minneapolis-based maker of ice cream truck music boxes. Good Humor reports it will provide resources to help educate drivers about “Turkey In the Straw’s” history and instructions for how to replace it in its trucks.