*RZA of the iconic hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan has teamed up with the ice cream brand Good Humor to re-work the signature jingle played by ice cream trucks across the country.
The original tune, “Turkey in the Straw,” has a racist history, as it was popular at minstrel shows 200 years ago.
“Do you remember that ice cream jingle? Of course, we all know it,” RZA said in a promo video for Good Humor, which is owned by Unilever, per NBC.com. “I’m not going to play it right now, though, because we come to find out that it has racist roots.”
Theodore R. Johnson wrote a piece for NPR in 2014 about the history of the song, explaining the minstrel shows added racist lyrics to the tune.
“There is simply no divorcing the song from the dozens of decades it was almost exclusively used for coming up with new ways to ridicule, and profit from, black people,” Johnson wrote.
We’re dropping a different kind of track: a new ice cream truck jingle. Sound UP to hear why I collabed with @GoodHumor.
Check out the full track here: https://t.co/KTXx2Dd9xT #GoodHumorPartner pic.twitter.com/9SXxvuTGCu
— RZA! (@RZA) August 13, 2020
“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,” Russel Lilly, a senior director at Unilever, 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.”
“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,” RZA said. “When I learned about that song’s problematic history this summer, I knew I had to get involved and do something about it.”
He added, “We wanted to make a melody that includes all communities — that’s good for every driver, every kid. And I’m proud to say, for the first time in a long time, a new ice cream truck jingle will be made available to trucks all across the country in perpetuity.”
Scroll up and hear the new jingle via the YouTube clip above.