The Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA recently partnered with ice cream company Good Humor to create a new ice cream truck jingle. The original song, “Turkey in the Straw,” is one of the most iconic ice cream truck jingles and is played every day in neighborhoods all over the world. However, many people don’t realize that the familiar tune has some racist roots. When talking about the goal for the new ice cream song, RZA says, “We wanted to make a melody that includes all communities; that’s good for every driver, every kid.”
The “Turkey in the Straw” melody originates from British and Irish folk songs, which did not contain racial connotations. But the song itself was first performed (and gained popularity) in American minstrel shows in the 1800s. Some songs using its same melody contained highly offensive, racist lyrics, including “N***** Wants a Watermelon Ha Ha Ha,” which was Released in March 1916 by Columbia Records, and written by actor Harry C. Browne. RZA and Good Humor are attempting to erase that memory. RZA explains.
“Remember that ice cream jingle? Of course – we all know it. I’m not gonna play it right now because we come to find out that it has racist roots. But check this out – Good Humor, they called me up and they was like ‘We gotta do something about this RZA. We gotta change the dynamics. We can make a new ice cream jingle for a new era.’ 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! That means forever, you know like Wu-Tang is forever.”
RZA produced a new ice cream jingle that has some current production updates, but captures the joyful and timeless feeling of getting an ice cream from a truck. The new jingle will come pre-installed in future ice cream truck music boxes and is available for free to any drivers who would like to start using it today. This all comes from Good Humor trying to help eradicate systemic racism. They released a statement which reads, “Ending systemic racism and social injustice is a challenge that requires multiple interventions. Racial issues are human rights issues and everyone has a critical role to play in creating systemic change.” The statement concludes, “We know that changing a song alone will not solve racism, but it is one immediate and simple step we can take.”
In addition to offering up RZA’s new ice cream truck jingle for free, Good Humor is also providing education on how to get rid of “Turkey and the Straw” and replace it with the new jingle. So, in a few weeks and even months, we should start hearing RZA’s new jingle out in neighborhoods all over the world, proving that once again, Wu-Tang is for the children. It’s nice to see some positive news in 2020.
RZA has been pretty active on social media as of late, discussing politics and also taking part in virtual DJ battles. He has been providing entertainment to his fans and the world at a time when people really need it, which is all a part of the Wu-Tang spirit and message. You can watch RZA explain the Good Humor partnership above, while also listening to the new ice cream truck jingle, thanks to the Good Humor YouTube channel.