These are the days to destroy oppressive systems. And whether you knew it or not, that includes the jingle you hear when the ice cream trunk drives down your block on a hot, summer day.
The song that we grew up hearing, “Turkey in the Straw” has racist origins.
The song was performed during minstrel shows by actors wearing blackface. A character named “Zip Coon” often performed the song. There was also a version of it, recorded in 1916, titled “N*gger Love a Watermelon.”
So it’s only right that the song be removed from the ice cream trucks which still play it across the country. Good Humor hasn’t owned ice cream trucks since the 1970s, but wanted to use its influence to end the use of the song in the U.S.
The company tapped founding Wu Tang member RZA to produce the new version, which includes, according to Good Humor, “drumbeats, old-school bells that reference Good Humor’s original ice cream trucks, and a RZA hook that you won’t be able to get out of your head.”
The new song will be heard starting this month from Nichols Electronics. Established 1957, Nichols Electronics Co. is the sole manufacturer of electronic music boxes for ice cream trucks in the United States.
You can listen to RZA explain the racist origins of the song and his updated version in the videos below.