Ice Cream Trucks Are Changing Their Tune. Here's Why

Those of us who don't listen to rap or hip hop may not be too familiar with the Wu-Tang Clan or its founder, Robert Fitzgerald Diggs (aka RZA), but if the folks at Good Humor Ice Cream have their way, RZA's latest tune could well be his greatest (and most enduring) hit. Good Humor's growing unease over the existing, widely used "Turkey in the Straw" tune led the company to reach out to the hip hop artist to see if he might oblige them by writing a 20-second jingle to replace the existing, centuries-old tinkly tune. 

Ok. You're confused. We get it. Why mess with a good thing, you ask? After all, for decades, most of us were probably too excited about the fact that there was an ice cream truck on its way than to work out that they were playing anything other than a bunch of tinkly notes. 

But the truth is, "Turkey in the Straw" wasn't just about turkeys — it has a racist past (via Deadline). RZA explains: "Remember that ice cream jingle? Of course — we all know it. I'm not gonna play it right now, though, 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, Riz. We can change the dynamics. We can make a new ice cream jingle for a new era." 

RZA was inspired by childhood memories of chasing trucks

Turkey in the Straw predates Good Humor Trucks by more than a century. Good Humor says the song has its roots in British and Irish folk songs, but the actual song itself was used in American minstrel shows which began back in the 1800s. These minstrel songs also were played in ice cream parlors when they became popular, and they were adopted for use in the trucks when Good Humor inaugurated its truck fleet in 1920 (via Good Humor). Some of the songs that use the Turkey in the Straw melody actually have racist lyrics. 

RZA dug past his hip hop roots to come up with his latest hit. "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," he said. 

The new song, which you can find on the Good Humor site, is pretty catchy and is available free for all ice cream truck drivers to download and use.