As the most recent wave of protests against racial injustice ushered in an already dismal summer, racism deeply embedded across pop culture began to ooze to the surface. Better yet, it was always at the surface and some people finally decided to flick on their high beams to see it.
Then there was the ice-cream jingle.
It’s been an open secret that the highly recognizable summertime ditty is based on the tune “Turkey in the Straw,” which was co-opted in the 1900s as a minstrel show favorite.
Banjo player and actor Harry C. Browne recorded his infamous version in 1916 affectionately titled, “N***** Love a Watermelon, Ha! Ha! Ha!”
But it looks like Wu-Tang Clan frontman RZA is getting the last laugh.
In partnership with ice-cream company Good Humor, RZA created a new jingle for ice-cream trucks—and it slaps.
“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,” said Russel Lilly, senior director of U.S. ice cream at Unilever. “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. When I learned about that song’s problematic history this summer, I knew I had to get involved and do something about it,” said RZA. “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.”
Starting this month, the new jingle is available on Good Humor’s website and through Nichols Electronics, a Minneapolis-based manufacturer of ice-cream truck music boxes.