A major ice crime manufacturer is calling on trucks that deliver the product to ditch the song “Turkey in the Straw” and instead use a new jingle that a rapper came up with, because the original has racist connotations, CNN reported.
It’s a bit of classic nostalgia for millions of Americans: the distant sound of an ice cream truck coming down the street, its jingle playing over the loudspeakers, telling kids to ask their parents for money so they can grab a delicious frozen treat when the ice cream man passes by.
For decades, such trucks, including those operated by the Good Humor brand, played “Turkey in the Straw,” an easily-recognizable tune that has been a part of the American consciousness for more than a hundred years.
However, as it turns out, that song has racist connotations.
Rapper RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, whose real name is Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, is working with Good Humor to call on ice cream trucks to ditch “Turkey in the Straw” because of its connection to minstrel shows.
“Do you remember that ice cream jingle? Of course, we all know it. I’m not going to play it right now, though, because we come to find out that it has racist roots,” he said in a promotional video.
However, the truth isn’t so cut-and-dry.
As NPR reported, the song started out innocently enough, originating in the British Isles in the 1800s, completely devoid of any racist connotations. It came to the U.S. with Scots immigrants.
However, eventually the tune got picked up by minstrel shows, in which actors in blackface performed songs and did bits in which they portrayed exaggerated racial stereotypes for comic effect. Actor Harry C. Browne gave the melody new lyrics.
“N***** Love A Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!”
In the song, Browne does a call-and-response bit in which he describes watermelon to Black men as “colored man’s ice cream.”
Good Humor, for what it’s worth, hasn’t operated ice cream trucks for decades. However, they did originate the concept, and as such, they’re acting as part of the effort to convince those companies that still use the business model to retire the song.
“As a leader in the industry, and the creator of the original ice cream truck, we want to be part of the solution on this issue, particularly since we work closely with so many ice cream truck drivers across the country,” the company said in a statement.
RZA, for his part, has written a new jingle, which can be heard here, which he hopes the industry will adopt.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, since the George Floyd protests, multiple companies have rethought their branding and packing when it comes to mascots, such as Aunt Jemima, that have racist connotations.