RZA of The Wu-Tang Clan partnered with the ice cream brand Good Humor to write a new ice cream truck jingle to replace the original tune “Turkey in the Straw,” which RZA claims has “racist roots.”
“Do you remember that ice cream jingle? Of course, we all know it,” said RZA in an announcement video. “I’m not going to play it right now, though, because we come to find out that it has racist roots.” The rapper went on to say that Good Humor called him up to tell him that they needed to “do something” about the racist ice cream jingle.
“Check this out. Good Humor, they called me up, and they were like, ‘We gotta do something about this, Rez. We can change the dynamics. We can make a new ice cream jingle for a new era,'” RZA says.
In 2014, NPR reported on the history of “Turkey in the Straw,” noting that its lyrics contain the N-word and other derogatory remarks before the jingle was eventually used for ice cream trucks. “We wanted to make a melody that includes all communities, that’s good for every driver, every kid. 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 truck all across the country, in perpetuity,” NPR reported.
In a statement on their website, Good Humor noted that “Turkey in the Straw’s melody originated from British and Irish folk songs, which had no 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,” added the ice cream brand. “While these associations of ‘Turkey in the Straw’ are not the only part of its legacy, it is undeniable that this melody conjures memories of its racist iterations.”
Good Humor is now calling on all ice cream truck drivers to stop playing “Turkey in the Straw” immediately, adding that the new song will be added to music boxes inside standard ice cream trucks for free.
“And I can assure you that this one is made with love,” said RZA.