How Do You Fix A Racist Ice Cream Truck Jingle? Call RZA
Despite not having seen the sun for months, the crude scratchings on my wall tell me summertime has arrived. That means it's time again for throngs of musicians to compete for the coveted title of song of the summer, that one tune that will forever enshrine fond memories of vomiting jello shots into an overcrowded motel pool. But really, all these summer hits are only competing for second place. The real sound of the summer will forever be the ice cream truck jingle that still makes your ears perk up like an excited poodle at the age of 42.
But just in case you think there's no room for improvement in the ice cream jingle game, Good Humor has teamed up with none other than hip hop icon the RZA to sprinkle some Wu-Tang Clan greatness onto their new truck jingle.
And these beats aren't just sicker than the time my mom accidentally gave me a twenty and I bought and ate seven ice cream sandwiches in one sitting, they're also for a good cause. RZA's ice cream song (I'll never get tired of writing that) is meant to replace the most iconic ice cream truck jingle of all time, Turkey In The Straw, which is a bit problematic -- something you especially don't want for a song meant to lure children to a van.
Turkey In The Straw originated as a genteel folk song brought to the New World by Scottish and Irish settlers. But that's not the version that was co-opted by the ice cream industry. Their jingle originated from a minstrel show cover that added lyrics to the song -- deeply, virulently racist lyrics (you can listen to it here -- ruin your childhood at your own peril). Specifically, the one about black people loving watermelon (who doesn't), at one point calling it the "colored man's ice cream."
Of course, it's not like the Good Humor is trading one Klan for another Clan. By the age of the ice cream truck, the racist lyrics had long melted away with only the reference to ice cream still sticking to the tune. It's only in recent years that its racist roots have reemerged into the public consciousness, prompting Good Humor to do away with it. And sure, we could just collectively pretend there's not a racist cone in the tune's body and move on. Or, we can all celebrate that this has now led to future generations of children running outside for a Choco Taco to the sounds of an artist who also rapped "Exaggerated authorization, Food and Drug Administration / Testin' poison in prison population / My occupation to stop the inauguration of Satan / Some claim that it was Reagan, so I come to slay men"
Cedric is more of a Mr. Softee man himself. You can follow him on Twitter.