NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – American rapper RZA has taken on racism at street level – by creating a new jingle for ice cream trucks to replace the decades-old “Turkey in the Straw” tune.
Studies have found that the widely-distributed melody that stemmed from British and Irish folk songs was made popular in the 1800s by minstrel shows using blackface, with some adaptations using racist lyrics.
The rapper, who led the hip-pop group Wu-Tang Clan in the 1990s, teamed up with U.S. ice cream brand Good Humor to create a new tune that will be made available for free to ice cream trucks throughout the United States immediately.
“We’ve come to found out that it has racist roots,” RZA said in a video on the ice cream brand’s website unveiling the new jingle while deliberately not playing “Turkey in the Straw”.
“We wanted to make a melody that includes all communities that’s good for every driver, every kid.”
Good Humor, that is owned by Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever, called on all ice cream truck drivers to adopt the new RZA chime.
“Good Humor has not owned ice cream trucks since the 1970s, nor did we create “Turkey in the Straw” or any other jingles,” the company said in a statement.
“However, 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.”