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The Racist Origins of the Ice Cream Song

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posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 12:22 AM
Ah summer days, the sun shining in the sky, birds drifting lazily under puffy clouds, children run through sprinklers on lawns, then in the distance, a familiar melody begins drifting in. Every kid for blocks around begin to congregate excitedly. The music grows louder.

The ice cream truck.

That annoying little jingle, a sound every child longs to hear on a hot summer's day. A song that means sweet sweet icy treats.


Is it a secret racist symbol of hatred and white supremecy...?

The latter obviously.

"Nigger Love A Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!" merits the distinction of the most racist song title in America. Released in March 1916 by Columbia Records, it was written by actor Harry C. Browne and played on the familiar depiction of black people as mindless beasts of burden greedily devouring slices of watermelon

I wondered how such a prejudiced song could have become the anthem of ice cream and childhood summers. I learned that though Browne was fairly creative in his lyrics, the song's premise and its melody are nearly as old as America itself. As often happens with matters of race, something that is rather vanilla in origin is co-opted and sprinkled with malice along the way.

For his creation, Browne simply used the well-known melody of the early 19th century song "Turkey in the Straw," which dates to the even older and traditional British song "The (Old) Rose Tree." The tune was brought to America's colonies by Scots-Irish immigrants who settled along the Appalachian Trail and added lyrics that mirrored their new lifestyle.

The first and natural inclination, of course, is to assume that the ice cream truck song is simply paying homage to "Turkey in the Straw," but the melody reached the nation only after it was appropriated by traveling blackface minstrel shows. There is simply no divorcing the song from the dozens of decades it was almost exclusively used for coming up with new ways to ridicule, and profit from, black people.

The ice cream crossover happened concurrently: 19th century ice cream parlors played the popular minstrel songs of the day. After World War II, the advent of the automobile and the ensuing sprawl required parlors to devise a way to take their products to customers. Ice cream trucks were the solution, and a music box was installed in them as a way to announce their presence in neighborhoods. Naturally, the traditional minstrel tunes of the previous century were employed to evoke the memorable parlor experience.

And this is the story of why our beloved ice cream truck plays blackface minstrel music that sends kids dashing into homes in a Pavlovian frenzy searching for money to buy a Popsicle.

To be fair, that #'s pretty racist. Damn...

Never fear however,

Music scholars discovered that the popular ice cream truck melody, “Turkey in the Straw,” appeared in a racist 1916 song. This spring, as protests spread across the country, Mark decided to pull it from his music box.

“We don’t want a single child walking away from the ice cream truck feeling bad because of the song they were hearing,” he says.

He’s replacing it with a new 45-second jingle written and produced by Wu-Tang Clan member, RZA, which blends “traditional ice cream truck sounds with jazz and hip-hop elements.”  

The subversive hidden racist white supremacist music poisoning generations of children is to be quickly replaced by none other than the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA with a jazz and hip-hop inspired track free of racist white supremacist influences.

SIMON: Well, how did a music maker of your eminence get drawn into the world of frozen desserts?

RZA: Well, the Good Humor team reached out to me. They wanted to do something about the negative energy that "Turkey In The Straw" had out in the world. And they felt like, let's do something about it. And I was like, wow, why not? It's better to do positive than negative, baby.

SIMON: How do you write a good ice cream truck jingle? I mean, what's the creative process?

RZA: The first creative process, I would say, is think about joy. You know, look; I'm a kid that chased ice cream trucks (laughter). I'm a kid that used to pack bags to make a dollar and wait for the ice cream truck to spend a dollar. So for inspiration, I just thought of joy. I actually kept repeating these three phrases in my head. It's good for me. It's good for you. It's good for us.

And if it's good, it's good, baby. Took about eight different tries to finally end up on the melody that was, I think, simple enough as well, 'cause I can be complicated. But I think simple enough, good major scale notes with a minor 7 jazz chord in there to, you know, to twist it a little bit, you know, and have some fun....then there's this piece of equipment called a Mellotron that has a lot of analog samples. And so they have a new version of it that came out about five years ago - have all these great, great old sounds.
And I used sounds from that to, you know, emulate this ice cream truck sound and those high bells you hear. Of course, the drums is hip-hop, too. I had to turn to my old MPC (laughter).

I mean the old jingle was pretty annoying, this one kind of puts me to sleep and doesn't really scream ice cream to me.

Ummm so yeah...i guess i learned more about ice cream jingles than i thought i'd ever know and a rapper from the Wu-Tang Clan worked with Good Humour to replace an old racist ice cream jingle.

And damn did he seem to take it seriously. Like that was the best part of it all, reading how seriously he went into the production of that track, like went and got a mellotron and stuff. And according to the article he gave the song away royalty free in perpetuity.

Anyway...i guess that's my vaguely topical but probably pretty irrelevant mud pit thread for today.

edit on 12/10/2020 by dug88 because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 12:32 AM
Weird... America is the least racist country of all in modern day.

+11 more 
posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 12:47 AM

originally posted by: odzeandennz
Weird... America is the least racist country of all in modern day.

You are correct sir.

If America was full of white supremacists. People from brown poophole countries wouldn't be breaking the law to get here.

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 12:55 AM
I guess we have to cancel Animaniacs too!

I mean, it'd probably be easier to just accept that the past is the past and that what matters is the present and the future.

But naw, let's just cancel everything because of the past.

If anything is even 6 degrees from a racist attitude in the past let's cancel it!

Getting so sick of this faux outrage over the past! I mean my ancestors were Native Americans and you don't hear me crying about the past do you. I keep working towards the future.

The only thing these soy boy cucks know how to do is play victim. Stop blaming others in the past and just take control of your future NOW! You are your own trailblazer.

Offended by a melody, what utter cocktwaddle! Take responsibility now/ stop blaming the past.

edit on 12-10-2020 by NarcolepticBuddha because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 01:09 AM
a reply to: dug88
All I got.....sorry🤷‍♂️

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 01:13 AM
a reply to: mtnshredder

That is so disturbing

I see your baby shark and raise you some recorder fail

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 01:18 AM
But what about the US National Anthem? The music is from a British drinking song, can't have the kids learning a drinking song can we? America the Beautiful music is from God Save the Queen, cant have the kids paying homage to a forign ruler can we?

Lots of old songs used music from previous songs. The meaning is entirely different usually totally unrelated to the previous songs. Are people actually getting upset over this or just making a fuss over it to be seen making a fuss over it?

The one I don't get is Dixie Land. It was originally a song about a brothel in New Orleans.
edit on 10 12 2020 by beyondknowledge because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 01:21 AM
Weird they played pop goes the weasel on all the ice cream trucks I remember as a kid.

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 01:29 AM
a reply to: dug88
Nobody can say that a tune is racist, because tunes are not indissolubly bound to any one set of lyrics. The tunes associated with "God save the Queen", and "the Red Flag", and "Deutschland uber alles" have all got alternative uses which Americans will know.

Nobody would have known that this tune once had racist lyrics if these people had not done their reseacrh, so obviously it wasn't being used that way in children's minds. In fact, ironically, they have made it possibke for this tune to be used in a racist way for the first time in decades.

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 01:40 AM
a reply to: RickyD

I remember that too. The song about a yarn measuring device. Yarn was wound on a weasel and it had a mechanical gearing that would pop when a certain amount was wound on it. Strange subject for a song if you ask me.

EDIT: Sorry, this explanation for Pop Goes the Weasel is incorrect. See further down the thread.
edit on 10 12 2020 by beyondknowledge because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 01:54 AM
I have no idea what song plays on ice cream trucks, dont really give a damn actually.

I do though hate how they have that "HELLO!" That plays after a bit. Like they are trying to get you to come outside to buy their massively overpriced crap.

Now that is racisist.

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 01:55 AM
a reply to: beyondknowledge
I don't know who dreamed up that explanation. Actually, it's a song about the way the cost of living drives people to get money by pawning their goods.

"Half a pound of tuppenny rice [rice that costs two pennies]
Half a pound of treacle,
That's the way the money goes."

"Up and down the City Road [where the local shops or pubs are].
In and out of the Eagle [i.e. the local pub],
That's the way the money goes"

Either way the solution to the money difficulty is "Pop goes the weasel."
"Pop" is Victorian slang for taking something to the pawnbroker's. Even now "He's popped his clogs" is still a euphemism for dying. "The weasel" was apparently the nickname for a suit.
So there you are. If you want to pay for your rice or your pint of beer, you pawn your clothing.

The singer on this version, which I remember from radio in my childhood, explains it, and then adds another explanation;
"Why did the weasel go pop, go pop,
Why did the weasel?
Why did the weasel go pop?
Because they increased the price of tuppenny rice to four pence!"

edit on 12-10-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 02:03 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI

That is not the version I am familiar with. I will look into that, I may be wrong.

I was told that as an explanation of a winding device beside a spinning wheel at a museum that used to be a general store. Everything is just displayed in the open with no other information there.

edit on 10 12 2020 by beyondknowledge because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 02:15 AM
a reply to: beyondknowledge
So their thought process must have been;
"Here is a device called a weasel.
We know there is a song called 'Pop goes the weasel".
The two things must be connected, so here's what the connection must be."

If it had occurred to them to look into the words of the song, their theory would have broken down.

edit on 12-10-2020 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 02:27 AM
So what's next on the list?

And why now?

It's been this way for decades. I didn't know about this until now and frankly, it doesn't make any difference to me whatsoever.

I mean, is the plan to resurrect racism???🤷🏾‍♂️


posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 03:48 AM
Racist this, Racist that.....

Who gives a sh_t at this point.

People are all equally retarded. whites are good at math and blacks love watermelon.

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 04:07 AM

originally posted by: Cancerwarrior
Racist this, Racist that.....

Who gives a sh_t at this point.

People are all equally retarded. whites asians are good at math and blacks love watermelon.

FTFY, If you're going to go pushing your luck, at least get the stereotypes right, lol. Us white folk are best known for our ability to guzzle gallons of pumpkin spice latte every fall. Edit: It's a stereotype I may or may not resemble.
edit on 10/12/2020 by Nyiah because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 04:46 AM
Damn, thought we were gonna talk Van Halen.

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 05:17 AM
I like vanilla ice cream. The vanilla-er the better.

posted on Oct, 12 2020 @ 05:25 AM
True dat. One little drop of Hersheys chocolate changes the whole texture of an entire bowl.

a reply to: AugustusMasonicus

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