4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

How did the tune "Turkey in the Straw" become the song for ice cream trucks?

Matthew:

How in God's name did the tune "Turkey in the Straw" become the perennial favorite for ice cream trucks?

-- Summertime Dreamer, La Mesa

Hey, make that Summertime Screamer. "Turkey in the Straw" has been the subject of more than one lawsuit around the country for its loud, intrusive, monotonous presence every afternoon. To be fair, "The Entertainer" by Scott Joplin and "Pop Goes the Weasel" are equally ubiquitous, nationwide. What have we come to in this country, suing the Good Humor man.... Anyway, the elves flagged down an engineer with Magic Box in Jacksonville, Florida, who offered them some Monkey Bars left over from 1963 and the answer to your question.

Once upon a time, Beals Music Inc. was the only manufacturer of loudspeaker systems for ice-cream trucks. For many years, if you wanted one, you had to buy theirs. They started out with mechanical chimes, then graduated to a loudspeaker system using guitar pickups, then took to digitizing analog recordings of attractive tunes. Attractive and cheap. "Turkey in the Straw" et al. are in the public domain, so Beals didn't have to pay royalties every time a truck rolled down the street. Beals is now out of biz, replaced by two companies that make the "music boxes," as they're known in the trade, plus temperature control and safety systems. Magic Box offers about 60 different songs in the form of a digital chip and can customize your system if you'd like to broadcast dogs howling the Notre Dame fight song or your kid playing "Danke Schoen" on the accordion. But "Turkey/Pop/Entertainer" are still the best sellers. Tradition. Inertia. Cheapness. Standard output power used to be 16 watts, but Magic Box has reduced theirs to 8 watts to appease the irritated multitudes.

The man who started it all in 1920 was the original Good Humor man, ice-cream parlor owner Harry Burt of Youngstown, Ohio. He took the then-new Eskimo Pie, shoved a stick into it, and sent an employee out in a white suit and a white truck to hawk them on the street. He attached his son's sled bells to the truck to attract more attention. By the early '70s, G. Humor was out of the direct-distribution biz, and independent fleets took over the routes. "Turkey in the Straw" took over our brains.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Swiss dogs win in Zona Rio

Nunca comiste una igual,” promises the menu. “You’ve never eaten one like it.”

Matthew:

How in God's name did the tune "Turkey in the Straw" become the perennial favorite for ice cream trucks?

-- Summertime Dreamer, La Mesa

Hey, make that Summertime Screamer. "Turkey in the Straw" has been the subject of more than one lawsuit around the country for its loud, intrusive, monotonous presence every afternoon. To be fair, "The Entertainer" by Scott Joplin and "Pop Goes the Weasel" are equally ubiquitous, nationwide. What have we come to in this country, suing the Good Humor man.... Anyway, the elves flagged down an engineer with Magic Box in Jacksonville, Florida, who offered them some Monkey Bars left over from 1963 and the answer to your question.

Once upon a time, Beals Music Inc. was the only manufacturer of loudspeaker systems for ice-cream trucks. For many years, if you wanted one, you had to buy theirs. They started out with mechanical chimes, then graduated to a loudspeaker system using guitar pickups, then took to digitizing analog recordings of attractive tunes. Attractive and cheap. "Turkey in the Straw" et al. are in the public domain, so Beals didn't have to pay royalties every time a truck rolled down the street. Beals is now out of biz, replaced by two companies that make the "music boxes," as they're known in the trade, plus temperature control and safety systems. Magic Box offers about 60 different songs in the form of a digital chip and can customize your system if you'd like to broadcast dogs howling the Notre Dame fight song or your kid playing "Danke Schoen" on the accordion. But "Turkey/Pop/Entertainer" are still the best sellers. Tradition. Inertia. Cheapness. Standard output power used to be 16 watts, but Magic Box has reduced theirs to 8 watts to appease the irritated multitudes.

The man who started it all in 1920 was the original Good Humor man, ice-cream parlor owner Harry Burt of Youngstown, Ohio. He took the then-new Eskimo Pie, shoved a stick into it, and sent an employee out in a white suit and a white truck to hawk them on the street. He attached his son's sled bells to the truck to attract more attention. By the early '70s, G. Humor was out of the direct-distribution biz, and independent fleets took over the routes. "Turkey in the Straw" took over our brains.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Lakeside Community Presbyterian: Christ, connection and community

Working our way through a new vision
Next Article

Wagyu Shawarma Grill takes trend to Rancho San Diego

New fast casual Middle Eastern counter touts its prized beef
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close