During a recent client trip took me through Seligman, Ariz., on historic Route 66. And as I’m cruising along listening to my random Google Play list, I notice these kitschy street signs. Four in a row and then the fifth that says Burma-Shave. What the heck?
According to the Legends of America website, Burma-Shave was a brand of brushless shaving cream that was sold from 1925 to 1966.
The company was notable for this innovative advertising campaign, which included rhymes posted all along the nation’s roadways.
In the fall of 1925, the first sets of Burma-Shave signs were erected on two highways leading out of Minneapolis. Sales rose dramatically in the area, and the signs soon appeared nationwide. The Burma-Shave sign series appeared from 1925 to 1963.
It was clear that the use of these signs worked as Burma-Shave became the second most popular brand of shaving cream in the United States.
It was sold to Phillip Morris in 1963 and the sign campaign was discontinued. Facts are a bit inconsistent as to how many of these signs were up and in what states.
However, Legends of America says that by 1966 every one of them had disappeared from America's highways. But in some states, we can still enjoy the clever campaign as these recreations of the Burma-Shave sign sets appear here in Arizona and on Old U.S. Highway 30 near Ogden, Iowa.
Other examples are displayed at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., a rest area on Interstate 44 in Missouri between Rolla and Springfield (which has old Route 66 building picnic structures) and the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke, Va.