On those warm summer nights, the sound of that clanging bell told every member of Kiddom that the ice cream man was in the neighborhood. And how lucky we were if our parents gave us a bit of change so we could get ourselves a treat from the Good Humor Man.
Although the Good Humor Man was a fixture in America for many decades, it all started long before most of us were around. Harry Burt, a Youngstown, Ohio candy maker, invented Good Humor ice cream in 1920 and was granted a patent in 1923. By then, he had outfitted twelve street vending trucks in Youngstown with rudimentary freezers and bells. By 1925, his son, Harry Burt Jr. (1900 – 1972) opened a franchise in Miami, Florida.
The company was tremendously successful because it provided customers with an inexpensive diversion during the Depression. Jobs were scarce and Good Humor found all the employees it could use, despite an 80-hour work week and paramilitary discipline. While drivers were only paid commissions, it was not unusual for driver to clear the then princely sum of over $100 per week.
The company was also successful in attracting favorable publicity by parking trucks outside of motion picture studios. Over the years, Good Humor appeared in over 200 movies. In 1950, Jack Carson starred in the feature motion picture, “The Good Humor Man.”
The company's history includes many stories such a Good Humor man rushing a baby to a hospital for treatment or breaking up a counterfeit money operation in Long Island, New York. In 1929, the Chicago mob demanded protection money and destroyed part of the company's fleet. The resulting publicity helped put Good Humor on the map in the Windy City.
A “Good Humor” is a chocolate coated vanilla ice cream bar on a stick. Other “Good Humors” include chocolate coated chocolate (a.k.a. chocolate malt) and strawberry, plus bars coated in toasted almond, coconut, chocolate cake, strawberry shortcake and chocolate éclair. Weekly specials came in a wide assortment of flavors including a red, white and blue Good Humor for the 4th of July.
In 1965, the company introduced “Super Humors”, initially Chocolate Chip Candy and Chocolate Fudge Cake with a candy center. The next year, all Good Humors became larger “Super Humors” to justify a price increase.