The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is accountable for the artifacts in its collection, care and preservation of more than 3 million objects to include a Good Humor Ice Cream Truck artifact. These collections represent our nation’s heritage reflecting scope of interests and responsibilities.
Harry Burt (1875–1926) developed the ice-cream novelty known as the Good Humor bar. Burt is widely credited with revolutionizing manufacturing, marketing, and distribution techniques for ice-cream products. He capitalized on the belief of a person’s “humor” as it relates to the humor of the palate.
In 1919, Christian Nelson, an Iowa store owner, discovered how to coat an ice cream bar with chocolate, inventing the Eskimo Pie. After Harry Burt heard of it, he wanted to replicate it as a new item in his ice cream parlor and candy shop located in Youngstown, Ohio.
Burt’s first confection invention was the Jolly Boy Sucker, a lollipop on a stick; hence, during experimenting in his ice cream parlor, he discovered his own specific formula for a smooth chocolate coating to be compatible on ice cream. His 23-year-old daughter, Ruth, approved but felt the Eskimo Pie made quite a mess in her hands.
Harry Jr. (1900–1972), at 21 yrs. old, suggested using a wooden stick as a solution. They tried the idea in the store’s hardening room, where they discovered the stick formed a strong bond when the ice cream crystallized. In 1922, Burt’s patent applications were stamped denied until 1923, the patent office assumed the “Good Humors Bars” were too similar to Eskimo Pies.
After Burt Jr. took samples to Washington, D.C, to demonstrate the difference, Good Humor’s patents were granted only for the manufacturing equipment and process to manufacture frozen novelties on a stick, but not for the actual product.
Burt outfitted 12 street vending trucks in Youngstown with rudimentary freezers and used his son’s bobsled bells to alert customers to buy “Good Humor Bars.”
The original company started with a “Good Humor Bar®,” a three-ounce chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bar on a stick. By 1960, the product line had grown to 85 flavors or combinations all on a wooden stick. Burt’s former production plant and confectionery shop in Youngstown, Ohio, is regarded as a significant U.S. historical site as the birthplace of Good Humor.
Today, the product line still consist of some of the classic Good Humors and companies added such as the Popsicle and Klondike through acquisitions and the company was renamed to Good Humor-Breyers.