Burma Shave Signs History

Signs of the Time

article image
by Dain Gingerelli

Learn about Burma Shave signs history and the intriguing advertising campaign that put rhyming signs on the road for motorist enjoyment.

Before there were smart phones and the internet, before there were disc brakes on motorcycles, even before there was color television, there were Burma-Shave roadside signs that, starting in 1925, popped up along America’s highways and byways. And every one of those red-and-white signs helped tell a story to passing motorists. It was a tradition that existed for more than 40 years.

Burma Shave Signs History

Burma-Shave was a brushless shaving cream (starting out as a liniment product) that got its name when the Burma-Vita company was formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the early 1920s. The primary product was a topical preparation for shaving; part of the cream’s ingredients originated in Asia on the Malay Peninsula, which contains a region known as Burma. Thus, the name Burma-Shave, which helped explain the shaving cream connection to consumers.

Specifically, though, Burma-Shave road signs served as marketing gimmicks to entertain motorists and motorcycle riders during long stints on the highway. A series of six signs, each spaced about 100 feet apart to give travelers time to read each sign, included a humorous rhyme verse that told a minor story. The signs’ verses also reminded motorists that driving (and riding) can be hazardous if vehicle operators are careless.

  • Updated on Nov 28, 2023
  • Originally Published on Nov 21, 2023
Tagged with: classic motorcycle touring, Dain Gingerelli, motorcycle touring, Mototouring, Parting Shots, touring
Comments (0) Join others in the discussion!
    Online Store Logo
    Need Help? Call 1-800-880-7567