'TIL YOU'RE ADDICTED
DON'T BE SURPRISED
IF YOU'RE EVICTED
HAD NO B.O.
BUT HIS WHISKERS SCRATCHED
SO SHE LET HIM GO
SIX MILLION OTHERS
WE STILL CAN'T SHAVE
THOSE COUGH DROP BROTHERS
AT 60 PER
WE HATE TO LOSE
OUT SO FAR
IT MIGHT GO HOME
IN ANOTHER CAR
LOOK EACH WAY
A HARP SOUNDS NICE
BUT IT'S HARD TO PLAY
- Black Comedy: A number of the "safe driving" themed rhymes employ this.HE LIT A MATCH
TO CHECK GAS TANK
THAT'S WHY THEY CALL HIM
- Literal Genie/The Cake Is Not A Lie: Detailed here—one series of signs read "FREE! FREE! / A trip / to Mars / For 900 / empty jars". Arliss French, a supermarket manager in Wisconsin, took them up on their challenge, and thanks to a series of ads in the local paper and displays in his store, he succeeded in gathering the required number of containers. After some negotiations, the company presented him with tickets to Moers (pronounced "Mars"), a small town in West Germany. Mr. French got a free European vacation, and Burma Shave got tons of positive publicity.
Burma-Shave Co.: IF A TRIP / TO MARS YOU'D EARN / REMEMBER, FRIEND / THERE'S NO RETURN
- Amusingly, much of the aforesaid "negotiations" were carried out via Burma-Shave poems telegraphed from the company to Mr. French and back.
Arliss French: LET'S NOT QUIBBLE / LET'S NOT FRET / GATHER YOUR FORCES / I'M ALL SET
Burma-Shave Co.: OUR ROCKETS ARE READY / WE AIN'T SPLITTING HAIRS / JUST SEND US THE JARS / ...AND ARRANGE YOUR AFFAIRS
- An earlier series of signs got a similar reaction: "FREE OFFER! FREE OFFER! / Rip a fender / off your car / Mail it in for / a half-pound jar". Most readers got the joke (this ad was posted at the time of a big coupon and free-offer fad), but some decided to call Burma-Shave's bluff instead and sent actual fenders to the company by parcel post; others apparently got the amusing idea of sending fenders from toy cars, in regular envelopes. Burma-Shave discovered that the publicity and sales boost they got from actually honoring these "coupons" more than made up for all the free product they had to give out (and all the fenders that had to be disposed of) — a lesson that would serve them well in the "trip to Mars" incident.
- Pun: Many of the rhymes end in one.
- Racing the Train: Several safety jingles point out what a bad idea this is.
- Shout-Out: One of them was this to Smith Brothers Cough Drop
- Too Fast to Stop: Safety jingles on speeding and on trains.
- Viral Marketing: One of the earliest examples - the product is forgotten, but the ad campaign is immortal.
Works that have referenced the Burma-Shave advertisements:Comic Books
- During Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing, when Matthew Cable gets into a car crash while drunk, the caption boxes soberly declare: "The night can make a man more brave...but not more sober"...and then finish with a Burma-Shave sign next to Matt's smashed car.
- Newspaper comic B.C. managed an indirect version, albeit set to a limerick meter:There once was a young man named Peter
Who spoke with a definite meter
He drew up some signs
And he wrote out up his lines
And now Peter's meter is neater.
- "Guess what I've invented." "Shaving cream?"
- In a Popeye short from the 1940s or 1950s, Popeye and Bluto moved to a deserted island to escape the perils of women, and put up the following warning signs:No dames
This island is only for mens!Burma-Shave
- In the movie The World's Fastest Indian there is a sequence where Burt and the air force pilot he's travelling with read aloud the Burma-Shave poems they pass, showing the distance they cover.
- The Time Traveler's Wife: One of Claire's journal entries in her childhood begins with her helping her mostly-blind grandmother complete a crossword puzzle.Claire: Ten letters, the clue says, "Don't stick your neck out too far."
Grandmother: BURMASHAVE. Before your time.
- Sam encounters a Burma-Shave ad in the Quantum Leap pilot.
- Hee Haw occasionally presented gags in the form of Burma-Shave signs — filmed out a slowly-moving car window for that genuine experience.
- One of the "driving-to-California" episodes of I Love Lucy originally had a scene where Lucy reads some Burma-Shave signs aloud. This was excised from the syndication cut, although it's included as a bonus on the season 4 DVD.
- The final episode of M*A*S*H has Hawkeye placed in a mental hospital after suffering a severe emotional breakdown. After counseling sessions with Sidney Freedman, he's reassigned to the 4077th; as he's being driven back by jeep, the driver points out a series of homemade signs that the rest of the staff have put up along the road to welcome him back:Hawk was gone
Now he's here
Dance 'til dawn
Give a cheerBurma-Shave
- Roger Miller did a song (later covered by The Everly Brothers) about the adverts called, of course, "Burma Shave".
- Kingdom of Loathing has a spirit speaking in rhyme, ending its Fetch Quest request with a "Burma-Shave".
- "Burma-Shave" is the title of a Tom Waits song from his album Foreign Affairs telling the tale of two urban runaways searching for someplace to escape to. The verses are set up to always end on name the titular product, as if tracking their progress down the lonely highways. It doesn't turn out well.
- Avernum 3 contains the following series of billboards, which doesn't quite follow the meter.Before they send us
To the grave
Alien beasts use
- One of the video games for the Color Computer emblazoned with the Game Over screen with a short poem:Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
Your game is over
Replay if you mustBurma-Shave
- Sandcastle Builder has one in the description of the 'Panther Glaze' boost, which doesn't really rhyme:Early cat
Takes the blocks
But the late
Brings the chipsPanther Glaze
- XKCD has a reference
- Square Root of Minus Garfield has a version of the signs:Beware of Dog
He'll eat your kitten!
You Must Be This Tall to be BittenBurma-Shave
- Gaia Online's online RPG zOMG! has a series of trash cans in the Bassken Lake area with lines written on them. Put together, the lines say:To kiss a mug
That's like a cactus
Takes more nerve
Than it does practice
- In an episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Rocky is lured into a trap by a series of signs:Do not turn back
Go on instead
Your friend the moose
Is just aheadBoris-Shave
- The Looney Tunes classic "Rabbit Seasoning" begins with Daffy putting up "rabbit season" signs, starting with this:If you're looking for fun
You don't need a reason
All you need is a gun
It's rabbit season!
- The Tex Avery short Northwest Hounded Police has this when Droopy, as Sgt. McPoodle, begins to chase the wolf down.Don't look now—
Use your noodle—
You're being followed—
by Sgt. McPoodle
- The House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin has a large collection of these somewhere inside.
- Real Life: Commuters who walk from the 1, 2, 3 train station to the A, C, E train station at Times Square in New York City has a Burma-Shave inspired poem called The Commuter's Lament that hangs on the ceiling of the underpass:Overslept,
Why the pain?
Just go home
Do it again.
(Picture of a bed with two pillows)
- The installation was made in 1991 and was supposed to be temporary - it's still there. The artist, Norman B. Colp, passed away in 2007.
- Advertisements for Florida's SunPass system (where you pre-pay tolls and get a little doohickey to speed you through booths) is done in the style of Burma-Shave signs, spaced so that they're not too fast to read even on the high way.
- Humor columnist Lewis Grizzard wrote an article about Rosie Ruiz, who was accused of cheating in the Boston Marathon by slipping into the race shortly before the finish line. He suggested several tests to prevent this, including a set of these signs at five-mile intervals. After the race, each finisher would have to recite the rhyme. For example:Here sits Rosie
She finished fine
But she never startedBurma-Shave
- A lot of British readers were first introduced to the adverts by Bill Bryson's books about America. Additionally, due to the passage of time and regional differences, a lot of Americans were first introduced to the adverts by the same.