Summary

Invented in 1925, Burma Shave was a new product that changed shaving techniques. It was a cream rather than a traditional lather. It came in jars and tubes for easy dispensing. Many in the United States grew up reading the more than 500 different, fun, informative series of six roadside signs promoting Burma Shave. About 18 percent of all of the sign series became devoted to traffic safety and related safety issues. This article reproduces the safety sign sequences.

Introduction

The signs only remain in the United States along sections of historic Route 66. Otherwise, this long-standing series of promotions has disappeared from the landscape across the highways extending through the countryside.

This story is about Burma Shave signs that were unique in the history of advertising. They always involved a series of small signs presenting a rhyme in sequence. The content of each sign was short and quickly read. The sign spacing was precise to create a rhythm in reading, so one could capture each sign in a set. The last sign in a set simply stated the brand name for the product–Burma Shave. It was rare to ever see the same sign sequence twice during a long trip.

The signs evolved with automobile travel that grew as more and more families hit the highways for adventure and sight seeing.

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