• Shave the modern way / No brush / No lather / No rub-in / Big tube 35 cents - Drug stores / Burma-Shave

As early as 1928, the writers were displaying a puckish sense of humor:

  • Takes the "H" out of shave / Makes it save / Saves complexion / Saves time and money / No brush - no lather / Burma-Shave

In 1929, the prosaic ads began to be replaced by actual verses on four signs, with the fifth sign merely a filler for the sixth:

  • Every shaver / Now can snore / Six more minutes / Than before / By using / Burma-Shave
  • Your shaving brush / Has had its day / So why not / Shave the modern way / With / Burma-Shave

Previously there were only two to four sets of signs per year. 1930 saw major growth in the company, and 19 sets of signs were produced. The writers recycled a previous joke. They continued to ridicule the "old" style of shaving. And they began to appeal to the wives as well:

  • Cheer up face / The war is past / The "H" is out / Of shave / At last / Burma-Shave
  • Shaving brushes / You'll soon see 'em / On the shelf / In some / Museum / Burma-Shave
  • Does your husband / Misbehave / Grunt and grumble / Rant and rave / Shoot the brute some / Burma-Shave

In 1931, the writers began to reveal a "cringe factor" side to their creativity, which would increase over time:

  • No matter / How you slice it / It's still your face / Be humane / Use / Burma-Shave

In 1932, the company recognized the popularity of the signs with a self-referencing gimmick:

  • Free / Illustrated / Jingle book / In every / Package / Burma-Shave
  • A shave / That's real / No cuts to heal / A soothing / Velvet after-feel / Burma-Shave

Along with the usual jokes, a regional contest spawned several signs in 1933, held during football season:

  • Within this vale / Of toil / And sin / Your head grows bald / But not your chin - use / Burma-Shave
  • Hit 'em high / Hit 'em low / Follow your team / Over WCCO / And win a prize / Burma-Shave

In 1935, the first known appearance of a road safety message appeared, combined with a punning sales pitch:

  • Train approaching / Whistle squealing / Stop / Avoid that run-down feeling / Burma-Shave
  • Keep well / To the right / Of the oncoming car / Get your close shaves / From the half pound jar / Burma-Shave

A punning reference to another well-known drug store product 1936:

  • Riot at / Drug store / Calling all cars / 100 customers / 99 jars / Burma-Shave
  • Smith Brothers / Would look immense / If they'd just / Cough up 50 cents / For half pound jar / Burma-Shave
  • Free! Free! / A trip / To Mars / For 900 / Empty jars / Burma-Shave

Self-referencing signs continued in 1937, along with puns:

  • You've laughed / At our signs / For many a mile / Be a sport / Give us a trial / Burma-Shave
  • If harmony / Is what / You crave / Then get / A tuba / Burma-Shave

Another safety message from 1938:

  • Don't take a curve / at 60 per / we hate to lose / a customer / Burma-Shave

Safety messages began to increase in 1939, as these examples show. (The first of the three is a parody of Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.)

  • Hardly a driver / Is now alive / Who passed / On hills / At 75 / Burma-Shave
  • Past / Schoolhouses / Take it slow / Let the little / Shavers grow / Burma-Shave
  • If you dislike / Big traffic fines / Slow down / Till you / Can read these signs / Burma-Shave

1939 also saw more puns for the product:

  • A peach / Looks good / With lots of fuzz / But man's no peach / And never wuz / Burma-Shave
  • I proposed / To Ida / Ida refused / Ida won my Ida / If Ida used / Burma-Shave

In 1939 and subsequent years, demise of the signs was foreshadowed, as busy roadways approaching larger cities featured shortened versions of the slogans on one, two, or three signs — the exact count is not recorded. The puns include a play on the Maxwell House Coffee slogan, standard puns, and yet another reference to the "H" joke:

  • Good to the last strop
  • Covers a multitude of chins
  • Takes the "H" out of shaving

1940 saw an early reference to the idea of a designated driver:

  • It's best for / One who hits / The bottle / To let another / Use the throttle / Burma-Shave

More safety slogans in 1941, along with ads:

  • Don't stick / Your elbow / Out so far / It might go home / In another car / Burma-Shave
  • At intersections / Look each way / A harp sounds nice / But it's / Hard to play / Burma-Shave
  • From / Bar / To car / To gates / Ajar / Burma-Shave
  • Broken romance / Stated fully / She went wild / When he / Went wooly / Burma Shave

Possibly the ultimate in self-referencing signs, leaving out the product name. This one also adorns the cover of the book:

  • If you / Don't know / Whose signs / These are / You can't have / Driven very far

The war years found the company recycling a lot of their old signs, with new ones mostly focusing on World War II "propaganda":

  • Let's make Hitler / And Hirohito / Look as sick as / Old Benito / Buy defense bonds / Burma-Shave
  • Slap / The Jap / With / Iron / Scrap / Burma-Shave

1947:

  • Don't lose / Your head / To gain a minute / You need your head / Your brains are in it / Burma-Shave (repeated in 1963)
  • Car in ditch / Driver in tree / Moon was full / And so / Was he / Burma-Shave
  • I use it too / The bald man said / It keeps my face / Just like / My head / Burma-Shave
  • In Cupid's little / Bag of trix / Here's the one / That clix / With chix / Burma-Shave

1950:

  • He tried / To cross / As fast train neared / Death didn't draft him / He volunteered / Burma-Shave
  • My job is / Keeping faces clean / And nobody knows / De stubble / I've seen / Burma-Shave
  • Her chariot / Race 80 per / They hauled away / What had / Ben Hur / Burma-Shave

1951:

  • Drinking drivers / Don't you know / Great bangs / From little / Binges grow? / Burma-Shave
  • Proper / Distance / To him was bunk / They pulled him out / Of some guy's trunk / Burma-Shave

1952:

  • Pedro / Walked / Back home, by golly / His bristly chin / Was hot-to-Molly / Burma-Shave (repeated in 1963)
  • The wolf / Is shaved / So neat and trim / Red Riding Hood / Is chasing him / Burma-Shave
  • Missin' / Kissin'? / Perhaps your thrush / Can't get thru / The underbrush — try / Burma-Shave
  • A chin / Where barbed wire / Bristles stand / Is bound to be / A no ma'ams land / Burma-Shave

1953:

  • Around / The curve / Lickety-split / Lovely car / Wasn't it? / Burma Shave

1955

  • Dinah doesn't / Treat him right / But if he'd / Shave / Dyna-mite! / Burma-Shave
  • The big blue tube's / Just like Louise / You get / A thrill / From every squeeze / Burma-Shave
  • To change that / Shaving job / To joy / You gotta use / The real McCoy / Burma-Shave
  • The monkey took / One look at Jim / And threw the peanuts / Back at him / He needed / Burma-Shave
  • Slow down, Pa / Sakes alive / Ma missed signs / Four / And five / Burma Shave

1959's ads included perhaps the worst of the "cringe-worthy" safety slogans:

  • Said Farmer Brown / Who's bald / On top / Wish I could / Rotate the crop / Burma-Shave
  • This cooling shave / Will never fail / To stamp / Its user / First-class male / Burma-Shave
  • Don't / Try passing / On a slope / Unless you have / A periscope / Burma-Shave
  • If daisies / Are your / Favorite flower / Keep pushin' up those / Miles per hour / Burma-Shave
  • He lit a match / To check gas tank / That's why / They call him / Skinless Frank / Burma Shave

1960 saw the last group of original signs until 1963:

  • Henry the Eighth / Sure had / Trouble / Short term wives / Long term stubble / Burma-Shave
  • Ben / Met Anna / Made a hit / Neglected beard / Ben-Anna split / Burma-Shave
  • Dim your lights / Behind a car / Let folks see / How bright / You are / Burma-Shave
  • Angels / Who guard you / When you drive / Usually / Retire at 65 / Burma-Shave

1963 was the last year for the signs, most of which were repeats, including the final slogan, which had first appeared in 1953:

  • Our fortune / Is your / Shaven face / It's our best / Advertising space / Burma-Shave
 
 
Copyright © 2006-17 Claud "Sonny" Rouch, all rights reserved. Website by OACYS Technology. Cover photo by Roberts Engineering.