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The Roadside Chronicles: The Complete History of Burmashave and Its Iconic Advertising Legacy

The Roadside Chronicles: The Complete History of Burmashave and Its Iconic Advertising Legacy

Guest Writer Series |

Burmashave, a brand synonymous with roadside Americana, has a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century. This blog post will delve into the complete history of Burmashave, from its inception to its decline and eventual resurgence as a nostalgic icon.

The Beginnings

Burmashave was born in 1925, the brainchild of Clinton Odell, a Minneapolis lawyer turned entrepreneur. The product itself was a brushless shaving cream, a novel idea at the time, which allowed for a quicker, cleaner shave. However, the true innovation lay not in the product but in how it was advertised.

Roadside Rhymes

In an era when radio and newspaper ads were the norms, Burmashave took a different route—literally. The company began installing small, sequential billboards along the roadside. These billboards featured witty, rhyming poems that concluded with the Burmashave brand name. The signs were an instant hit, offering entertainment along long, monotonous drives and embedding the brand into the public's consciousness.

Example of a Classic Burmashave Rhyme:

  • "Shaving brushes"
  • "You'll soon see 'em"
  • "On a shelf"
  • "In some museum"
  • "Burmashave"

The Golden Years

From the 1930s through the 1950s, Burmashave signs became a staple of American road trips. At its peak, there were more than 7,000 sets of signs stretching across America. These clever poems covered everything from safety messages to lighthearted jabs at in-laws, all while promoting the Burmashave brand.


The advent of the Interstate Highway System in the late 1950s, along with changes in advertising strategies and the rise of television, led to the decline of Burmashave signs. High-speed travel made the roadside signs less readable, and the brand's visibility diminished. By the late 1960s, the company was struggling to compete with new, aerosol shaving creams. In 1963, the Philip Morris Company acquired Burmashave, and by 1966, the iconic roadside signs were removed, marking the end of an era.

Resurgence and Nostalgia

Though the signs disappeared, the nostalgia for Burmashave and its unique advertising campaign did not. Collectors and historians have preserved the rhymes and stories of Burmashave, and the brand is often cited as a quintessential example of Americana. The brand itself has seen a revival in recent years, with products being sold under the Burmashave name as a nod to its historical significance.


Burmashave's legacy is not just in its product but in its innovative approach to advertising. The roadside signs are remembered not only for their humor but also for their impact on advertising, showcasing the power of creative marketing strategies.


Burmashave's story is a testament to the power of innovation, not just in product development but in how products are marketed. The company's roadside rhymes left an indelible mark on American culture, turning a simple shaving cream into a symbol of a bygone era. As we reflect on Burmashave's history, we're reminded of the impact that creative marketing can have on a brand's legacy, long after the signs have come down.

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