A brushless shaving cream which is best known for its clever advertising. The rhyming jingles were placed on consecutive signs along the highway so they looked like this:

THE BEARDED LADY
TRIED A JAR
SHE'S NOW
A FAMOUS MOVIE STAR
BURMA-SHAVE

The signs were popular from the 1920s through the 1960s, when they were retired to make sure that all American advertising sucked.
Burma-shave was a product of the Odell family. It was Allan Odell who suggested roadside advertising. His father, Clinton Odell, finally gave him a budget of $200 to buy second-hand boards (cut into 36-inch lengths) and paint. He put up his first signs in a farmer's field along Route 35, between Albert Lea and Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1925. After about a dozen sets of signs, orders started pouring in. Early signs did not rhyme:

SHAVE THE MODERN WAY
FINE FOR THE SKIN
DRUGGISTS HAVE IT
BURMA-SHAVE

The signs were meant to be read consecutively from an automobile, and placed on posts 100 paces apart. (Later, as cars got faster, the distance had to be increased)

HER CHARIOT RACED
AT EIGHTY PER
THEY HAULED AWAY
WHAT HAD BEN HUR
BURMA-SHAVE

A CHIN WHERE
BARBED WIRE BRISTLES STAND
IS BOUND TO BE
A NO MA'AMS LAND
BURMA-SHAVE

Customers were encouraged to submit rhymes of their own. If a jingle was chosen, the author received US$100 from the Odell family. Over the years, 7000 sets of verses were posted along highways in 45 states.

IF YOU DON'T KNOW
WHOSE SIGNS THESE ARE
YOU CAN'T HAVE
DRIVEN VERY FAR
BURMA-SHAVE

The Odell Family sold their company to Philip Morris, Inc. in 1963, operated under its American Safety Razor Products division. The new owners decided that television was a more effective advertising medium than roadside signage, and discontinued the signs.

BE A MODERN
PAUL REVERE
SPREAD THE NEWS
FROM EAR TO EAR
BURMA-SHAVE

Source: Grant's Tribute to the Burma-Shave Sign. http://grantmcl.tripod.com/burmashave.html (Accessed October 4, 2000)

I remember seeing these in places like US 40 around Columbus, Ohio when I was a kid. They've mostly been stolen by now. The best place to see a Burma-Shave sign is on the wall of a restaurant.

My favorite is

IN THIS VALE
OF TEARS AND SIN
YOUR HEAD GROWS BALD
BUT NOT YOUR CHIN
BURMA-SHAVE

Frank Rowsome, Jr. has collected "Texts of All Burma-Shave Signs" in an appendix to his book The Verse By the Side of the Road, The Stephen Greene Press / Pelham Books, Brattleboro, Vermont, 1990 -- 25th Anniversary edition with a foreword by Bob Dole, ISBN 0-8289-0810-9

The version of the above quoted by Rowsome is

WITHIN THIS VALE
OF TOIL
AND SIN
YOUR HEAD GROWS BALD
BUT NOT YOUR CHIN -- USE
BURMA-SHAVE

He says, "Variant forms of a number of jingles occurred when they were subsequently re-used. The commonest change was to revise the division of words among signs, but textual revision was not unknown", so I don't need to revise my memory!

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