New Dawn Design Brings Good Humor to T-Shirts

GIRARD, Ohio – While she was growing up, Linda Barton lived in and loved her concert T-shirts. Now, the CEO of New Dawn Design – with an exclusive contract with Unilever in hand – is printing the history of a popular ice cream brand on her shirts.

Through her Sweet Memories Vintage Tee Designs side company, Barton is honoring the 100-year anniversary of Good Humor with T-shirts printed with vintage advertisement designs. Combining T-shirts and familiar brands can start conversations and bring people together in the community, she says.

Sweet Memories is Barton’s exclusive line of vintage T-shirts, she says. She got the idea to launch the brand while searching for Good Humor shirts for herself after learning of the brand’s centennial this year, she says.

“There were no Good Humor t-shirts except for one or two, but they weren’t trademarked,” Barton says.

Typically, New Dawn specializes in sports T-shirts and has a contract with Minor League Baseball. The company prints apparel for the Akron RubberDucks, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and the Erie SeaWolves baseball teams, as well as the Erie Otters and Youngstown Phantoms hockey teams, and the Gary SouthShore RailCats baseball team.

Since April 2019, Barton worked with Unilever to acquire the license to print Good Humor apparel, she says. Good Humor has been a subsidiary of Unilever since 2000. Barton started with 100 different designs, which have been whittled down to the 12 favorites of the Good Humor team, she says.

The Good Humor T-shirts are a great way to excite the community about tradition and some of the businesses that have been built in Youngstown, says Zackary Smigel, public relations for New Dawn Design.

Barton started Sweet Memories Vintage Tee Designs for her exclusive line of retro and vintage T-shirts.

“I think a lot of people realize that hard workers are built in Youngstown and it’s exciting to see these brands come up,” he says. “The trendy thing right now is wearing brand tees and this brings that opportunity to our local area.”

Much like Barton, Smigel enjoyed wearing band T-shirts, but as he grew up, he branched out and started to wear different branded T-shirts, he says. When Barton reached out to Smigel, he was excited about receiving an opportunity to give back to the community, he says.

“I love Youngstown. I grew up in Hermitage, so for me, it was a no brainer,” Smigel says. “It’s a win-win situation where I can help brands but help the community in a fun way.”

According to, the national brand’s name derived from the belief that a person’s humor, or temperament, related back to the humor of his palate’s sense of taste. Since Good Humor’s beginnings in 1920 in Youngstown, the ice cream bars have been sold out of tricycles to push carts to trucks, the website reports.

Confectioner and founder of Good Humor, the late Harry Burt, hailed from Cortland and was raised in Youngstown, said Thomas Welsh, a local writer and historian. Burt’s first business occupied a frame building downtown and his original line of products included a lollipop that was called the Good Humor sucker, Welsh says.

“He really made his reputation on the quality of his ice cream novelties,” Welsh says. “By 1920, he operated the city’s most popular soda grill, which was located just a block west of Youngstown’s main square.”

Harry Burt in his delivery uniform.

In January 1920, Burt invented a method to apply a smooth, chocolate coating to a block of vanilla ice cream, Welsh says. However, Burt’s daughter, Ruth, called the new product delicious but too messy to handle. As a result, Burt’s son, Harry Burt Jr., asked if his dad could put a handle on it.

“Burt found a way to do that and it was patented as the Good Humor bar,” Welsh says.

As a kid, Bill Lawson, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, remembers the Good Humor brand. Burt was a pioneering businessman, not only with the Good Humor brand but with the first ice cream trucks, which still continue today with other businesses, he says.

“It’s important for us here in our home community to mark this centennial, national brand that started in Youngstown,” Lawson says.

To stick to the history behind what someone’s “humor” is, Barton and her team of five – three of whom are designers – are designing the Good Humor T-shirts for all ages and personality types, she says. Most T-shirts feature brands that people use, but what makes the Good Humor T-shirts stand out is the fact that it’s a brand founded in Youngstown, she says.

Barton hasn’t sold any T-shirts yet because she is officially launching in February, she says. Giant Eagle Supermarket, 4700 Belmont Ave., is the first store to pick up Barton’s clothing line, which will be featured in the store next month, she says. For more awareness, Barton is set up on Etsy and is working on establishing an Amazon presence as well, she says. T-shirts will be sold for $24.

“We want people who do live in the community to support their local business and not just online,” Barton says. “We just did that for awareness so people can look at all of the designs.”

In addition, Barton is working on a contract with Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley, she says. At least 20% of the proceeds from every T-shirt sold will go to the hospital, she says.

“We believe that ice cream, kids and memories are huge, so I figured it would be great to tie them in,” Barton says.

What started as just a Youngstown pride T-shirt for the community is now rolling into featuring other Unilever brands, she says. Future plans consist of a list she put together of 10 vintage brands founded in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Although a lot of time and energy is put into the work, if a person loves what they do, they don’t work a day in their life, she says.

“Our success is our client’s success,” she says. “If they love their shirts and want to sleep in them, we did a good job.”

Pictured above: New Dawn Designs’ Zackary Smigel and Linda Barton discuss T-Shirt designs for the company.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.