I was driving to work the other day when I spotted the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile parked across the street. I actually turned the car around to get a picture of it. Later that day I even commented, “How do you get that great job? Driving the Wienermobile across the country, making fun stops and getting paid for it?”
Thus began my investigation into Oscar Mayer’s wonderful traveling frankfurter. Turns out it’s been around since 1936, when Oscar’s nephew, Carl, invented it to drive through the streets of Chicago to promote their tasty meats. That version was only 13 feet long and was no doubt much easier for Carl to handle around corners than today’s 27-footer.
The Wienermobile has been on the road in one form or another (the chassis has changed over the years) pretty much ever since, except for a hiatus during gas shortages in the ‘70s. There are currently five of them canvassing the U.S..
As for my previous question about job opportunities, you need to be a graduating college senior to apply to become a Hotdogger, AKA a Wienermobile driver. Out of 2,000 or so yearly applicants, the field is narrowed down to 30 every March. Those lucky dogs get to visit Kraft headquarters to interview for the position, and 12 are chosen to spend the next year criss-crossing the country, handing out whistles and spreading the world about wieners. And yes, they do have to complete training to drive the vehicle - about 40 hours worth.
But it’s not all fun and games. The Wienermobile is a little challenging to maneuver, and as a result, it’s gotten into its fair share of jams (relishes?). It’s been in several accidents, including getting stuck underneath the deck of a house. It also recently crashed a wedding, but that was a good thing.
The world's biggest bun on wheels also tends to attract attention, and police aren’t above pulling the vehicle over just because it’s famous. Nope, no star treatment there. In fact, in the past 20 years, the Wienermobile has been pulled over for speeding twice in the same tiny town - Henderson, Texas. It has also been ticketed for illegal parking.
If you're as fascinated with the Wienermobile as I am, you can follow the Hotdoggers as they blog and Tweet their way across the U.S. Do we have any Hotdogger alums reading? We'd be fascinated if you'd share your experience in the comment. Oh, and one more fun fact for you: Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan counts himself among the 400 or so who once drove the Wienermobile for a living.