Celebrating 75 years of the Wienermobile
July 18th, 2011
09:15 AM ET
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Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia (CNN) - Driving cross-country in small-bus-size hot dog is kind of a big deal.

Between 1,000 and 1,500 college seniors apply for the 12 posts piloting Oscar Mayer’s six Wienermobiles. Hopefuls have been applying for the position since 1988.

“The lucky dogs who cut the mustard are known as ‘hotdoggers,’ ” said Reese Brammel, a hotdogger who just graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in “Economnomnomics,” according to his bio on the hotdogger blog.

Brammel, who plans to apply to law school after his year-long tenure with Oscar Mayer, will face much more forgiving acceptance rates at even the most selective schools.

Brammel and his co-hotdogger, Lauren Oliver, are part of the 24th class of Oscar Mayer hotdoggers, but the Wienermobile is much older. In fact, it is 75 years old today.

To celebrate, the hotdoggers who cover the Northeast will appear on CNN’s “American Morning,” and Oscar Mayer representatives will ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

“We want to celebrate the 75th birthday in style,” said Ed Roland, who oversees Wienermobile marketing for Oscar Mayer.

The Wienermobile was born in 1936, when Carl Mayer approached his uncle Oscar with the idea of driving a giant hot dog through Chicago streets, selling Oscar Mayer wieners, Roland said. Over the years, the Wienermobile developed from a smallish 13-foot affair (Carl Mayer drove around with his head sticking through a hole in the roof) into a fleet of mobile marketing hot spots. Children in the ’50s and ’60s knew to look out for the Wienermobile.

The Wienermobile went on hiatus during the fuel woes of the ’70s, when Oscar Mayer could more effectively reach its audience through television advertising. This was the heyday of the jingle-laden commercials featuring bologna’s first name and last name, and children who wished only to be loved like Oscar Mayer wieners.

When the Wienermobiles reappeared, the children who had blown their Wiener Whistles upon spotting it were parents themselves. They brought their kids to see the Wienermobile and propelled it beyond a commercial status to a cultural icon, Roland said. This renewed effort was driven, in every sense, by the hotdoggers.

“In the late ’80s and early ’90s, when the hotdoggers first hit the road and reintroduced the Wienermobile, it made that leap from ‘This is something I got when I was a kid’ to ‘This is quite the icon. I want a picture with it,’ ” Roland said.

Riding around in today’s Wienermobile is comparable to how one might imagine being surrounded by European paparazzi on motorcycles. During a drive around Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, on Thursday, cars on the interstate passed in front of the dog and then hit the brakes to get a picture.

A dark green pickup loaded down with straw erosion-control blankets pulled up next to the Wienermobile. In the cab, young men in mirrored sunglasses jubilantly held up their cell phones to take pictures. In town, at every point of an intersection, people would whip out their phones to document the moment.

As one might imagine, the hotdoggers are unrelentingly upbeat. Even as every other driver on the road creates a veritable deathtrap, they smile, wave and honk the horn that plays a little bit of the Oscar Mayer jingle (the one they listen to on a loop for at least six hours each day).

“I was surprised about how well it handles,” Brammel said. “I was worried about driving it. I mean, it’s a 27-foot hot dog, but it turns on a dime.”

Brammel and Oliver had a 40-hour training session to learn to operate their Weinermobile, which is named “Oh I Wish.” Each of the six vehicles has an Oscar Mayer nickname, as do all 12 hotdoggers. “Reese with Relish” and “Lucky Dog Lauren” said they worked with the other hotdoggers to brainstorm on their nicknames. And they operate it well. The ride is a little smoother than that of a yellow school bus.

There’s something reminiscent of a fraternity about the hotdogger legacy. Oliver and Brammel’s forbears have left CDs (old-school ’90s mixes and the like) for them to listen to on the road, as well as a book of travel tips.

The fraternity parallels end at comportment, though.  From the confines of a yacht-sized hot dog in which puns are a constant, each play on words is 100% family-friendly. As a rule, the person who rides “shotbun” must also wave at each person who wants to interact with the Wienermobile. No exceptions are made for bloggers.

The hotdoggers said that when they’re done with their 27-foot automotive homage to encased meat for the day, they forget that other drivers are no longer expecting them to smile and wave. Brammel likened the sensation to his previous position as a mascot at the University of Kentucky. He’d take off the costume, forget he was no longer the Wildcat and try to give a kid a high five.

“I forgot I was just this sweaty guy they wanted nothing to do with,” Brammel said.

Brammel and Oliver are the Southeast team. In January, they will switch partners and regions. The regions are not set in stone. Brammel and Oliver filled in and handled appearances in the Dakotas for their Midwestern co-doggers, who had to be at the Chicago Pride Parade. Coincidentally, they wound up in Minot, North Dakota, in the middle of the late June flooding.

“It took their mind off it for a little while,” Brammel said. “We tried to bring a sense of normalcy.”

Oliver said they were distributing food at shelters and wound up at a senior center. Though pressed for resources in a dangerous situation, the senior citizens “just went nuts when they saw the Wienermobile.”

The hotdoggers’ adventures have taken them to several parts of the country that have been dealt weather difficulties. Guests at Thursday’s Fort Oglethorpe event were still talking about the tornado that struck the area in late April. Along the side of the Wienermobile’s route on I-75, trees are uprooted and broken like toothpicks.

At the end of the hotdoggers day in Fort Oglethorpe, a slight drizzle began.

“It doesn’t matter how much it rains, sleets or snows out here,” Brammel said. “The skies in the Wienermobile are always blue.”

Tim Hubbert, 63, who visited the Wienermobile with his daughter and grandchildren, was not as focused on recent regional hardships as on his childhood ambition to see the Wienermobile.

“When I was a kid, that was a big deal,” Hubbert said.

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Filed under: Culture • Food History • Hot dogs


soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Denae Nulty

    Known more commonly with his stage name, George Michael, Georgios Kyraicos Panayiotou is one of the world’s most celebrated musical icons in the world. Along with being a musician, he is a songwriter, record producer and a singer and got his major breakthrough in the 1980s when he formed a duo with his school friend. The duo was named Wham! The single, Careless Whisper was the first to be released by the duo and sold over six million copies worldwide. Having sold over 100 million copies in his entire career, George Michael is one of the world’s highest selling music artists. Now that he is the star, George Michael tickets sell within no time up to the fullest of capacities of the concert arenas resulting in his concerts and performances being immensely successful.^"

    Cheers
    <http://foodsupplementcenter.com/

    May 8, 2013 at 12:41 am |
  2. D. Farrell

    My husband worked as a Salesman for Oscar Mayer around 1966. Hi-light was riding along with Robbie (who was also one of the munchins in the Wzard of Oz. Quite a sight, I gather. Dan at 6'4 ahd Robbie about half his size.

    July 19, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  3. Mary Jane

    "Little Oscar's" real name was George Molchan from Gary, Indiana. He passed away in April, 2005 at age 82. He appeared as a spokesperson for the company for 36 years. He was a great guy and enjoyed representing the Oscar Mayer brands. He was buried in Merrillville, Indiana and one of the weinermobiles was present at the ceremony along with a few fans singing the Oscar Mayer weiner song.

    July 18, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  4. ABC

    Are there really only 6 of them in the country? or 6 per region? I see them all the time in Madison (saw three parked together in a lot not too long ago actually!) Maybe they have "home" in Madison that I don't know of....

    July 18, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • Ex-Hotdogger

      They do. Oscar Mayer's HQ is in Madison, so the Wienermobiles converge there often.

      July 20, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  5. morgan painter

    Grand Prairie, TX, 1956. The wiener mobile pulled into a parking lot and started handing out whistles. I was only 7 at the time but I got mine right there in front of the grocery store. And, it was handed to me by none other then, "Little Oscar" himself. He was so short I don't know if he could actually drive the big wiener mobile but it was great fun and I still have that whistle stored away in a little box of stuff from my early years.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  6. OldGoat

    The next Weinermobile to be built should be named Anthony.

    July 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  7. Carl L

    You may already be a wiener.

    July 18, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • George MIchael

      I'll take that weiner, thank you very much.

      July 19, 2011 at 10:26 am |
  8. whiplash

    I wonder if it's ever been to Condom, France?

    That would be a good cover story!

    July 18, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  9. Chuck

    It should have been used for George W. when he was in office. He and Dick could have used it as their limo.

    July 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • kite005

      I might dislike Bush more than Reagan. But this really has nothing to do with politics. Many people seem to take the anything, no matter how far away it is from politics and make it about politics. Weird.

      July 18, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  10. John Jury

    Why college students??? How about a recently retired "fun guy" who could make 55 and over chicks swoon? Hot Dog!!
    Save money. I'll do it for nothing and a sandwich now and then.

    July 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  11. aubrie

    I wonder what these drivers make in compensation that 1000 people applied for the job???

    July 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  12. Andrea M

    They're a good laugh when you see them, definitely brightens up any day. As for a Weinermobile at a Pride parade, the puns by the drivers may have been clean, but if I know anything of the nature of the sense of humor of most everybody else, the puns sure weren't clean in the crowd.

    July 18, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  13. Pliny

    The WienerMobile emailed me some very disturbing pictures of it's drive-shaft and lug-nuts.

    July 18, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  14. Eric

    Hey i just seen 1 of those driving down the road a few months ago hahaha

    July 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  15. outawork

    The wiener jokes are back!!!

    July 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • The Smart Aleck@outawork

      Have they ever really left?

      July 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  16. Sterling Augustine

    I remember seeing the Weinermobile drive around town when I lived outside of Chicago as a kid back in the early 1960s. One stopped at a local pet store where I had entered my dog in a contest that day. She won the contest and I think I got a whistle and a tee-shirt.

    July 18, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  17. BMOC

    Yeah my high school girlfriend called my Chevy Chevette hatchback The Weinermobile for entirely different reasons.

    July 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Bristol Palin

      BMOC...I'm flattered you remember me so well.

      July 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  18. Biff

    Shout out to my hotdogger Itzy she's probably out driving that giant hotdog as I type...
    Keep on trukin darlin... Love your BFF :)

    July 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  19. BluegrassAnne

    I remember seeing the Weinermobile the first time as a child in a shopping center somewhere in the San Fernando valley. It was much smaller and the driver was a little person. My children have always thought I was a little crazy because I loved the Weinermobile. I have a Hallmark Weinermobile ornament, a couple of whistles, a Weinermobile bank, and of course I know the songs. We also have a family picture taken by the Weinermobile at a Waffle House in Louisville, KY. Go hotdoggers!

    July 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  20. Political Scandal

    Hmmmmm, now if Anthony Weiner and Barbara Bush drove it, that would be a weiner with a bush!

    July 18, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  21. Roll

    I thought this was a story about Anthony Weiner's car

    July 18, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  22. willie

    It's far more stylish than most, if not all new cars.

    July 18, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  23. stacy12

    big f ing deal its a big dick with a motor

    July 18, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Bristol Palin

      I'd like to ' try it out '.

      July 18, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Your mother

      Do you kiss ME with that mouth?

      July 19, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  24. mike

    One was spotted by my wife on the hwy last evening, then we spotted it again on South Padre Island, Texas

    July 18, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  25. bachmanntwit

    "Human Centipede 2" starring the entire Palin family with special guest star Michele Bachmann bringing up the rear.

    July 18, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Conrad Shull

      ^ proof that the internet makes people stupid

      July 18, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  26. itdontmatter

    Some pictures of the different weiner mobiles over the years would have been nice

    July 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  27. Biff

    The hunt for Casey Anthony's location is being conducted in a Wienermobile.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • masterblaster

      Funny one, Biff! Now that she's out and free of her burdensome child, I'm sure she's lookin' for the big weiner too! Hopefully the Weinermobile will find her and give it to her.

      July 18, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  28. Jim Ihlenfeld

    If you'd like to read a very humorous book on the adventures of driving the Weinermobile for a year, get the new book "Dog Days" by Dave Ihlenfeld. It's a fun "coming of age" story featuring the folks and excitement of the Weinermobile. It's a great book! (P.S. I have to admit being a bit biased since Dave is my son!!!)

    July 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  29. Hotdogger for life!

    Best job ever!! Though "I wish I were" able to reunite with all the other hotdoggers! Oscar Mayer, please host another reunion!!!

    July 18, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Annette

      I was a Hotdogger 1994-1995 (Hotdogger VII). It was a blast, although I did scrape the buns once driving down a narrow road. :-( When is the next reunion!?

      July 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  30. SnoopysVet

    In California the Weiner Mobile is in Spanish....

    July 18, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • SilentBoy741

      Ah yes - la "CoachaRoacha".

      July 18, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  31. Chuck

    I remember seeing the weinermobile in (no joke) Frankfurt Germany about 10 years ago ! ! !

    July 18, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  32. JustThinkinOutloud

    Boy, I'd really relish the opportunity to drive that bad boy.

    I hate myself.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  33. cUCurt

    What a riveting, mind blowing story.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Matt

      You are a total fuk face.

      July 18, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  34. Edsr

    75 years old................boy................that would give you indigestion if nothing else would.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • jon

      That's just about as old as your typical grilled hot dog at 7-11.

      July 18, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  35. Tony

    I still remember when I got my first wiener whistle. There is nothing quite as nice as the sound of a wiener whistle being blown. Happy 75th Oscar Mayer, and thank you for 75 years of some of the greatest double intended jokes, gags, and suggestive innuendo to date. :-)

    July 18, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • JBJingles@Tony

      Thanks for the memory! I loved my whistle too, can't remember how I got it though? Mail in order maybe.

      July 18, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  36. jj

    In 1970, we were in a car, headed from Cleveland to Detroit for a concert. We were all nicely stoned, when our jaws all dropped – the Wienermobile slowly passed us by! This was going to be a great night!

    July 18, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • WayOutThere

      I got you beat! I went to a party in Salt Lake City 20 years ago, and the driver attended it...and pulled up in the Wienermobile!

      July 18, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • fundies

      "Cleveland to Detroit" a great night?

      July 18, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  37. azbankr

    Last time I saw the WeinerMobile it was parked at a Between the Buns in San Francisco.

    July 18, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Boy George

      They can park that thang between my bunz any day.

      July 18, 2011 at 10:26 am |
      • Fez

        Me, too!

        July 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  38. Christine

    My mom's cousin used to drive it years ago! Nice to see it's still going strong! :)

    July 18, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  39. Pragmaclast

    "From the confines of a yacht-sized hot dog in which puns are a constant, each play on words is 100% family-friendly."

    I guess they never drive the Wienermobile up in to Beaverton, then.

    July 18, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • A Smart Aleck@Pragmaclast

      ROFLMAO! Good Job!

      July 18, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Lance Fallus

      Good one.

      And, I bet they (and cars beside them) get a good laugh whenever they enter a tunnel.

      Like the last scene in North by Northwest.

      July 18, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Daniel

      I've lobbied for years for a game between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Oregon Beavers. I think a Weinermobile appearance at such an event, along with obvious half time entertainment by the Trojan Marching band of the OTHER USC...well, it just writes itself, doesn't it?

      July 18, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
      • beernpizzalover

        Actually, it's Oregon State that has Beavers for a mascot; the University of Oregon are the Ducks.

        July 18, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • btl_driver

      How about driving the weinermobile to Intercourse, PA

      July 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Sinep Yag

      Or Hershey PA.

      July 18, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Astra Navigo

      Actually, I live near Beaverton – and I've seen the Weinermobile in Beaverton, before.

      So there.

      July 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  40. Draywawa

    X Congressman Anthony Weiner should be the driver of this vehicle! What a perfect job for him now!

    July 18, 2011 at 9:37 am |
    • TheTraveler

      Nah, he's under-qualified...

      July 18, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • outawork

      Didn't you mean that he comes up short?

      July 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  41. RichardHead

    This would be a Sweet ride to drive from town to town. Of course,Snowbunny would be my co-pilot 'cuz she already knows the song. Break out the Wiener whistles everybody.

    July 18, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Draywawa

      Are you sure you would not want X Congressman Anthony Weiner driving for you?

      July 18, 2011 at 9:39 am |
      • Lance Fallus

        Freud should have driven this thing.

        His famous dictum would then have probably been, "Sometime a wiener is just a wiener."

        July 18, 2011 at 11:01 am |
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