Learn all about America’s favorite traveling hot dog…
We don’t care how old you are, you still make a scene, flap your arms, and look for your camera (well, camera-phone these days) when you see the Wienermobile go by you on the highway. You just can’t help it! Neither can we! How did this simple hot-dog-shaped vehicle entrench itself so deeply into American road trip history? Well, they stayed on the road for decades, that’s how…
Here’s a Quick History:
It all started back in 1936 when Oscar Mayer’s very own nephew, Carl G. Mayer, came up with the audacious idea to put a giant wiener-shaped vehicle on the road as a promotional tool. Crafting a one-of-a-kind 13 foot, $5,000 frank-on-wheels proved to be a genius move, and the public quickly fell in love with traveling creation. Drivers, called “Hotdoggers,” roamed the roads of America handing out now-famous “Wiener Whistles.”
Another mobile was built right before WWII…
With the gas rationing and other more-pressing matters during World War II, the Wienermobile was temporarily sidelined, but hot dog, if it didn’t return stronger than ever. (Sorry, we can’t resist a cheesy joke here or there.)
In 1952 the Wienermobile and Hotdoggers were back at it with a shinny new coach built by Gerstenslager on top of a Dodge chassis. It would later be retired to the Henry Ford Museum where you can still see it to this day.
By the late 50s, a Brooks Stevens built model was rolling onto the highways on a Willys Jeep chassis, a logical choice in a post-WWII decade. Stylish as the 1950s concept cars that were gracing the magazines of the 50s and 60s, it’s a true work of rolling hot dog art.
A new Wienermobile rolled out in 1969 with a hefty Chevrolet motor home frame and stylish Ford Thunderbird taillights. While man was exploring the unknowns of space and the moon, the 1969 Wienermobile was exploring the unknowns of international road tripping… Hotdoggers took this beef and bun to multiple foreign countries, the first time Oscar Mayer had sent the Wienermobile outside the United States.
An updated Wienermobile built by Plastic Products Inc. took the 1969 model’s place in 1976 and continued to spread joy across the world.
By 1988, the Wienermobile had been household name for decades, and Oscar Mayer decided to doubled-down on their wonderful creation by commissioning Brooks Stevens and his crew to build a multi-dog fleet of new Wienermobiles while the company launched its “Hotdoggers” program to recruit crews to help escort the vehicles from town to town.
In 1995 the fleet was revamped to be much bigger and measured 27 feet high and 11 feet wide. During this time, Mattel even honored the famous frank with its very own Hot Wheel.
The 2000s saw the fleet updated a couple times, mostly focusing on making the Wienermobiles more sophisticated with all the bells-and-whistles of the technology age. Of course, it’s not too sophisticated… The Wienermobiles’ horns play the Wiener Jingle in ever type of music genre you can imagine.
Six Wienermobiles are on the road today (along with a couple of these prototype “MINI Wieners.” Of course, it hasn’t been all fun and games for the Hotdoggers. The Wienermobile has been in the news several times over the past few decades, as recently as February of 2015 for everything from parking tickets to minor fender benders to engine trouble. Thankfully, the mishaps the Hotdoggers have faced have been minor (and sometimes humorous in hindsight).
Today, the fleet of Wienermobiles still do what the first one did back in the 1930s… Spread joy and market Oscar Mayer in the most fun way imaginable. With the advent of social media, GPS, and smartphones, the world in which the Wienermobile road trips, however, has changed quite a bit… No longer do you just *hope* to see one on the road, you can actually track the Hotdoggers on Instagram and Twitter.
You can also follow along with the Hotdoggers with the Wienermobile app for iOS and Android and check out the Wienermobile online store to buy all the hilariously cheesy Wienermobile gear you can imagine.
Cover Photo: Pinterest