It’s as recognizable an American Icon as Disney’s mouse ears or McDonald’s golden arches. And the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile is wrapping up a year-long birthday celebration. First constructed to promote “Oscar Meyer German Wieners” in 1936, the mack daddy of promotional vehicles turned 75 in 2011. And E3 Spark Plugs wants to send congratulations on 75 wild, wacky and wonderful years.
The first Wienermobile was created by Oscar Mayer’s nephew, Carl G. Mayer and has served as the basic model for all later generations. Each Wienermobile has traveled the country, making stops at major events, museums, car shows, festivals, grand openings, parades, schools, children’s homes and hospitals – anywhere they could spread a little joy and garner a little media attention. World War II gasoline rationing kept the Wienermobile parked for much of the 1940s. But the Rock & Roll era of the 1950s brought five new Wienermobiles that not only looked cool, but also rocked high-fidelity sound systems. You can see two of them at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and the nearby Greenfield Village’s Wienermobile Café
From 1969 through the 1970s, new Wienermobiles were built on Chevrolet chassis and featured for Thunderbird tail lights. The 1969 model was the first to travel overseas. The year 1988 saw another first – the launch of Oscar Mayer’s Hotdogger program, wherein recent college graduates are hired to drive the 10-frank fleet of Wienermobiles built on converted Chevrolet van chassis, meeting fans and handing out Wienermobile-shaped toy whistles dubbed “Wienerwhistles.”
In 1995, the Wienermobile grew in size to 27 feet long and 11 feet high. More recent versions are teched-out with voice activated GPS navigation, an audio center with a wireless microphone and external speakers, gull wing doors and a horn that plays the Wiener Jingle in 21 different genres, from Cajun to Rap to Bossa Nova.
Today, there are eight active Wienermobiles running America’s highways. And the Hotdogger program is still going strong. If you’re a college student who will be graduating next term, this could be the job of a lifetime. Hotdogger stints last from June to June and you’ll visit college campuses around the country. Upwards of 2,000 students apply each year and only 12 are chosen, so fire off your resume today! And good luck from E3 Spark Plugs!