An Iowa woman saw her dream come true when she was named one of the official drivers of the Weinermobile for the next 12 months. Sammi Manning, from Waukon, Iowa, says she has wanted to be a weinermobile driver since the seventh grade.
“For both my co-pilot, Haley, and I, driving the Wienermobile was our dream job coming out of college,” said Manning in an interview with Lake Superior Magazine. “Over 1,500 people apply for the job each year, and only 12 “lucky dogs” (six pairs) are hired to drive one of the six Wienermobile vehicles in the fleet. We went through an extensive interview process, and thorough training at Hot Dog High, before hitting the road as Brand Ambassadors for Oscar Mayer, aka "Hotdoggers."
The iconic vehicle is shaped like an Oscar Mayer hotdog, complete with the yellow band logo around the middle. It travels the country promoting hotdog goodwill. The 27-foot long Weinermobile is built on a Chevrolet dual-wheel platform. The drivers don’t live in the vehicle (it’s not a weinerbago, after all) – they sleep in hotels.
The drivers are trained by the Madison, Wis., Police Department “to keep them from scratching their buns,” Manning says. The officers help them learn how to pork, uh…park the elongated vehicle, too.
“People are usually just so excited to see the Wienermobile, they don't know what to say!” Manning exclaims. “It's quite a shock to see a 27-foot hot dog on wheels.”
Credit: Oscar Mayer
The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile has evolved from Carl Mayer's original 1936 vehicle to the vehicles seen on the road today, according to Wikipedia.
“Although fuel rationing kept the Wienermobile off the road during World War II, in the 1950s Oscar Mayer and the Gerstenslager Company created several new vehicles using a Dodge chassis or a Willys Jeep chassis,” Wikipedia states. “One of these models is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. These Wienermobiles were piloted by "Little Oscar" (portrayed by George Molchan) who would visit stores, schools, orphanages, and children's hospitals and participate in parades and festivals.”
Two Years in a Row
This is the second consecutive year that an Iowa woman has been selected as a hotdogger. Johnston, Iowa, native Molly Ward was a driver the previous year. War, a slight woman dwarfed by the massive steering wheel of the Wienermobile’s steering wheel, made sure everyone had on their “meat belt” before driving.
Ward’s eyes sparkled when she played the well-known Oscar Mayer jingle — “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener,” blasting it from the hot dog’s outdoor speakers.
Her smile widened and a giggle escaped. “I love this,” she said.