A "Wienermobile" is an automobile shaped like a hot dog on a bun that is used to promote and advertise Oscar Mayer products. It was created in 1936 by Oscar's nephew, Carl G. Mayer, and variants are still used by Oscar Mayer today. In 2004, Oscar Mayer announced a contest whereby customers could win the right to use the Wienermobile for a day. Within a month, the contest had generated over 15,000 entries. Drivers of the Wienermobiles are known as Hotdoggers and often hand out toy whistles shaped as replicas of the Wienermobile, known as Wienerwhistles.
The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile has evolved from Carl Mayer’s original 1936 vehicle to the current vehicles seen on the road today. Although gas rationing kept the Wienermobile off the road during World War II, in the 1950’s Oscar Mayer and the Gerstenslager Company created several new vehicles using a Dodge chassis or a Willys Jeep chassis. One of these models is on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. These Wienermobiles were piloted by "Little Oscar" who would visit stores, schools, orphanages, children's hospitals, and participate in parades and festivals. In 1969, new Wienermobiles were built upon a Chevy motor home chassis and featured Ford Thunderbird taillights. The 1969 vehicle was the first Wienermobile to travel to foreign countries. In 1976 Plastic Products, inc., built a fiberglass and styrofoam model, again on a Chevy motor home chassis. In 1988, Oscar Mayer launched its Hotdogger program, where recent college graduates were hired to drive the Wienermobile through various parts of the nation and abroad. Using a converted Chevy van chassis, Stevens Automotive Corporation and noted industrial designer Brooks Stevens built a fleet of ten Wienermobiles for the new team of Hotdoggers. In 1995, the Wienermobile grew in size to 27-feet long and 11-feet high. In 2000, the big dog was given the power of a 5700 GM VORTEC engine. The most recent version of the Wienermobile, built in 2004, has been updated to include a voice activated GPS navigation device, an audio center with a wireless microphone, and a horn that plays the Wiener Jingle in 21 different genres from Cajun to Rap to Bossa Nova, according to American Eats. There are 6 Wienermobiles in existence. The current Wienermobile sports fourth generation Pontiac Firebird taillights.
In October 2005, Pauline Langerholc received the majestic treatment of a ride in the Wienermobile because her grandson’s then-fiancée won a prize in Oscar Mayer’s “Win the Ride of Your Life” Contest.” After the trip Langerholc said, "I have liked hot dogs all my life, but I really love them now.”
In June, 2007, a Wienermobile with the Wisconsin license plate of YUMMY made headlines after having been stopped by an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer for having an alleged stolen license plate. Officer K. Lankow had observed the Wienermobile slowing traffic and checked the license plate number to determine if the vehicle was street legal. The license plate came back as being stolen out of Columbia, Wisconsin, so the officer stopped the Wienermobile and detained the driver. The Columbia Police Department, that had flagged the license plate as being stolen, had neglected to add that it should be considered stolen only if not on a Wienermobile. The Wienermobile was released soon after the error was revealed.
On February 11, 2008, a Wienermobile slid off of U.S. Route 15 outside of Mansfield, Pennsylvania due to icy conditions following a winter storm, drawing moderate local media attention. There were no injuries, and the Wienermobile suffered only minor damage.
There are seven wienermobiles in existence currently, with each assigned a part of the country. The hotdogger position of driving the wienermobile is an open position to U.S. citzens and the duration of the job lasts for one full year: from the first of June until the following first of June. Every March at Kraft and Oscar Mayer headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin there are final round interviews held for the hotdogger position. Each vehicle holds two hotdoggers, and twelve people are chosen from a final pool of 30 candidates brought to Oscar Mayer headquarters. The 30 candidates are screened across the country. Both current hotdoggers and Oscar Mayer recruiters visit college campuses across the country in search of the next round of hotdoggers. Only college seniors who are about to graduate are eligible for applying to this hotdogger position. Currently there are about 500 hotdogger alumni who have served as hotdoggers and driven the wienermobile.