The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

Michael Bushnell
Publisher


This week we’re taking a nostalgic look back at the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, that cool piece of Americana that kids and adults love.


Carl Mayer founded what would become an international brand in 1883 when he and his brother, Gottfried, leased a small meat market on Chicago’s near north side. The Mayer brothers specialized in sausages from their native Germany, catering to the neighborhood’s largely German population.


By 1936, the company had grown exponentially and had moved to Madison, Wis., and Carl Mayer rolled out the first Wienermobile. The custom vehicle was built on a specialized frame. The Wienermobile shown on this late 1950’s promotional postcard was built on a Dodge frame by the Gerstenslager Company in Wooster, Ohio. Used primarily in parades and visits to schools and orphanages, the Wienermobile drew crowds wherever it went.


Over the years, it has been constructed on a variety of chassis models including Dodge, Ford, Willys and GMC.


The 1995 Wienermobile had grown in size to 27 feet long and 11 feet high, a foot shy of the clearance of our beloved Independence Avenue railroad bridge that continues to eat vehicles over 12 feet high.


The 2004 version of the Wienermobile featured a voice-activated GPS navigation device, an audio center with a wireless microphone, a horn that plays the Wiener Jingle in 21 different genres from Cajun to Rap to Bossa Nova, according to American Eats, and sports fourth generation Pontiac Firebird tail lights.


There are six Wienermobiles operating throughout the United States, operated by a person called a Hotdogger, whose job is to “meat” and greet people across the country, sharing pictures on social media and answering questions about the Wienermobile. Roughly 7,000 college seniors apply for the 12 much-coveted positions.


The Wienermobile shown on this postcard is currently on display in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. In June 2017 the company introduced several new hot dog-themed vehicles, including the WienerCycle, WienerRover and WienerDrone.

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