The Life Of A Wienermobile Driver
What it's like behind the wheel of a 27-foot hot dog? Franks for asking! (sorry)
"Hotdogger" Hannah Carlson
Of all of the crazy promo vehicles currently, constantly traveling the highways of this great capitalist (shutdown) country, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is the undisputed top dog, the king of the road.
There are a total of six Wienermobiles, all always touring America at the same time. They have names: SpeedyWiener, Autobuhn, BornToBun, Bunderstruck, HellOnBuns, and DriftDog. As far as miles logged goes, the Wienermobile is easily the longest running unchanged ad in world marketing history.
Every June, Kraft Foods chooses 12 recent college grads to pilot/co-pilot the wieners. Each class tours the country for a year before the next class comes in. That is the grad's life for a year — driving the Wienermobile.
Hannah Carlson is one of those 12, currently driving "Bunderstruck" with her co-pilot Mike.
Carlson is from Plymouth, Minnesota. She just graduated from the University of Missouri, Columbia with a degree in strategic communication. After her year of driving the hot dog highways of America, she hopes to land a job at a public relations firm.
1. What's your official job title?
Hannah Carlson: "The official title is 'Hotdogger.'"
2. Hannah's ride and Devil's Tower, Wyoming.
3. How long have you been a Hotdogger? Is it a part-time job?
HC: "I've been driving the Wienermobile since June, so almost four months now! It's a full-time job, and we are on the road for an entire year traveling to a different city each week. The Wienermobile is our mode of transportation on our off days too. That means if we want to get groceries, run errands, go to the movies, or get a haircut, we are taking a 27-foot long hot dog."
4. What's the name of your Wienermobile?
HC: "Bunderstruck! But Mike, my co-pilot, and I sometimes call her 'Wishy' for short."
Snazzy interior. Six captain seats.
The horn plays the Wiener Jingle in 21 different genres from Cajun to rap to bossa nova (no metal, alas).
5. How does one get this job?
HC: "Oscar Mayer recruits soon-to-be college graduates every year, inviting them to apply and share why they would 'cut the mustard.' More than a thousand people apply, and Oscar Mayer narrows down the pool of applicants to 30 and invites them out to the headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. The final interview includes singing the Oscar Mayer jingle on tape (no pressure). Then you cross your fingers. In the end, 12 people are hired to drive the six Wienermobile vehicles."
6. Wienermobile HellOnBuns and the (former) world's largest fire hydrant in Beaumont, Texas.
7. So, you have to know the Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle by heart then.
HC: "Yes! People come up to us every day and sing the jingle. We join in when they start to openly sing our way. We recently sang the jingle on live TV as part of a challenge to earn points for the Wienermobile Run road rally that has been going on between all six Wienermobile vehicles this summer. If we didn't know the jingle, it would probably be a YouTube sensation by now."
Note: Here's the song sung in four-part harmony.
8. How many states have you driven through?
Hannah: Twenty-four and counting! A big chunk of that came at the beginning of the summer when my teammate Mike and I found out we had to be in San Diego for the premiere of Psych "The Musical" episode. We found this out when we were in New York City, and had only five days to get there! In those five days, we drove through 13 states and it has been one of the most incredible weeks on the job so far. I may never have the chance to drive cross country like that again. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences."
Hannah's ride in front Mt. Rushmore.
9. How long did it take you to get sick of "Wiener" jokes?
HC: "Two days. No, maybe that's too long. Day and a half."
10. How fast can that baby go?
HC: "She can really haul buns if she needs to, but we always drive within the speed limit."
Note: According to the Hotdoggers who recently did a reddit AMA, the Wienermobile is wind tunnel tested up to 90mph. I would like to witness that test.
11. How does it handle?
HC: "Really well, actually! I thought it was going to be impossible to drive, but now it feels like I'm back in my car from home. It's just something that we get used to. It's weird how normal it becomes."
12. Have you ever had to parallel park it?
HC: "Yes, first week on the job, too! We were in downtown Chicago, so there were people everywhere watching a giant hot dog get into this tiny space. Pressure was on, but with the help of my fellow Hotdoggers directing me, it went just fine."
The Wienermobile was recently used in an Autolite spark plugs ad.
13. Have any famous people asked you to take a photo with the Wienermobile?
HC:: "I know in the past celebrities like Tori Spelling have gotten a ride (Here's a photo of Tori and family). And we recently saw a picture of Gretchen Rossi from the Real Housewives of Orange County with team Autobuhn's Wienermobile (photo)."
We do see many, many wiener dogs. If people find out the Wienermobile is in town and they have a wiener dog, you better believe you'll be seeing them. It's amazing."