A 27-foot-long hot dog on wheels rolled onto MU’s campus decked out in a ketchup and mustard-themed interior, a blue sky-decorated ceiling, two Oscar Mayer brand ambassadors known as “Hotdoggers” and a vegetarian (me).
No, it’s not the beginning of some convoluted joke. I, Waverly Colville, rode around MU’s campus in the notorious Oscar Mayer Wienermobile with Hotdoggers “Lucky Dog Liz” Skretkowicz and “Diggity Dog Donald” Knoelke who gave MOVE Magazine the inside scoop on life inside the ‘dog.
Each Wienermobile has two Hotdoggers, six ketchup and mustard-colored seats, a floor design splattered like the spilled condiments and plenty of names filled with hotdog puns. When one enters the car, a seatbelt becomes a “meatbelt” and the glove box is the “bun box,” aptly shaped like a hot dog.
I sat “shotbun.”
Skretkowicz and Knoelke have been driving one of six Wienermobiles across the country since last June. The one-year Hotdogger program is for recent college graduates interested in communications, public relations and advertising. Each week, the Wienermobiles move to a different city, promoting the Oscar Mayer brand with it’s eye-catching ride at events, communicating with local media, or simply by just parking on the street. After all, it’s hard to miss.
“It’s hard to commit to a location as well as a specific type of job,” Skretkowicz says. “With this job, you don’t have to because you’re doing a wide variety of things and a wide variety of places.”
They stopped in Columbia to recruit for next year’s class of Hotdoggers with advertisements, information sessions and free Weenie whistles.
Skretkowicz and Knoelke are the 28th class of Hotdoggers that graduated from Hot Dog High, the training program in Madison, Wisconsin, where Hotdoggers learn to be a spokesperson for the company and how to drive the massive vehicle.
The 12 Hotdoggers nationwide receive a stipend for meals, a hotel room in each city and gas to power the Wienermobile all paid for by Oscar Mayer. They also get a free day to explore each city. On top of having almost no expenses, they also get paid.
“You can’t really major in (being a hotdogger),” Knoelke says. “At first, people are like, ‘wait, that’s a job?’ Once they understand that you’re right out of college getting paid to travel the country, they’re incredibly jealous.”
The Wienermobile circled around Greektown and looped around Stadium Boulevard, drawing eyes and cellphones from pedestrians and drivers alike. Each day’s worth of reactions bring a fresh batch of stories.
“Once you leave the hotel in the Wienermobile, there’s really no telling what will happen,” Knoelke says.
There is one consistent guarantee: people will stare and hopefully, end up with a smile when they hear the Oscar Mayer jingle projected from the speakers.
“Just going to get gas has the ability to make someone’s day,” Knoelke says. “There aren’t a lot of jobs where people are this happy to see you.”
The Wienermobile carries the memories of generations. The first Wienermobile hit the roads in 1936. Adults, or “big kids,” as Knoelke calls them, stop by the Wienermobile to share their childhood memories that the hot dog revives.
“The three words we hear the most are ‘I remember when,’” Skretkowicz says. “We’re trying to create more of those ‘I remember whens.’”
After their Hotdogger lifestyles expire in June, the two plan to find jobs in the advertising industry using lessons like independence and self-awareness that they gained from “something as simple as a giant hot dog on wheels,” as Skretkowicz puts it.
“If you can’t smile about the Wienermobile then what can you smile about?” Skretkowicz says.
We know you can't get enough. See a full gallery of the Wienermobile here.
Edited by Katie Rosso | firstname.lastname@example.org