A wild ride on the Weinermobile
By By Robert St. John / food columnist
May 21, 2003
Robert St. John is the executive chef/owner of the Purple Parrot Caf and Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg and Meridian. If you have any questions or comments, he can be reached at email@example.com or at (601) 264-0672.
One day I will lay on my deathbed and say, "I didn't cure cancer, I didn't resolve the Middle East peace problem and I didn't stop world hunger. But, doggone it, I rode in the Weinermobile!"
Last week I spotted the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile parked outside of a restaurant. I wheeled my truck into the parking lot and made a mad dash through the dining room in search of the driver of the huge wiener on wheels.
I was looking for two 50-ish, overweight men with Oscar Mayer golf shirts and beer guts. What I found were two pretty and perky young ladies sharing a salad. The "Hotdoggers" were in town to give $10,000 to a school. I pulled up a chair and asked them if I could ride in the Weinermobile. After 10 minutes of pleading, they determined that I wasn't a stalker and agreed. We set a rendezvous date and time for the following day.
And who said there was nothing to do in Hattiesburg?
The Wienermobile is hard to miss. Next to the Goodyear Blimp, it is one of the oldest and most recognizable mobile promotional gimmicks in existence. Oscar Mayer puts recent college graduates through a grueling interview process for this much sought-after job. The Hotdoggers agree to dedicate one year of their lives riding around in a giant wiener.
My Hotdoggers, Regan Relish and Monique Mustard, arrived at the office on time and we boarded the porcine mothership.
The Weinermobile draws attention wherever it goes. It is 27 feet long (55 hot dogs), 8 feet wide (18 hot dogs), 11 feet tall (25 hot dogs) and weighs 14,050 pounds (140,500 hot dogs). It can also "haul buns" at 90 mph.
I made the wiener girls pull up to the drive-though window of the local Lucky Dogs restaurant franchise. The Lucky Dogs employee was taken aback when struck by the culinary paradox of a giant hot dog pulling up to the window of a hot dog restaurant to order a hot dog.
I asked the attendant what type of hot dogs they used. She said they serve Lykes wieners. We booed and hissed. I told her that I was with the wiener police and would be sending an associate to pay them a visit. Then we sped off blowing our wiener whistles at them.
Next, we busted my daughter out of kindergarten. As the Wienermobile pulled into the parking lot of the school she happened to be standing outside. Her eyes were wide with surprise as the giant hot dog came to a stop, the gull-wing door opened and I walked out. She said, "Oh, it's just my dad" and walked back inside. In a flash, dozens of kids swarmed the Wienermobile.
Without prompting, the entire parking lot broke out in a spontaneous rendition of the Oscar Mayer wiener song.
Actually, it was just the teachers, the hot doggers, my wife and me. Maybe the kids were too young to remember the song.
It was at that precise moment that I realized that the folks at Oscar Mayer are marketing geniuses. They convinced an entire generation to be wieners. Not astronauts, or cowboys, or football players. We wanted to be wieners and we joyfully sang about it.
That is the problem with my generation. We all grew up aspiring to be nothing more than pig lips and sodium benzoate and our wishes came true. That little advertising ditty is probably responsible for most of the problems in my early life. I couldn't be a productive member of society, because I was too busy trying to be an Oscar Mayer wiener so "everyone would be in love with me."
Oscar Mayer could have started the song with: "Oh I wish I were the answer to world hunger"; or "Oh I wish I were a member of the Peace Corps"; or even "Oh I wish I were a nuclear physicist." But that wouldn't cut the mustard; we all wanted to be wieners.
Later in the day, I had the Hotdoggers drive the Wienermobile to my house (my neighbors are used to seeing things like this). I have a long, narrow driveway. The Wienermobile got stuck in the driveway. The Hotdoggers didn't panic. They remained calm and spent 35 minutes backing the wiener all the way out.
My top-10-things-to-do-before-I-die list includes spending a month eating my way across France; touring the great pyramids; dancing the robot on the Great Wall of China; having my picture made while walking across Abbey Road; and riding in the Wienermobile.
Check another item off of the list.