PORTAGE | Kylie Martin, 11 of Hobart, came out to the new Meijer’s on Sunday morning to view an American icon, something her mother, Ashley Martin, has seen only in passing on the highway — the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
“It’s cool! It’s a hot dog on wheels!” said Kylie, her Oscar Mayer wiener whistle in hand.
Ashley Martin said she thought it would be great to come out and see the vehicle up close and share it with her kids.
It was an experience hundreds sought during the time the Wienermobile was in town on tour, said Samuel Blum, who drives the vehicle with his partner, Cokie Reed.
The two recent college graduates drive one of the six Wienermobiles in the Oscar Mayer fleet.
“It’s a year-long position and we travel all over the country. We will be in the east region until December,” said Blum, whose official corporate title is a “hotdogger.”
He said they go to a different town every day and spend the night in hotels, not in the Wienermobile, despite the visible ample space, which is used to store boxes of wiener whistles and other promotional materials.
“It’s not a Wiernerbago,” Blum joked, “but we do have ketchup- and mustard-colored seats and a mustard-stained floor.”
Reed said her favorite part of the job is getting to meet people and see the country.
“We take turns driving, and you get a lot of honks and a lot of people driving out of their lanes,” she said.
Three security officers stopped by to have their photos taken alongside the Wienermobile with their search-and-rescue and narcotics dogs. They were joined by plenty of families and kids, which Reed said is what the job is all about.
“We like putting smiles on people’s faces. People of all ages come to see us,” she said, telling those posing for photos to “say 'cheesy wiener'” before snapping the camera.
Since 1936 the Wienermobile has been entertaining American crowds, and Blum says they hear plenty of memories, along with making new ones.
“We have kids who come and see it for the first time with grandparents who are in their 80s and tell us about the first time they saw it," Blum said.
"(The company) first started with a Wienermobile that was the idea of Carl Mayer, the nephew of Oscar Mayer, and he would just stick his head out of the top, but we’ve come a long way since then,” Blum said.