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The Wienermobile Becomes the Frankmobile
After 80 years of making people smile, this meat-tube on wheels gets a new name
Oscar Meyer is famous for three things: hot dogs and cold cuts, earworm jingles, and the Wienermobile — a giant car/hot dog hybrid.
The first Wienermobile was designed by Carl Mayer, the nephew of founder Oscar Mayer, in 1936. The original was actually scrapped during World War II to help the U.S. Army’s efforts to obtain metal for munitions.
In the post-war boom of the 1950s, the Oscar Mayer company gave the Wienermobile new life.
In a collaboration with the Gerstenslager Company, several new Wienermobiles were made using Dodge or Willys Jeep chassis. These Wienermobiles would visit schools, stores, and hospitals. One of these is on exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
Over the years, the Wienermobile has become somewhat of a collector’s car, with various versions made from some of the most iconic cars including Ford Thunderbirds, Pontiac Trans Ams, Pontiac Firebirds, and even a Mini Cooper.
The Wienermobile is one of the most identifiable — and most loved — corporate marketing tools. Honestly, only Budweiser’s Clydesdale horses and the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck come to mind when trying to think of a more charming representation of a company.
The Wienermobiles are driven by “Hotdoggers” who generally tend to be upbeat, happy people wearing red and gold (the colors of condiment buddies mustard and ketchup). These Hotdoggers each sign up for one-year assignments, traveling across the country as adorable reps who “meat and greet” people.
If you want to become one of these cheery representatives, by the way, click here to see if you “cut the mustard”.
I’ve been on the Wienermobile and let me tell you — all my natural-born New York cynicism melted away while walking toward the cutest little hot dog on four wheels. And when I was handed a little plastic hot dog whistle, I might have let out a little yelp of delight. It is…..frankly….that adorable.
And, though the Wienermobile has been a charmer for about eight decades, it is no more.
On May 17, the Kraft Heinz Company, parents of Oscar Mayer, quietly changed the name of its adorable fleet of meat-tubes on wheels from Wienermobile to the Frankmobile.
What was the motivation for changing nearly a century of branding and goodwill?
Well, according to a press release, the name change is rooted in the fact that the Oscar Mayer Company now makes all-beef Franks. According to Stephanie Vance, associate brand manager for Oscar Mayer, “This summer, it’s time to highlight another fan-favorite: our delicious 100% beef franks. When Oscar Mayer makes anything, we prioritize taste over everything, so no matter what kind of hot dog you enjoy this summer, if it’s Oscar Mayer, you know it will be 100% tasty, and 100% make you smile.”
Oh, and the insanely cool title of Hotdogger has been changed to Frankfurters, so if you do want to spend a year seeing the U.S.A. in a metal meat-tube, you’ve now got more in common with Tim Curry than a surfer.
This summer, the Frankmobile (actually a fleet of six) will head out, spreading goodwill to all. It will also be handing out those coveted whistles (now called Frank whistles), along with stickers that say “Please Do Not Lick”.
Oh, and there’s one plus to the name change for all you people named Frank: if the Frankmobile is in your town, you can get a coupon for a free pack of Oscar Mayer Franks.
Find out if the
Wienermobile Frankmobile is rolling into your town here.