Since I was a kid, I’ve wondered what it was like inside Oscar Mayer’s iconic Wienermobile. So when the 7-ton orange hot dog-on-wheels was parked at the Illinois State Fair last month, I made it my mission to find out.

Since I was a kid, I’ve wondered what it was like inside Oscar Mayer’s iconic Wienermobile. So when the 7-ton orange hot dog-on-wheels was parked at the Illinois State Fair last month, I made it my mission to find out.


Fact: The six seats inside are ketchup and mustard colored.


I met up with Jackie Calder and Emma Cuellan, recently college graduates and two of the 12 full-time “hotdoggers” hired each year to get the company’s six Wienermobiles to parades, grocery store openings and other events throughout the country. They hold the jobs for a year.


Fact: The Wienermobile has storage space for 11,000 wienie whistles.


Jackie – who has degrees in advertising and Italian from Pennsylvania State University -- and Emma – a University of Texas business and public relations grad -- are part of the Midwest team. Before driving to Springfield, they were at the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Mich., and the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee.


“We always try to taste the local foods on our breaks,” Jackie said, adding that she had an elephant ear and Dippin’ Dots at the Illinois’ fair.


Fact: The wienie whistle was developed in 1951 and was included in packages of Oscar Mayer wieners in 1958.


Hotdoggers begin their training by attending Hot Dog High, where they learn about Oscar Mayer products, special events planning and how to maneuver the big dog in traffic.


“We had 40 hours of drivers’ training, learning things like how to get it out of gas stations,” said Emma. “The horn plays the Oscar Mayer jingle, so in traffic jams we play it and people start smiling.”


For those not familiar with the jingle, it’s the one that goes, “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, that is what I truly wish to be. …” The fiberglass hot dog and bun runs on high-octane gasoline.


Fact: It has a Chevrolet W4 series chassis and a V-8, 6.0-liter engine.


The first Wienermobile was fabricated in 1936 to transport the company’s spokesperson to events. Based in Chicago, it was a 13-foot metal hot dog with open cockpits in the center and rear.


By 1940, a glass enclosure was added to provide protection for the driver and passengers. In 1958, a new design added a bun to the frankfurter. It was retired from 1977 to 1988, after which six new Wienermobiles with microwave ovens and stereo systems went back on the road.


Today’s version is 27 feet long, 8 feet wide and 11 feet wide. It has a gull-wing door, hot dog-shaped dashboard and a retractable “bun roof”on the ceiling.


Jackie said hotdoggers need to be friendly, outgoing and organized.


“You need an appetite for adventure,” she said.


Kathryn Rem can be reached at 217-788-1520 or kathryn.rem@sj-r.com.