No one can help but smile when they see the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, and this very large hot dog on wheels has been sparking laughter all weekend as members recruit drivers known as "hotdoggers."
There are six Wienermobiles that cover their own assigned region of the country. The Wienermobile has been in operation since 1936 and has gone through 12 different models. The one designated to the Midwest region, driven by hotdogger Victoria Oleson, has a license plate that reads "WNR MBLE."
Oscar Mayer will be holding an informational session about the hotdogger position for June 2010 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Gannet Hall. Oscar Mayer hires recent college graduates to drive the Wienermobiles.
"They usually look for people with journalism or communications degrees," Oleson said. "You have to be very adventurous and personable, someone who has an appetite for life because we actually live out of hotels for a year. We do a variety of events such as retail, trade shows, fairs, festivals and charity work."
Along with driving the Wienermobile, hotdoggers must go through a crash course on the history of the Wienermobile.
"You're there with the Wienermobile answering questions about the Wienermobile and giving out promotional items, such as the Wiener Whistle, which we've been giving out since 1952," Oleson said. "You also learn the history of the Wienermobile, so you can spit out any random fact or answer questions."
MU graduate John Dobson has been driving the Wienermobile since last June and has always had an interest before he even knew it was an option.
"Growing up I loved the Wienermobile,” Dobson said. “Even in 2001, I had the Oscar Mayer ornament, even before I knew it was a job opportunity. I get to travel the country and be a full time tourist. We've been to 20 different states, and we get to see what its like in all different cities across the country."
Driving a huge hotdog is more than just an opportunity for fun for Dobson.
"The hotdogger job offers more job connections than I can even imagine," Dobson said. "It's looked very highly among people in the media, advertising and public relations. I've made so many job connections and been handed so many business cards. Even having this job on this resume will help me find something when I'm done."
Another MU graduate, Adam Hickey, has spent the last seven months driving the Wienermobile in the southwest U.S. and is now driving it in the southeast region.
"Driving the Wienermobile is 'buns of fun,' " Hickey said. "I really love putting a smile on people's faces. It really brightens up people's day. When you're driving down the interstate, people wave and smile. It's just a great experience."
Hickey once met a couple who were the caretakers of a castle in California where the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie was filmed, and was invited to come visit with his Wienermobile.
"The biggest thing I want to take away from this is the stories," Hickey said. "When you hang out with old people, the best ones are the ones who have the best stories, and that's definitely what I want to walk away from this with."