Chance encounter with two Wienermobile drivers on their first day
If you are from Wisconsin you KNOW about the Wienermobile. If you are from Madison a Wienermobile driving by may not create tourist whiplash but it is a source of pride. Lunch this past Tuesday was quite the nostalgic day for me as I dined with a high school friend and her kids and witnessed the crossroads of Americana, the Wienermobile dropping by Ella’s Deli.
The arrival of a hot dog and bun on wheels at the very end of our lunch was not a planned event, but ironically an impromptu stop by its drivers who were desperate to nosh.
The Wienermobiles are really not supposed to be in Madison for very long. Each year Oscar Mayer hires 12 Hotdoggers to drive around the country for a year feeding the mystique of the Wienermobile and promoting the Oscar Mayer brand. Their Be a Hotdogger page mentions “The position is 100% travel”This Weinermobile titled “Born to Bun” was driven by Atta Dog Alex Connett and Sizzlin’ Stephen Hays. The two recent college graduates were in town for training but were late leaving for their assigned tour because Stephen injured his foot which delayed his Weinermobile driving test.
Hays is from Ohio and Connett is from Georgia, and had a chance to sample Madison over the weekend with Hays raving about the Union Terrace. Stephen had just finished his drivers test and they were looking for a place to eat when they spotted Ella’s.
In filling the Hotdogger positions Oscar Mayer seeks graduates who have majored or emphasized studies in public relations, journalism, communications, advertising, or marketing. Stephen Hays graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and Alex Connett earned a degree in Corporate Communications from the University of Texas at Austin.
They must have paid attention to their training because as we talked we were peppered with hot dog-related puns like “Check out the “Bunroof”. Later when I sat in the right front seat Hays told me I was sitting “Shotbun”.
The Hotdoggers must be encouraged to create memorable monikers. Looking at last year’s class on the blog, with the exception of Beefalicious Ben, they managed to keep it clean from pedestrian names like: Lots of Ketchup Lisa to some of my favorites such as Jess-Grillin, Deli-Eliot, and the hands down winner; wait for it…Kevin Bacon Bits.
While the outside of the Wienermobile is familiar, the inside is like a mini-van with a wider aisle and six captain chairs for seats. The actual controls are typical of a vehicle, so no automatic James Bond-like mustard sprayers to defeat soy-based rivals on the road.
The two weeks of training is called Hot Dog high and includes some specialized drivers training using former police officers according to Hays. Part of the course includes vans with blacked-out windows so they get used to not having a rear view mirror and using side mirrors and teamwork while operating the vehicle.
After a few pictures, and a few boring stories from me about how I have been eating at Ella’s since I was a protozoa, Hays and Connett pushed some Wiener Whistles in our hands and left to prepare for their first event with was today (June 20) at a DeForest grocery store and was capped off by a visit to a Mallards game for what else but Hot Dog Appreciation Night. Tomorrow they are headed for Ohio and then New York.
“We get breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas and a week in the spring, but for the most part, we’re always traveling, and we love it!” Hays said.
You can track all the Wienermobiles at their blog or follow Attadog and Sizzlin by using their hashtag #borntobun. See you all in a year.