Taylor Lennox and Mayra Martinez don’t need to wish to be an Oscar Mayer wiener — they already drive one.
The two young women scored the job of a lifetime piloting a gigantic wheeled version of the iconic Oscar Mayer meat product along the West Coast.
They’re planning to make a stop in Oak Harbor Thursday at Haggen Foods from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The public is invited to get an up close look at the Wienermobile.
Haggen plans a hot dog lunch with the proceeds benefiting Spin Cafe, which serves the city’s homeless.
Both the drivers — Hotdoggers, officially — said the role is just as much fun as you might guess, although it entails behind-the-scene work, including updating the Wienermobile’s adventures on social media, scheduling promotional events and conducting media interviews.
“There’s a lot that goes into it,” Lennox said. “You don’t just drive this thing around.”
Both women are 22-year-old college graduates, who beat out 1,200 other applicants for the job. They’ve been on the road a matter of weeks. Oscar Mayer, which is owned by Kraft Heinz, recruited Lennox at Penn State, where she studied broadcast journalism.
Lennox, a Philadelphia native, was president of her sorority and news director at a local radio station, and she thinks her mix of leadership skills and outgoing personality helped clinch the job.
All Hotdoggers work one year, and they attend a training camp called Hotdog High in Madison, Wisc. — the home of the original Oscar Mayer’s plant. The drivers don’t need a commercial driver’s license but they do receive extensive training from Madison police, including how to parallel park to avoid “scratching our buns.”
Until now, Martinez hasn’t traveled much out of her native state of Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley with a business administration major.
“At first my family didn’t know what it was,” she said. “But now they are freaking out … This is awesome.”
The Wienermobile is a custom fiberglass hotdog and bun on a Chevrolet W4 series chassis. Inside there’s seating for six in ketchup and mustard colored seats and a condiment splattered carpet.
Driving the Wienermobile is a bit like driving “a hotdog-shaped RV,” Lennox said. Sitting up high in the seat took some getting used to after driving a Hyundai, she said. So, too, did the constant honking and waving from excited drivers. In Philly, a honk from another driver usually came with a different gesture.
If she pleases, she can honk back. Her horn plays the well-loved Oscar Mayer jingle.
Yes, the Hotdoggers will be giving out the iconic wiener whistles. The Wienermobile stores up to 11,000.
The Hotdoggers don’t give out too many rides in the Wienermobile anymore — partly because there isn’t time and partly because it gets hot inside after it sits in a grocery store parking lot. Instead, they plan to set up a virtual reality station where visitors can put on a headset fitted with a smart phone that gives the experience of riding inside. The feature is available along with their schedule on the free Wienermobile app for smartphones.
This is both women’s first visit to the Pacific Northwest. Earlier this week they hiked on Mount Rainer and took the Wienermobile for a spin through Pike Place Market in Seattle.
“That was hilarious,” Lennox said. “People were jumping out to stop us and take photos.”
One of their favorite parts of the job is hearing about people’s memories of the Wienermobile. And weiner dogs. They love it when people bring their Dachshund pups for a photo-op.
“We have a collection of photos of the Wienermobile with people’s weiner dogs,” Lennox said.
As of Tuesday, the Hotdoggers weren’t sure if they would take the Wienermobile on the Clinton ferry or drive over Deception Pass Bridge. After stopping in Oak Harbor, they plan to visit Haggen stores in Stanwood Friday and in Snohomish and Marysville Sunday.