Across America, college students approaching graduation wonder what they are going to do when they complete their college education.
For 12 students, the answer is “drive the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile.”
Approximately 1,200 students applied for the 12 jobs that are made available every year driving one of the six Weinermobiles that grace the streets and highways of America. The students work in pairs and are assigned regions of the country for six months, then get a new partner and a new region for the final six months before entering the real world (that which does not include driving a large vehicle shaped like a hot dog in a bun).
It is a job that encompasses marketing, communication, advertising and social science majors most frequently, although journalism students also make up a good share of the student applications.
Molly Ward, from Johnston, Iowa, drove the Weinermobile a couple of years ago, telling the Des Moines Register it was a job she had dreamed about since she first saw the Weinermobile when she was 11 years old.
“It was my dream job,’’ Ward said. “Everyone is excited to see you. Everyone’s reaction makes it priceless. The Weinermobile is a lot of fun.”
Weinermobile drivers are known as hot doggers. They are trained at Hot Dog University in Madison, Wis., and required to practice driving an oversized SUV before getting into the actual Weinermobile. They receive 40 hours of driving training, crisis management, team building and branding education in order to promote Kraft Foods, which owns Oscar Mayer.
The work schedule runs from Thursday through Monday with Tuesdays and Wednesdays off, during which they are allowed to act as tourists in the cities they visit. Drivers are given a week break at Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, but are otherwise traveling in the Weinermobile.
“There aren’t too many jobs where you can have an impact on people,’’ Ward said. “I’m not a doctor that’s making people better. I’m not a hairdresser that’s making people beautiful. I have a business degree. What can I do with a business degree to make people smile? To me, this is the best way to do that.”
The Weinermobile has been in existence since 1936, but in 1986 the company created the Weinermobile driver program.
My mom was impressed with the program,” Ward said, “so on the way back home she told me about it and said, ‘You could do that someday if you want to.’ I remember thinking, ‘Well, that sounds like a great idea,’ and 11 years later I applied.”
In 2014, two Penn State graduates were hired to drive the Weinermobile and worked together for six months, meeting for the first time at graduation as they prepared to leave for training. Ashley Hernandez and Breanna Robinson told the Penn State University website their story.
“Every day is different with the Weinermobile,’’ said Robinson, an advertising/public relations major. “You never know where you are going to go next or what event you are going to do.”
The Weinermobile visits any public event that can be found, including fairs and festivals, parades, sporting events and some places where it is invited to attend, including weddings. Hot doggers market Kraft Foods, recruit future employees of the company as well as future Hot Doggers, but do not sell hot dogs out of the vehicle.
For Hernandez, the Weinermobile was the first car she ever drove.
For the 2015-16 year, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse graduate Molle Klein drove the Weinermobile after answering an ad that read “Want a job you can relish?”
“You have the power to make someone’s s day in a second,’’ Klein told a LaCrosse TV station. “We are lucky dogs. That’s what we call ourselves.”
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.