Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Oh, so excited to see an Oscar Mayer wiener on wheels September 9, 2020

Heading into Madison, Wisconsin. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo July 14, 2020.

 

SO…WE’RE DRIVING along the interstate, entering Madison, Wisconsin, on a mid-July afternoon. Traffic is getting heavier. Drivers are weaving their vehicles in and out of traffic lanes. Trip after trip to this capital city we’ve noticed the increases in speed and aggressive driving as we near Madison.

But this time something other than the traffic chaos diverts our attention. Up ahead I spot a bright yellow vehicle with what looks like a hot dog atop the roof. Could this be…yes, it is, the Wienermobile.

Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener…

Remember that jingle? I expect you do. The catchy words and tune proved memorable, an advertising success in promoting hot dogs.

 

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo July 14, 2020.

 

On this summer day, one of six Wienermobiles circulating throughout the US is here, perhaps for a stop in Madison or on its way to Milwaukee or even Chicago to the east. I don’t know. But I smile at the sight of this American icon.

 

In Dane County, Wisconsin, location of the state capital, Madison. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo July 14, 2020.

 

The sighting led me to research the 27-foot-long Wienermobile, first created in 1936. That includes one crafted in Madison in 1969, recently restored and now under ownership of the Wisconsin Historical Society. Too big for the Society’s museum, the iconic “Old Number 7” Wienermobile will be displayed outside the downtown Madison museum during special events and also shown elsewhere in the state.

 

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo July 14, 2020.

 

Up until the closure of the Oscar Mayer plant in Madison in June 2017, that Wienermobile stood outside company headquarters. When Oscar Mayer’s parent company, Kraft, merged with H.J. Heinz Co., corporate restructuring resulted in closure of the Madison facility. A local business staple for more than 100 years as a producer of hot dogs and lunch meat, this was a big loss to the city. The Madison plant at one time employed 4,000 people, but by 2013, only 1,300. Still, that’s a lot of jobs.

But, at least Madison kept its Wienermobile.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

15 Responses to “Oh, so excited to see an Oscar Mayer wiener on wheels”

  1. Always a thrill to see the Weinermobile! “Everyone would fall in love with me!”

  2. Every so often the Weiner Mobile mades its way through NYC. I guess it has been more than three years since I last saw it. I had no idea that the plant closed. Sad about that. But it was a strange and surreal sight indeed!

  3. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Yay, for the sighting of the Weinermobile!

  4. The Weinermobile! So awesome!

  5. I can still recite the song word for word. 🙂

  6. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    Fun history….the early entrepreneurs were so colorful and creative. The Bologna Song didn’t air until ’76, thought it was earlier. Commercials started ’65. I wouldn’t have looked at their site but for your piece on them. Had no idea Kraft merged with Heinz in 2015. How is Madison doing? CNBC and other financial reports have that the merger isn’t going well. Stock has fallen 43% last year. We better stock up on hot dogs, glad you saw a wienermobile while it’s still rolling, I saw one at the State Fair many years ago. https://tinyurl.com/y6nt5l7m

  7. That’s something I’ve never seen before


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