Thursday, December 07, 2006
The recent birthday of Brooks Stevens, now deceased, who was one of the foremost industrial designers in the USA if not the world has brought to mind several automobiles which he has designed. Namely the Packard, Studebaker, Henry J, Excalibur and the Weinermobile. The Weinermobile? Yes the Weinermobile! Actually the Weinermobile was designed by or at least commissioned by Carl Mayer, son of the founder of Oscar Mayer Meats back in 1936. The first Weinermobile was made out of metal and was created by General Body Company of Chicago, IL. It was made to transport the world's smallest chef, Little Oscar. The original version featured open cockpits in the center and rear, later a glass enclosure was added to the drivers cockpit, in the center, for protection.
After the war, 1950-53, five Weinermobiles were commissioned to be built by the Gerstenlager company of Wooster, Ohio, these were set on a Dodge chassis, and were the first Weinermobiles to have buns! These toured the US for many years and served as a prototype for the next models.
In 1958 the currant style with a futuristic bubble-nose (and buns) was designed by Brook Stevens and built by the Gisholt Company of Madison, WI. Incorporating some of the first fiberglass applications in this country, this model was built on a Willys Jeep chassis. Unfortunately, it developed mechanical problems and was totally redesigned and rebuilt before retiring in the early 60's.
In 1960 two more Weinermobiles were built by the boys in the back room, the garage at the company's headquarters in Madison, WI. Using a variety of automotive parts from numerous suppliers, these served the company well for many years. One unit is still being used in Puerto Rico, the other is still used occasionally for trade shows and special events in the USA.
In the early 70's the Weinermobile program was discontinued. The last one was moved to Disney World to serve as the host at the Oscar Mayer sponsored restaurant there. The company then shifted it promotional focus to TV and consumer couponing.
In 1976 a styrofoam Weinermobile was again commissioned to be built by Plastics Products of Milwaukee, WI and was built using the same mold as previously. This one was mounted on Chevy motor home chassis. It served the company till 1988 when it was shipped to Spain along with two of the 1988 models.
In 1988 six more Weinermobiles were built by Steven's Automotive Corporation, Milwaukee, WI (designers of the Excalibur) and installed on Chevy van chassis with V/6 engines and five of those now tour the country all the way from the Mardi Gras to county fairs and are driven by "Hotdogger", college students chosen for their outgoing personality and profiled like movie stars. These "Hotdoggers" learn their trade at (where else) "Hot Dog High".
The company have since built four more Weinermobiles and shipped them to Spain and Japan.
The currant Weinermobiles are celebrities where ever they go. Each one is 22 hot dogs high, 52 hot dogs long, 18 hot dogs wide, and weigh 580,000 hot dogs. They run on a special high octane mustard (They really haul buns), with a top speed somewhere between a speeding bullet and ketchup pouring from a bottle.
They feature gull wing door, microwave oven, refrigerator, sun roof, steamer, loudspeaker system, Am/Fm radio cassette, CB radio, and air conditioning (It's a hot dog with all the fixins).
For those of you, like myself, who have seen them on the roads, here are their names; Yummy, Big Bun, Our Dog, Weener and of course Oscar. Oscar is the one that I see frequently as it tools up and down I-44 (the new designation for Old Route 66 for those of you who don't know) The above picture of Oscar was taken at The World's Largest McDonald's on the I-44 Turnpike at Vinita Oklahoma.
The Weinermobiles are definitely American celebrities of the road. If you ever get a chance to have your picture taken with one of them, send me a whistle (they give neat hot dog whistles away) and a picture for the wall.
BS Brash’s Email Address is BSB@BSBrash.com
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