Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cross another item off my “bucket list”

wienermobilepostcard01
Some days, it takes very little to make me happy. Today, it was fulfilling a lifelong (well, since the early 1950s, at least) wish to have an encounter with one of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles and, dare I even dream it – actually climb aboard!
I got my wish this afternoon when, shooting as a freelancer for the Jonesboro Sun, I caught up with the Wienermobile being driven around the middle of the country by Hotdoggers Jessica Barndt, Madison, Wis., and Holly Nelson, LaCrosse, Wis.
Each of the fleet of six Wienermobiles has a clever personalized license plate. Jessica and Holly are in charge of WEENR. Jessica graduated this spring from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with BBA in International Business and Management & Human Resources. Holly majored in Spanish and Communication and minored in Journalism at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Oscar Mayer recruits at campuses nationwide for the 12-month-long hotdogger jobs and attracted more than 1,200 applicants.
wienermobilejessica
Here’s Jessica, whose hotdogger name is “Jess Grillin’,” at the wheel of the 27-foot-long Wienermobile, parked in front of the Hays supermarket at 2819 E. Nettleton Ave. in Jonesboro. Jessica says it’s easy to drive and has a tighter turning radius than her SUV, even though it take about three parking spaces.
hotdoggersShe and “Hot Diggity” Holly are perpetually on the road. Since June they’ve made appearances from the southern tip of Texas to south central Nebraska, covering seven states in two months.
The Wienermobile is their only transportation during their year-long road trip, so it goes where they go. Like to a drive-in movie recently in Fayetteville, Ark. and to restaurants and hotels.
The Wienermobile has airbags, ABS, Garmin GPS, and lots of other bells and whistles crammed into its fiberglass body atop a GMC chassis.
wienerphoto
Since everyone who turns out for a Wienermobile appearance wants to be photographed with the iconic hot dog on wheels, Jessica and Holly wear Android-based tablets slung around their necks. They use the tablets’ cameras to shoot photos of everyone who wants one, then send them via Wifi to the subject’s email inbox on the spot.
(The bandage on Jessica’s left hand is from a fall she had when she tripped over the threshold of her hotel room recently.)
This is the 25th year for the Oscar Mayer hotdogger program and the two are looking forward to a reunion with hotdogger alumni later this year in Madison, Wis., the home base of the Wienermobile fleet.
WEENR will be at the Hilltop Bill’s Fresh Market from 1-7 p.m. Friday and the Country Mart on Southwest Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
BTW, presumed GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is among the distinguished alumni of hotdoggers.

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