As a crowd pleaser, dog-shaped Wienermobile will hunt
"Hot Diggity" Holly Nelson really relishes her job.
She's a "Hotdogger" who travels the country in one of the famous Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles.
To be perfectly frank, Holly says, unashamed of using one groan-inducing hot-dog pun after another, she doubts she'll ever have another job that allows her to see so many happy faces.
"We spread miles of smiles all across the hot-dog highways," she says. "Every day, it's fun that everybody you meet is excited to see you. Nobody's sad when they see the Wienermobile. It just brings people joy."
Holly and her Hotdogger partner, Jesica "Jess Grillin'" Barndt, will be at several locations in Tarrant County this week with their kitschy, ketchupy hot-dog car. So if you've never seen a Wienermobile up close and had your photo taken alongside it, now's your chance.
Holly can't decide which she enjoys more: watching the animated reaction of a kid who sees the Wienermobile for the first time or watching an adult react with childlike wonder.
"It's especially cool when people don't expect you," she says. "Like when you pull up into a gas station. You pull up and there's a guy there pumping gas and he turns and there's the Wienermobile."
"Contrary to popular belief," Jess adds, "the Wienermobile does not run on mustard."
WEENR, as this particular mobile is known, is one of six Wienermobiles crisscrossing the country to promote Oscar Mayer hot dogs.
It was custom built in 2004 by Prototype Source, a company based in Santa Barbara, Calif., from a Chevy dually truck. Pop the lightly toasted fiberglass bun hood and you'll find a V8, 6.0 liter 300 Vortec 5700 engine. The Wienermobile weighs seven tons and is 27 feet (or 60 hot dogs) long.
"That's one big hot dog," Holly says. "We're actually going to be retiring WEENR soon and getting a new 2012 model in the fleet."
Holly was in her senior year at the University of Minnesota Duluth last year when she applied to become a member of Oscar Mayer's team of 12 Hotdoggers.
"I had a good friend who did it last year," she says. "He recommended it. I want to go into PR and marketing, and this is such a good opportunity for people who are interested in that.
"If you love to travel, if you love meeting people, if you want to use the journalism and marketing skills that you learned in college, this is the perfect gig."
Holly was selected from more than 1,500 college applicants. She received two weeks of intensive training at Hot Dog High in Madison, Wis., where Oscar Mayer headquarters are located.
Once she proved she could cut the mustard, she was handed the keys to this most unusual company car. "You look at WEENR and you'd think it's hard to drive, but it's not," she says.
"It's like driving a large SUV," Jess adds. "Sometimes you even forget you're driving a Wienermobile."
Given that Holly is from Minnesota, she enjoyed spending her November and December in the Southern region that covers the states from Texas to Florida. "It's been a real treat," she says.
For Holly's second six-month tour, she'll switch to the Southeastern region, where she'll team up with Lots of Ketchum Lisa.
Jess, who was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before she "linked" up with the Wienermobile gig, is headed to the Southwest region to work alongside Tailgating Theresa.
"I don't know what I'll do next with a year of Hotdogging on my résumé," Jess admits. "But at this point, I'm just enjoying the experience and getting to do all these really cool things with the Wienermobile."
"It's a 'bunderful' job," Holly says.
Yet another hot-dog pun. Holly and Jess have a million of them.