I mean, seriously, as a life-long American (that might change if the current President gets re-elected), hotdogs are as American as baseball, apple pie and hot-rods. Ironically, hotdogs are an imported culture. And, many attribute the Germans and the town of Frankfurt for modern-day hotdog origins (historians believe the hot dog’s true origins can be traced back to the Roman Empire). But the hotdog only went viral after a Jewish immigrant from Poland named Nathan Handwerker in 1916 sold his dogs for half the price of his competitor’s ($.05ea) and customers bombarded his hotdog stand at Coney Island. Nathan put his competition out of business and Nathan’s Famous was born.
Fast-forward twenty years, a Bavarian by the name of Oscar F. Mayer came up with a creative marketing plan for his meat processing plant in Madison, Wisconsin. During the height of the Great Depression, he created the first ever WIENERMOBILE. It was driven by “Little Oscar” and went around parades, grocery store openings and even hospitals!
In 1986, after nine years off the road, the WIENERMOBILE was brought back out for a 50th birthday celebration. Huge crowds of people showed up for its appearance. Cards and letters came pouring in requesting to see the famed two-ton hot dog. A decision was made then to build a new fleet and start touring again. In 1988, six new 23-foot-long fiberglass WIENERMOBILES began touring the U.S., fully equipped with microwave ovens, refrigerators, cell phones, and stereo systems that played 21 different versions of the iconic “OSCARMAYER” Wiener Jingle.
Today, in North Las Vegas staged in front of Wal-Mart I had the privilege to meet Luke aka Lunchmeat Luke….
RB: So, Luke, what is your official title? Pilot?
Luke: We are officially known as “Hotdoggers”. My handle is Lunchmeat Luke and my partner is Miles of Smiles Mandy. We are two of the twelve Hotdoggers in 6 Weinermobiles that travel the country.
RB: Where are you guys from?
Luke: I grew up in Wisconsin and graduated from college in Madison and Mandy is from Massachussets and graduated from college in New York. Currently we are the West Coast team and we are enjoying exploring all this new terrain west of the Mississippi.
RB: So, when you fill up for gas, I am sure it take a few extra minutes to chat with the fans?
Luke: For sure! Since we love what we do, we are always up for an little extra conversation to discuss the Weinermobile and life as a Hotdogger. In fact, we were enroute to Idaho from Oregon and we had to pull into a small town to fill up on gas. The locals expressed how this was one of the biggest events to happen in their small town in a while. People were calling up family members to come down to see the Weinermobile.
RB: Since the first Weinermobile was launched during the Great Depression in 1936, how significant is it for you as a Hotdogger knowing your are part of a 83+ year legacy?
Luke: I love that aspect of being a Hotdogger. Someone shared with me how they remembered the weather, the day and their Weinermobile experience FIFTY years ago! If I could be a part of that sort of positive experience in someones life as a Hotdogger driving the Weinermobile, it will be awesome.
RB: If a teenager or younger wanted to include a yearlong experience as an Oscar Mayer Hotdogger, what sort of career guidance could you offer?
Luke: I would recommend a young person get good grades, get through college and really develop your own personality where you embrace day-t0-day change, love being apart of such an iconic American brand and be ready to travel!
RB: Thanks Lunchmeat Luke and safe travels!
If you are spending your Friday afternoon looking at an oversized hotdog on wheels, you must have a sense of humor. So, it got me thinking….are there any hotdog jokes? SURE ARE!
What do get when you cross a chili pepper, steam shovel, and a Chihuahua?… A hot, diggety dog.
What did the Mama Hot Dog say to the little frankfurter?… Ketch-up!
What do you call a frozen frankfurter?… A Chili dog.
What do you call a hot dog with nothing inside it?… A “hollow-weenie!”
When can a pizza marry a hot dog?… After a very frank relationship.
What does a man consider a seven-course meal?… A hot dog and a six pack of beer.