Life on the road in the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile

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Daniel Richter

This Weinermobile is one of six cruising around the country. Image Credit: Daniel Richter

Daniel Richter, Special to The Star

Out of thousands of applications, only 12 top dogs get hired every year to drive the legendary Oscar Mayer Weinermobile across the United States for 12 months. But there is a whole lot more to being a ‘Hotdogger’ then just driving around the country.

Oscar Mayer only hires recent college graduates with a 3.0 or higher GPA. Candidates go through a rigorous interview process. If they are lucky enough to get hired, they go through an intensive two-week trainer program called Hotdog High.

Jakes Walczyk and Carly Koemptgen, also known as “Jakin Bacon” and Carly “Jean Hotdog Queen,” were able to cut the mustard and be a part of this year’s Hotdogger team.

With so many applications, candidates do whatever they can to stand out. Walczyk said he had been preparing for his chance at driving the Weinermobile since he was in elementary school.

“I have pictures of myself in front of the Weinermobile when I was seven years old and I attached them to my application,” Walczyk said. “I used to joke around that I was on a career path towards being a Weiner Driver and somehow it actually happened.”

Once Hotdogger’s are done with training they are split into groups of two and hit the road as traveling Public Relations firms. They attend events all throughout the country and say they spread miles of smiles while representing Oscar Mayer.

Koemptgen said Hottdoggers pitch to local media every week and learn how to communicate with different outlets to get people familiar with the Weinermobile.

Most Weinermobile events take place on the weekend. A Hotdogger’s days off are typically on Tuesday and Wednesday. This gives them a chance to explore the cities they are visiting.

One thing Walczyk said he likes to do on his off time is shoot footage of the areas he travels.

“I like to get lost in the cities we’re in with my camera and look for hidden gems,” Walczyk said. “I know that when I look back at the photos I have taken along my journey they will transport me back to the moment I took them.”

After six months, the Hotdogger’s are given a new partner and a new area of the country to travel throughout. Along their journey plenty of surprises appear. Walczyk said he got the chance to meet one of his favorite artists while traveling with the Weinermobile.

“We were in Las Vegas for some events and while we were there I found time to attend a Rex Orange County concert,” Walczyk said. “Later that night I ran into him near my hotel! I got to talk to him for a while and he wanted to check out the Weinermobile. Sadly, I didn’t work out. Still a great experience.”

Koemptgen said her favorite stories consist of connecting with residents of the towns they are visiting.

“We were in New Hampshire at a Bed and Breakfast and it had the sweetest owners,” Koemptgen said. “They told us about a swimming hole only locals know about, made us fresh bread and invited us out many times. It felt like we were staying with family.”

 

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