The Weinermobile, the venerable rolling billboard for Oscar Mayer hot dogs, visited Crozet Dec. 20 and hung out in the parking lot at Old Trail Village where scores of Crozetians came to be photographed next to it. Many also brought a donation for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. They left with Weinermobile whistles, which are only given to people who actually come to the vehicle and then only one per person. They also got “Merry Weinerness” postcards to mail to friends who couldn’t be there.
This is the 75th anniversary of the Weinermobile, it first hit the road in 1936, and the company had a contest on Facebook to identify 75 locations in U.S. that the “aero-dog-namic” car would visit. Crozet was one of the 75 top vote getters and so got the honors of hosting the glamorous mobile hot dog. The company gets more than 15,000 requests per year for vehicle appearances and each logs about 40,000 miles annually. Driver Dylan Hackbarth didn’t know details about how many votes Crozet racked up.
“People are attracted to the Weinermobile because it smiles at you when you see it in your rear view mirror,” Hackbarth said. “It’s gotten to be a celebrity in American culture. A lot of people just drop their jaw when they see it on the road. The Weinermobile is magical. We’re on a level with truck drivers and we get a lot of fist bumps from them.”
Hackbarth, who has the tag “Delicious,” travels with Kylie “Ketchup” Hodges. Both are recent college graduates from Wisconsin who were among the dozen people picked from 1,500 applicants to get a year touring with the Weinermobile. They are trained with lots of hot dog puns and jokes to regale fans with. They get 40 hours of instruction from police trainers before setting off as drivers.
The vehicle, built in 2009, is one of six in the country that tour regionally. This car handles the northeast states and travels as far south as Virginia and as far west as Ohio. It is actually a Chevy Workhorse truck body with dual rear wheels and a 350-horsepower Chevy vortec engine. It has a rear-view camera for backing up, six deep seats, a sun roof and is decorated with a mustard squiggle painted down the aisle. It weighs more than 14,000 pounds and is 27 feet long and 11 feet high. It sticks to truck routes. A new model is now in development in California.