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The Evolution of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

The 1969 edition had a fiberglass chassis with Pontiac and Ford design features.
The 1969 edition had a fiberglass chassis with Pontiac and Ford design features.

When I was a kid in Minneapolis, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was a sight to be savored. My friends and I would see it only once or twice a year, in the parking lot of a shopping center in the 'burbs, or idling in front of a department store like Dayton's or Donaldson's downtown. Then we'd come running.

In the early days, the Wienermobile was driven by Little Oscar, a little person.
In the early days, the Wienermobile was driven by Little Oscar, a little person.

Back then the driver was a dwarf or other small person, known as Little Oscar, and he would shake the hand of every kid that approached, and give him or her a wiener-shaped plastic whistle. In an earlier age, Little Oscar rode in a tiny seat at the top of the Weinermobile, which was basically just an automobile with a giant hot dog mounted on top. In those days, we didn't think of the sexual connotations of frankfurters.

The Weinermobile was invented in 1936 by a nephew of the owner of Oscar Mayer, a meat-packing company based in Madison, Wisconsin, that had a particular penchant for promoting hot dogs, which were a prominent feature of the refrigerated meat case of every supermarket in the country. At one time there was as many as six Wienermobiles crisscrossing the nation to promote the company's products.

The Wienermobile had a speaker that played a jingle, and we all knew the words:

I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener That is what I'd truly like to be 'Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener Everyone would be in love with me.

Kind of needy-sounding, isn't it?

Here's a TV ad from the '60s with a version sung by cartoon children:

The Wienermobile changed over time, and there have apparently been seven different configurations. I've tried to put them in chronological order. You'll be surprised at the most recent edition.

 

The original 1936 Wienermobile, Chicago. Note the reference to "German wieners."
The original 1936 Wienermobile, Chicago. Note the reference to "German wieners."
photo courtesy windingroad.com
The Wienermobile welcomes Santa to New York, late 1940s. Little Oscar sits topside.
The Wienermobile welcomes Santa to New York, late 1940s. Little Oscar sits topside.
photo courtesy cityrag.com
Little Oscar receives a key to the city of Chicago, early 1950s, as a cop looks on.
Little Oscar receives a key to the city of Chicago, early 1950s, as a cop looks on.
photo courtesy of diningchicago.com
The Wienermobile in Phoenix, circa 1960
The Wienermobile in Phoenix, circa 1960
photo courtesy of travels.alienjesus.com
Wienermobile postcard, 1970s
Wienermobile postcard, 1970s
photo courtesy ebay.com
An incredibly sleek and modern new Wienermobile participates in a 2007 Milwaukee parade. But where is Little Oscar?
An incredibly sleek and modern new Wienermobile participates in a 2007 Milwaukee parade. But where is Little Oscar?
photo courtesy soul-amp.blogspot.com
The 2010 version is based on a Mini Cooper.
The 2010 version is based on a Mini Cooper.
photo courtesy windingroad.com

Finally, here's 1950s TV commercial featuring Little Oscar:


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