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The Food Issue

Wienermobile Of The People

America, in 1936, was well on its way to becoming a country with a whole lot of time on its hands and, frankly, God bless them for it. In 1996, a young lad with a whole lot of time on his hands (me) drove by one of America’s foremost cultural reference...

America, in 1936, was well on its way to becoming a country with a whole lot of time on its hands and, frankly, God bless them for it. In 1996, a young lad with a whole lot of time on his hands (me) drove by one of America’s foremost cultural reference points, the Wienermobile, provoking a reaction that was a special blend of exhilaration, awe, and fear. So come on, let’s sashay back to 1936, when a possibly drunk Carl Mayer had the idea of making a 13-foot-long metal hot dog on wheels. The vehicle was designed for Little Oscar (the world’s smallest chef) and soon became the world’s largest phallus with the world’s smallest chef riding inside of it. By 1940, the metal hot-dog car was so popular that Oscar Mayer & Co. decided to put a windshield on it in order to protect Little Oscar, who by this time was a very popular little guy around the Midwest. Unfortunately, the Second World War got in the way and the penis was retired due to gas rationing while Oscar Mayer concentrated on canning meat for soldiers abroad. Finally, due to public pressure to see the Wienermobile again, WWII was brought to a halt. For the next 32 years, engineers like Miller High Life’s Brooke Stevens put the Wienermobile through some of the most involved and ambitious changes in America’s time- and money-wasting history. They were so enthused by their progress that by 1953 they’d redesigned the car to include a stereo, a sunroof, a clear nose, and, for the first time in the history of hot-dog-look-alike vehicles, a bun. Thus, the penis was metamorphosed into an actual hot dog and its context was finally made legitimate. Not until 1969 did Oscar Mayer dare touch Stevens’s design. So breathtaking were these new vehicles that one was finally relocated to exotic Puerto Rico. But by 1976, it seems there was no longer a place for Oscar’s wiener in the annals of U.S. history, and the mysterious and titillating affair came to a close. In fact, it would seem that America was so preoccupied with the impending Montreal Olympic games that they lost sight of their main priority altogether. The bald fact was that America’s Wienermobile passion had begun to wane. Allow the proof to be presented and judge for yourself. Exhibit A: While the 1950 version rested on a Dodge chassis and currently resides in the Henry Ford Museum, the 1958 version was mounted on a Jeep chassis and currently decomposes in the dump. Exhibit B: The 1969 Wiener, with a bun that incorporated the illustrious and ever-tasteful Thunderbird’s taillights, gained immediate entry to Puerto Rico. Yet in 1976, after 40 years of proving its importance, the Wienermobile was slapped together on a 1973 Chevy motor home and eventually shipped off to Spain in the early 80s. Sadly, in 1977, to cushion the blow of Oscar Mayer & Co.’s TV-advertising expenditures, the project was finally shut down. Hope remained, however. In 1986, the American public proved they not only had the foresight to reelect a senile actor but also would not allow the Wienermobile to lapse any further into that forced corporate coma of decision making. They returned to the sensible days of 1936 and the mighty Wienermobile was brought out for a 50th-anniversary bash! Tears flooded the streets, letters flooded the post offices, and, by 1988, that two-ton son of a bitch was back on the road. Luckily by then personalized license plates had burst onto the scene, and all six new 23-foot-long Wienermobiles now boasted names ranging from Yummy to Weenr. They also included refrigerators, microwaves, cellular phones, and stereos that played all 21 versions of “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener.” Now Spain and Japan have latched onto the Weenr wagon with their own hot-dog cars, while two additional Wienermobiles tour Canada and Mexico making fat men, children, and dogs hungry for more. In fact, there is so much momentum in the new-school wiener craze that in 1995, Harry Bradley, a heavyweight in automotive design, created a 27-foot-long, 10.5-foot-high version of the Wienermobile with video equipment, a big-screen TV, and, AND a hot-dog-shaped dashboard. It can exceed speeds of 90 miles an hour and is often used as a battering ram when its driver wants to kick some left-wing veggie ass! It is also a symbol of human rights and its history shows the history of all struggles both human and mechanical.