Like any hot dog on a sizzling grill, the classic Wienermobile has plumped up a bit through the ages. But its hot dog evangelizing mission has remained the same since 1936. And nothing has changed with its iconic orange and yellow shell, either. The Wienermobile continues to roll on as a piece of classic Americana. Drivers of the Wienermobiles are known as Hotdoggers and often hand out toy whistles shaped as replicas of the Wienermobile, known as Wienerwhistles.
The first version of the Wienermobile was created in 1936 by Oscar Mayer’s nephew, Carl G. Mayer. The original model cost just $5,000, and was a small, metal wiener-shaped shell that stretched 13 feet long, often seen cruising through Chicago’s streets to promote Oscar Mayer’s wieners.
Although fuel rationing kept the Wienermobile off the road during World War II, in the 1950s Oscar Mayer and the Gerstenslager Company created several new vehicles using a Dodge chassis or a Willys Jeep chassis. These Wienermobiles were piloted by “Little Oscar” (portrayed by George Molchan) who would visit stores, schools, orphanages, and children’s hospitals and participate in parades and festivals.