Theresa Brenner doesn't run with the big dogs, she drives the big dog.
That's her nickname for the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, which once again has rolled -- ha! -- into Pittsburgh.
"Tailgating Theresa" and Benjamin "Beefelicious" Urkov got into town Monday (Nov. 11) night, late, and negotiated their 27-foot-long, 11-foot-high ride through our hilly, narrow, dark and rain-sllcked streets to their hotel, which had saved for it with cones three parking spaces.
"Once a Wienermobile has stayed somewhere before, you have an in," says Ms. Brenner, 23, of Cincinnati. She and Mr. Urkov, of Chicago, are the Madison, Wisc., company's "Hotdogger" team for the Northeast, around which they travel, handing out the famous Oscar Mayer Wiener Whistles and inviting folks to "step inside the Wienermobile this fall to get a glimpse of the hot dog inspired interior!"
Young people around the country covet this gig (there are six full-size big dogs). Ms. Brenner, who graduated from Ohio State University this year with a degree in political science, has an older sister who was a Hotdogger before her who found it to be the best year of her life. So she applied, attended two weeks of "Hot Dog High" in Madison this June, and then hit the road with her co-pilot.
"There are a lot of highlights,” she says. One was riding in a German-American parade in New York City with her sister (the Wienermobile seats six) and another member of the Hotdogger tribe, which she describes as "a lot of really cool, great friends who are always positive, upbeat and supportive.”
Ms. Brenner surprised me by telling me the Wienermobile is 76 years old and yes, the original version launched in 1936, way ahead of its time when advertising is on vehicles and everything else.
Before working some events later this week, our visiting Hotdoggers get to be tourists in Pittsburgh today and Wednesday. They'll be tooling around in the "WNRMBLE," as this one's license plate reads. Ms. Brenner says that while most people know the car is an advertising icon, “Other times they’re like, 'Is that your car?!' "
After Pittsburgh, they'll drive off to Cincinnati, where they'll work some events after a week off for Thanksgiving. In January, all the Hotdoggers get to transfer to a new region and get new partners.
You can follow their adventures on their blog.
Also on the Oscar Mayer website, you can enter a contest in which you can win a Wienermobile for a day plus $500 for expenses for adventures of your own.
Here, meanwhile, are the events where you can see it in person:
- Noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 15
- Noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 16
- 1 p.m. Nov. 17
- 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 18
- 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 18
- 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 19
Top: Darrel Sapp/Post-Gazette photo (from 2007 when the Wienermobile came through town, sporting its "BOLOGNA" license plate); other photos, Oscar Mayer