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Wienermobile Rolls Through Traverse City

It’s turning heads all across America, and this week it’s in Northern Michigan. The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile is spending the week in Traverse City.

There are actually six wienermobiles that travel the country, each with a pair of drivers called hot doggers. They’re typically new college graduates, who work for a one year term on the road from June to June. “Queso Dog Keila” Garza says, “I was like, I should apply. Like just traveling the country, making people smile. That’s your job. And it just appealed to me so much. So I love doing what I do.”

The teams of two hot doggers spend about a week at a time in a new city. For this trip, Garza and “Sizzlin’ Shelby” Lewis made the drive from their last stop in Milwaukee. “After our drive day, we’ll have two off days where we kind of get to explore the city that we’re in and then the rest of the week we do community events, whether that’s grocery stores, parades, car shows, festivals, you name it,” Lewis says.

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But making people happy is job number one.

Lewis says, “We like to say it’s kids eight to 80 who love the Wienermobile. And you get the people that grew up with it or they have the wiener whistle from when they were kids and they come and get it now because we still hand them out. We’ve been handing them out for 70 years and it’s really cool to give that to someone.”

Garza adds, “I think Oscar Meyer’s all about making people smile, you know, taking life not so seriously, enjoying the small moments. And that’s what it is. And I just enjoy that. I love being an Oscar Meyer hot dogger for that reason.”

Garza says her parents were a bit confused when she first told them about her new job. “You know, they actually weren’t that familiar with the Wienermobile when I first told them. I was like, ‘It’s this giant hot dog. And you drive around and you make people smile when you hand out the wiener whistles.’ And they’re like, ‘What is that?’ So it took it took some getting used to. But honestly, I think they’re happy to know that I’m traveling and making people smile every day.” You might say, they ‘mustard’ the support of the new endeavor.

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Which leads to the endless list of hot dog-related puns. “Having a ‘bunderful’ day. I love that one. ‘Franks’ for catching up with you. I love all of them. And ‘relishing every moment’ with you guys.”

They say the tricky part is finding a parking spot for the vehicle, that measures 27 feet, or 60 hot dogs long. And driving in the winter snow is a challenge too, but a fun one.

Lewis says, “it was like Christmas morning. We woke up this morning, I looked out my window and we were we was covered in snow. Of course I ran outside like took a bunch of pictures, realized that it didn’t have enough jackets on, ran back inside, made sure I was good to go.”

And Garza adds, “my co-pilot Shelby is from Arizona and I am from South Texas. So we’re from the hotter regions. And so being the snow is magical. It kind of feels like Christmas every day, but also a really new experience.”

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Just make sure if you hop in for a ride, you look up through the ‘bun-roof’ and buckle your ‘meat belt.’

Oscar Mayer is now hiring for next year’s drivers, who serve a one year term on the road. “If you cut the mustard, it may be just the job for you,” Lewis says.

They’re adding stops frequently, but if you’d like to “ketchup” with the Wienermobile, you can visit them at Tom’s Market on 14th & Division on Friday from 12-5pm. On Sunday they’ll be at Oleson’s on Hammond Rd. from 12-5pm.

For any newly added visits that may still be announced later, click here.

And if you want to apply to be next year’s driver, click here.