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Hotdoggers Call New Wienermobile Link to the Future

February 11, 1995

CHICAGO (AP) _ They travel in pairs in one of the most exclusive vehicles on the road, one riding ``shotbun″ in the ``Wieniebago,″ trying to avoid being ``sandwiched″ in traffic.

The young college graduates who spend a year peddling puns and buns in the six 1995 Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles call them a link to the future.

``We relish our jobs,″ Dan Duff said after the new Wienermobile rolled down the main aisle at the Chicago Auto Show.

Duff, 24, is one of a dozen graduates recruited from college campuses each year to spend 345 days on the road as traveling ``hotdoggers″ for Oscar Mayer Foods of Madison, Wis.

The Wienermobiles date to 1936, when a 13-foot hot dog on wheels hit Chicago’s streets to promote Oscar Mayer wieners. In the early 1950s, the fleet grew to five. The 1995 version is the fifth model since then.

At 10,500 pounds, 27 feet long, 10 1/2 feet high and 8 feet wide, the Wienermobile was the biggest vehicle on display when the auto show opened Saturday. It was built on a General Motors truck chassis and created by automotive designer Harry Bradley. The 1995 Wienermobile seats six, has a large-screen TV and is likely to turn up almost anywhere people eat hot dogs.

``You can’t have a bad day when you get behind the wheel,″ said Duff, a Syracuse University advertising graduate who’s been hotdogging in an older model since June.

Between 800-1,000 students who apply each year for the 12 jobs go through a training program that teaches them to boss the big rigs, charm the public and use the endless stream of wordplay that is part of the schtick.

The 1995 fleet hits the road next month.

``And frankly,″ said Oscar Mayer’s Russ Whitacre, ``the new Wienermobile will be bigger and better than the one we all remember as kids.″

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