On National Hot Dog Day, a giant weiner rolls into town

  • Hotdogger Mitch McMahon shuts the outer door of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile parked in the Walmart parking lot off Loudon Road on Wednesday in Concord. McMahon was handing out materials with his partner and they gave out free hot dogs as well. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Hotdogger Mitch McMahon sits inside the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile in Concord on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Mike Pagliarulo enjoys a hot dog.

  • The Oscar Mayer Weinermobile sports a Wisconsin license plate that reads “RELSHME.”

  • Bruce Boissy of Concord gets his photo taken at the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile in the Walmart parking lot on Wednesday, July 17, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 7/17/2019 6:17:06 PM

Is it a bus? Is it a tank? Well, according to the pilot, it’s certainly not a sandwich on wheels.

“It’s not a sandwich-mobile, it’s a Wienermobile,” said Carly Jean the Hot Dog Queen, a Wienermobile pilot – or “hotdogger” – who is also known as Carly Koemptgen.

The Wienermobile, Oscar Mayer’s iconic hot dog-shaped RV that serves as a rolling PR firm, is gracing Concord this week. On Wednesday afternoon – a beautiful National Hot Dog Day to remember – it sat next to the Walmart off Loudon Road.

A small crowd of Girl Scouts, parents and distracted shoppers gathered around the vehicle’s famous exterior. The 27-foot-long brat-colored carbon fiber casing perched on a yellow bun-shaped chassis held their attention for a couple minutes until the promise of free weenie whistles and hot dogs won them over.

Inside the sausage, whose side door opened up as stairs shot down, six seats of mustard yellow leather and ketchup red velvet hung over ’80s bowling alley style carpet. A decal of a perfect swirl of mustard adorned the aisle. Above, the ceiling pictured a perfect blue sky with cotton candy white clouds, which were interrupted by the clear glass “bun roof.” The mobile frank’s cabin also featured a flat-screen TV, a heavy-duty sound system, two hot dog dashboard ornaments and a horn that plays the Oscar Meyer jingle. Noticeably absent: a place to sleep.

“It’s not a wiene-bago,” said Mitch McMahon, whose hotdogger name is Meat Man Mitch, noting that the hotdoggers sleep in hotels.

McMahon and Koemptgen drive the Wienermobile together, one behind the wheel, the other riding “shotbun.” They have few complaints about their vehicle’s handling.

“It’s like driving an SUV. The only difference is you’re a little higher up. Backing up is a little hard, though” said McMahon, who was trained to drive the vehicle by retired police officers and firefighters while at “Hotdog High.” “We like to say it hauls buns. It’s very aero-dynamic,” he deadpanned, pausing for reaction. “We go highway speed.”

Last year, 7,000 people applied to become a hotdogger. Twelve, including McMahon and Koemptgen, got the job. The gig requires a sense of adventure, adaptability and people skills, McMahon said.

In addition to several Weinermobiles roaming around the country, the fleet includes a WeinerMini, a WeinerCycle, a remote-control WeinerRover and a WeinerDrone.

“Really if you have a zest for life and relish the opportunity of driving a 27-foot hotdog, that’s what they’re looking for. And people who don’t take themselves too seriously – you’re driving a hot dog,” McMahon said.

According to the Meat Man, hot-dogging involves sharing the brand and “spreading those miles of smiles.” The hotdoggers work with the public and media.

The work normally involves wooing potential hot dog eaters at grocery stores, covering big events (like the Foxwoods 301, which the team is in town for). Sometimes it’s a little less predictable. In the last month, McMahon and Koemptgen have served as the getaway drivers for a hotdog-themed wedding and have enjoyed Oscar Mayer’s franks while doing trapeze stunts.

“I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it just because you need a minute to let things digest, but it was really fun,” Koemptgen said of her aerial consumption. “Neither of us have really done anything like that.”

The duo’s region runs from Virginia up the East Coast. They were in Pennsylvania last week and will be headed back to Pittsburgh this week. They started working in June and their tour lasts a year. According to McMahon, even though the two get Tuesdays and Wednesday offs, the hotdogger life requires one to always be on.

“Carly and I have days off, but you’re driving around a 27-foot hot dog. You get recognized everywhere you go,” said McMahon, who claimed he only eats around two hot dogs a week.

Outside of the hotdog on wheels with the license plate “RelshMe,” McMahon and Koemptgen handed out coupons and wiener whistles to the endless trickle of dazzled passersby. The vehicle seemed to draw in everyone who saw it in. Cars slowed down for a look. Kids pulled their parents towards it. Elderly folks took a peek.

“You look at it and laugh: it’s a giant hotdog. But for a lot of people it’s a part of growing up and it reminds them of a parent or a grandparent or a son or daughter,” McMahon said. “People get emotional at the Wienermobile.”

Pat Boyd of Hillsboro sang the Oscar Meyer jingle as her grandson took a picture with the car.

“It was a fun thing when it came to town,” she remembered. “The kids all came out.”

“I like it. It looks like a hot dog,” said her grandson Hunter, who figured out how to use the whistle on his third try.

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile will jump around southern N.H. for the rest of the week. Hot dogs, along with a host of abnormal condiments, will be available too as a part of Oscar Mayer’s campaign to push people to try franks in a way they haven’t before for the “Summer of Yes.” On Thursday, the Wienermobile will be at the Hannaford off of Coliseum Ave. in Nashua with NASCAR driver Ryan Newman from 9 a.m. to noon and the Hannaford off Devine in Manchester from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, it’ll be parked at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway – open from around 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. – with wiener whistles to be passed out for the last hour.

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