The 27-foot hot dog is tucked away in the back parking lot of the Tucson Sheraton Hotel, reminiscent of a celebrity’s feeble attempts to hide from the paparazzi.
The hot dog has just been through the car wash, and its buns glisten in the crisp November sun as two women in Oscar Meyer t-shirts and leggings open the side door and jump onto the asphalt, smiling and waving like flight attendants on a hotdog spaceship.
Their names are Ann Kerr, also known as “Angus Ann,” and Allison Silibovsky, on the road as “Allie Dog,” and they’re two of the twelve lucky people who get to call themselves Hodogger Class 36; an exclusive club of young marketing professionals that drive the Oscar-Meyer Weinermobile every year.
The women are young, enthusiastic brand ambassadors to Oscar-Meyer, fresh out of college with both a journalism and an advertising degree between them. They agree that being a people person is essential in getting the job, and part of the reason they were attracted to it.
“You never know who you're gonna meet. There's never a moment where I don't love talking to people,” said Ann.
The company has a Weinermobile deployed to each region of the country, and yes, they all have names. There’s Relish Me, Big Buns, Our Dog, Wiener, Wienermobile, Oh I Wish, Yummy, and Oscar-Meyer. Six are active at a time, while the other two Weinermobiles rest after a long tour of serving their patrons a nostalgic form of good ol’ American capitalism.
Tucson was blessed with the presence of the Weinermobile named Oscar Meyer, who goes by “Oscie” for short, and apparently embodies an “angsty 20 something year old guy,” said Allie Dog.
“They're all the same minus the license plate. But they all have personalities,” she said.
After they were officially hired over the summer, Ann and Allie attended “hot dog high,” a two week intense training program where they learned how the sausage is made… media pitching, coordinating events, and crucially, driving the vehicle.
Allie and Ann are with each other up to 13 hours a day, so compatibility is crucial. Oscar-Meyer apparently uses a “secret formula” to determine who they’ll spend an entire year working with. And so far, it seems to be working.
“We're each other's family, best friends, give advice, like we're everything, because we're the only ones there who understand it as well,” said Allie Dog.
As well as friendship, it’s essential to work well together through challenges, most of which they say involve parking those huge buns. The sausage takes up about four parking spaces, and with events that often happen in the middle of crowded downtown streets, that can be a challenge.
“People always ask the hardest part about driving it, it’s not driving it, it’s finding parking,” said Allie Dog.
The responsibilities of a hotdogger are almost four jobs in one. Allie and Ann are one part cross-country truck driver, one part event coordinator, one part social media manager, and another part tour manager of a hot, sizzling celebrity.
Their schedule is booked about a month in advance, and includes appearances at events like Tucson’s El Tour de Tucson, and even private reservations for parties.
Even when the Weinermobile is parked, they’re booking hotels, advertising their events, making social media posts on their personal hotdogger Instagrams, and even working out the logistics of getting their buns across the ocean.
“That was our first assignment on the road…loading the Weinermobile onto a cargo ship in Jacksonville, Florida to ship it to Puerto Rico, because we were starting a campaign down there the following week,” said Ann.
Ali and Ann arrived in Tucson five months into their year-long journey, and everywhere it goes, the weinermobile is incredibly good at its job, like the passerby who interrupted AZPM’s interview not once but twice in the span of 30 minutes.
“We’ll be here later though!” Ann said apologetically to the man who eagerly knocked on window.
Hot dog enthusiasts can’t get an actual hot dog aboard the Weinermobile, a common misconception, but what it does serve, according to Allie and Ann, is smiles.
And though some may laugh, Allie says the nostalgic vehicle has “magical powers” that evoke deep emotional connections.
“We were in Salt Lake City, Utah, and we're at this event, and this family comes up to us, and they're so excited, but the mom is very choked up and everything like, 'my father has recently like passed away, but it was his goal to get in the Wienermobile drive around' like, that was like his lifetime goal. He always wanted to do it. And he was never able to do it… And I remember she said one thing to me, that he may not be able to be here with us in person. But his spirit is checking it off his bucket list right now.”
Each Oscar Meyer hotdogger only has the job for a year. With 17 states and Puerto Rico under their belt and seven months of hotdogging to go, the two women say they are relishing every moment of their unique job.
“It opens conversations with people,” Ann said. “I’m checking things off my bucket list every week.”