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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vancouver fans relish Wienermobile visit

Enthusiasts line up to get photo with, snag ‘weenie whistle’ from Oscar Mayer’s famed auto

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 9, 2023, 7:23pm
6 Photos
Melissa Stroud of Ridgefield, from left, pauses to snap a photo of her nieces, Mabel Gaussoin, 1, and her sister, Olivia, 3, as they test out their hot dog-shaped "weenie whistles" after visiting the Wienermobile at the Cascade Park Safeway on Tuesday afternoon.
Melissa Stroud of Ridgefield, from left, pauses to snap a photo of her nieces, Mabel Gaussoin, 1, and her sister, Olivia, 3, as they test out their hot dog-shaped "weenie whistles" after visiting the Wienermobile at the Cascade Park Safeway on Tuesday afternoon. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

It’s a 27-foot-long legend with four wheels, a V-8 and a hot dog-shaped exterior. And it rolled into Vancouver on Tuesday afternoon bringing smiles and nostalgia right along with it.

“Take in the aroma,” said Chad Colgrove to the dozens of people lined up to see the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. “You are in the presence of an American icon right now.”

Folks who lined up shared their memories, their sheer excitement and — on more than one occasion — broke into song.

“I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener. That is what I’d truly like to be,” the crowd sang in unison.

Jeanne Webber came to get a Wiener Whistle for her girlfriend.

Unlike many of those in line, she used to see the vehicular frankfurter often as a child in Long Beach, Calif. She recalls coming to see it again as an adult several years ago.

“It was so much fun,” Webber recalled. “Singing a song, winning a whistle. It’s pretty good.”

There was no shortage of puns being thrown down by Colgrove, one of the Oscar Mayer hot-doggers, who seemingly relished the opportunity.

Traveling around the country, Colgrove gets to see a lot of beaming faces waiting to see inside the illustrious Wienermobile.

“We get a lot of ‘I remember’ stories since it’s been around for so long,” he said. “Everyone just has some fun story to tell and that’s what makes it so great.

“The Wienermobile is this piece of nostalgia that everyone from 8 to 80 love to come over and see,” he said.

He isn’t wrong. Those gathered at the Safeway in Cascade Park on Tuesday included children, seniors and everyone in between.

Stacey Goold brought her small children out to take a peek inside the sausage-shaped vehicle.

“I don’t know if I ever saw it as a kid,” said Goold. “I just heard about it. It was this big legend and I always wanted to see it.”

Kim Birch only ever saw it driving on the freeway but the hot dog car carried a strong association with her childhood.

When Steven and Sadie Gunn were asked what brought them to see the Wienermobile, Sadie Gunn stated it simply.

“The weenie whistle,” she said sheepishly.

“I’m old,” said Steven Gunn. “I always saw (the Wienermobile) on TV but never actually in person.

“The weenie whistle is always this big famous thing, and I never got it,” he said.

The Weiner Whistle was a popular draw.

“I’m so happy I got a whistle,” one little girl cheered.

Nostalgia marketing

In a world of local and gourmet foods, the Oscar Mayer brand may seem past its prime. And yet, one family walked away from the Wienermobile talking about needing to go and buy hot dogs for dinner.

For veteran ad executive and founder of SoothBeTold.com Ian Baer, old advertising tropes — like the Wienermobile and the newly revamped McDonald’s Hamburglar — are a top source of nostalgia, up there with movies, music and television.

Nostalgia is all about emotions, he said.

“The key for brands will be to use these nostalgic tropes in ways that drive emotions and feel comfortable for younger audiences,” said Baer. “I’d expect we’re going to see the Hamburglar become very active in driving social media traffic and conversation if he’s going to drive sales for (McDonald’s).”

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Colgrove’s compatriot and fellow hot-dogger Clara Adams says the Wienermobile tradition is all about sparking joy and smiles.

“It is just this special tradition that holds a place in everyone’s hearts,” she added.

She and Colgrove spent four hours at their Vancouver stop, smiling, chatting and taking photos for people on their phones.

And don’t forget to share your photo on Instagram and tag us, Colgrove told one family.

So did the stop drive some brand loyalty for Oscar Mayer? Well, those interviewed said they have all eaten if not still eat Oscar Mayer products.

“So many people come up to me saying they only eat Oscar Mayer because once they got to see the Wienermobile, or got a weenie whistle or got a ride on the Wienermobile,” said Adams.

“That memory sticks with them and they remember Oscar Mayer,” she said.

“You don’t see any other meat company doing something like that.”

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