The Oscar Mayer Frankmobile
What started out as a 13-foot-long metal hot dog on wheels in 1936 has evolved into a big, bold 27-foot-long fiberglass Frankmobile.
By Reed Berry
Wed, Sep 20, 2023 10:02 AM PST
All images by the author.
I guess I could simply describe it as a big rolling sausage designed to market a popular brand of hot dog, but that wouldn't be doing this iconic vehicle justice. It's one of the most recognizable specialty vehicles on earth - and it's been cruising our highways since 1936 - so I was kind of excited to be offered a personal tour of the Oscar Mayer Frankmobile, and I certainly plan to relish this experience.
I know what you're thinking. And yes, for decades it was called the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Earlier this year, however, a name change took place and it is currently known as the Frankmobile to draw attention to the tasty all-beef franks (short for frankfurters) produced by Oscar Mayer. And, quite frankly, just seeing this vehicle makes me hungry for one right now.
But, I'll have to wait because the Frankmobile doesn't serve hot dogs. There is a fleet of Frankmobiles touring the country, making appearances at special events. Each Frankmobile is staffed by two "Frankfurters." The Frankfurters are college students that serve for one year, driving the Frankmobile and meeting the public as PR ambassadors for both the vehicle and the Oscar Mayer brand.
In 1883, Oscar Mayer, an immigrant from Bavaria, opened his first butcher shop here in the U.S. The brand grew over the years and, in 1936, Oscar's nephew Carl Mayer designed the first Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. The basic concept remains the same but, of course, the vehicle design has been revised a number of times over the years.
What started out as a 13-foot-long metal hot dog on wheels in 1936 has evolved into the big, bold 27-foot-long fiberglass Frankmobile that I'm touring today. Not only has the body design changed, but later model Frankmobiles are equipped with the technology features you would expect, such as GPS navigation and a rear-view camera, as well as touch screen controls for the sound system, navigation, and Bluetooth.
What's not to love about the Oscar Mayer Frankmobile? It's big, shiny and colorful, and it certainly brings smiles to the faces of visitors that get to see it up close. Needless to say, people love to take photos of - and have their photo taken with - the Frankmobile. As for the vehicle's Dog-mensions, it's 24 hot dogs (11 feet) in height, 60 hot dogs (27 feet) in length, 18 hot dogs (8 feet) in width, and it weighs 140,500 hot dogs (14,050 lbs.)
Not everyone gets to see the inside of the Frankmobile, but LA Car was granted special access for our report. The Frankmobile has a cool gull wing door with an automatic retractable step. Once inside, I am impressed with how spacious the interior is. There are six comfy mustard and ketchup colored seats, and a ketchup colored walkway with mustard trim. As I move closer to the front, there is carpeting designed to look like it was splattered with condiments and, believe it or not, a hot dog shaped dashboard.
As I look up, there is blue sky ceiling art, complete with fluffy clouds. Many vehicles on the road have a sun roof, but the Frankmobile has a removable BUN-roof! The Frankmobile is equipped with a special horn that can play the Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle in 21 different music genres, including cajun and rap. There's a big screen TV in the Frankmobile, as well, but no bathroom or kitchen.
But is the Frankmobile all sizzle and no meat? Absolutely not! It's powered by a 6.0-liter 300 VORTEC V8 engine paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. It has plenty of power to get the Frankfurters from city to city. The chassis was assembled by Spartan Motors in Charlotte, Michigan.
It's been fun learning so many things I didn't know about the Frankmobile. Special thanks to "Angus Ann" and her fellow Frankfurter "Allie Dog" for their hospitality during our visit, as well as my souvenir Frank Whistle.
UPDATE: The Wienermobile
I realize it's not April, but I feel like we've been April Fooled. It seems as though we've had the "Frank" pulled out from under us. Just a week after touring, photographing and writing our report on the Frankmobile, Oscar Mayer has announced that they will be reverting back to the vehicle's original name, the Wienermobile.
For more information on Oscar Mayer products and the Frankmobile, check out: oscarmayer.com.
About The Author
Known professionally as "The Traffic Guy," Reed Berry has been a driver safety educator for over 30 years. Reed has conducted traffic school classes and suspended license workshops throughout California, and has served as keynote speaker at safety conferences and corporate events across America. He has appeared on radio and television programs both in the U.S. and internationally to discuss safety-related issues. A contributor to LA Car since 2003, Reed Berry is a member of Motor Press Guild, the Los Angeles Press Club and SAG-AFTRA.