Why National Hot Dog Day always leaves me feeling inadequate

“After realizing the size and scope of this assignment, I was feeling a little inadequate.”

Given that 1) yesterday was National Hot Dog Day, and 2) I have just returned to eating solid foods, it seemed like the perfect time to reminisce about the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile, which visited our town exactly one year ago today.

After more than a decade of working in the high-pressure environment of our newsroom, where at any given moment you could find yourself surrounded by as many as two other journalists all typing at once, it takes a lot to get our adrenaline pumping.

In fact, we have been at the epi-center of the national spotlight three times here in Florence. Sure, two occasions came after being singled out as having the nation’s highest rate of … (yawn) … retirees.

But the third time involved REAL explosives.

And a dead whale.

And quite possibly an unlicensed demolitions expert going through a divorce. This would explain using half a ton of dynamite to dispose of a rotting whale carcass that washed ashore, and how one onlooker literally chewed the fat after being struck by a piece if flying whale blubber.

Hey, it was 1970! Whales didn’t have the safety features they have today! Even experts, with their fancy calculations for trajectory, explosive force, velocity, alcohol content, etc., couldn’t have anticipated a piece of whale fat, roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle, taking out an actual Volkswagen Beetle.

Because we are subjected to this kind of tension-filled atmosphere on a regular basis, last week, when a 27-foot-long Wienermobile rolled into town, we met it with the kind objectivity you’d expect from seasoned journalists who laugh in the face of high-velocity whale fat:

We immediately leaped from our chairs and simultaneously wedged ourselves in the doorway so tightly we had to be dislodge with a copy machine.

This left our editor with the difficult task of deciding who would cover this assignment. After taking into account experience, dedication and overall proximity to the door, she chose me to cover the giant Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. I have to admit, after seeing the size and scope of this story, I began to feel a little inadequate.

However, Wienermobile driver “Lots-of-Ketchup” Lisa assured me this reaction was very common.

She then took me on a tour of the Wienermobile, which can seat eight comfortably, or as many as 26 uncomfortably, depending on how strictly the seatbelt law is enforced in your area, particularly when it involves people riding on top of a 27-foot-long hot dog.

I know what you’re thinking:

How can I get a job like THAT?!?

OK, maybe it was just me.

But according to the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile website (www.hotdoggerblog.com), any college graduate who is “outgoing, creative, friendly, and who has an appetite for adventure” can be a candidate.

Having a good driving record also helps because, according to Lisa, in spite of its naturally aerodynamic design, handling a Wienermobile on the open road, and even proper waxing and buffing, takes practice, which is why drivers must attend special classes at “Hot Dog High,” and why, coincidentally, I am moving on to the next paragraph as quickly as possible, while this is still a family-friendly column.

I would like to thank Lisa and the folks at Oscar Mayer for including us on their national tour. I’d also like to thank them for avoiding fatty fillers in their hot dogs; the last time something 27 feet long and full of fat came to Florence, the results were explosive.

(Ned is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. You can write to him at nhickson@thesiuslawnews.com, or at Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR, 97439.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

45 thoughts on “Why National Hot Dog Day always leaves me feeling inadequate”

    1. “‘Cause everyone would be in love with me…”

      At least that’s what the song says. But I would always wonder: is it really me, or the wiener?

      I couldn’t live with that kind of self doubt… 😉

  1. Two comments on: “…handling a Wienermobile on the open road, and even proper waxing and buffing, takes practice…”

    1) Um, yeah. In fact, I’ve spent many years practicing the fine art of…(uh, nevermind)

    2) If a certain former Congressman becomes New York’s next mayor, do you suppose this will become his official limo?

    1. Without question, if No. 2 happens the OM Wienermobile could be tied up in New York for a few years. On a different note, it sounds like he could use an experienced driver. It might be worth brushing up your resume…

  2. Your comments are all in italics, which makes them extra compelling. I’m adding an exclamation mark to mine just to stand out!
    Also: can you tell me how old Neddy Merrill is in John Cheever’s classic short story of suburban alienation “The Swimmer”? I thought you might have an idea because, well, you know, obviously, the hot dog.

    1. I’ve always believed Neddy started out his swim while in his early 20s and then, after eating a hot dog and getting cramps in the third pool, it’s obvious he has aged to his mid 40s because, like me, he has reached an age where physical activitiy too soon after eating leads to gas and cramping.

  3. Not going to lie there sir, but this made me nervous as I was reading it, “… the alst time something 27 fett long and full of…” LOL. I love hot dogs, and beer. Hell, but those together with a Cubs game at Wrigley and I am good! Glad to hear you are feeling better and back to solid foods 🙂 stay healthy my friend!

    1. I knew you would appreciate that 🙂 Thanks for the good wishes. I’m definitely on the mend. Btw, we really are having hot dogs and beer tonight!! No Cubbies, though 😦

  4. I’ve touched that huge wiener before! Also, in California, they have as fast food chain called Wienerschnitzel, and you literally drive through the middle of the wiener.

    1. I remember those! Der Wienerschnitzel! I loved the Polish dog, even though I’m Danish. Even as a boy, I remember thinking that a “drive-thru wiener place” sounded wrong.

    1. Exactly! “We’ll even bring our phallic symbol To YOU!”

      I’m guessing Oscar probably wasn’t we’ll endowed. You know, “The bigger the wienermobile…”

      That’s why I drive a Mini Cooper….

  5. Okay, I’d like to take a second to clarify: Some dude blew up a whole carcass and covered people in rotting whale? Don’t ask me why my brain chose that as the focal point of your entire post, but the thought of that literally makes me want to hurl uncontrollably. Good God…

    1. Hahaha! Yes, it’s true! Google “exploding whales florence Oregon” and you’ll be amazed at what comes up. It made national news in the 1970s. Paul Harvey even did a piece on it. He also did a piece on a monkey that got loose here back in the 1990s. We’re in the national spotlight ever 10 to 15 years. Usually for something stupid 😉

No one is watching, I swear...

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