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More than a foot long: Wienermobile visits Morris

Ethan Gomez stands in front of the Wienermobile July 13 during its visit to Willie's Supervalu in Morris. 1 / 2
Andie and Lily Eckel pose for Wienermobile photo July 14 in the Willie's Supervalu parking lot.2 / 2

What if they brought ketchup and mustard?

The roughly 27-foot long Oscar Mayer Wienermobile visited Morris July 13 in the Willie's Supervalu parking lot. The Wienermobile arrived with two staff member called Hotdoggers. Sammi Manning and Haley Rohe otherwise known in the Wienermobile world as Sammi Sandwhich and Honey Mustard Haley.

The two women pitched puns as deftly as a hot dog vendor passed hot dogs in a ball park.

"We like to say we are lucky dogs and that we cut the mustard," Rohe said.

Indeed. Rohe and Manning are two of 12 total members of Wienermobile crews that travel the country to promote the Oscar Mayer brand. Twelve of the nearly 1,500 who apply for the year-round job.

It's an exclusive job. More people have been in space through NASA then people who have been a Hotdogger, the pair said.

It's no wonder they say they "relish" the opportunity to do the work and talk about hot dogs. It's true they do say they relish the job.

The job includes taking photos of daycare kids, kids with parents, kids who come to the parking lot together and adults who stop to look at the Wienermobile that looks like it sounds. A big hot dog inside a bun. But with wheels and six interior seats and an engine.

"It looks like a hot dog," Skott Anderson said as daycare kids giggled in response. "It looks real," he said.

Anderson was with his mom Laura Anderson's daycare. Laura Anderson said the daycare went to the Willie's parking lot specifically to see the Wienermobile.

"This is the first time I have ever seen it," Laura Anderson said. "It's pretty cool."

Laura Anderson had planned the trip but didn't share it with her daycare kids until that morning. "They were very excited," she said of the prospect of seeing a giant hot dog.

The Wienermobile is a photo opportunity but Rohe and Manning also invite visitors to play a bean bag game and hand out stickers and wiener whistles.

Some mornings, the pair can be sluggish before they sart work. "It just takes one kid or one adult...," Manning said. And then, they are back to the fun of the job. "It helps us remember why we are here," Manning said.

The pair know that Oscar Mayer and the Wienermobile have a rich history.

On one recent stop a grandmother brought her five-year-old grandchild, Rohe said. The grandmother told the grandchild how she had seen the Wienermobile when she was young.

"It makes you feel good to know that you are part of some lifelong memories," Rohe said.

Rohe and Manning will spend about 30,000 to 40,000 miles on the road this year helping to create memories.

But the pair had to graduate from Hot Dog High and learn how to drive the Wienermobile before they hit the road. The Madison, Wisconsin, police department teaches them how to drive. Hot Dog High helps them with their Wienermobile buns and history.

The Wienermobile isn't difficult to drive, they said. "It's sometimes hard to find a place to park," Manning said.

"We get asked if we sleep in there," Manning said. No, sleeping inside the Wienermobile. "It's not a Wiene-bago," Manning said in a pun reference to the Winnebago brand of recreational vehicles.

The Wienermobile left Morris for an afternoon stop in Fergus Falls. The Wienermobile was scheduled to stop in Alexandria July 14 before it headed to Indianpolis, Indiana. One Hotdogger will be driving as the other sits shotbun in the front.

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