Hannah Carlton, Missouri, is spending a year on the road traveling the U.S. in a giant hot dog. And not just any hot dog, but an official Oscar Mayer Wienermobile called Wishy, based on the license plate IWISHIWR.
Each April, 12 recent college graduates are chosen to drive one of six Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles for one year. The drivers are dubbed “Hotdoggers,” and they travel in pairs to a different city each week. Since the Wienermobile program’s inception, only 450 people have been official Hotdoggers. “If you crunch the numbers, it was easier to get into Harvard’s class of 2017 than to be a 2013 Oscar Mayer Hotdogger,” Hannah says. “We didn’t have to take any tests, [but] we did have to sing the jingle.”
“I think I was drawn to this position because of the absurdity of it all,” she says. “When else would I be able to say that I drove a giant hot dog around the country?”
The life of a Hotdogger is spent on the road, usually traveling between 30—40 states. After three months, Hannah is already on state number 24. “I am the first to admit that I seem to have picked up a bit of a travel bug. I have become addicted to seeing new places, trying new things and meeting new people ... I am introduced to a new city every week, and though I have the normal five-day work week, I am a tourist every day. I try to take advantage of it by seeing and doing as much as possible. Knowing that there is always something to be discovered is what gives me the energy to continue exploring.”
Hannah has enjoyed the hustle and bustle of Times Square in New York City from atop her Wienermobile, taken the cast of the TV show Psych to a red carpet event, surprised shoppers at Wal-Mart and has met some amazing people along her travels, including her Wienermobile co-pilot Mike.
“My 22nd birthday was only a few weeks into the job, and my partner Mike and I found ourselves in Louisville, KY, for my special day. I didn’t expect anything on my birthday. I didn’t know anyone in Louisville, and Mike and I had only met a month before. I was in for a total surprise. Mike told me happy birthday on every single platform for communication and told the hotel we were staying at about my birthday. They snuck in deserts and a handwritten and homemade card while I was gone. It went to show that even though we were far away from home, it is the people you meet on the road that make you feel as though you are never really gone or alone.”
A highlight for Hannah was the chance to visit her old stomping grounds at the University of Missouri while traveling with the Wienermobile. She gave some of her sisters a ride around campus and stopped at the Theta Chapter house to give her house mom, Linda, a spin as well. “My friend Amanda, who is also a Kappa, enjoyed this even more than me. She couldn’t stop laughing while riding ‘shot bun,’ as she called it. It was a complete affirmation that even though I’m no longer a student, I am most definitely still a Kappa Kappa Gamma.”
Hannah will be traveling around the Northwest region of the United States, including Kennewick, Seattle and San Fransisco over the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for Hannah’s Wienermobile by tracking it here and follow her adventures on the official Oscar Mayer Hotdogger blog.