Salty Dogs

Sundae Horn

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile delivers the goods to an Ocracoke pirate.

It's all part of being a pirate!
It's all part of being a pirate!

Ahoy, mateys! There were a new vessel on the island today! Like most landlubbers that visit the island, it arrived by ferry from Hatteras. The Wienermobile was spotted at the beach, at the Lighthouse, and at the Community Square, and it caused a commotion at every turn.

Kayla Kawalec and Taylor Lennox, the young "Hotdoggers" (that's their official title), who pilot the Wienermobile were actually enjoying their day off today and decided to drive down from Nags Head to visit family friend, Cheri Ely, who lives on Ocracoke. Kayla's mom, Susan, has been friends with Cheri since the 5th grade when they were growing up in Florida. When your best friend's daughter is in the neighborhood, you definitely want her to come for a visit, and when she travels by a giant hotdog on wheels, you know she'll make a splash.  

Cheri suggested that a visit to Ocracoke was incomplete without meeting a pirate. She called me because she knows I have a husband who never misses a chance to put on his pirate togs and "Arrrgh!" for the lasses. His response was "Hot diggity-dog!"

Kayla (left) and Taylor direct Capt. Rob as he models.
Kayla (left) and Taylor direct Capt. Rob as he models.

Kayla and Taylor delivered a piping hot Oscar Mayer wiener to Capt. Rob Temple aboard the Skipjack Wilma Lee. He held his hook and hotdog aloft, posed at the helm, told piratical riddles, and mugged for the camera. The girls will use the photos for the Wienermobile's social media channels, promoting the company's new tagline: A hot dog in every hand. 

Handing out hotdogs from the Wienermobile is not actually what they do, however. "Ninety percent of our stops are retail events," Kayla explained. They may visit a grocery store, hand over some dogs for the store to cook and serve, and open the Wienermobile for people to see inside. "We also hand out Wiener Whistles," she said.

Both Kayla and Taylor graduated from college in May 2016 and started working as Hotdoggers right away. Kraft Heinz (Oscar Mayer's parent company) recruits on college campuses at top communications schools – Kayla went to the University of Florida and Taylor to Penn State. The year-long gig as a Hotdogger goes from June to June. "We're winding down," said Taylor. "We only have twenty days left," added Kayla. Both said they wouldn't hesitate to do it all over again.

Kayla and Taylor have been together since January. Like all Hotdoggers, the girls spent the first six months with one partner, then switched for the second six months. Kayla explored the Northeast, while Taylor was on the West Coast. Together since January, they have traveled the Southeast from Virginia to Louisiana. Taylor has been to a total of twenty-one states; Kayla to twenty-five. 


There are six Wienermobiles in service around the country. Each year, about fifteen hundred new college grads apply to be Hotdoggers, but only twelve "cut the mustard" according to Taylor. There's not a hotdog pun these women haven't already heard. 

Example: Hotdoggers don't sleep in the Wienermobile. "It's not a Wienie-bago," said Taylor. 

Every night they stay in a hotel, using their travel allowance. They also receive a daily meals allowance, and they get paid a salary. "No rent, no utilities, our food is paid for – we're able to save a lot," said Kayla. 

The Wienermobile is both their work and personal vehicle. They get two days off a week and can explore new places off the scheduled route. 

"We're in Ocracoke because of Cheri," said Kayla. They had also enjoyed a nice afternoon at the beach.

Even on their days off, they're on. You can't hide a giant wienie! People notice, people ask questions. People pose for photo ops, people break into song ("Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener..."), people use puns ("I never sausage a car!"), people even suggest you deliver 'dogs to pirates. When Kayla and Taylor are out of uniform (Oscar Mayer tees), they go incognito and try to blend in with the crowds. But eventually, they have to own up and climb back aboard. There was no anonymity on the ferry ride to and from Ocracoke!

Kayla, Cheri, and Taylor
Kayla, Cheri, and Taylor

Tomorrow they'll be on the road to a NASCAR event in Charlotte, where they will meet up with the Planters NUTmobile and the Peanutters who drive it. Both food-shaped icons of the open road are owned by Kraft Heinz. Wienies and nuts! What a combination! 

Oscar Mayer just launched their new line of hotdogs, which are completely nitrate and nitrite-free, have no artificial preservatives, and contain no by-products. They are the first hot dog company to make that claim for all their products. Rob was helping to advertise the all-Angus beef franks, and he relished it. 

"That was the best Oscar Mayer wiener I've ever had," he opined. "That was a good hotdog."






Comments powered by Disqus