Sunday morning was misty with temperatures in the 30s, yet there was no apparent shrinkage of the famed Oscar Mayer Wienermobile or in the approximately 80-person-strong field of runners for a 5K charity race at Eastwood Farm and Winery.
“I believe everyone who signed up came,” said Eastwood’s director of community engagement, Maggie Chao, as she tended bar indoors at the Scottsville Road winery.
Parked outside, the Wienermobile serves as a mobile ambassador for the signature product of a venerable processed-meat company. The colorful fiberglass vehicle attracted visitors clamoring for photos, such as Marcia Byerley, who completed the five-kilometer run.
“It’s great to see it,” said Byerley. “I wasn’t expecting it.”
Two young adults pilot this craft, one of six in the company livery, as it crosses America.
“We just came in from Cincinnati, and then this week we’re driving up to New York City, so we really haul buns in this dog,” says “Ketchup Kaitlin,” aka Kaitlin Bross, 23. “The whole notion of this 27-foot-long hot dog is to bring joy to people.”
“It’s a rich American tradition,” adds her colleague “Cookout Christian,” aka Christian Jabbar, 22, who notes that the first Wienermobile began rolling in 1936. “It was to spread smiles in the Chicago area, and the mission hasn’t changed much.”
A reporter asked about the health and animal-welfare concerns associated with eating processed meat, but detailed answers surpassed the scope of this crew, who spent two weeks in “Hot Dog High,” a training program.
“We have vegans and vegetarians that love it,” said Jabbar. “The Wienermobile is for everybody.”
The vehicle is equipped inside with 1970s-era bowling alley-styled carpeting and a vintage Citizens Band radio, but these two twenty-somethings concede that they have yet to try their CB.
“We haven’t turned it on yet,” says Bross, “but we’re excited to figure it out.”
Bross calls this “the road trip of a lifetime” and notes that Oscar Mayer is recruiting drivers, one reason the vehicle spent time earlier in the week at the University of Virginia.
“Thanks for coming to ketchup with us today,” says Bross. “It’s been buns of fun in the Charlottesville community.”