Exclusive: Oscar Mayer reintroduces Wienermobile to the road

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(NEW YORK) — Nostalgia wins in the court of cars and cold cuts.

After the iconic hot dog on wheels for Oscar Mayer was rebranded as the Frankmobile earlier this summer — specifically to celebrate its all-beef frankfurter recipe — the American food manufacturer is reverting back to its original namesake glory: the Wienermobile.

Oscar Mayer announced exclusively with ABC News’ Good Morning America on Wednesday that the 27-foot-long hot dog-shaped vehicle will resume road operations under its original designation that first debuted on the streets of Chicago in 1936 and emphasized the unique automobile brings with it, “a lot of connection” because “everybody loves the Wienermobile.”

“We had never changed the name of the Wienermobile before and to celebrate our new 100% beef franks we were all on board in doing that, but we missed the name internally and we’re excited to bring it back,” Edwin Roland, who sits at “Wienermobile headquarters” outside of Madison, Wisconsin, told GMA. “It didn’t cut the mustard — it’s the same mission but it’s comin’ back to Wienermobile.”

Roland has been behind the wheel of Kraft Heinz’s Wienerbmobile program for 20 years and said a day in the life as a hot-dogger — the drivers and ambassadors he trains for the open road — can be “very different” as the six drivers at the helm of half a dozen dog mobiles span fairs, festivals and parades at over 1,200 events per year “bringing the big dog across the country.”

“The words I hear most often are ‘I remember when’ — it just brings back a lot of nostalgia,” Roland said of the clientele climbing up the silver steps of the former Frankmobile.

“The mission never changed,” he emphasized. “Our team was out there just bring smiles to everybody.”

Kelsey Rice, the associate director for Oscar Mayer, hailed it as a “franktastic summer,” but admitted, “like many of you, we miss our original icon — the Wienermobile.”

In his decades overseeing the fleet of frankfurters, Roland said his favorite moment as part of the program — which has spanned the globe and come into close quarters with celebrities — was visiting a remote town in Whittier, Alaska.

“It was such a fun experience to see this brightly colored hot dog on wheels driving into this remote location that’s full of snow — the people loved it. It was such a neat experience,” Roland told GMA.

But in all of Roland’s experience, whether at the wheel or training the next generation of hot dog drivers set to become consumer-facing frontpersons for the brand, he said the “entire mission is to bring joy to people.”

“It’s just to spark smiles and to go out there and have fun,” he said. “You’re creating new and positive ‘I remember whens,’ and that’s what it’s all about.”

The fleet of hot-doggers has included Harvard graduates to marketing mavens and advertising authorities alike. Roland said the drivers who apply and train for the cross-country gig have come from a wide-ranging pool of accomplished candidates looking to add their stories to the brand’s continually evolving lineage.

While Roland considers himself more of a tried and true fan of Oscar Mayer’s hardwood smoked bacon for breakfast and BLT sandwiches, he remained steadfast in his adoration of “the provocateur of joy” that has evolved as the Wienermobile over the years.

“It’s neat to see how this old-school idea can continue to morph and be successful no matter what the environment is,” he said, nodding to the graduation from the use of an atlas to navigation apps.

“We’ll be looking for our next team of hot-doggers, open casting call, coming January — it’s a one-year assignment,” Roland added, noting that “statistically it’s easier to get into an Ivy League school than it is to be a hot-dogger.”

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