Samantha Benish, a 2023 University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate and former editor for the The Daily Cardinal’s Life & Style desk, detailed her postgrad experience as a professional “hotdogger” driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile around the country.
The application process to become a hotdogger is more difficult than most would assume, according to Benish. “This is an extremely competitive position. Last year alone, we had over 2,000 people apply for only 12 positions. So, statistically speaking, it is harder to become a hotdogger than to get into an Ivy League school. We encourage anyone to apply who has an appetite for adventure, a taste for travel and a passion for people. No two hotdoggers are alike, and that is what makes the position so amazing,” Benish said.
Benish spoke of the “dogmensions” of the Wienermobile: it is 60 hot dogs long, 18 hot dogs wide and 24 hot dogs tall. The inside has six ketchup-and mustard-colored seats, complete with “meatbelts,” a condiment-splattered carpet, a ‘bunroof” and a blue sky ceiling.
“It is always blue skies when you are in the Wienermobile,” Benish said. She thinks the Wienermobile is “bunderful!”
Benish said it was “a bit challenging at first learning how to drive the ‘big dog.’” Thankfully, she trains “for about 40 hours on a closed course with retired police officers here in Madison.” She likes to say that she had to learn to “cut the mustard” before hitting the “hot dog highways.”
Benish said every day is different as a hotdogger, who said she drives to a new city every week and explores on her own before having events for the rest of the week, typically on weekends. Events include parades, festivals, grocery stores, birthday parties and weddings.
“Each week is filled with adventures no matter what you end up doing,” Benish said.
“The Wienermobile was created by Carl Mayer, [whose] goal was to spread smiles during [the Great Depression] when people had no reason to,” Benish said, adding that the Wienermobie continues to be “this amazing opportunity to spread joy and create lasting memories for people all over the country.”
“I’m beyond lucky that I get to be the person who brings some joy to their day,” she said.
During her time at UW-Madison, Benish spent four years working at the Cardinal, with her junior year as an editor for the Life & Style desk. Benish said the experience she got from the Cardinal has prepared her for life on the road as a hotdogger.
“I learned how to juggle a lot of responsibilities all at once. I was communicating with other writers, pitching stories, working in a collaborative setting and staying organized throughout it all,” Benish said.
Benish said she thoroughly enjoyed every city in the 13 states she visited, including her return to Wisconsin in the Wienermobile. Still, one city stands out to her: Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“I visited during Halloween, and we had an event where we literally got to drive the Wienermobile into the Chattanooga Zoo. We were parked right next to an anteater,” Benish said.
“No matter where you go with the Wienermobile, the reaction is always the same: people see us and light up in a bright smile,” Benish said.