10 Things You Didn't Know About Oscar Mayer

Do you wish you were an Oscar Mayer weiner?

10 Things You Didn't Know About Oscar Mayer

Oscar Mayer has worked its way into American pop culture in more ways than you might realize. With its indelible jingles to its Weinermobiles to its innovations in the world of bacon and cold cuts, this company has become nothing short of a household name. How exactly did a Chicago sausage shop turn into a cultural powerhouse? Read on to find out. 

They Embraced Marketing and Advertising from the Beginning

Oscar Mayer knew the power of name recognition, and that definitely was part of the inspiration to begin branding all their meat products. They also took to sponsoring local events from their earliest days, including the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. 

They Invented Packaged and Sliced Bacon

Oscar Mayer bacon

Kraft Foods, Inc. / ItemMaster

Before Oscar Mayer came along, bacon was sold in slabs and had to be sliced by the in-store butcher. But in 1924, the company began selling shingled sliced bacon placed in a cardboard frame and wrapped in cellophane. This innovation elevated Oscar Mayer from a small player in the bacon business to a major presence, and the majority of packaged bacon is still sold in this format today. 

The Yellow Band was a Secret to Their Success

oscar mayer hot dogs

Photo Modified: Flickr / Mike Mozart / CC BY 4.0

Before 1929, there was no way to differentiate one hot dog brand from another, because all hot dogs look the same and the majority of them were sold in bulk with no branding or packaging. In order to make their wieners stand out, Oscar Mayer began wrapping all of them with a yellow paper band imprinted with the name of the company and a government inspection stamp. This made the brand instantly recognizable, and was a huge sales booster. Today’s packaging still incorporates that trademark yellow band.

There are Six Wienermobiles

Wienermobile

Photo Modified: Flickr / randychiu / CC BY 4.0

The Wienermobile first hit the road in Chicago in 1936, and is one of the great marketing tactics of all time. Today there are six of them across the country, each traveling about 1,000 miles every week. You can even follow them on Twitter!

You can Apply to be a Wienermobile Driver

Want to become a “Hotdogger”? The company is accepting resumes through January for drivers, who will also serve as goodwill ambassadors and their “own traveling public relations firm.” “Applicants should have a BA or BS, preferably in public relations, journalism, communications, advertising, or marketing.” You can apply here

The 'Oscar Mayer Wiener Jingle' was Chosen From More Than 100 Submissions

We all know the song: “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener…” Composed by jingle writer Richard Trentlage in 1963 and sung by his two children, David and Linda, the song was chosen by executives from more than 100 applicants. It became so popular that fans began requesting that their local radio stations play it, and 86 year-old Trentlage still gets royalty checks to this day. 

Wienerwhistles Were Sold at the 1964 New York World's Fair for Two Cents

Wienerwhistles are the Wienermobile souvenir, little Wienermobile-shaped whistles that are handed out every time the mobile stops. They were thought up as a promotional giveaway by company president Carl Mayer in 1952, and were only packaged with hot dogs briefly in 1958. They were sold via vending machines at the 1964 New York World’s Fair for two cents, and completely sold out. 

Lunchables Were Based on the Japanese Bento Box

Lunchables/ Bento Box

Kraft Foods, Inc. / ItemMaster & Shutterstock

It should have occurred to us sooner than Lunchables were inspired by the bento box, because they both have multiple compartments. They were first introduced in 1988 in eight varieties, and are still a popular DIY lunchtime treat. 

Their Salami Hangs for More than 30 Days

Salami

itemmaster.com

All of Oscar Mayer’s meats are still made the old-fashioned way, including their salami. Meat and spices are combined and turned into 17-pound sausages, which are hardwood smoked at 375 degrees for at least six hours and hung to dry for at least 30 days. Unfortunately the two main ingredients in their cotto salami are mechanically separated chicken and beef hearts, but that’s just how the sausage is made, as they say.

They Develop College Courses on Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare

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Oscar Mayer gave a $125,000, three-year research grant to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to help them expand their animal welfare course offerings. While the company doesn’t teach or design the courses, they’ve left it up to professor Dr. Kurt Vogel to train the next generation of animal welfare professionals.