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Historic Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Is Gearing Up For Public Display

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Here's a song that might bring back some memories.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing) Oh, I'd love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener. That is what I'd truly like to be 'cause if I were an...

KELLY: That of course is the jingle from the famous hot dog brand made even more famous by the giant hot dog on wheels - yes, the Wienermobile.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The Wienermobile first came out in 1936. That one is long gone. But thanks to another early one from 1969, generations of people around the country have fond memories of the traveling dog and buns.

KELLY: Now, that '69 mobile is getting a new life today in where else but Wisconsin, longtime home to Oscar Mayer's main processing plant.

CHUCK JADOUL: (Laugher) It does stand out of place in the shop.

KELLY: That laughter is coming from Chuck JaDoul. He's production manager at Truckstar, a collision repair shop just outside of Madison. He says they mainly work on, well, trucks. But the shop has also long been the go-to place for Wienermobiles.

JADOUL: The wiener sticks out over the bun quite a bit, so people are always backing into things. So anything misfortune happens with them, you know, we get the phone call.

SHAPIRO: Right now his team is completely restoring the one known as Old Number 7. It toured the country for years until the mid-1970s. Then things changed, and TV advertising became cheaper. So instead of sending a giant hot dog onto the highway, Oscar Mayer turned to jingles like this one.

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ANDY LAMBROS: (Singing) My bologna has a first name. It's O-S-C-A-R. My bologna has...

KELLY: Song of my childhood in the '80s there, Ari. Old Number 7, though, came out of storage for an anniversary tour. It was a hit. Here's Ed Roland. He's in charge of the current Wienermobile fleet.

ED ROLAND: Its success when it was brought back is what really kicked off where we are today with the fleet of vehicles that tour the country right now.

SHAPIRO: This is the origin Wienermobile. This one is the reason that all the other Wienermobiles - there are six of them - are on the road today.

KELLY: Which is why JaDoul and his team are dusting off the fiberglass buns, sprucing up the interior. And it has been donated to the Wisconsin Historic Society (ph) in Madison.

SHAPIRO: And their goal is to bring the Wienermobile back to the masses.

DAVID WILDER: We never want this to sit behind a velvet rope and sort of just, you know, be untouchable.

KELLY: That's David Wilder from the Historic Society. The old Oscar Mayer plant closed down last year, and the museum has been busy collecting memorabilia.

WILDER: People can look back and have an understanding of what life was like during the 20th century, so it's sort of a collective memory of the state and the nation.

SHAPIRO: He says come this summer, the 23-foot-long hot dog will be back traveling around Wisconsin and open for visitors.

KELLY: Road trip.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener. That is what I'd truly like to be, oh, 'cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.