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Amanda Vazquez, born and raised in Woodhaven, graduated from Penn State last year never thinking that she would be driving an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.
Kraft, the company which owns the brand, recruits a dozen college grads each year to drive six Wienermobiles across the country to serve as ambassadors for the product.
After a long journey in the Southwest, she and her mobile partner, Michael Tierney, recently arrived in New York.
Last week, the duo spent a few days touring Queens before heading across the East River to Super Bowl festivities in Times Square.
At a recent stop in her old neighborhood, Vazquez pulled up to the curb and switched on the retractable steps that serve as the entrance, sort of like what you’d expect to see on a UFO.
Inside the vehicle were six captain chairs, along with decorations of ketchup and mustard.
What is this Wienermobile composed of? The meat of this converted Chevy is fiberglass resembling a grilled hot dog resting on a lightly toasted bun.
Before getting behind the wheel, Vazquez spent time training at Hot Dog High in Wisconsin, which was not just about the brand knowledge and public relations, but also taught her how to learn to drive the 27-foot vehicle.
“The first Wienermobile was built in 1936, with changes in models over the years,” Vazquez said. “They started as delivery trucks until 1988 when they became promotional vehicles. I am in my seventh month of my 48 weeks. “
What did she love about the experience? “We get to meet so many people, visit various places and try new things,” she said. “I have visited 20 states so far.”
Along the way, she and Tierney hand out stuffed Wienermobile toys and wiener whistles. People are expected to blow the whistle whenever they see the vehicle drive by. Years ago they were placed into the packages of hot dogs. Horn honking was the current reaction as Vazquez ventured along Jamaica Avenue and stopping at Forest Parkway.
Everyone who passed by had some sort of cellphone that was capable of taking photos. With the retractable steps open, people of all ages climbed atop them and posed. There was actually one man who asked if he would be able to purchase a vehicle, which although it can be rented, can never bought.
“No matter where you come from, the Wienermobile is a sight that makes people smile from ear to ear,” Vazquez said. “I love giving people ‘that special moment’ when they either see it for the first time or remember it from the age of 5.”
Soon, the two Weinermobile drivers will be heading out of town, but expect to return while the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the World’s Fair are being celebrated around the borough.
©2014 Community Newspaper Group
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