St. Paul native lands role behind the wheel of the Wienermobile

If you're going on a yearlong road trip, what better way to see the country than inside a giant automobile shaped like a hot dog in a bun?

This year, 7,000 people applied for the coveted role of Wienermobile driver, but only a dozen were selected. Some say it’s harder to get into this program than it is to get into Harvard, but a recent college graduate from St. Paul is now top dog.

“So, this is the Wienermobile we can accommodate up to six people in here,” said Carly Koemptgen. “This is the driver's seat. We like to call this seat 'shot bun.'"

Koemptgen is one of 12 “hotdoggers” spreading the gospel of Oscar Meyer wieners in half a dozen Wienermobiles around the United States.

"It’s super exciting,” said Koemptgen. “My mission, personally, is to bring people joy into their mundane lives."

Koemptgen says she applied for the coveted position after graduating from the University of Iowa at the urging of her dad, who thought it would be a job she could relish. During her interview, she even had to sing the famous Oscar Mayer theme song.

"I actually really do like hotdogs,” said Koemptgen. “That might change by the end of my tour here, but I am a ketchup, mustard and onions girl."

After finishing two weeks of training called "Hotdog High,” Koemptgen and her partner hit the road this weekend to stop at stores, community events and parades to hand out wiener whistles. 

Koemptgen even dressed up as a hot dog in Wisconsin to show that she can cut the mustard in her new role.

"We are on a mission to spread miles of smiles," she said.

As for driving the uniquely shaped vehicle, she says there’s a bit of a learning curve.

"It’s like driving a large SUV,” she said. “You are pretty high up and there are some weird blind spots, so that takes a little bit of getting used to."

Koemptgen says the Wienermobile is 60 hot dogs long and 20 hot dogs wide, which means it can be a challenge to parallel park.