CHAMPAIGN — The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile will visit Champaign on Thursday, stopping at the County Market store at 2901 W. Kirby Ave., C, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Oscar Mayer has been using the giant hot dog on wheels as a promotional attraction since 1936.
The Wienermobile has gone through many redesigns — and even a retirement — since then.
Today's model resembles a hot dog on a bun and is 27 feet long, 8 feet wide and 11 feet tall. It uses a Chevrolet chassis and has seating for six in ketchup- and mustard-colored seats.
It has a horn that plays the Oscar Mayer jingle, and its drivers will hand out Oscar Mayer Wiener Whistles.
They'll also take free pictures with families in front of the Wienermobile and transform the images into digital postcards.
Each year Oscar Mayer — now a brand of Kraft Foods — selects 12 college graduates to pilot the fleet of Wienermobiles. The graduates are chosen from a field of about 1,200 applicants.
Known as Hotdoggers, they travel in pairs and are assigned to six parts of the country: the East, the Southeast, the Midwest, the South, the Southwest and the Northwest.
The Wienermobile was retired from service during World War II because of gas rationing. It was revived in 1952, and after redesigns in 1958, 1969 and 1976, was again retired until 1986, when it reappeared for its 50th anniversary.
A new fleet began touring in 1988, and new models were introduced in 1995, 2000 and 2004. In recent years, Oscar Mayer has added a mini-Wienermobile and a Wienermobile food truck.