Kristen Mitchell / Campus editor
To the tune of carnival music, Theresa Brenner stood in the 90-degree heat on a mid-July afternoon taking pictures of Ohio State fair visitors and giving out weenie whistles. The alternative would have been getting ready to attend law school in the fall, but Brenner had no regrets.
For the recent Ohio State graduate, accepting a job driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was like joining the family business.
Brenner graduated from OSU in June but couldn’t make it to graduation because she had to start training for her new job as one of 12 new Oscar Mayer Wienermobile drivers nationwide. As a member of the newest class of “hotdoggers,” Brenner was selected among 1,300 applicants for the position.
When she heard that she had gotten the job earlier in the spring, the first person Brenner called was her older sister, an OSU graduate and former hotdogger herself.
“I have heard from her and the people she was friends with while she has a hotdogger how great it is, a job where you travel,” Brenner said. “There’s a lot of responsibility, but all these positives that I heard from her and I just applied online.”
Brenner’s older sister, Betsy Brenner, graduated from OSU in 2007 and was a member of the 20th class of hotdoggers. Theresa Brenner is a member of the 25th class.
Betsy Brenner has continued to work with Kraft, the parent company of Oscar Mayer, even after her term as a hotdogger ended and she was eager to share the news about her sister with her colleagues.
She said she and her colleagues couldn’t recall many other instances where two siblings had been hotdoggers in the history of the program.
“I think there’s only one other time when two siblings were both hotdoggers in 25 years,” Betsy Brenner said.
Theresa Brenner said that, during her senior year, she was applying for law schools and seeking job opportunities when she decided to apply for the hotdogger job. When she got the job, she decided that law school would have to wait but wasn’t sure she was doing the best thing for her future.
“My dad said he was proud,” Theresa Brenner said. “I said to (my parents), ‘Am I silly to turn down law school and take this opportunity?’ and they said, ‘No, Theresa, go for it.'”
The hotdogger job is a yearlong position expected to end in June 2013, but Theresa Brenner said she hasn’t planned for what she will do after that.
“I deferred admissions to three different law schools, so I’ll most likely take that up but still do networking and look at other cities that I love and other great opportunities along the way,” she said. “I’m not going to pigeonhole myself or get tunnel vision and not take advantage of the great opportunities that lie along the hot dog highways.”
Theresa Brenner said that her favorite part of the job is getting to travel to new places and meet new people.
In July, Theresa Brenner said she had already traveled to Long Island, Lansing, Mich., Scranton, Penn., Baltimore, and of course, Columbus, Ohio.
“Everywhere I go, people are happy to see me,” she said. “No one ever says, ‘Man I wish you weren’t here today,’ or ‘You didn’t do this.’ Always bringing a smile to peoples faces.”
The hardest part of the job? Parking the Wienermobile.
“Being able to find three or so parking places can be challenging, but people are pretty understanding about it and give you some flexibility,” Theresa Brenner said. “You are always able to drive a little slower and take a little bit longer to merge or park.”
However, she said manning the Wienermobile gets easier with practice.
“We get totally used to driving this,” Theresa Brenner said. “You just use all your mirrors. I don’t even have to check my blind spot.”
Theresa Brenner spent her summer traveling the country in the Wienermobile. She stopped in cities along the way for fairs and appearances to give out free samples and let people take photos with the vehicle. She said grilling season is definitely the busiest time of the year, but the 25th class will continue to travel and make appearances throughout the winter months.
Theresa Brenner said that, for her, the opportunity was a dream come true.
“What other job gives you the chance to travel, learn professional skills and have a great time?” Theresa Brenner said. “It’s a really competitive position that makes you stand out.”