Touring America and beyond in a blindingly orange, fiberglass hot dog on wheels.
Ihlenfeld has come a long way since spending 1999 driving one of Oscar Mayer’s “wacky promotional vehicles,” the Weinermobile, for $21,000. With more recent TV writing credits on Malcolm in the Middle and Family Guy to his name, he’s free to recap the disenchantment of his college years fed up with journalism school and living the life of a pessimistic, directionless underachiever. Desperate for postgraduate employment, Ihlenfeld answered an Oscar Mayer open call for Weinermobile drivers eager to “travel the Hot Dog Highways.” He was hired after a succession of interviews at their Wisconsin headquarters which, he humorously offers, “smell[ed] like bacon.” Much to his surprise, he received spirited encouragement from his parents and a happily energetic crew of fellow Hotdoggers like driving partner Ali and “super-hot chick” Sofia. Ihlenfeld’s satirical travelogue brims with wit, humor, chapters of hotdog history and puns galore. He shuffles readers though adventures in processed meat at the “Hot Dog High” two-week boot-camp training and chronicles the challenges of navigating the sweltering, breakdown-prone vehicle through the hills and valleys of California and the Southwest. Random acts of carnality and conciliatory camaraderie soothe frustrating months on a job that soon lost its initial appeal, but Ihlenfeld kept his wild and crazy year on the road churning through hemorrhoids, a bailout at Mardi Gras and Europe with new partner Tammy. The inspiring conclusion finds the author gratefully equipped with mobile-marketing savvy and a newfound self-confidence, the marks of a well-traveled “Hotdogger.”
Lighthearted fare from a resilient road warrior.