Do you wish you were an Oscar Mayer weiner?
Oscar Mayer has worked its way into American pop culture in more ways than you might realize. With its indelible jingles to its Weinermobiles to its innovations in the world of bacon and cold cuts, this company has become nothing short of a household name. How exactly did a Chicago sausage shop turn into a cultural powerhouse? Read on to find out.
Yes, there was a real Oscar Mayer; In 1873, at the age of 14, he emigrated to the United States from Germany and became an apprentice at various German butcher shops in Detroit and Chicago before opening his own Chicago shop around the turn of the last century with the help of his brothers Gottfried and Max. Their sausages, which included bockwurst, liverwurst, and weisswurst made using Gottfried's recipes, were so popular that crowds lined up to purchase them on a daily basis and their delivery business stretched to all corners of Chicago.
In 1904, the Mayer brothers found themselves faced with a problem: their product was so popular that other companies were trying to pass off their inferior product as Oscar Mayer's. To combat this, the company did something revolutionary: They became one of the first meat packers to stamp a brand onto their products. They were also one of the first to voluntarily have their products federally approved after the Food Safety Inspection Service was created in 1906.
By laying the groundwork for success in the early years of the twentieth century, through embracing new ideas and maintaining high quality, Oscar Mayer was (consciously or not) setting the stage to become one of America's leading brand names in packaged meat products. Through some savvy marketing moves and technological innovations, the company worked its way into American culture, and is still a juggernaut, existing today under the Kraft Foods umbrella and found in nearly every supermarket in the country. Read on to learn 10 things you might not have known about Oscar Mayer.
They Embraced Marketing and Advertising from the Beginning
This actually looks pretty awesome.
Oscar Mayer knew the power of name recognition, and that definitely was part of the inspiration to begin branding all their meat products. They also took to sponsoring local events from their earliest days, including the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.
They Invented Packaged and Sliced Bacon
Today they sell several bacon varieties.
Before Oscar Mayer came along, bacon was sold in slabs and had to be sliced by the in-store butcher. But in 1924, the company began selling shingled sliced bacon placed in a cardboard frame and wrapped in cellophane. This innovation elevated Oscar Mayer from a small player in the bacon business to a major presence, and the majority of packaged bacon is still sold in this format today.
The Yellow Band was a Secret to Their Success
Before 1929, there was no way to differentiate one hot dog brand from another, because all hot dogs look the same and the majority of them were sold in bulk with no branding or packaging. In order to make their wieners stand out, Oscar Mayer began wrapping all of them with a yellow paper band imprinted with the name of the company and a government inspection stamp. This made the brand instantly recognizable, and was a huge sales booster. Today's packaging still incorporates that trademark yellow band.
There are Six Wienermobiles
The Wienermobile first hit the road in Chicago in 1936, and is one of the great marketing tactics of all time. Today there are six of them across the country, each traveling about 1,000 miles every week. You can even follow them on Twitter!
You can Apply to be a Wienermobile Driver
Want to become a "Hotdogger"? The company is accepting resumes through January for drivers, who will also serve as goodwill ambassadors and their "own traveling public relations firm." "Applicants should have a BA or BS, preferably in public relations, journalism, communications, advertising, or marketing."
Dan Myers, The Daily Meal