Doug Klassen is one of many avid Wienermobile collectors. He recently gave us some insights into his collection.
Fast Food: How did you first start collecting Wienermobile items?
Doug Klassen: In the mid '90s I was visiting a toy and collectable show with some friends. My son was young and keen to look for Star Wars stuff. Passing a table of assorted toy items I saw a Wienermobile coin bank sitting there for sale. It made me smile and I couldn't resist picking it up. It brought back fond memories of my childhood in the '50s and '60s when TV ads showed the Wienermobile rolling up and the announcer saying "Hey kids! It's Little Oscar!" Having spent $7.00 on worse things I bought the bank just for fun.
Some time later at another show I spotted a second Wienermobile bank but it was of a slightly different style than the first one I'd bought. It seemed to make sense to have one of each. It has all been downhill from there. Banks, HotWheel cars, Wienermobile boxer shorts, and the almost anything branded with the Wienermobile on it came home with me over the years.
FF: How large is your collection?
DK: To be honest, I've lost count as to how many items I have now. I know it's something past seventy different Wienermobile cars in various forms and another thirty to fifty additional items from computer disks to cast iron frying pans. Many are put away, too much stuff to display in the living room. OK, I don't think there is too much to display but my wife refuses to take down the family pictures and keepsakes to make room for any more Wienermobiles than about a dozen or so at one time.
FF: What are some of the more unusual items in the collection?
DK: The special items in the collection are those that are not normally offered to the general public, internal or corporate promotional items made either officially or unofficially for distribution to employees and VIPs.
FF: Do you have a favorite item?
DK: Once you get past collecting the regularly available items like the coin banks, then the more obscure or limited items become of interest. I have two favorite items. The first is a Wienermobile driver's (more properly called a "Hot Dogger") embroidered knit jersey from the early 1990s.
The other items would be a pewter Christmas ornament that was never offered to the general public but appears to be a corporate gift for, I would suppose, important customers and vendors. I received an e-mail one time from someone at Oscar Mayer who said "Holy cow! You've got stuff I've never seem before!"
My most treasured item is an original Wienermobile toy from the early 1950s with it's original box. As with many collectibles, it's not always that difficult to find an item, finding it with the original box is a special treat. I thought I was crazy to pay $175 for it but I've seen one sell since then on Ebay for $350.
FF: Is there a specific Wienermobile collectible that you don't have that you really want?
DK: The one item I'd really like to have is a pewter diorama featuring the Wienermobile with the Hot Doggers and some kids. I've only ever seen one on Ebay and I got out bid. There have been three or four editions of the Wienermobile as a pedal car but they are very bulky and I have a small home so really cannot display them hence I have never bought them.
FF: Any advice for future Wienermobile collectors?
DK: Wienermobiles are about smiles. I've never shown someone my Wienermobile collection and not seen them smile. Don't bother to collect for any perceived monetary value or appreciation, collect for the smiles. I once gave a Wienermobile bank as a gift to a friend who had done me a favor. He has a collection of very fine antique clocks and watches displayed in his home. He said originally he set the Wienermobile bank there amongst the timepieces but people would walk in, gaze at the wall of mechanical art, and exclaim "Hey, a Wienermobile!" His timepiece collection could not stand up to the sheer charisma of a Wienermobile. He finally moved the Wienermobile to a less prominent place in his home. Like I said, collect for the smiles.
To see more of Doug's collection visit his website: