A central Iowa woman says she “relishes” the unusual job she’s landed, driving a giant orange hot dog 500-miles a week across the Midwest. Michele Norton is piloting the 27-foot-long Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, one of six on America’s roads, stopping at parades, festivals and grocery stores to promote the consumption of hot dogs. The 22-year-old from Johnston just graduated from the University of Iowa and says it’s a bizarre life being the center of attention wherever she goes, saying “We’re constantly getting our pictures taken when we’re driving down the streets or the interstates. It’s great. It’s a very fun experience.” Norton’s vehicle first hit the road in 1996. It only gets about ten to 15 miles to the gallon, is 60 hot dogs long.Norton says “I just wanted to see the country, and this was a great opportunity. Many of my friends have had a hard time landing a job after graduation and I feel lucky that I’ve got such a great job.” Don’t flag down the Weinermobile looking for a hot dog hand-out. She says it’s a common misconception that they give out the dogs, they do give out weiner whistles, bean bags, postcards, stickers and other “Wienermobilia.” Radio Iowa was able to “ketchup” with Norton at a stop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and she’s driving the big vehicle to Chicago this weekend. Norton agreed to a one-year contract, working June to June. She’s not sure what she’ll do for a career when the time comes to move on from the Wienermobile, but remains confident something will come along. Wienermobiles have been around since 1936 and Norton’s believed to be only the second Iowan to land the job. She plans to drive the five-ton hot dog in the U-of-I Homecoming Parade this fall, tossing out hundreds of wiener whistles.
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