February 11, 2008
By George Osgood, Star-Gazette Wellsboro Bureau
The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile slid off U.S. Route 15 south of Mansfield on Sunday afternoon.
MANSFIELD -- Let's be frank: motor vehicle accidents aren't much fun for anyone. But when a 27-foot-long tube-steak spins out on a snow-covered highway, it's bound to generate some grins.
That's what happened Sunday to an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile on Route 15 about two miles south of Mansfield (at least it didn't roll over).
The growler contained two "hotdoggers" -- driver Emily Volpini, 22, of Lexington, Ky., and Caylen Goudie, 22, of Hinsdale, Ill. Although they didn't relish the experience, they weren't hurt, investigating state Trooper Rex Johnson said.
"Hotdoggers" are goodwill ambassadors for Kraft Foods and Oscar Mayer. There are 12 of them in the country -- two for each of the six Wienermobiles. They spend a year on the job traveling around the country. Part of their job is to recruit their replacements.
On Friday and Saturday, Volpini and Goudie and the iconic frankfurter were at Syracuse University, fulfilling the promise to the winner of "A Weekend with the Wienermobile" contest. Sunday morning, the women and the wiener on wheels headed south toward Penn State, where they will try to recruit candidates for the 2008-09 hotdoggers from a stable of Nittany Lion hopefuls.
Mother Nature intervened, though briefly, at 12:20 p.m., putting the plastic porksicle on the median and out of service.
"We thought we had come out of the blizzard," Goudie said. "We thought we were through it. Then we hit a patch of ice. The Wienermobile weighs 7,000 pounds, so usually ice and snow isn't much of a problem. It was this time."
Stuck, Volpini called 911 dispatchers in Wellsboro. Though skeptical at first, they notified state police at Mansfield. As passersby called in the crash on cell phones, the dispatchers became convinced that the barkburger was indeed in hot water.
Police contacted Dave Kurzejewski of Costy's Truck and Auto Mart, and he showed up in short order with a heavy four-wheel-drive vehicle and some chains. Johnson, the trooper, grilled the women briefly and concluded that a routine and sober spinout was all he had on his plate.
Kurzejewski hooked up and Emily fired up the highway hot dog, and a few well-timed tugs later, the Wienermobile was back on the highway.
For Kurzejewski, veteran of hundreds of tows over the years, Sunday's experience was a new one.
"I've pulled out a lot of vehicles," he said. "But that's the first wiener I've ever pulled out."
It was a first for the women, too. They left none the wurst for wear. "Usually we try to keep from scratching our buns," Goudie said. "But sometimes, things go wrong."