8 Of The Most Iconic Food Vehicles

It's not just the Wienermobile—there are lots of ridiculous cars that hit the road to promote snacks and drinks.

Everyone remembers their first Wienermobile sighting. Maybe you were driving down the highway with friends and it suddenly appeared on the horizon: a gleaming hot dog that's 11 feet tall, 27 feet long, and 8 feet wide. The unmistakable red and yellow of America's favorite giant frank on wheels is always a thrill to encounter. Why travel to a roadside attraction when it can drive to you?

Brands talk a lot about "meeting consumers where they are," but they usually mean that metaphorically. Some food companies, meanwhile, have made this commitment more literal by putting kooky vehicles on the road to dispense free samples and sow pure, unadulterated joy. With all the newfangled AI-powered research-backed marketing approaches out there, it's worth appreciating the simple pleasures of spotting a multi-ton Goldfish cracker cruising down the road at 55 miles an hour. They might be marketing ploys, but these promotional vehicles are forever parked in our hearts.

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

Oscar's nephew Carl Mayer came up with the Wienermobile concept in 1936, designing a vehicle that could drive around the Chicago area handing out hot dogs. For much of the 20th century, the brand hired multiple people to portray "Little Oscar," who would don a chef's hat and drive the Wienermobile around to pass out wiener whistles. (The character was retired in 1987.) The whistles, invented in 1952, were meant as a fun keepsake for kids, but they could also be used as a warning signal if you ever see the sausage slide out of control: A Wienermobile did hit ice in 2015 and crashed into a utility pole (luckily no one was hurt). The potential for dangerous roads hasn't deterred potential drivers, though. Oscar Mayer receives 1,000 to 1,500 applications for the 12 available Wienermobile positions each year. Those chosen few get to train at Hot Dog High in Madison, Wisconsin before hitting the road.

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The Good Humor Truck

A little less funky, but just as beloved, is the Good Humor truck. Soon after Harry Burt created the Good Humor bar, he started selling them out of freezer- and bell-equipped trucks. But you know who has a very poor sense of humor? Old-timey gangsters who don't receive the $5,000 protection money they demand. Mobsters destroyed part of the Chicago Good Humor truck fleet in 1929 when the company refused to pay. Alas, Good Humor gave up the road show and sold its vehicles in 1976 to focus on grocery store sales. The trucks sold for $1,000 to $3,000 each. If you're feeling nostalgic, there's a 1965 Ford F-250 Good Humor truck for sale right now with a $86,995 asking price.

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The Planters Nutmobile

Much like a wiener, the shape of a peanut shell lends itself well to a bus-like design. Nearly identical in size to the Wienermobile, the Planters NUTmobile debuted in 1935 and is manned by "Peanutters" who drive Mr. Peanut around the country. A Nutmobile was transformed into an INN a NUTshell retreat (help) in 2021, allowing people to book a night in the vehicle, which was outfitted as a sort of snack-themed fever dream camper.

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Hershey’s Kissmobile Cruiser

As if 2020 weren't glum enough, it's also the year that Hershey chose to retire the whimsical Kissmobile. "We made this decision out of safety for our employees and the public," a spokesman for the company told PennLive. "It has become increasingly difficult to safely maintain the Kissmobiles due to their aging condition and the increasing difficulty in sourcing suitable replacement parts for these custom vehicles." (Imagine your loved ones having to say "death by chocolate" with a straight face.) The 26-foot-long Kissmobiles featured three kisses and debuted in 1997. In addition to giving out samples, the Kissmobiles also raised donations and awareness for the Children's Miracle Network. You can still see the Kissmobile at the The AACA Museum, which is—surprise!—in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

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Budweiser Clydesdales

Some people celebrate with flowers, others with fireworks. But brewer August A. Busch Sr.'s sons celebrated the end of Prohibition by gifting their father with a beer wagon pulled by six Clydesdales. The horses became the stars of a promotional tour in New England and the Mid-Atlantic region, and even delivered Budweiser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Anheuser-Busch has been breeding its own Clydesdales since 1953, and this year's foals, Barron, Sergeant, Stinger, and Razor, even hosted a Super Bowl LVII watch party. For $100, guests could watch the game on big screens, get photos with the horses, and have appetizers, dinner, and two 16-ounce beers. Not a bad deal, considering $100 is roughly what two beers cost at the Super Bowl itself.

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Red Bull MINI Cooper

If you ever saw one of these silver MINI Coopers roll onto campus, you could save your roommate's Adderall prescription for another time—a few free Red Bulls are all the ammo you'd need to stay up all night finishing that term paper. The Red Bull Wings marketing team drives around in these shiny vehicles, each distributing cans of Red Bull from the car's cooler, which unfortunately is not located inside the large can affixed to the roof of the retrofitted MINI. For as ubiquitous as these cars have been—there are allegedly hundreds of them on the road—there's a surprising lack of public information about them. But our mid-2000s memories will forever be punctuated by Wings Team members with flat-ironed hair and BlackBerry phones generously providing free cans of Red Bull to dudes playing a game of pickup basketball.

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Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Mobile

The Goldfish Mobile is the 13-foot-high, 22-foot-long cracker that once rolled around in its signature sunglasses on an unforgettable Miles of Smiles tour, an event that showered the American public in free samples of Goldfish and other Pepperidge Farm snacks. It's unclear whether the company still busts out the Goldfish Mobile on special occasions, but you can get a feel for what a stop on the tour looked like—and how unenthusiastic one of the vehicle's khaki-visored drivers was about his job—in this video from the early aughts.

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Liquid Death Thirst Hearse

The Liquid Death brand goes hard on its whole "Murder Your Thirst" shtick (is simply "hydrating" for wimps?), and so it created a Thirst Hearse to distribute samples and promote its product. You can request that the branded funereal vehicle appear at your event (so long as it's in Los Angeles), and we'll assume the casket in the back is actually a cooler for the canned waters. We only wonder if the interior is lined with these $58 Martha Stewart x Liquid Death Dismembered Moments Candles. Nothing is certain in life except death and Martha Stewart brand collabs.

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