October 06, 2022
Local News

'Crazy coincidence': Woodstock native selected for driving Oscar Mayer Wienermobile across America

Job similar to grandmother's monthlong role in 1957

Becoming a "hotdogger" for Oscar Mayer and driving one of the company's six famous Wienermobiles across the country was in Woodstock native Katie Ferguson's blood.

Her grandmother Nancy Keegan in 1957 had a similar monthlong job promoting July as National Hot Dog month, traveling by plane to present a gold-plated hot dog to governors of western states.

Keegan, now a resident of Richland Center, Wisconsin, was a high school English teacher when she took the part-time summer gig for the Chicago-based manufacturer of hot dog casings.

When she was informed of the opportunity by a friend, she was incredulous.

"I laughed and I said, 'Are you kidding?' It's only one month, so I said, 'Sure,'" Keegan said.

She said her granddaughter mentioned the family history of hot dog enthusiasm in her bid to get hired by Oscar Mayer for the duty of wheeling the Wienermobile through Nebraska, Colorado and Idaho.

"It was such a crazy coincidence that Katie would happen to do that," Keegan said.

After this weekend, Ferguson, going by the name Ketchup Katie while on duty, is heading from Idaho to Utah to continue showing up with the well-known, 27-foot vehicle.

"Anytime I saw the Wienermobile, I would think of my grandma," Ferguson said.

Her job consists of taking the Wienermobile to events such as weddings and festivals, as well as grocery store promotions.

"Our mission is to drive miles with smiles," Ferguson said. "Right now, Americans need a reason to smile more than ever."

Ferguson graduated from Woodstock High School in 2016 and completed undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri this year, before she was hired by Oscar Mayer. Each year, the company selects a dozen college graduates to perform the yearlong paid hotdogger position, assigning a pair to each of its six Wienermobiles, Ferguson said.

It is her "dream job," she said.

"Honestly, I don’t think you can get any more thrilling than driving down the highway in a 27-foot-long hot dog," she said. "The reactions we get from people never fail. They ask us so many questions. We like to say the Wienermobile is the celebrity, and we’re its bodyguards."

After her yearlong stint with the Wienermobile, Ferguson hopes to move to Colorado and work in adventure sports media.

"My parents knew I would never have a desk job," she said.

Sam Lounsberry

Sam Lounsberry

Sam Lounsberry is a former Northwest Herald who covered local government, business, K-12 education and all other aspects of life in McHenry County, in particular in the communities of Woodstock, McHenry, Richmond, Spring Grove, Wonder Lake and Johnsburg.