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Crystal Lake native brings home Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

Brandon Mazzaferro is a little over half way done with his time as Wienermobile driver.

Brandon Mazzaferro of Crystal Lake and the driver of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile visits with customers outside Mariano's in Crystal Lake on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022.

It’s not anyone’s typical first job out of college, but driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile around the country has been a great experience for Brandon Mazzaferro of Crystal Lake.

“It’s the best job ever,” Mazzaferro said.

On Sunday, Mazzaferro, 23, brought the Wienermobile by Mariano’s in Crystal Lake as one of his marketing stops throughout the country. He visited with customers, handed out whistles, and tried to pass along some happiness to residents in his home town.

“It’s just so cool to kind of make the whole community happy with something that so silly, but in a time like this, it’s really important to have those things that are around just for fun,” Mazzaferro said. “The Wienermobile was invented during the Great Depression to cheer people up and bringing it back during a pandemic is really cool and I’m glad I get to make people happy.”

Brandon Mazzaferro of Crystal Lake and the driver of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile visits with customers outside Mariano's in Crystal Lake on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022.

Mazzaferro, a 2017 graduate of Crystal Lake South High School, started the job last June after graduating from the University of Alabama. He is one of 12 people driving six Wienermobiles around the country. He was chosen from a pool of over 4,000 applicants.

“At first I kind of applied as a joke,” he said. “I thought it was a job where you’re kind of driving all day every day; I wasn’t serious about it at first. But then I went to the info session and found out that your job is actually just making people happy all day and going to events.”

A typical week for Mazzaferro involves driving to a new city on Monday, taking Tuesday and Wednesday off to explore the new city, and attending marketing events Thursday through Sunday. Last weekend he was in Des Moines and will head to Madison, Wisconsin next.

Oscar Mayer receives about 10,000 requests for appearances each year, Mazzaferro said. His bosses, Ed and Dorothy from “Hotdog High” in Madison, process through the requests and assign the drivers groups of marketing events.

“You’ve got to be a pretty lucky dog to get in, but everyone should give it a shot because having the Wienermobile pull up to your house is a pretty magical day,” he said.

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile outside Mariano's in Crystal Lake on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022.

A lot of practice goes into learning how to drive the giant hot dog around the country, Mazzaferro said. They practice driving techniques for hours and must pass a driving test before they can hit the road.

“It’s very intimidating at first,” he said. “It’s a very expensive, iconic vehicle and when you get behind the wheel at first, you’re like ‘oh no, I better not crash.’”

The job has given Mazzaferro a chance to go to events all over the country. He’s been to the birthday party of a dog that serves as honorary mayor of a Colorado town, seen his favorite rapper in Spokane, Washington, and drove the giant hot dog around Los Angeles.

“We did a cool promotion [in L.A.] as an Uber and the Wienermobile would come pick them up and surprise them,” Mazzaferro said.

His favorite trips in his journey around America have been the ones that brought him back to places he has lived. A few weeks after his stop in Crystal Lake, he will bring it to the University of Alabama campus.

“These are probably the two visits I’m most excited about,” he said. “Bringing it back home and then bringing it to my college.”

Brandon Mazzaferro of Crystal Lake and the driver of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile with his wiener dog, Reggie, outside Mariano's in Crystal Lake on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022.

Being able to share it with his own community Sunday was a special moment for him.

“It just doesn’t feel real,” Mazzaferro said. “Four years ago I was living here, going to Crystal Lake South, playing football. I went to this Mariano’s every now and then and now I’m back with a giant 27-foot hot dog.”

Several people at a time took pictures with the vehicle outside the grocery story Sunday as Mazzaferro told people about the vehicle and handed out Oscar Mayer “wiener whistles.”

This stop home was particularly special for Mazzaferro, who is driving the Wienermobile in honor of his mom, who died from cancer last year.

“When she finished school, she went out west and followed her dreams and so when I got this opportunity, it was almost magical because right when I finished school I got to travel out west and kind of follow in her foot steps,” Mazzaferro said.

Mazzaferro recommends anyone apply for the job and follow their dreams.

“We are hiring right now so if you want to apply make sure to apply before Jan. 31,” he said.

Brandon Mazzaferro of Crystal Lake and the driver of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile visits with customers outside Mariano's in Crystal Lake on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022.