Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
German immigrant Oscar Mayer began working at a meat market in Detroit, Michigan and then later in Chicago, Illinois. In 1883 in Chicago, Oscar Mayer leased the Kolling Meat Market along with his brother, Gottfried Mayer. The two brothers sold bratwurst, liverwurst and weisswurst and were very popular in the predominantly German neighborhood of Chicago where the market was located.
As the meat market grew in popularity, it expanded its storefront and sponsored local events including the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. By 1900, the company had 43 employees and a Chicago-wide delivery service. In 1904, Oscar Mayer began branding their meats to capitalize on their popularity, beginning an industry-wide trend. In 1906, Oscar Mayer became one of the first companies to voluntarily submit to the newly-created Food Safety Inspection Service (part of the United States Department of Agriculture) for testing the purity of their products.
Oscar Mayer & Co. embraced new vehicles to advertise their product, quite literally with the 1936 introduction of Oscar Mayer's trademark Wienermobile, automobiles shaped like giant hot dogs that bore the Oscar Mayer name. The distinctive vehicles were very popular and are still used by Oscar Mayer today. The drivers of the Wienermobile, called "Hotdoggers," learn to drive this famous vehicle at Hot Dog High in Madison, Wisconsin. In that same year, Oscar Mayer also introduced their ambassador, "Little Oscar" who would tour the country in the Wienermobile, stopping at local retailers, and visiting children in schools and hospitals, distributing Wienerwhistles, toy replicas of the Wienermobile that are also a whistle.
The Wienermobile has been a wild success, proving to be a unique means advertising and marketing. In 2004, Oscar Mayer announced a contest whereby customers could win US $5,000 and the right to use the Wienermobile for a day. Within a month, the contest had generated over 15,000 entries.
Oscar Mayer also embraced the medium of television, sponsoring its first television show in 1950. It wasn't until 1963, however, that Oscar Mayer's first trademark jingle was created. The Oscar Mayer Wiener Jingle gained wide notoriety among children and has become one of the longest-running commercial jingles still in use. The simple lyrics, often sung by children in Oscar Mayer's commercials, are still widely known by many children today:
- Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener.
- That is what I'd truly like to be.
- 'Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener,
- Ev'ryone would be in love with me.
In 1976, Oscar Mayer also created a second popular jingle to promote their bologna products called the "Oscar Mayer Bologna Song."
- My bologna has a first name, it's O-S-C-A-R.
- My bologna has a second name, it's M-A-Y-E-R.
- Oh, I love to eat it everyday, and if you ask me why, I'll say,
- "'Cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A."
The two songs have become a part of American culture and many parodies of the two popular jingles have been made, including many bawdy versions.
Oscar Mayer today
By 1971, Oscar Mayer & Co., based in Madison, Wisconsin, went public. In 1989, Oscar Mayer merged with Kraft Foods to become part of the largest food company in North America. Today, the company has many consumer products, their deli meats, ham, turkey and bologna, hot dogs, corn dogs, bacon and they also provide the meats for Kraft's line of Lunchables products. For 20 years, Oscar Mayer has also owned the Louis Rich brand of turkey products and now sells Louis Rich under the Oscar Mayer label.
Kraft Foods is now a subsidiary of Altria Group, formerly known as Phillip Morris.
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