IT WAS THE best of times, it was the wurst of times, as hot dog lovers took the opportunity to relish the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile on its Bay Area visit recently.

The bright yellow-and-orange vehicle shaped like a hot dog on a bun is a rolling promotion for Oscar Mayer, the well-known purveyor of meat and cold cuts. It was on display at the Cow Palace in Daly City this past Thursday and Friday, followed by weekend appearances in Martinez and Fremont.

“It’s an icon. It’s a classic,” said Joey Mucha of San Francisco, who stopped by the Wienermobile Friday with his wife Jane Lee and their children Leo, 3, and Milo, 9 months.

“We saw it when we drove into the parking lot and knew exactly what it was,” said Mucha, who came to the Cow Palace for the Spring Carnival, a fair in the parking lot with offerings including cotton candy and a roller coaster.

The Wienermobile was parked just outside the carnival entrance, an 11-foot-tall (24 hot dogs high) outsized precursor to the frankfurters many carnivalgoers would likely consume once inside.

“I think it’s absolutely beautiful,” said carnivalgoer Alissa Thomas of San Francisco as her daughter Alise peeked inside the vehicle.

The interior of the Wienermobile features six red-and-yellow seats, a google-eyed hot dog pillow with a squiggle of mustard, and a horn that blasts the official Oscar Mayer Jingle. (Janis Mara/Bay City News)

And what an inside it is. While the sweeping 27-foot-long exterior features a frankfurter atop a yellow bun, the inside is a cross between a cheesy 1970s van and a hot dog stand.

There are six red-and-yellow seats, a google-eyed hot dog pillow with a squiggle of mustard and a horn that blasts the official Oscar Mayer Jingle (“Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener. …”)

Sporting the license plate OSCRMYR, the Wienermobile at the Cow Palace is one of six spreading the word — or perhaps, cutting the mustard — promoting the company around the country.

“I’ve seen it a bunch of times on the Internet and TV. It looks awesome in person,” said Stan Xiao of San Francisco, who visited the vehicle with his son.

A cure for Depression

Oscar Mayer has cranked out a multiplicity of TV ads and promotions with the vehicle for many decades.

“The Wienermobile was born in 1936 during the Depression,” said Clara Adams, an Oregon resident who drives OSCRMYR around the country with her coworker, Chad Colgrove of Idaho. It’s a year-long gig for Hotdoggers, as the drivers are called.

“My great-grandfather Martin Adams worked on the Golden Gate Bridge during the Depression. It was a thrill driving the Wienermobile over the bridge,” Adams said.

Isis Wilson, 8, shyly extended her hand and Adams handed her a red “I saw it!” sticker bearing an image of the Wienermobile as the youngster’s mother, Jiavani Haynes of San Francisco, looked on.

Isis Wilson, 8, of San Francisco poses with the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile in the parking lot of the Cow Palace in Daly City on April 28, 2023. (Janis Mara/Bay City News)

Even the CEO of the Cow Palace, Allison Keaney, dropped by Friday. In a sweeping understatement, Keaney noted, “There aren’t too many companies that have a vehicle like this.”

Frankly, most people assume that the hot dog is uniquely American, but the aptly named Frankfort, Germany, claims to be the originator and celebrated the hot dog’s 500th birthday in 1987, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council.

A standard beef hot dog is 190 calories and has seven grams of protein and 30 percent of the daily value of Vitamin B12, a crucial nutrient for normal metabolism, brain development in children and mental clarity in adults, the council asserts.

“We saw it when we drove into the parking lot and knew exactly what it was.”

Joey Mucha, Wienermobile fan

A Marin County-based doctor who has published books on nutrition doesn’t quite see it that way.

“The sodium in hot dogs is associated with high blood pressure,” said Dr. Albert Goldberg, who has authored books including, “Feed Your Body Right: From Birth Through Adulthood.

“Children who regularly eat a high-sodium diet including lunch meats and highly processed foods often don’t show the results until they are older,” Goldberg said. “Hot dogs are unhealthy for many reasons.”

A healthy outlook

Goldberg’s pronouncements are credible not only because of his medical degree; he is 91, hale and hearty, and just returned from a safari.

On the other hand, the doctor confessed that he does love some hot dogs, an indication that moderation may be the key.

“Yes, I do eat unhealthy foods at times and endure my wife’s eye-rolling,” the doctor admitted. “At age 91 I take liberties.”

The only hot dogs to be found in the Wienermobile are either plush, fiberglass or plastic, so there’s no sodium, no calories and no harm involved, only fun and a juicy photo op.

Folks who missed the sausage sedan in the Bay Area can find out where it will pop up in the future by checking out the interactive locator map on the company’s website.