Today an adventure-filled trip to Van Nuys ended happily with an up-close encounter with one of the fleet of world-famous Wienermobiles. This one, with the license plate “RELSHME” sat festooned with pennants in the parking lot of a Lucky (née Alberton’s) grocery market. It’s drivers, the Wiener Women, handed out Oscar Mayer wiener whistles and took photographs of civilians in front of the sleek, sausage-shaped vehicle.
When I was child — as the Pink Floyds sing so mournfully — I had one of the original Oscar Mayer wiener whistles. It was the shape of a hot dog — no wheels, no bun, no anything; just the dog. The temptation to swallow it was too great for many unfortunate youngsters, and so the toy was withdrawn for safety’s sake. My own minimalist whistle was swept away with the years that took my innocence, and I was left with only the later version, a whistle with a wide, less ingestible base, to console my old age.
The child-safe wiener whistle has never fully satisfied. It looks funny, wrong, not wienery at all. To make matters worse, it’s music is harsh and unpleasant. Those faults have been set right in the latest version handed to me by a Wiener Woman in Van Nuys. In the photo above, you can compare the wide-based, child-proofed whistle on the left, with the 2010 model on the right. Note the improved coloration of the new one, as well as the more realistic rendering of the automobile body. The whistle’s tone, as everyone around me these past few hours can attest, is sweet and loud.