Finally, They've Changed The Cringe Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Name

While long-established brands don't go changing their names every day, it has been known to happen from time to time, whether for obvious reasons like Aunt Jemima's egregious racial stereotype or more obscure ones like Kentucky Fried Chicken's rebranding as KFC — which is complicated, but you get those juicy details here. The most recent change rocking the food world is Oscar Mayer's decision to rename their famous hot dog on wheels from the Wienermobile to the Frankmobile. While some folks apparently do not relish the change, with one response on Twitter boldly claiming, "It'll never last!" However, we feel it's long past time to ditch the Wienermobile's cringeworthy name. 

The vehicle was known as Wienermobile ever since its debut in 1936,so, was this a more innocent era when the word wiener didn't elicit so many snickers? Or, did Oscar Mayer actually intend the name to be a covert dirty joke all along? Let's be frank — when someone says the word wiener, hot dogs are probably the third thing that springs to mind (the second one would likely be an adorable dog breed more properly known as the dachshund). Yes, Merriam-Webster does define a wiener as a type of sausage, but even this august institution also lists that other definition ... you know, the one that doesn't exactly work for family-friendly advertising. The dictionary adds yet another definition, that of "an awkward, weak, or ineffectual person," which is also not something you'd want to build a sales campaign around.

Oscar Mayer claims a much more boring reason for the name change

So, why did Oscar Mayer adopt a new handle after all these years? The company is making no reference to any of the former name's negative connotations. Instead, it claims the new name is simply meant to highlight the fact that its all-beef franks have been beefed up with a brand-new formula. Bore-ing. Of course, it's unlikely that Oscar Mayer would actually make some big announcement that, after 87 years, it finally realized Wienermobile was a pretty embarrassing name, after all.

It seems that the former Wienermobiles haven't really been changed too much apart from the name. Sure, there are now decals labeling each one The All Beef Frank Frankmobile, but surely the other changes — such as calling the drivers Frankfurters instead of Hotdoggers and renaming Wiener Whistles to Frank Whistles — are something that makes no difference to anyone not employed by Oscar Mayer. There is one group of people, however, who may have a vested interest in this name change: Anyone named Frank, Frankie, Francesca, Françoise, or anything else Frank-derived can get a coupon for free frankfurters if they encounter the Frankmobile and present their I.D. to the Frankfurter in charge.

A wiener by any other name

What is your preferred name for hot dogs? While we haven't been able to find any linguistic data on the subject (although admittedly we didn't scour every last corner of the internet), it seems to us that most people just call them hot dogs. Both wiener and frankfurter, however, seem to be more old-fashioned terms and are ones we've generally encountered only in a context where other ingredients are also involved: franks and beans, beanie weenies, etc.

One interesting thing about the last two names, though, is that they speak to different origins of the same (or a very similar) sausage. Frankfurter refers to something from Frankfurt, Germany, whereas wiener is short for wienerwurst, which is the German for Vienna sausage. Yes, just like those yucky little finger-shaped pink things that come in cans. Eww, that's yet one more negative connotation for the name. While there may have originally been differences in composition that would indicate whether something was a wiener or frankfurter, both terms today are basically synonymous with the all-American hot dog. Why Oscar Mayer isn't just going with Hot Dog Mobile, we'll never know, but perhaps it feels this is too generic a term to make its meat fleet of giant motorized sausages stand out.

We're hoping Oscar Mayer sticks with the new name

The Frankmobile name was adopted as part of a publicity campaign, so there's a chance that it's only temporary, a la iHOP's infamous iHOb debacle or M&M's supposed rebranding as Ma&Ya's during its spokescandies' brief hiatus. Oscar Mayer itself is not committing to the name change one way or the other, with a spokesperson merely referring to the new moniker as something the company is "trying out to see if it cuts the mustard with its fans," (via WPRI).

We're kind of hoping that Oscar Mayer will adopt the name on a permanent basis as Frankmobile has the same old-timey association as Wienermobile with none of its cringe. As an added bonus, the new name has a direct appeal to a larger segment of the population. At last count, there were approximately 977,000 people with the first name of Frank in the U.S. as well as an additional 102,000+ with that last name and this stands in sharp contrast to just 7,300 or so who go by Wiener. Still, it remains to be seen how the rebranding will fly after the Frankmobiles spend the summer cruising the highways and byways. If customers give the new nomenclature a chili (dog) reception, we presume the fleet will revert back to being the Wienermobiles of yore.