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Huge hot dog sighting in East Bremerton

It’s a car!

It’s a truck!

It’s . . . a huge hot dog on wheels?

Yes, it’s true, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile actually exists.

It rolled in to Garguile’s Red Apple supermarket parking lot last Friday, leaving grown adults with their mouths hanging open and little children hiding behind their parents’ legs.

Even the bearded Santa Claus rose from his store front seat to stare at the supernatural shape.

It was bigger than many people expected.

The relish-colored interior left a couple men stunned and others groping for a better view.

One of the most famous of all product-shaped promotional vehicles, the 27-foot-long, 5-ton hot dog is touring the nation, just like it always has for the past 61 years.

“I saw it on TV from the old days when I was a kid,” Ray England said as he peeked his gray-haired head in a small side window for a glimpse of the front dash. “This is is the second time I have seen it,” he said.

Tamar Gilson said seeing it stirred up childhood memories.

“It reminds me of better times when we weren’t worried about all the things going wrong in the world,” she said.

With her bright blue eyes peering out from underneath a red hat, Regan Schubel handed out Weinerwhistles to the little guys.

The 24-year-old and her fellow coworkers have taken turns driving the huge fiberglass object through 15 states since June 1.

She’s a genuine “hotdogger,” and goes by the name of “Regan Relish.”

With her youthful cheeks and curly brown hair, Schubel is often asked who actually drives the hot dog cruiser. Surely she and her companions can’t be of age.

She rolls her eyes recounting the oft-spoken question.

Schubel is actually one top tog.

She was one of 100 Weiner-wannabees who applied for the year-long position.

Only a handful cut the mustard.

Most hotdoggers are recent college graduates with degrees in Journalism and Communications.

They go through a two-week course where they learn how to drive the machine and memorize the answers to the questions most people ask.

“Adults ask us what the vehicle is made of. They give us funny looks when we drive down the road. We get the question of ‘Where is your base? Where are you from?’ ” Schubel explained.

And the kids?

“A lot of times the kids think it is an airplane. They want to touch it. They want to eat it. It really makes the kids hungry. They want hot dogs after they see it.”

Schubel learned about the Weinermobile in high school. She was bored on a writing assignment and looked it up on the Web. She found out most applicants had a college degree, so she made up her mind to pursue it after she jumped through that hoop.

Some condiments of the job are the $400 weekly paycheck and the opportunity to make people smile.

“I remember the first time I ever got in the Weinermobile, we were just driving down the road and it just automatically made me feel good. I was just thinking ‘I have the best job in the world,’ ” she remembered.

She thinks the adults appreciate it more than the children. Some times spouses will tell the hotdoggers they have never seen their husband or wife act so giddy.

“I didn’t realize how much you would be travelling (as a hotdogger),” Schubel said. “We live out of suitcases; it’s a really crazy lifestyle. Being that we’re on the road all the time we eat at restaurants all the time, and that gets tiring after a while.”

Schubel has trouble slipping in exercise. She hates the workout rooms at the hotels, and sometimes pops out on a morning jog just to smell the outside air and experience city parks.

But hotdoggers are never lonely.

People invite them over to their houses for dinner, or for birthday parties. Sometimes they will get into concerts for free.

“The only time we’ve gotten pulled over is when police officers want to look in a while. Every once in a while that will happen. We always get a little nervous, but it’s really just to look inside and get a little whistle,” Schubel said with a matter-of-fact smile.

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