Taylor Gray, also known as Tasty Tay, brought the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile to her hometown of Farmington Hills May 18-23. The vehicle was created in 1936 as a way to make people happy during the Great Depression.

Taylor Gray, also known as Tasty Tay, brought the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile to her hometown of Farmington Hills May 18-23. The vehicle was created in 1936 as a way to make people happy during the Great Depression.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

Behind the Wheel: Oscar Mayer Wienermobile rolls into town

By: Maria Allard | Farmington Press | Published June 23, 2022

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes


FARMINGTON HILLS — Well, hot diggity dog.

Over the last year, Farmington Hills resident Taylor Gray has relished her experience driving across the country in a vehicle 27 feet in length and shaped like a hot dog.

The 2016 North Farmington High School graduate was the driver behind one of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles. The Wienermobile resembles a hot dog on a bun and has been used over the years to advertise Oscar Mayer products. There are six Wienermobiles, in total. Gray drove one of the 2021 models during the past 12 months.

“The Wienermobile started in 1936 with the purpose to make people happy during the Great Depression,” said Gray, 24, who is known as “Tasty Tay” on the road. “That is still what we do.”

In June 2021, Gray began her nationwide excursion inside the colorful Wienermobile and, one year later, is finishing out her trek. Joining her on the journey was co-pilot Nick Ruybalid, better known as Nickaroni And Cheese. On average, the Wienermobiles log about 500 miles per week, and drivers are known as “hotdoggers.” There is a model on display at the Henry Ford in Dearborn.

The Wienermobiles tour the country and stop at different events as attractions. Gray brought the hot dog on wheels home to Farmington Hills May 18-23. On May 21, Gray parked the iconic vehicle at the farmers market on Grand River Avenue in Farmington. It was a good way to “ketchup” with residents who could admire the Wienermobile. Attendees were able to peek inside and receive a Wienermobile whistle and sticker.

“I grew up going to this farmers market,” said Gray, a 2020 Michigan State University graduate. “I’m so excited to be home. I feel like I’ve been waiting to take it home.”

Although Gray did not sell any wiener dogs, Oscar Mayer lovers still got their fix. A few feet away from the vehicle, members of the Farmington Elks No. 1986 set up a booth in which to grill and serve hot dogs.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Elks Leading Knight Christie Korczyk said. “As a little kid, I used to see it on commercials. It was the best. I love it.”

While in town, Gray also parked the well-known vehicle at Gill Elementary School in Farmington Public Schools. When parked at the farmers market last month, Gill Elementary fourth grade student Gavin Pizialdi peeked inside the vehicle. He remembered viewing it when it came to school earlier in the month.

“He wanted to make sure it was the same one,” his mom, Erin Beebe, said. “A giant hot dog is perfect for fourth grade.”

“That was the best day,” Pizialdi said.

Before getting behind the wheel, Gray and the other drivers undergo training at Hot Dog High in Madison, Wisconsin.

“The police department trains us,” Gray said. “It was intimidating at first.”

Trainees also learn the history of Oscar Mayer and their products. The drivers don’t sleep in the vehicle but, rather, stay in hotels.

During her tour, Gray traveled to 21 states, including Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Kansas and Oklahoma. Hattiesburg, Mississippi, quickly became one of Gray’s favorite towns.

“In these small towns, people are so excited. They treat you like family and fully embrace it. People are always so happy to see it,” Gray said. “People honk and wave and take pictures at the gas station. You never expect to see it on the road. It’s so fun. Kids lose their minds when I go by a school bus. My favorite thing is when people give a thumbs-up.”

Gray even kept track and logged a total of 257 thumbs-up. After her Farmington Hills visit, she was on her way to Chicago. Her one-year stint as a Wienermobile driver will put on the brakes this June.

“You never sit in the driver’s seat again,” Gray said. “It’s the definition of bittersweet.”

Do you own a vehicle with an interesting history? Email Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com for a chance to be in an upcoming edition of Behind the Wheel.