Monday, September 2, 2013

Dog Days by Dave Ihlenfeld

Dog Days is a memoir by fellow University of Missouri alumnus Dave Ihlenfeld about his year as a Hotdogger. A Hotdogger is one who drives one of Oscar Mayer’s Wienermobiles.

As you expect from a memoir, the focus is personal recollections. To me, this was the least interesting part of the book. I have little interest in reading about a young guy falling in love with half the pretty women he meets and trying to get laid. Too many television shows and films are already built on that premise. Ihlenfeld writes for television now, so he may have been playing to a strength. There is a little bit of a coming of age story; a year in the Wienermobile calls for resourcefulness.

There is a little history of the Wienermobile in the book. I found this to be some of the most interesting stuff. If you have only a casual interest in the Wienermobile, don’t worry. The history parts are short an dispersed throughout the book. It is not the focus of the book, but it adds something good. Sure, Hotdogger is a silly job in some ways, but it is connected to a long history of successful marketing.

The book is a little bit travelogue. I wish there could have been more of this. I don’t normally read travel books, but the context of it made me open to reading about the destinations. Perhaps the problem is that too many of destinations were county fairs, Walmarts and grocery stores. You can only go so far to make them interesting, especially when your memory of the is clouded by exhaustion (and I suspect the occasional hangover).

I enjoyed the book , though. It is an interesting mix of the personal, historical and geographical. It’s a glimpse into something few people experience. And while I don’t mean to offend Ihlenfeld if he is still working there, it is much better than Family Guy.

If you’re interested in this book, you may also be interested in

Ihlenfeld, Dave. Dog Days: A Year in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. New York: Sterling, 2011.