Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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My Favorite Wiener

April 27, 2015


My best friend Ricky Delgado was our lookout halfway down the street.


“Do you see anything?” I bellowed, using my cupped hand to amplify my voice.


Ricky shook his head.           


In 1962 when I was ten, a shopping center had opened a few blocks away and a local newspaper had announced that today the Wienermobile would arrive for the grand opening. The Wienermobile was a car shaped like a hotdog in a bun, designed to promote Oscar Mayer products. I’d seen the Wienermobile on TV, but this was my chance to see the legendary vehicle with my own eyes, up close. The newspaper had said the Wienermobile would leave our shopping center and travel to nearby Sunnyvale for another grand opening. The fastest way to Sunnyvale was an expressway near the end of our street. The Wienermobile would drive right past us. With encouragement it might be persuaded to pause in our driveway. Ricky had been adamant about not biking to the shopping center to ogle it, claiming it would be much more cool to see it stop in front of our house.


When it came to the driver of the Wienermobile, rumors were numerous as picnic ants. Some said Oscar Mayer himself was behind the wheel, but my older brother David squashed that notion by informing us that the Oscar Mayer Company was over a hundred years old, and by now the real Oscar Mayer was taking a dirt nap. Jonathan Khorman, the only kid present who’d never eaten an Oscar Mayer wiener (his parents only allowed Hebrew National hot dogs) said he and his dad saw the driver at a car show, and the driver was old, wrinkled and short as a munchkin. Ricky didn’t believe the driver would be a munchkin, or dwarf, claiming tiny legs wouldn’t reach the gas pedal or brakes. I kept an open mind; if a car could be made to look like a stegosaurus-sized hot dog, then it could also be designed for an operator with short legs.



Oscar Mayer Wienermobile


Most of the kids on our street had assembled when Ricky started waving his arms and running in our direction. Missing was my older brother David, who had no intention of waiting around for a glimpse of a car he claimed looked like a giant prick.


“Here it comes!” Ricky shrieked, red-faced when he reached us.


Large sycamores blocked my view of the street, but finally the bright yellow and orange Oscar Mayer Wienermobile came into view. Momentarily, I thought it the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I couldn’t wait for it to stop so the driver could hand out coveted Oscar Mayer whistles.



Oscar Mayer Whistle


But the Wienermobile didn’t slow down. If anything it sped up, passing in a blur. No free whistles. No photographs taken with a munchkin driver. I felt like Charlie Brown waiting all night for the great Pumpkin.


As I watched the speeding vehicle fade from view I mumbled, “My brother was right; it does look like a big prick!”




The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile first hit the road in 1936. Currently there are eight of them touring the country. Have you ever seen one?



Note: Black & white photograph shows original Oscar Mayer (1859-1955)


A giant prick. Well, he was right. Disappointing it just kept going. I've seen pictures but that's it.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on April 27, 2015
During your life, did you ever get the prized and collectible whistle? It doesn't resemble a hotdog bun and weiner... never laid eyes on any of these vehicles either.
By: Daniel LaFrance on April 27, 2015
Reality seldom lives up to a child's imagination. Great story! Pretty sure there are 8 midgets driving all those cars.
By: cranky on April 27, 2015
Actually, it was Linus who waited for the Great Pumpkin. OH, MY GOD!!! NO WONDER I'VE BEEN ACCEPTED INTO THE 'NERD HALL OF FAME!' I feel like such a wiener.
By: Al Penwasser on April 27, 2015
Al, You're right; it was Linus, not Charlie Brown waiting for the Great Pumpkin. I stand corrected.
By: Chubby Chatterbox on April 27, 2015
my friend in wisconsin has seen one several times. :)
By: TexWisGirl on April 27, 2015
I've seen it--also a shoemobile!!
By: fishducky on April 27, 2015
Hebrew National makes a mighty tasty dog, as well.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on April 27, 2015
Never seen. Pisses me off. The Hurricane and X once saw the Wienermobile on I-70 in Iowa when he was returning her to college. Another time he saw it in Springfield, Illinois, just tooling along. He called to tell me so I would be jealous. I was. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on April 27, 2015
I did see one and was quite impressed but got no whistles or free hot dogs-which are my weakness food. When I see someone eating one, I have to have one.
By: Akansas Patti on April 27, 2015
How sad is it that I covet your weinermobile whistle?
By: Cherdo on April 27, 2015
As a matter of fact I did see one about 7 years ago while on the road in the 18 wheeler in Georgia. It was in a rest stop filling up with gas. The drivers were two females who acted as if it was a perfectly looking car they were driving...lol
By: Bouncin Barb on April 27, 2015
He probably had a schedule to keep, but i'm sorry he didn't stop for you.
By: mimi on April 27, 2015
Well here's a terrible thing - I think I've seen one in person (or in passing), but I'm not sure. That's what getting older does to ya...
By: The Bug on April 27, 2015
The Wienermobile has made it to the annual classic car show here a few times, and I got some pictures of it. I guess I didn't know about the whistles. If it shows up again this year, I'll see if I can get one!
By: Pixel Peeper on April 27, 2015
I've seen a few vehicles shaped like hot dogs, but they were not true Weinermobiles, just copycats. Anyway, nice memory, altho' I swore off hot dogs abt ten years ago.
By: Tom Sightings on April 27, 2015
I must live under a toadstool as I've never heard of a wienermobile or Oscar Mayer for that matter. We probably don't have those products in Canada.
By: red on April 27, 2015
Never saw it, nor the whistle. But I used to have a Mr. Softee ring, if that counts.
By: Val on April 27, 2015
Brings a whole new meaning to fast food! :)
By: John on April 28, 2015
I missed this whole bit of culture in my little farming community. I am not a big fan of hot dogs anyway. ;-)
By: Tabor on April 28, 2015
I've never seen the Weinermobile, but I did hear no end of jokes when one of them hit a patch of ice and slid off the road this last winter. I think NPR had at least 4 or 5 puns, just in the opening, like "it was the wurst day ever for the driver", etc. My friends and I did sing the Oscar Meyer bologna jingle a lot, tho. Much to my family's annoyance. My baloney has a first name... Cat
By: Cat on April 28, 2015
now I have that lttle ditty running through my head! "Oh I wish I was an Oscar Meyer weiner....." argh!
By: Kathe W. on April 28, 2015
Sounds like the driver was a big little prick - to not even slow down for excited kids. What's the point of driving a big wiener dog if you don't show it off? Geeze. No, I haven't seen one, except in blogland.
By: Robyn Engel on April 28, 2015
What a story! No, I've never seen it at any car shows. But I can see how it would be a great advertising vehicle--no pun intended!
By: Michael Manning on April 28, 2015
I had never heard of the Wienermobile! Wow! Can't believe the driver didn't at least slow down for you all. What a giant prick! (The driver, too.)
By: Mitchell is Moving on April 29, 2015
well, I wish I had one of those whistles for my whistle collection.
By: Ellen Abbott on April 29, 2015

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