LEWISTON — The first rule in riding along in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile from Hotdogger/co-pilot Kayla Kawalec:

“Fasten your meat belts: We’re going to haul buns right now.”

The iconic rolling attraction took a spin around downtown Tuesday. It’s in Maine for a series of Hallo-weenie events later this week. (Yes, you read that right.)

It drew waves, honks, stares and, as it was stopped, idling, one curiosity-driven Lewiston police officer boarding, sent back on its way with a teasing, “Just slow it down next time.”

Kawalec and Christian Blatner are two of 12 “Hotdoggers” who drive six Wienermobiles across the country, all new college grads who commit to the job for a year.

In Kawalec and Blatner’s case, they’re out to visit as many states as they can. Since their tour started in June, they’ve logged 15,000 miles, all in the Northeast.

“As you walk in, you can see ketchup and mustard on the floors,” Blatner said. (That’s red carpet with a familiar yellow squiggle.) “We’ve got our bun roof here — so we don’t have a sun roof, we have a bun roof.”

The hatch pops out and it’s where they wave during parades.

Some version of the ginormous hot dog and bun Wienermobile has been on the road for 80 years.

“Carl Mayer, Oscar Mayer’s nephew, came up with the idea,” Blatner said. “That’s one of the coolest things about the job; so many people have grown up with it.”

A few stats about the 2012 model: It’s 27 feet long and 11 feet high. In Oscar Mayer math, that’s 60 hot dogs by 24.

It’s a regular at festivals, fairs and requested photo-ops. There’s no special license required to drive it, just a few intense days of training at what’s dubbed Hot Dog High in Wisconsin.

“Any time we’re backing up, our partner needs to be outside the vehicle, behind us,” Blatner said. “We watch them through the mirrors with hand signals and stuff. I would never want to back up without someone outside just for the chance that we scratch our buns.”

Kawalec, from Florida, and Blatner, from outside Chicago, beat out 1,200 applicants for the Hotdogger jobs.

“We like to say we cut the mustard,” he said. “I can see why people want to do this; it’s the best job.” It combines travel with marketing, people skills, business skills. “There’s something that will transfer into any job you do next.”

Another perk is undoubtedly the reaction. Lots of smiles and “I-remember-whens” from people who saw their first Wienermobile decades ago.

“On off days, driving to the grocery store or filling up gas are some of the best interactions because it’s so unexpected and they’re so caught off guard,” Blatner said.

Their Maine itinerary includes a trick-or-treat event in downtown Gardiner and a costume party outside the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine in Portland.

“We’re going to be chilly dogs,” Blatner said. “So we have hot dog costumes and then we’re going to wear winter coats, a hat and gloves. We love puns as Hotdoggers.”

No surprise, but there’s a long list of them in the Hotdogger Handbook.

“If you feel like we’re not giving you enough puns just let us know because we are full of them,” Kawalec said. “We were with a radio station this morning and they were making fun of me because I kept putting out the puns, and I was like, ‘I just can’t help it, it’s in my B-O-L-O-D-N-A.’ That’s my favorite one and it’s very rare that you get to use it.”

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Where to catch the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile in Maine: 

* Friday, Oct. 28: Gardiner Children’s Halloween from 3 to 5 p.m. on Water Street

* Saturday, Oct. 29: Freaky 5k and Fun Run from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Colby College in Waterville

* Sunday, Oct. 30: Monster Mash & Costume Parade from 10 to 11:15 a.m. at the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine in Portland

* Sunday, Oct. 30: Pumpkin Valley Farm from 1 to 4 p.m. in Dayton

* Monday, Oct. 31: Trunk-or-Treat at The Rock Church from 6 to 8 p.m. in Scarborough


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