Alumna returns to campus behind wheel of iconic 'Wienermobile'

January 28, 2010

Alumna Mary Kate DeCoursey is turning heads this month as she returns to Happy Valley driving an iconic vehicle.

DeCoursey, a 2009 Penn State graduate with a degree in advertising/public relations, returned to campus this month as part of a 12-day recruiting trip for Oscar Mayer. She’ll be piloting the Wienermobile, a 27-foot-long, dog-in-a-bun vehicle that has toured the United States for more than 70 years.

DeCoursey and her fellow "hotdogger," John Dobeson, a graduate of University of Missouri, have traveled through nearly 20 states in the western United States during the past seven months. They drive one of six Wienermobiles that annually tour the country, and they were recently assigned to the Northeast -- including a recruiting trip to Penn State for future "hotdoggers."

In the past half dozen years, nine alumni from the College of Communications have earned the coveted, year-long positions as goodwill ambassadors for Oscar Mayer.

DeCoursey and Dobson have driven in parades, set up events at supermarkets and visited sporting events and other major attractions across the country. Those activities prompt many interactions with famous, semi-famous or just everyday people. DeCoursey has enjoyed every moment on the job -- especially the seemingly mundane tasks that become special with the Wienermobile.

"I never thought getting gas could be so much fun," DeCoursey said.

Still, the assignment lasts only one year and DeCoursey and Dobeson will spend part of their time in central Pennsylvania looking for future “hotdoggers” at Penn State. They also plan to conduct some special events in the area and visit classes.

An information session for prospective "hotdoggers" will be conducted Thursday, Feb. 11, and interviews will be conducted on Friday, Feb. 12. Students interested in the opportunity with Oscar Mayer, which has been recruiting at Penn State for more than a decade, may attend the information session and are encouraged to bring cover letters and resumes at that time. Details may be found at online.

DeCoursey, a Pittsburgh native and former member of the Homecoming court at Penn State, and Dobeson said the first few months of operating the Wienermobile have provided immense benefits.

"It has expanded my confidence," Dobeson said. "We’ve had so much experience working with people and media outlets. I feel like I can do anything."

To view a photo of the Wienermobile on campus, go to

  • Hotdogger and Penn State alumna Mary Kate DeCoursey.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010