American meat production company
Oscar Mayer is an American meat and cold cut producer known for its hot dogs, bologna, bacon, ham, and Lunchables products. The company is a subsidiary of the Kraft Heinz Company and based in Chicago, Illinois.
German immigrant Oscar F. Mayer (1859–1955), born in Kösingen, Germany, began working at a meat market in Detroit, Michigan, and later in Chicago, Illinois. In 1883, Mayer and his brother Gottfried leased the Kolling Meat Market on the near-northside of Chicago. The Mayer brothers sold bratwurst, liverwurst, and weißwurst, which were popular in the predominantly German neighborhoods around their Chicago meat market.
As the meat market’s popularity grew, it expanded its storefront and participated in sponsoring local events including the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. By 1900, the company had 43 employees and Chicago-wide delivery service. In 1904, Oscar Mayer began branding its meats to capitalize on their popularity, beginning an industry-wide trend. Early company specialties were “Old World” sausages and Westphalian hams, soon followed by bacon and wieners. In 1906, Oscar Mayer & Co. was among the first to volunteer to join the newly created federal meat inspection program. In 1919, the company made its first major expansion, with the purchase of a processing plant in Madison, Wisconsin. The plant quickly proved to be a profitable, efficient operation, and in 1957 Madison became the corporate headquarters.
For nearly a century, Oscar Mayer remained an independent company owned primarily by descendants of the Mayer brothers who started it. In 1981, Oscar Mayer stockholders elected to sell the company to General Foods. Four years later, Philip Morris acquired General Foods, and in 1989 merged General Foods with the newly acquired Kraft Foods transforming it into Kraft General foods. Shares of Kraft Foods were first offered to the public via an initial public offering in 2001. Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris) spun off remaining shares of Kraft Foods to Altria shareholders in 2007.
On November 4, 2015, owner Kraft Heinz announced it would move the Oscar Mayer headquarters and the company’s U.S. meats business from Madison to Chicago. The company also announced plans to consolidate its production facilities during the two following years, resulting in the shutdown of seven North American manufacturing facilities: Fullerton, California, San Leandro, California, Federalsburg, Maryland, St. Marys, Ontario, Campbell, New York, Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, and Madison.
In August 2017, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the company planned to spend $10 million to reinvent the hot dog for a more health-conscious consumer. According to company research, this new strategy could increase sales of their hot dogs by 6%.
Oscar Mayer had several advertisements on TV involving young children, including the Oscar Mayer Wiener ad in 1963. The commercial shows a young girl leading a group of children, singing about what they would get if they “were an Oscar Mayer wiener”. It was written by Richard D. Trentlage.
A 1973 TV commercial featured 4-year-old Andy Lambros holding a fishing rod and sandwich while singing, “My bologna has a first name, it’s ‘O-S-C-A-R’…”. It became one of the longest-running TV commercials in the country.
A very early commercial jingle, possibly limited to radio, went something like this: “Acquire / the desire / to buy Oscar Mayer. / Famous for quality since 1883. / Look for the famous yellow band. / All meat sausage, / flavor’s grand. / Be a wise and happy buyer, / and buy Oscar Mayer.” The actual words of the jingle may be slightly different.
Oscar Mayer is known for its Wienermobile, which has toured the United States for over 80 years. The first Wienermobile was created in 1936.
In 2019, Oscar Mayers started sponsoring Ryan Newman in the NASCAR cup series in the number 6 Roush Fenway Racing car.
- “Oscar Mayer Company History” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 2, 2010. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
- “The 124 YEAR History of “Oscar Mayer” Foods”. Oscar Mayer Bacon UK. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
- Fink, Deborah (1998). Cutting Into the Meatpacking Line. ISBN 9780807846957.
- Lukas, Paul (2003-05-01). “Bringing Home the Bacon A German made America’s first national meat. And that’s no baloney”. Fortune. Cable News Network. A Time Warner Company. Retrieved 2017-08-03.
- Gruley, Bryan; Giammona, Craig (2017-08-02). “Why the Hatchet Men of 3G Spent $10 Million on a Better Oscar Mayer Wiener”. Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 2017-08-03.
- Richard D. Trentlage, 87, Who Wrote ‘The Oscar Mayer Wiener Song,’ Dies The New York Times, September 29, 2016
- “Oscar Mayer Commercial – 1973”. YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
- “Oscar Mayer Bologny Kid”. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
- “Oscar Mayer Wiener Song”. Dictionary of Wisconsin History. Retrieved June 10, 2012.[permanent dead link]
- Koran, Mario (29 January 2020). “World’s wurst driver: Oscar Mayer Wienermobile gets frank warning from officer”. The Guardian. Retrieved 29 January 2020.