CHICAGO – The man who got generations of hot dog lovers singing along to the Oscar Mayer Wiener song has died.
Richard Trentlage died Sept. 21 in Libertyville, Illinois, at the age of 87, according to an obituary posted online by a northern Illinois funeral home.
With the words, “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener,” Trentlage helped solidify the company’s hot dogs as a piece of Americana. The jingle he wrote appeared in a 1960s television commercial featuring cartoon children marching along and singing. The tune remained a fixture for the next half a century.
Trentlage was born in Chicago and began penning jingles as a high school student, starting with one about a fictional company he called Modern Plastic Brooms. The idea was to dream up a believable sponsor for a school talent show and sing the jingle during commercial breaks in a performance modeled after a radio program.
The Modern Plastic Broom jingle was evidently so memorable that his former classmates sang it during a 50th reunion.
Trentlage transformed his living room into a makeshift recording studio, inviting his own children to sing on audition tapes. His children even recorded “on-air” sessions.
“We were always getting out of school to hop a train and meet our dad at a Chicago recording studio,” his daughter, Linda Bruun, recalled in the funeral home obituary.
Trentlage was no one-hit wonder. He also wrote “WOW! It sure doesn’t taste like tomato juice” for V8, “Buckle up for safety, buckle up!” for the National Safety Council and “McDonald’s is your kind of place!” for the burger chain.