The big hits of 1963 included “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Puff the Magic Dragon” and, in England anyway, a rush of hits by some next big thing called The Beatles, but in terms of sheer recall-ability, a song from that year by advertising executive Richard Trentlage might best them all. It begins, “Oh I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer weiner…”
Trentlage, a former ad man with McCann-Erickson and D’Arcy who wrote the Oscar Mayer jingle, died of congestive heart failure at 87 on September 21 at a hospital in Libertyville, Ill. His death was confirmed by his daughter Linda Bruun to The New York Times.
Trentlage also wrote memorable jingles for McDonald’s (“McDonald’s is your kind of place!”) and V-8 (“It sure doesn’t taste like tomato juice”), but it was the Oscar Mayer Weiner Song (initially called “The Marching Song” by the ad team) that would go on to hover near the top of countless “Greatest Jingle” lists over the decades. Though the opening line is sometimes remembered as “Oh, I wish I were…” rather than the original “Oh, I’d love to be…,” the song remains firmly entrenched in at least several generations of impressionable TV-absorbing minds.
Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener.
That is what I’d truly like to be.
‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener,
Everyone would be in love with me.
Oh, I’m glad I’m not an Oscar Mayer wiener.
That is what I’d never want to be.
Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener.
There would soon be nothing left of me!
Trentlage often told the story of the song’s origins: After learning of a jingle contest being sponsored by the deli meat company, Trentlage was inspired by his young son’s comment that he wished he could be “a dirt-bike hot dog” like his cool friend. The tune won the contest, and served as the company’s signature tune from 1963 until 2010. It’s only rival in customers’ hearts was its corporate sibling song that begins “My baloney has a first name…”
Trentlage was born on Dec. 27, 1928, and is survived by a wife, two sons, two daughters, two stepdaughters, a stepson and 19 grandchildren.