Though Richard Trentlage never quite became a household name, if you were ever a child in America, there was probably a time in your life when you could recite one of his songs by heart. “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, that is what I’d truly like to be,” the words went. “’Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, everyone would be in love with me.”
Trentlage, the man behind the iconic Oscar Mayer Wiener jingle—a song that won the hearts of hot-dog lovers everywhere beginning in the 1960s—died last week from congestive heart failure at the age of 87, the New York Times first reported on Friday.
Though Trentlage would go on to enjoy a long, fruitful career as a jingle writer, coming up with lyrics and tunes for companies like McDonald’s and V8, few songs in the history of advertising resonated quite like his melody for Oscar Mayer.
According to the Times, Trentlage penned the song as a part of a jingle-writing contest for the beloved hot dog brand in 1962. As legend has it, Trentlage wrote the song the night he found out about the contest and sent the tune in the very next day to meet the deadline. Apparently, it doesn't take much time for the mind of a hot dog jingle-writing genius to get the job done.
The song was Oscar Mayer's number-one jingle in 21 English-speaking countries from its debut in 1963 until 2010, when the song was finally retired.
“The ‘Oscar Mayer Wiener Song” is one of the great single accomplishments in advertising history,” John H. Murphy II, a professor emeritus at the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Times in an email on Friday. “As far as jingles go, the OM jingle is one of the best all-time.”
In light of the losses suffered this week, it only makes sense to have an Oscar Mayer wiener and an Arnold Palmer this weekend in honor of two fallen heroes.