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Richard Trentlage (1928 - 2016)

AP Photo / Jim Prisching / Chicago Tribune

Richard Trentlage (1928 - 2016)

Richard Trentlage, the writer of “The Oscar Mayer Wiener Song,” died Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, in Libertyville, Illinois, according to The Associated Press. He was 87.

His daughter, Linda Bruun, told The New York Times that her father died of congestive heart failure.

Trentlage’s jingle, with the famous line, “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener,” debuted on radio advertisements in 1963. An animated TV commercial first aired in 1965. The tune was finally retired in 2010.


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Born Dec. 27, 1928, in Chicago, he got his start writing jingles as part of a school project during his senior year at Calumet High School. The jingle for the fictional product, Modern Plastic Brooms, was used at the beginning and end of a talent show formatted to resemble a radio program. His family-placed obituary recalled that classmates still remembered the song and sang it at their 50th reunion.

He worked for large advertising agencies like McCann-Erickson before founding his own company. After finding out Oscar Mayer was sponsoring a contest for a wiener jingle, he set about recording a demo in his living room with his son and daughter singing. After extensive focus group testing, his submission was chosen a year later. He continued to receive residual payments for the next 52 years.

“As far as jingles go, the OM jingle is one of the best all-time,” 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 New York Times.

Trentlage had a lengthy career writing jingles for other popular brands such as McDonald’s and V-8 vegetable juice. He also wrote “Buckle up for safety, buckle up!” for the National Safety Council.

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