Brooks Stevens, a graduate of Cornell University, was a pioneer in the field of industrial
design. He was, in fact, one of the 10 charter members of the Society of Industrial
Designers and the only one from the Midwest. One doesn’t necessarily associate Milwaukee
with state of the art industrial design, but it was a thriving manufacturing hub
in those days. Stevens designed the logo for Cutler Hammer electrical controls.
The first “modernized” farm tractor, designed by Stevens for Allis Chalmers, was
so popular it forced the rest of the industry to follow. Then there was perhaps his
most well known design...the Oscar Mayer Wiener-Mobile!
"There's nothing more aerodynamic than a wiener," Stevens once remarked when asked
about his most endearing design, the Wienermobile. While he did not originate the
promotional vehicle-the Oscar Mayer Company of Madison, Wisconsin, came up with the
idea in 1936 - Stevens did create the classic shape of the famous frank when commissioned
to redesign it in 1958. His main contribution, as he put it, "was to put the wiener
in the bun." Previously the vehicle had been a low, inelegant truck with a giant
hot dog riding atop it. Taking advantage of the possibilities of molded fiberglass
construction, Stevens transformed the lower section into the sculptural form that
it is today.
Stevens had a close relationship with Ralph Evinrude which began when the two were
attending the German-English Academy in Milwaukee. Ralph hired Stevens in 1934 to
turn the outboard motor, then a rather crude affair with exposed flywheels and square
tanks, into a stylish consumer product for the mass market.