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  • Budd Bailey

Buffalo Bills: 1982 – The Whammy Weenie

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

(Editor’s Note: Reedy Press has published “The Buffalo Bills: An Illustrated Timeline of a Storied Franchise.” The book was written by Greg Tranter and Budd Bailey; click here for more information. The authors wrote some potential chapters to the book that were not used, and didn’t want to put them to waste. Therefore, they thought people would like to read about those events from the team’s past on this site. It will give you a taste of what the text of the coffee-table book is like.)

Not all marketing ideas connected with the Bills have been a huge success. Exhibit A for that is the gone-but-not-forgotten “Whammy Weenie.”

The idea was for fans to have a noise-making object to wave at opposing teams during Bills’ home games, in an effort to “curse” them. The Pittsburgh Steelers had found success with the Terrible Towel in that era. Bells Supermarkets jumped on selling the green, hot dog-shaped objects for 49 cents each. Fans at games were told to “stand up and shake your Weenies!” You can imagine the reaction; the eight-inch objects instantly became a source of laughter throughout Western New York.

Three weeks into the campaign, the situation turned serious. A local radio station tested the Weenie and found it contained 300 times the allowable level of lead. The Weenies were recalled, and the idea died a quick death. It still is remembered as the worst local advertising campaign in history.

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