Santa’s sleigh isn’t the only eagerly awaited vehicle that turns up this time of year. For countless American boys — and a few hardy tomboys, too — the holiday season means the latest Hess truck.


The oil corporation has been selling its treasured Hess trucks — miniature replicas of working trucks bearing the Hess branding — since 1964, when the Hess Tanker Trailer first rolled into service station shops. Subsequent annual offerings have included Hess fire trucks, car transporters, rescue trucks and even recreational vehicles.


This year’s edition, however, goes in a completely different direction. Perhaps you’ve seen the commercial: “The Hess truck’s back, going faster than ever,” sung a bunch of peppy kids to the tune of “My Boyfriend’s Back” as Santa himself waves a checkered flag. “Speeding to you — Hess race car is here!”


Yes, the Hess truck is actually a race car. “For the first time in Hess Toy Truck history, a race car takes the spotlight as the main featured vehicle,” reads the press release.


This bothers me. Because we always worship the metaphorical race car — the sleek, flashy thing that finishes first — at the expense of the slow but steady truck. Look at the movie “Cars” (and if there’s a male under the age of 4 in your home, you’ve already done so around 86 times) — Lightning McQueen is the sexy red speed demon with a narcissistic streak that would put A-Rod to shame. Tow Mater is the rusted truck with the buck teeth and limited intellectual capacity. Mater pines for a sultry Porsche named Sally; take a wild guess who she ends up with.

Hess has featured race cars before, but they always fit into big honkin’ transporter trucks. What compelled Hess to go race car-only this year? “The design process of the Hess Toy Truck is kept under wraps,” teases a spokesperson. “It is one of the reasons fans eagerly await the reveal announcement each year.” In other words, no comment.

Hess missed an opportunity to salute the tortoise, not the hare; the left tackle, not the quarterback; the guy who built the high-rise, not the guy who overpaid for the posh penthouse.

Let us toast the hard-working Everyman/woman this holiday season, even if Hess has chosen not to.

– Michael Malone details commuting woes on

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