The 1980’s had the soda wars and the 1990’s had the burger wars. Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s increased their advertising budget and introduced dollar menus in an effort to outdo each other. But poor Taco Bell was left on the sidelines.
That was until 1997 when Taco Bell premiered a new commercial starring a dog named Gidget, better known as the Taco Bell Chihuahua. The dog starred in a series of commercial where she/he would be obsessed with trying to get some Taco Bell to eat. Kind of like the Trix Rabbit, but live action… and probably less healthy.
The Chihuahua was voiced by Carlos Alazraqui, best known for playing James Garcia in Reno 911 and voicing Rocko in Rocko’s Modern Life.
The commercials became hugely popular. Toys and shirts were made and Yo Quireo <insert thing you want here> became a popular phrase. A lesser used phrase, “Drop The Chalupa” became very popular on Sportscenter for a while, although who knows why.
The commercials ran for three years, and then suddenly stopped in 2000. Taco Bell said the official reason was the dog simply wasn’t selling tacos. But the truth? Major legal issues.
It seems two guys had pitched the idea for the talking dog to Taco Bell in 1994. Taco Bell thanked the guys but told them they were not interested. However, three years later their vision became a reality but without the paycheck.
The two filed a lawsuit in 1998, and four years later were awarded by a jury with a 30 million dollar payday from Taco Bell.
As for Gidget she would go on the be in a Geico commercial and Legally Blonde, but she would never find that type of fame again. In 2009, after suffering a stroke her trainer had her euthanized.