Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Yo quiero Doggy Heaven: Taco Bell icon dies at 15

By Dean Goodman
July 22, 2009

Gidget the Chihuahua, who achieved pop-culture immortality in the “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” ad campaigns run by the fast-food outlet in the 1990s, died of an apparent stroke in Santa Clarita, Calif., on Tuesday while watching television. She was 15.

US Weekly broke the news on Wednesday, quoting the dog’s owner, Karen McElhatton, as saying Gidget “lived like a queen” and “had a great life.”

tacobellTaco Bell is a unit of Yum! Brands Inc., whose stock shook off the bad news and rose 30 cents to $33.68 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Gidget starred in Taco Bell ads for two years, beginning in late 1997. “She” became a “he” in the spots, which depicted the canine on a quest for Taco Bell fare. The tagline “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” (I want Taco Bell) passed into the lexicon, and Gidget became an instant celebrity. She showed up at movie premieres, on magazine covers, and even at the opening session of the New York Stock Exchange. A toy version sold briskly at Taco Bell’s 6,000 outlets. But the $200 million ad campaign did not do much for Taco Bell sales, and the company dropped Gidget after complaints from franchisees.

In 2003, a federal jury in Michigan ordered Yum to pay $30.2 million to a pair of designers who alleged that Taco Bell advertising executives stole their idea for a character called “Psycho Chihuahua” after making a verbal agreement to use the men’s design. Yum had countered that the talking Chihuahua was created by a former ad agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day.

Gidget had no offspring. She will be cremated.


Adios Gidget! Given that Dog is God spelled backward…it is hoped that all dogs surely go to pooch heaven.

Posted by David Pawlowski | Report as abusive

Just yesterday I rescued a stray chihuahua from the parking lot of Taco Bell in Los Angeles (and took him to a shelter but not before falling in total love with him.) While friends and I laughed at the irony (to find a chihuahua at Taco Bell), to learn today that Gidget died on the same day is just bizarre… I want to adopt the stray but not sure I can…argh. Anyway…rest in peace Gidget…

Posted by Moreen Littrell | Report as abusive

Remember when Gidget took on Godzilla? That dog was no joke!


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