Yo Quiero No More: Taco Bell Spokes-Chihuahua Dies at 15

Gidget, famous for her Taco Bell ads, also acted alongside Reese Witherspoon.

ByABC News
July 22, 2009, 2:21 PM

July 22, 2009— -- Her bug eyes and sweet face captured the hearts of millions of fast food enthusisats.

But more than 10 years after her face first graced a "Yo Quiero Taco Bell" ad, marketing's top chihuahua has died at 15 from a stroke.

"It was very hard to lose her," owner Karin McElhatton told ABCNews.com today. "She was a great little dog."

Gidget, a 12-pound Hollywood dynamo in her prime, was propelled to stardom when Taco Bell's advertisments hit in the late 1990s, featuring the feisty little dog as an insistent consumer of Taco Bell.

The phrase "Yo quiero Taco Bell" -- "I want Taco Bell" in a man's voice -- spawned a series of commercial catchphrases for the chain including "Drop the chalupa" and made its mark on pop culture with T-shirts as well as a line of dolls and toys.

The ad campaign even touched off a chihuahua frenzy with would-be dog owners suddenly becoming very interested in the Mexican breed.

At the height of her popularity as the Taco Bell dog, Gidget traveled by limo and first-class in planes. She even got a seat on the company's private jet for a trip to Manhattan to open up the New York Stock Exchange.

Sue Chipperton, who trained Gidget for Studio Animal Services, said the pooch was constantly mobbed by people when she took Gidget out even though she was careful to make sure very few people knew Gidget was the real Taco Bell dog.

"They could come over and go 'Oh that looks like the Taco Bell dog!'" Chipperton said.

But Gidget, who had lived with Chipperton for most of her life, was never coddled. Chipperton said she was expected to follow commands and was never carried when she could walk on her own.

As a result, Chipperton said, "her personality was that of a big dog."

While the commercials were hugely popular, they eventually nabbed the ire of Hispanic watchdog groups which claimed Taco Bell was promoting stereotypes and demanded the commercials be taken off the air.