How Taco Bell Almost Destroyed Gidget The Chihuahua's Acting Career

Kids who grew up in the '90s were raised in a time of creative marketing tactics, to put it nicely (via AdRoll). Some were successful, and some, not so much. Taco Bell had several entertaining concepts during the decade, starting with their "59-79-99" value promotion in 1990, which offered menu items at those price points (via Taco Bell's website). It's might be difficult to imagine prices ever being that low, but Taco Bell did so in order to compete with the super low prices of other fast food establishments at the time. After highlighting their value, the chain pivoted to irreverent entertainment, making commercials with a chihuahua as their spokesdog.

With her signature tagline of "Yo quiero Taco Bell," Gidget the chihuahua became a cultural flashpoint. While some people found the ads featuring the spunky pup entertaining, Taco Bell was called out for racial insensitivity by the California Coalition of Hispanic Organizations in 1998 (via the Los Angeles Times). There was also a $42 million lawsuit against the ads by two men who claimed to come up with the idea of using a chihuahua as the restaurant's mascot. Although Taco Bell spent $500 million on the ad campaigns featuring Gidget, they were problematic for both the company and for the talented pup's acting career.

Gidget was typecast after the role, according to her trainer

Although the Taco Bell chihuahua was voiced by comedian Carlos Alazraqui in the ads, Gidget is actually a female dog. According to CNN, she was originally cast as the girlfriend of the Taco Bell Chihuahua, but she stole the spotlight and gave off main character energy, so they gave her the lead role. It's no surprise that Gidget stole the show, because according to her trainer Sue Chipperton, she "acted like a big dog and had a big dog attitude."

Chipperton also commended Gidget on her camera presence and professionalism, and was surprised that she was unable to land any big roles after the Taco Bell gig. "She was kind of typecast, so she never really got much work after that," she told CNN. The chihuahua's next starring role was in "Legally Blonde 2" as Elle Woods' dog Bruiser in 2003, followed by a role as an extra in "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" in 2008. Chipperton was sad to see Gidget pushed out of the spotlight over the years, but enjoyed her time with her as an easygoing companion until the pooch passed away at the age of 15 in 2009.