Bell Tolls for Gidget, the Taco Bell Chihuahua

One of Advertising's Great Icons of the '90s Dies at 15

By Published on .

According to a exclusive, Gidget, one of the Taco Bell Chihuahuas, died from a stroke. She was 15 years old.

The Taco Bell dog made its first appearance in June 1997 in a campaign created by Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day of Playa del Ray, Calif. The first dog was actually Dinky, and the character was portrayed as a male who uttered a line that would quickly become a pop-culture catchphrase: "Yo quiero Taco Bell."

Though the dog made Taco Bell cool again, it was not without its problems. Throughout its run, the dog was the target of criticism from Hispanic groups, who accused the Yum Brands unit of trafficking in stereotypes. And in June 2003, a federal jury ordered Taco Bell to pay $30.2 million (plus another $11 million in interest) to two men who accused the restaurant company of stealing their idea for a marketing mascot and icon.

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