The Spoof is dedicated to maintaining the memory of the greatest pop culture moments in Western Civilization. In this week’s Pop Culture Flashback, we’d like to look back at one of advertising’s most popular mascots, the Taco Bell chihuahua. From 1997 to the very early twenty-first century, the dog was extremely popular with viewers.
The dog was famous for the catchphrase “Yo quiero Taco Bell!” Thanks to this phrase American teenagers of the late twentieth century were certain to know at least three Spanish words: Quiero, Yo, and Taco. Bell doesn’t really count -
it’s not Spanish. To give them credit, they probably also knew a fourth Spanish word: Mexico.
The original commercials ended with the chihuahua saying, “Yo quiero Taco Bell en mi culo!,” Spanish for “I want Taco Bell in my ass!” This raunchy catchprase was intended by the commercial’s makers as a jolly little prank, but as the catchphrase swept the schoolyards of America, many parents did not find the dog’s raunchy words amusing, leading to much public outrage at PTA meetings. The chihuahua became the most controversial figure since Bart Simpson, whose sassy attitude and catchprase "Don't have a cow, man" had previously riled Middle America.
In a later rude variation, the dog uttered the phrase “Yo quiero copular con un burrito,” meaning “I want to copulate with a burrito.” This particular shoot got out of hand when the dog took the phrase literally and inserted himself inside a shredded chicken burrito and furiously had sex with it. The crew broke into hysterical laughter and the cameras kept rolling as the dog performed his outrageous sex act with an increasingly ridiculous furiousness. The footage was never intended to be used in the actual commercial, and the fast food company did their best to see the footage was suppressed, but rumour of its existence became the stuff of underground legend. For some reason, the chicken burrito is especially popular with chihuahuas. When it comes to sex, that is. (When it comes to food they prefer beef.)
More disturbingly, the improvised act was seen as a symptom of out of control behavior on the part of the dog, whose undisguised bawdiness was creating publicity headaches for the fast food chain. The dog had gotten in the habit of getting it on with the leg of pretty much any human who happened to be around. This was considered good fun at first, but, as time wore on, it became obvious that the TV star showed all the signs of canine addiction. In addition, he was addicted to amyl nitrates and various stimulants, abetted by amoral handlers and crew members all too willing to sprinkle a few happy pills into the dog’s food bowl.
When popular Spanish singer Julio Iglesias was recruited to do a cameo, he wound up being accosted by the dog, which furiously humped the beloved singer’s leg. The singer took it all in his stride though, and the chihuahua’s action brought a smile to the singer’s face, making the commercial all the more delightful. As the commercial ended, the restaurant logo appeared onscreen and Julio could be heard singing “To all the dogs I’ve loved before.”
Few people are aware that the dog’s voice was originally provided, surprisingly enough, by the great Argentinian writer Juan Luis Borges. Borges was blind and nearly ninety-seven years old, many speculated that the author was unaware exactly what the voiceover was for, and there was even a rumor that the legendary author had been tricked into thinking he was doing a cameo in a radio version of Waiting for Godot directed by Stanley Donen. Whatever the case, Borges died shortly after the first commercial was completed. As the chihuahua quickly became a source of ethnic pride in the Hispanic community, many Latin notables lined up to provide the dog’s voice. Later commercials found the dog’s voice performed by comedian John Leguizamo and Enrique Valentín Iglesias García, a Uruguayan-Spanish economist of the multilateralist school.
In the end, the dog’s frenzied lifestyle caught up with him, and he collapsed on the set of what would have been his final filmed advertisement. Urban legend has it that he was ground up and made into a beef burrito. While this is not strictly true, it is said that a few of his ashes were mixed in with the catering for the dog’s Taco Bell-sponsored wake, which was said to be a raucous affair.