Ask not for whom the Taco Bell tolls ... it tolls for thee

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In a marketing category crowded with creepy plastic Burger Kings, endlessly cheery Ronald McDonalds and spelling-disabled Chik-Fil-A cows, it's sometimes hard to remember what true fast-food royalty once looked like. It's been a long time since the late Dave Thomas and Clara Peller trod the boards. But Gidget, the gentle-yet-firm Taco Bell Chihuahua, was the real thing: the commercial face of the brand who inspired not just hunger, but joy; not just commerce, but compassion.

Although Gidget's softly accented voice was provided by Argentine actor Carlos Alazraqui, her eyes were what sold the goods. Somehow, looking into those big, brown pools of sympathy, viewers knew she wouldn't sell them a bum burrito or a chintzy chalupa. Like any good pitchman (or pitchwoman, or pitchdog), she put herself on the line, using her unspoken integrity to capture the hearts and inspire the trust of a generation of fast-food consumers.
And, ultimately, Gidget was well rewarded for her efforts. As humans, we may look askance at her short 15 years upon the earth; however, it is worth remembering that in dog years, she was a centenarian who lived a good, long life. Gidget died this morning, having spent her last days basking in the lazy warmth of a southern California sun, according to her trainer, Sue Chipperton.

Although Gidget's Taco Bell gig ended in 2000, she continued to enjoy a successful Hollywood career, appearing as Bruiser's mom in Legally Blonde 2: Red White and Blonde. But for millions of Taco Bell fans, she will always be the ambitious canine who led a fast food revolution to capture our hearts -- and stomachs.

Te queremos, Gidget. Rest in peace.
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