What Happened to Spuds MacKenzie? Learn About this Bull Terrier’s Legacy and Retirement
The Original Party Animal Spuds MacKenzie was a famous canine character widely featured in Bud Light ad campaigns in 1987 and 1988. Spuds MacKenzie was portrayed as a fun-loving, Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses-wearing dog whose life revolved around parties, Bud Light beer, and beautiful women!
Spuds MacKenzie was an instant hit following his debut in a Bud Light advertising campaign for Super Bowl XXI in 1987. Soon you could buy Spuds MacKenzie shirts and other branded trinkets, and Spuds began appearing in pop culture references, and even the news. Believe it or not, this lovable character created a swirl of controversy, and Bud Light retired Spuds in 1989.
An adorable white English Bull Terrier with a black spot around his eye, the Spuds MacKenzie dog remains an easily recognizable icon despite stepping out of the spotlight more than three decades ago. If you’ve ever wondered what exactly happened to Spuds, what the Spuds MacKenzie breed is like, or why Anheuser Busch abandoned this cultural icon, keep on reading!
Who Was Spuds MacKenzie?
The character Spuds MacKenzie was dubbed the “Original Party Animal” and enjoyed sipping cold Bud Light on the beach surrounded by gorgeous women. The real Spuds MacKenzie dog was a female Bull Terrier named Honey Tree Evil Eye—just Evie, for short—from North Riverside, Illinois. Miss Evie played Bud Light Spuds MacKenzie from 1987 until her retirement—and the characters—in 1989.
What Breed Was Spuds MacKenzie?
The breed of Spuds MacKenzie is called an English Bull Terrier. Compact mid-sized dogs, Bull Terriers are goofy, playful, mischievous, and curious dogs who form strong bonds with their humans. An incredibly unique-looking breed, the Bull Terrier is the only dog breed with triangular eye openings. Their long angular snouts are another distinctive feature of the breed along with alert upright ears, a stocky muscular build, and short silky fur.
English Bull Terriers stand around 21–22 inches tall and weigh between 50–70 pounds. The average lifespan for these pups is around 12–13 years.
How Did the Original Spuds MacKenzie Die?
The dog that played Spuds MacKenzie death occurred around four or five years after the last official Spuds MacKenzie commercials aired. Evie died of kidney failure in 1993 following a full life with her beloved family.
Controversy & The End of Spuds MacKenzie
Strangely enough, the good-natured Spuds MacKenzie Bud Light premiered for a Super Bowl ad almost immediately fueled a controversy. First, outrage flared when consumers learned that Evie—the canine actor portraying Spuds—was a female dog and not a male dog. As ridiculous as this may seem, the situation quickly escalated.
The first time Spuds appeared, a Senator from South Carolina began a smear campaign against Bud Light, claiming that the lovable character was a way for the brand to convince children to buy and drink beer. This particular controversy continued throughout the three years of Spuds MacKenzie’s existence. Christmas ads featuring Spuds dressed as Santa were banned in Ohio, arguing both that the ads appealed to children, and that they violated state laws prohibiting alcohol advertising using Santa’s likeness.
National organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving added fuel to the fire, filing lawsuits against Bud Light and appealing to the Federal Trade Commission in the interest of “public safety.” While the FTC did not find issue with the Spuds MacKenzie Bud Light campaign, Anheuser Busch decided to put an end to the hubbub and retire the character officially in 1989. Spuds has only appeared in one ad since, but not in his corporeal form!
Spuds MacKenzie Fun Facts
Enough about the drama—get to know a little more about your favorite beer-promoting pooch! For a fictional character with only three years of active relevance, Spuds MacKenzie managed to drum up a lot of attention.
Anheuser Busch sponsored rescue dogs from Spuds’ hometown!
Evie lived in North Riverside, Illinois, but she was originally from a kennel in Woodstock, Illinois. As a tribute to Evie and the Spuds MacKenzie character, Anheuser Busch sponsored a number of dogs from the same shelter over the years.
Is the Spuds MacKenzie dog breed a Pitbull?
No, but English Bull Terriers are related to Pitbull-type dogs. Bully breeds are thought to originate with Bull Terriers and English Bulldogs, but they aren’t widely considered Pitbull-type dogs.
Two famous cartoon cartoon dogs are based on Spuds MacKenzie.
Well-known cartoon TV shows Futurama and The Simpsons each created characters parodying and inspired by Spuds MacKenzie. Futurama’s version is a bit more obvious with the name “Slurms MacKenzie the Original Party Worm” but the Simpson’s version is far more well-known. Believe it or not, Santa’s Little Helper is based on Spuds which makes him the perfect companion for beer-loving Homer Simpson!
Spuds MacKenzie inspired the song “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot!
After seeing Bud Light’s Spuds MacKenzie Super Bowl commercial, Sir Mix-a-Lot felt moved to make a song about a type of beauty he wasn’t seeing on TV. Most women on TV in the 80s—including the women who hung out with Spuds—were thin white women, and Sir Mix-a-Lot wrote Baby Got Back as an ode to diverse beauty.
Bud Light conjured the spirit of Spuds for one more Super Bowl ad in 2017
Spuds MacKenzie was featured in one last ad campaign following retirement in 1989. Bud Light’s commercial for Super Bowl LI in 2017 included Spuds in the form of a ghost who loves beer and helps a hapless man reconnect with his friends. As an adorable tribute to the original Spuds MacKenzie, the home in the commercial had the house number 1989! Since then, Spuds has not been summoned back into the world of the living.
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