September 11, 2015 | Posted in Famous TV & Movie Dogs

Spuds

Spuds Mackenzie

Party lovers and beer drinkers had a new mascot in the late 1980s by the name of Spuds MacKenzie. Billed as the “ultimate party animal”, Spuds debuted in a Bud Light commercial during Super Bowl XXI in 1987.

Spuds-frenzy developed, as drinkers and non-drinkers fell in love with the laid-back white bull terrier with the black patch of hair over one eye.

The brainchild of Anheuser-Busch executive Michael Roarty, Spuds was an instant sensation. The intention was to feature a modern-day version of Pete, the dog from the “Little Rascals” films, who’d been white with a black patch painted over one eye.

More ads were created, often featuring Spuds in a Bud Light T-shirt or colorful Hawaiian shirt, sometimes with dark glasses to emphasize the “cool” factor. Spuds was usually surrounded by several beautiful women who became known as the “Spudettes.”

“This Spuds for you” became a popular slogan and Anheuser-Busch cranked out Spuds merchandise as quickly as possible to accommodate an adoring public that had fallen in love with the dog.

Spuds had a great two-year run in popularity. Everyone knew Spuds, whether they liked beer or not. And that was just part of the undoing of the bull terrier’s career. Anheuser-Busch started worrying that Spuds overshadowed the Bud Light product.

Two other controversies contributed to his career downfall.  First, Senator Strom Thurmond began saying that he felt because Spuds was so lovable, kids were paying way too much attention to beer, wanting to be hip and cool like Spuds. MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) jumped on the bandwagon, too.  To counteract these protests, Bud Light ran Spuds ads featuring a “drink responsibly” angle.

But another and more ironic controversy emerged. Spuds – the macho party animal, surrounded by women – was really a female!

She was born in 1983 to Dick and Peggy Selk in Illinois. They named her Honey Tree Evil Eye, not because she was evil – far from it – but because of the black patch over her eye. Peggy Selk joined the Ft. Dearborn, Illinois Bull Terrier Club and heard that Busch was planning the dog ads. Busch contacted the Bull Terrier Club and soon, Honey Tree was doing a test photo session, dressed in dog clothes. She’d been re-named Easy because of her mellow attitude.

She passed the test and became Spuds, the “Guru of Good Times.” When off the set, she was shielded from the public so no one could tell “he” was a “she.” But eventually the story leaked out. It was just one more scandal to hit the Spuds phenomenon.

Spuds retired in late 1989 and enjoyed life as a pet until developing kidney failure, eventually  passing away in 1993. But people still react with a smile to the name. Spuds references have still been made over the years on television shows such as “Golden Girls”, “Family Guy” and “Parks & Recreation.”

Spuds merchandise is still a hot collectible. It seems the party animal may live on forever.