Spuds MacKenzie was a fictional dog character created for use in an advertising campaign marketing Bud Light beer in the late 1980s. The Spuds MacKenzie mascot and campaign were created by Anheuser-Busch marketing executive Michael Roarty. The dog first showed up in a Bud Light Super Bowl XXI ad in 1987. During the height of his popularity, large amounts of Spuds merchandise was available, such as plush toys and t-shirts.
The dog, a Bull Terrier, existed not without his share of controversy. Shortly after Spuds' rise to fame it was learned that the dog, who was portrayed as male in the commercials, was actually female. The ads were also the subject of attacks and calls for censorship by temperance-oriented groups. Soon after the ads were first aired in 1987, Senator Strom Thurmond began his own media campaign, claiming that the beer maker was using Spuds to appeal to children for the purpose of getting them interested in their product at an early age. By Christmas 1987, more legal action resulted from Budweiser's use of ads featuring Spuds dressed as Santa, which is illegal in states such as Ohio.
In 1989, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, along with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, alleged that Anheuser-Busch was pitching the dog to children. Although the Federal Trade Commission found no evidence to support that allegation, Anheuser-Busch decided to retire Spuds in 1989, partly because they felt the character's image had started to overshadow the product.
- Cincinnati Reds third baseman Chris Sabo was given the nickname “Spuds MacKenzie” by manager Pete Rose in 1988, the year Sabo won National League Rookie of the Year honors.
- The character Slurms MacKenzie (“The Original Party Worm”) from the television series Futurama is a parody of Spuds, as is Santa’s Little Helper’s stint as “Suds McDuff” on The Simpsons.
- In his late-1980s anti-“sellout” anthem, “This Note’s for You” (the title of which parodies Budweiser’s “This Bud’s for You” ad campaign), Neil Young says he “ain’t singing for Spuds” in the title track. The dog also appears throughout the music video for the same song.
- The commercial's use of skinny females as a standard of beauty inspired Sir Mix A Lot to write "Baby Got Back" in retort.
- Referenced in an episode of The Golden Girls, titled "Larceny and Old Lace", which first aired in 1988.
- The song "Ice Cream" by Raekwon featuring Ghostface Killah includes a line in which Ghostface raps "If I was jiggy, you'd be spotted like Spud MacKenzie."
- Referenced in the Mama's Family episode "Workman's Holiday". Thelma refers to an old handmade lunchbox she created named "Binky Bunny" as "The Spuds McKenzie of his generation."
- In the Family Guy episode "A Fish out of Water", a drunk teen at a Spring Break celebration sees a dog resembling Spuds MacKenzie and is bitten by the dog after mistaking it for the Bud mascot.
- The comic Badger #39 references the then-current pit bull controversy by having Badger save a Spuds-like mascot, Buddy McBride, from a murder accusation.
- The comic Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg! volume 2, #7 briefly features a Spuds-like, surfing spokesdog named Spuzz MacFarlane, who is promptly shot by Raul, the sentient cat.
- The song "Funky Cold Medina" by Tone Lōc refers to Spuds MacKenzie (as well as Stroh's beer mascot Alex the Dog) as being attracted to Lōc's aphrodisiac-drinking dog.
- The song "Selfish" by Slum Village featuring Kanye West includes a line in which West says "I spotted her like Spud MacKenzie.
- The song "Mans Best Friend" by Ice Cube off his album Death Certificate includes a line "And I can't do that with Benji, Rin Tin Tin Or Spuds Mackenzie"
- In the Family Guy episode “Brian Writes a Bestseller,” a very old Spuds MacKenzie is portrayed to be in a reality show like Rock of Love, with a group of women told to sleep with Spuds as he lies on the couch.
- An issue of MAD Magazine in the late 80's had a study of how cultural standards are going downhill, as one example, tracing how America's favorite dog went from Lassie to Benji to Spuds MacKenzie.
- A story arc in the comic strip Bloom County involved a drunken Spuds wandering into town and causing chaos.
- In the April 19th 2012 episode "Live Ammo" of the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, a background information sheet on a bull terrier up for adoption is noted as being the great-grandson of Spuds MacKenzie.
- In Pixar's film Toy Story, the character Sid has a dog that resembles Spuds, but instead is named "Scud".
- Kohler, Jeremy (2013-03-19). "Michael Roarty dies at 84; marketer helped build Anheuser-Busch brand". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-04-06.
- "Spuds McKenzie: Official Party Animal". Bull Terrier Club of Dallas. Retrieved 2012-11-23.
- Eric Zorn (1987-09-13). "Eric Zorn. Spuds Is A Dud As A Party Guy -he`s A Girl. Chicago Tribune. (Posted: September 13, 1987)". Articles.chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
- "Teetotaler Thurmond Raps Spuds McKenzie". Associated Press. 13 November 1987. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- "Spuds Can't Promote Beer Dressed as Santa". Associated Press. 2 December 1987. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- "Grave of Honey Tree Evil Eye". Find A Grave.
- Rabin, Nathan. "Sir Mix-A-Lot Interview". AV Club. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- "GorillaVid - Just watch it!". Gorillavid.in. Retrieved 2012-10-29.