Ken Potter's Educational Series


The Rise & Fall Of Spuds MacKenzie
As Recorded In Numismatics
by Ken Potter - NLG
November 2005
Ken Potter 2005

    Numismatics seems to keep a permanent record of many prominent and not so prominent historical events ranging from the mundane, such as Bert Reynolds appearing as a nude centerfold in Playgirl*, to the obviously eventful like World War II or Man's First Steps On The Moon.  However, one area we seldom see recorded is the everyday battle between what some would call "good and evil" or the battle between commercial and consumer interests.  Still, if you look hard enough you'll find them.  One of the more interesting is a seldom seen silver round from the 1980s that did just that.  It was an unusually designed parody of Budweiser's Spuds Mackenzie which may have been produced by one of the anti-drinking groups such as Mother's Against Drunk Driving (MAD) or like-minded individuals.  It shows Spuds in a pair of Hawaiian trunks with his tongue dangling out on the curb, his  head surrounded by stars, body spread across the road and run over by a Splat Beer truck, tire tracks all across his back, (to unabashedly paraphrase Jimi Hendrix), a broken beer bottle, shattered shades, a broken timepiece (on Spud's left wrist) and a setting sun.   The design along with the legend, "Turn Out The Light / The Party's Over" seemingly depicts or perhaps predicts the end of Spuds Mackenzie.

    As the Ruling Cats and Dogs Web Site facetiously stated, Spuds MacKenzie was "The original party animal, he made his debut in a Bud Light beer commercial during the Super Bowl in 1987. Spuds, who was also a senior party consultant for the Anheuser-Busch Company, had a black circle around one eye. He became a hit almost overnight. Spuds was water skiing, skateboarding, lounging by a pool with beautiful women or something else equally glamorous."

    Later, Spuds was found out to be a female and as the Bull Terrier Club of Dallas put it: "although Spuds' gender bending didn't drain his popularity with his following, he wasn't everyone's cup of brew. Some groups took offense at his hail-fellow-well-met endorsement of the high life. In 1989 the Center for Science - Science in the Public Interest charged that Anheuser-Busch commercials appealed to people under the legal drinking age. Spuds also brought down the wrath of school officials and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and as a result his career ended prematurely in 1989.  His likeness appeared on T-shirts, sweaters, mugs, posters and stuffed animals, outdoing other popular characters of the time, including ALF and Max Headroom."

    Of course the content of this item is like a book, it is open to various interpretations.  I feel it clearly depicts the fall of Spuds but others may interpret it as just being created to be funny.  No matter your perspective, it is the only numismatic item of recent vintage that I am aware of that takes direct aim at a large beer producer.  It seems to have had very limited distribution as it is seldom seen today.

* A rendition of the Bert Reynolds centerfold was minted as a one-ounce silver bar made by Arlington Coin Galleries in 1973. Interestingly they only made one other bar before throwing in the towel on that area of the business.  Ironically, it was of the Lord's Prayer!

Ken Potter
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Numismatist Since 1959 ~ Serving the Collector Since 1973

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