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NPR Arts & Life

Talking Dog 'Duke' Of Bush's Baked Beans Dies

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A golden retriever named Sam has gone to his final reward without spilling the beans.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Sam played Duke, Jay Bush's crafty canine companion in the ads for Bush's Baked Beans.

CHANG: The running gag - Duke knows the secret to the company's recipe and claims he'll stay mum.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Duke) You can trust me, Jay.

JAY BUSH: (As himself) I know, boy, but I'm not taking any chances.

KELLY: The Bush Brothers and Company confirmed Sam's death. He was just one of the several Goldens who played Duke over the years.

CHANG: But why use a dog to sell beans? After all, many vets say baked beans aren't good for dogs.

KELLY: Well, Jay Bush - that would be the great-grandson of the company's founder - really had a golden retriever named Duke. And in the mid-1990s when Bush's Baked Beans needed a new advertising campaign, they decided to capitalize on Jay and Duke's relationship.

CHANG: People love dogs. People love beans.

KELLY: The real Duke, though, was not up to snuff, a little camera shy. Here's company marketing VP Jennifer Podhajsky.

JENNIFER PODHAJSKY: We require our Dukes to be great actors. And we wanted to make sure family dogs could remain as family dogs.

KELLY: So they called in the canine actors, including Sam.

CHANG: Podhajsky says despite Sam's death, the tradition of Duke will live on.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Duke) Bush's secret family recipe for sale.

BUSH: (As himself) Duke? Duke? Did you have something to do with this?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As Duke) Right, Jay, I'm running a printing press in my basement. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.