Friday, November 8, 2019
By Emily Perkins, curatorial cataloger

“WHO DAT?” is the undeniable rallying cry of Saints fans today. First adopted by the team in 1983, it has become synonymous with high scores, bragging rights, and support for our beloved team. However, there was a time in the early 1990s when another cheer could be heard in the Superdome, and photographs from the Times-Picayune Archive at The Historic New Orleans Collection show the unlikely hero of this catchphrase.

Actor Seth Green performs the “CHA-CHING” act made famous in a commercial for Rally’s. (The Historic New Orleans Collection, donated by NOLA Media Group, original materials © The Times-Picayune)

In 1991, the hamburger chain Rally’s aired a commercial starring then little-known teen actor Seth Green as a drive-through operator for a fictional burger chain called “Pricey’s.” In the ad, each transaction was celebrated with a “CHA-CHING” or a “BADA-BING.” The commercial became wildly popular in New Orleans and the “CHA-CHING” catchphrase caught on among the Saints faithful. Excitement was so high that the team flew the 17 year old to New Orleans and to perform his moves on the field at the halftime show of their December 16 game with the Los Angeles Raiders.

Before his meteoric rise to NOLA fame, Green had done some movies and made appearances on the television series “The Facts of Life,” but he was still years away from his breakthrough role as Dr. Evil’s son, Scott, in the Austin Powers trilogy (1997).

Green, then a little-known actor, made the most of his time in the spotlight, hamming it up for TV cameras and posing with Saintsations cheerleaders. (The Historic New Orleans Collection, donated by NOLA Media Group, original materials © The Times-Picayune)  

Photographs from the game show Green dancing in front of the Saintsations cheerleaders on the 50-yard line for a slew of TV news cameras with “CHA-CHING” displayed on the scoreboard in the background. Green was also given the key to the city at a pre-game pep rally for hundreds of Saints fans.

In this photo, Green can be seen signing an autograph on the back of a “Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Beat Dem Saints?” sign, which proves that the two catchphrases were used at the same time. (The Historic New Orleans Collection, donated by NOLA Media Group, original materials © The Times-Picayune)

Whether it was the presence of the “CHA-CHING” pitchman that helped or the performance of Hall-of-Famer Ricky Jackson and the rest of the vaunted “Dome Patrol” defense, the Saints overcame a slow first half to shut out the Raiders 27–0 in front of a national TV audience. That season, the team went on to win its division with a 10–6 record and reach the playoffs for the second consecutive year, where they lost to the Atlanta Falcons.

In a news segment, Green flaunts his local celebrity status around New Orleans and on the field during a Saints game.

In a news segment on local Fox affiliate WVUE, Green is described as a “struggling teen actor,” and he can be seen chatting with dancer Chris Owens, walking through the French Quarter, and shouting the catchphrase for anyone who asks. The video also features a male cheerleader doing a backflip and shouting “CHA-CHING” and Mr. Bingle casually walking by on the sidelines. In the video, Green says, “The spirit here is amazing . . . CHA-CHING . . . man, I’m very happy, I’m very welcome here.”

“WHO DAT” is here to stay, but thanks to an unlikely hero, “CHA-CHING” definitely cashed in on its moment.

Learn more about the history of the New Orleans Saints at THNOC’s upcoming exhibition Crescent City Sport: Stories of Courage and Change, opening November 22 at 520 Royal Street.