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Top 10 Untold Truths of Chuck E. Cheese

Do Arcade games, lovable characters and pizza sound like a winning combination? Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari thought so. Chuck E. Cheese’s are known far and wide as fun places for kids to hang out so its time to dive into the secrets surrounding this pizza loving mouse.

10. Record This!

As you probably know Chuck E. Cheese is known for all the fun kids can have as they enjoy pizza, arcade games and other activities. One of these activities is birthday parties. Chuck E. cheese’s gets a lot of its business from hosting birthday parties for kids of all ages. Kids like to make noise which means they like to blow as hard as they can on the noise makers called party blowers. Since Chuck E. Cheese’s often has a lot of kids on hand anyway the company decided to take things to the next level and go for the world record. Guinness got involved in 2017 to make sure it would be an officially sanctioned record attempt. The record breaking party was scheduled to be part of  Chuck E. Cheese’s 40th Anniversary celebration. The event took place at all 550 U.S. and Canadian locations. This event took some planning because to break they record they needed to get more than 6,000 kids together at the same time to wail on the party blowers for at least ten seconds all at the same time. Mission accomplished: Chuck E. Cheese’s is currently the Guinness Book of Records holder in the fun-loving category.  This recognition hasn’t slowed down the partying one bit as a lot of birthday parties are held at the hundreds of Chuck E. Cheese’s locations everyday.

9. Send In The Animatronics

Kids love these animatronic characters because they are fun and larger than life, but the founders of Chuck E. Cheese’s had much more practical reasons for championing the robotic animals. Like most things in business it was the bottom line: These attractions were billed as free to draw in wary parents concerned that they would have to shell out pockets of money to have their children entertained. There’s no doubt it worked – these animatronic characters have always been a very popular part of the Chuck E. Cheese experience. These characters put on different kinds of musical shows at different store locations and do pretty good job of entertaining children and parents alike as everyone plays games and eats too much pizza.  The band of characters is known as the Pizza Time Players and although they have trilled children since 1977 the company decided to break up the band in 2017. A company spokesperson explained that the technology couldn’t keep up with today’s tech-savvy children. I suppose in an era of smart phones and drones the clanking animatronic characters do seem a little behind the times. However, there was something charming about these classic characters that micro processors can’t replace. The cartoon versions of these characters live on, but they can’t have nearly the immediacy or effectiveness of characters children and touch and interact with.

8. No Mas

Bashing Pinatas has long been a favorite party game for children and adults alike. Seeing children scramble for the candy and prizes as they explode from the bowels of a colorful paper carcass is the high light of many children’s parties. However, this is not the case at your local Chuck E. Cheese’s location. At some point, the powers that be at Chuck E. Cheese’s decided that swing a big stick in a group of children is not the safest or sanest way to celebrate a children’s birthday. For this reason, traditional pinatas are not allowed at parties, but Chuck E. Cheese’s will gladly sell you a “pull-string” variation of a piñata. I’m not sure what this is, but it doesn’t sound like nearly as much fun as the traditional piñata. It seems like the company agrees because they tout their arcade games tickets and other activities very prominently and leave the mention of the “pull-string pinatas to the end because let’s face it: they’re just not as much of a selling point as the classic pinatas. Although some of the fun is gone, this decision does make sense in the confines of a loud restaurant filled with excited, screaming children hopped up on pizza and cake. Does this mean no more pin the tail on the donkey either?

7. Say Cheese!

This might comes as a surprise to many of you, I know it did me, but for some reason Chuck E. Cheese’s actualy sell packages of their cheese for individual sale. Is there something unique about the mozzarella the company uses to make its pizza? There is no doubt mozzarella cheese is a popular food and an essential ingredient of pizza, but it does seem a little bit odd that the company that sells itself as a gaming and party spots for kids wanted to dive into the retail food game. Regardless of the reasons retailers such as Walmart proudly offer several varieties of Chuck E. Cheese’s products including packages of mozzarella string cheese. This seems to be nothing more than an attempt to capitalize on a brand name. I suppose the irony of a mouse mascot selling cheese to human customers doesn’t hurt either. With a lovable mouse marketing the cheese the company is probably bringing in a sizable chunk of cheddar to enhance its entertainment empire. Chuck E. Cheese’s must use thousands of pounds of shredded mozzarella to make its pizzas so I suppose it makes sense for them to sell the cheese as well. No word on whether or not the company will expand into other foods such as pizza sauce or frosting. 

6. The Marvelous Mr. Munch

Despite the strange blonde hairdo that makes him look like a blend of Barney and President Trump, Mr. Munch has long been a fan favorite. he is a valued member of Chuck E. Cheese’s band. Later he distinguished himself as the frontman for the band “Munch’s Make Believe Band.” Not to be confused with Munchies snack chips, from Frito Lay, Mr. Munchies is also the star of an internet show called “Musings With Mr. Munch.” He has been associated with Chuck E. cheese’s since he appeared at the opening of the company’s second store in November 1978. Perhaps his purple persona was inspired by the popular McDonald Land character Grimace (the creators aren’t saying.) But whatever the inspiration for him this lovable monster has become a popular character with children of all ages. Unlike the other animatronic characters who are animals, Mr. Munch is a fantastical creature. He is known for scarfing up generous amounts of pizza when he’s not on stage with his band or recording his show. Unfortunately, Mr. Munch and the other lovable animatronics characters were retired a few years ago over concerns that they were failing to keep with the times. This was a loss for Chuck E. Cheese’s and for the many children who visit the stores. 

5. The Evolution of Chuck

The mouse Mascot who gives his name to kids pizza and game emporium Chuck E. Cheese’s started life as a rat. You might ask: what’s the difference between a mouse and a rat anyway? This is a good question and one not really addressed by the company as Chuck went through his evolution over the years. The official backstory of the mechanical mouse is quite elaborate. Chuck doesn’t know when his own birthday is, so presumably was inspired to celebrate others’ birthdays. he grew up in an orphanage. he started his career singing in pizza restaurants in New York City after winning an Atari Pong tournament. With his friend, Pasqually Chuck moved to California where they started a restaurant of their own. Pasquall became a renowned pizza chef while Chuck formed a band. Along with other band members, the pair performed a stage act. However, Chuck E. Cheese’s favorite and most important job is to host children’ birthday parties which places the mouse in very high demand. The interesting photograph montage above makes it clear that Chuck’s appearance has changed over the years. He has morphed from a street wise rat with a New York accent into a lovable cartoonish mouse. This friendlier version of a rodent is definitely the right choice to sell fun and pizza to children of all stripes.

4. Nick Jonas Loves Pizza

Nick Jonas is a successful singer, songwriter and actor who has been a key part of the Jonas Brother musical group with brothers Kevin and Joe. The talented trio released its first album It’s About Time, in 2006. The three brothers gained more fame through their association with the Disney Channel. There is no doubt Nick Jonas has an impressive resume, but he did some early work for a mouse not named Mickey. A young and adorable Nick Jonas can be seen in an old Chuck E. Cheese’s commercial that can be viewed at your leisure on Youtube. Young Nick Jonas displays a lot of enthusiasm and energy as he romps around a restaurant filled with kids seemingly competing to have the most fun they can. The young soon to be star appeared in at least two Chuck E. Cheese’s commercials along with Chuck. The famous cartoon mouse is seen extolling all the fun possibilities the kids have to choose from. These commercials definitely highlight the games and activities over the food items, which can only be glimpsed at the edge of shots of blinking and whirling arcade games. Do you think Nick has happy memories of his time as a kid paid to be part of Chuck E. Cheese’s world? Entertainers have definitely been involved with much more embarrassing projects that helped launch their entertainment careers. The soon to be star probably had a good time hanging out with Chuck and eating too much pizza.

3. The Six Million Ticket Mouse

The tickets are a big deal at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Kids love them, they are a form of kid-friendly currency that the tykes can accumulate for all kinds of cool prizes. You need to earn a minimum of 22 tickets to collect any prizes, but to be a success at Chuck’s you want to gather many more than just 22. One of the best ways to get some free tickets is to camp out for the Chuck E. Cheese appearances that happen about every thirty minutes. This mascot mouse performs his signature dance then throws a paw full of tickets into the air. But beware, kids will scramble for these tickets with reckless abandon and could cause more mayhem than when they were swinging sticks as pinatas. With help from their parents, kids can fill out and submit what’s called incentive sheets for things like completing their chores and reading books. These sheets are easy to complete and worth about ten tickets each. Another quick trick is to keep your receipts because sometimes you’ll be offered as many as 100 tickets just for filling out a survey. Probably the biggest single opportunity kids have for tickets is at the famous birthday party celebrations. As part of the festivities, kids can experience what’s known as the ticket blaster. Each child goes into this plastic booth where tickets are floating around inside for the taking – this is a kid’s dream come true and would be a cool highlight to any birthday party!

2. Pizza: The Logical Choice

Nolan Bushnell was a fairly practical man. As a businessman, he wanted a surefire way to make both children and adults happy. Naturally, the answer was pizza. As the founder explained pizza is hard to screw up. Cheese, sauce and bread are delicious ingredients that most of us like. Even mediocre pizza is usually worth eating because let’s face it: bread, sauce, cheese, and toppings are just a winning combination. The myriad of mom and pop pizza shops as well as international chains are testaments to the enduring popularity of pizza. Chuck E. Cheese’s site boasts about its pizza and focuses on the freshly made dough that is made with flour and 80-degree water. Cheese is important at Chuck E. Cheese’s so the company only uses fresh mozzarella on all the pizzas. The ovens are set at 500 degrees – the perfect temperature to bake a delicious golden brown pizza pie. Not surprisingly, pepperoni pizzas are the fan-favorite at Chuck E. Cheese’s for both kids and parents and the classic cheese comes in a close second. Like many restaurants today, these restaurants offer a gluten-free pizza option for customers with this food sensitivity. For customers looking for healthier fare than pizza, there is the option of an endless salad bar, but this doesn’t seem like a very fun meal to pair with video games does it?

1. Pong And Pizza

Even if you are not a fan of Chuck E. Cheese’s you’re likely a fan of video games. If this is the case then you have Nolan Bushnell to thank for their tremendous popularity. He is the founder of Atari and put video games into peoples’ homes, but he also founded Chuck E. Cheese’s. Back in the 1970’s Bushnell conceived of Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurants as a way to get kids to play with his Atari video games. Until he came up with a way to use the games in his own store he was selling the arcade games to to other retailers. Mr. Bushnell’s move into the market was a smart model that lured kids in with pizza and fun, animatronic characters that sang and danced. When Chuck E. Cheese’s needed to file bankruptcy in 1984 and the company was snatched up by its competitor ShowBiz Pizza Place. However, by 1992 ShowBiz had decided to unify the companies under the Chuck E. Cheese brand. There are now more than 500 locations for kids to enjoy so that’s a lot of pizza and a lot of tickets. Mr. Bushnell told people that he had always wanted to work for the Walt Disney Company, but he had been turned down for employment several times early in his career. With Chuck E. cheese’s he delivered his own brand of kid-friendly fun that is still popular with kids and parents alike.

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