40 Fun facts about Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

chuck-e-cheese

Chuck E. Cheese

May 17, 1977, the first Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza opened its doors. Since it’s the 40 year birthday of the beloved pizza chain, I thought I’d share 40 fun facts about CEC. I should note (especially if you don’t read my other blog My 1-2-3 Cents) I worked at CEC for three years while in college. I held every position there, including shift supervisor (assistant manager). Some of these are just relevant to the location I worked at and were happening between 1993 and 1996.

  1. The E stands for Entertainment.
  2. The company merged with Showbiz Pizza, ousting beloved Billy Bob and his cast of friends.
  3. Chuck E. Cheese’s was known corporately as CEC Entertainment and eventually bought out Discovery Zone.

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    Munch’s Make Believe Band

  4. Chuck E.’s bandmates included Helen Henny, Jasper T. Jowls, Mr. Munch and Pasqually.
  5. Pasqually is the only human in the group, but all members talk and perform music.
  6. I have dressed up as Chuck E. Cheese (both casual and tuxedo), Jasper T. Jowls and Helen Henny (don’t ask).
  7. My favorite thing on the menu was cheese sticks. When I’d go on break I’d add extra oregano and bacon bits before putting them in the oven.
  8. Cleaning the ball crawl involved large nets and a trip to the car wash.
  9. Bandaids, socks, shoes and random toys were always found in the empty pit.
  10. There was a large grease trap in the kitchen which also required cleaning. I HATED this process more than just about anything.
  11. Except for the time a kid pooped in his pants. When I entered the bathroom I found feces smeared all over the toilet, stall walls and floors. Oh, and his dirty underwear were just laying on the top of the trash can with a turd still inside.
  12. Several times a year a handful of employees stayed after hours to disassemble and clean the ovens. This was a long and taxing process.
  13. Sometimes when an order was messed up, employees would get to eat the mistake.
  14. But sometimes the manager on duty was salty and would toss the order in the trash. I was never “that” manager.
  15. When the Power Rangers first came out we couldn’t keep Power Ranger water bottles on the shelves of our gift shop.

    chuck-e-cheese-ticket

    Note the “tracks” on the top & bottom of the ticket

  16. Ticket takers knew when guests would steal tickets. Games would dispense tickets and leave an imprint on each one. But tickets that were just yanked from the machine had no imprint. We busted many people doing this.
  17. Each game only costs one token.
  18. Cast members were instructed to answer the phone “We’re making magic at Chuck E. Cheese. This is ___ how can I help you?”
  19. Each guest got a visit from Chuck E. Cheese in costume. I don’t ever remember a time when this didn’t happen.

    Chuck_Cake_Banner

    The new Chuck

  20. In 2012, Chuck E. got a makeover. The updated version is a little edgier looking and is voiced by Jaret Reddick from the band Bowling for Soup.
  21. When the air compressor was turned off at night, the characters on the stage would begin to “relax”. This would sometimes result in creepy sounds, especially when the showroom was partially dark and silent.
  22. I once dropped an entire pizza on a child’s feet. He wasn’t hurt, but as a goodwill gesture, not only did they get a new pizza, but a comp pass to come back and eat and drink on us. The family also received an entire roll of tokens during that visit.
  23. The “tech” or person who fixed the games roamed around in a multicolored stripe shirt to stand out from other cast members in their gray uniforms.
  24. Toward the end of my time there, I started doing some public relations work creating a couple of different events, including a food drive and a family safety day.
  25. It was that safety day where I dressed up like a Crash Test Dummy. It was part of a collaboration between us and the Cape Girardeau police and fire departments. The event even received coverage from KFVS-12.
  26. The costume heads had to be wiped out and sprayed with Lysol after each use. The bodies were taken to the dry cleaners on a frequent basis.
  27. The live shows were a big deal and choreographed by a handful of cast members who were dancers at Southeast Missouri State University. My now wife also helped put these shows together.
  28. Each morning the person who opened the kitchen had to prepare the dough for the next day. Ideally, the dough was supposed to set up overnight in the walk-in fridge. But there were times of extreme busyness that the next day’s dough had to be used that evening.
  29. The dough was mixed in a giant bowl and a large hook that kneaded it. The process was pretty neat.

    Chuck E Cheese cake

    Love that cake

  30. The chocolate birthday cake is still one of my favorite dessert items of all time.
  31. If the wall behind the Skee-ball machines could talk, it would have some interesting stories.
  32. Cast members got to dress up on Halloween.
  33. Every Christmas we had a party with a gift exchange, along with a toy drive for Toys for Tots.
  34. The main food order came each Thursday morning. The opening manager and kitchen staff had to be on hand at 7 a.m.
  35. Produce orders were made more frequently for obvious reasons. We used a local distributor for that.
  36. Because I was low man on the management totem pole, I was the first one called in overnight when the alarm would go off and it happened frequently in my six months as a manager.
  37. During one call, I thought a Cape Girardeau police officer was going to shoot one of the robotic characters. It was eerily quiet and dark and Helen moved and made a sound (remember that decompressing air). The officer threw back the curtain on the stage and had his hand on his gun ready to protect us. I also thought someone was in the restaurant with us.
  38. The location I worked at is now a Goodwill Store.
  39. Our sister Chuck E. Cheese’s was in Paducah. The owners also owned the now closed Ponderosa in Cape Girardeau. Managers could go there and eat free once a month.
  40. I had the time of my life working at CEC. I think back on those days and smile. From time to time I’ll bust out an “I say ‘happy’, you say ‘birthday'” exchange with my wife.

Hope you enjoyed my mini-stroll down Memory Lane. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more blogs here.

Make your own CEC pizza

Mother’s Day: Grin & bear it

teddy bear earring

Happy Mother’s Day

I’m guessing I was about eight years old when my dad took my brother and I shopping for Mother’s Day gifts. I had saved my allowance and wanted to get my mom something really special that year.  After rejecting the usual slippers, perfume, and flowers, I found what I thought was the perfect gift: a pair of earrings.

But these were no ordinary earrings.  They were teddy bears.  And not just teddy bears, but fuzzy teddy bears.  I knew my mom would just love them.  I eagerly waited as she unwrapped the floral paper and opened the small white box containing my gift.

I don’t know how she did it, but my mom acted as if it was the greatest gift she’d ever received.  She made a big fuss over them and how much she loved them.  She even took out the earrings she was wearing and put them in as we prepared to go to my grandma’s house to celebrate the day.  I felt proud of my decision.

Many years later I was not able to come home for Mother’s Day because I was studying for finals. So my parents met me halfway at a park for a quick lunch. It was a nice break from studying. As I walked to the picnic table I noticed those fuzzy little bears dangling from my mom’s earlobes.  

Now more than two decades later, one of the bears has gone missing. But the remaining earring still sits in mom’s jewelry box. I bought those earrings more than 30 years ago and it makes me feel good she still has one of them.

Find some great gifts for the woman in your life.

6 Safety tips runners should remember

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Photo from Pixabay

Since I started running on a regular basis five years ago, I’ve learned a few things about the sport. Something I know I took for granted when I hit the road is safety. Last year, two women set out to run and were attacked and later found dead. Even in our small community of southern Illinois, a man was caught on camera stalking a runner. He later tackled the woman to the ground, but she was able to fight back and the man ran away.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to running.

Pay Attention

Do be aware of your surroundings. One of the fun things about running is getting to explore different areas. But this can be dangerous too. Know where you’re running before setting out on a new course. This can prevent being a victim and also running into unwanted four-legged creatures. I’ve been on more than one up close and personal encounter with dogs, coyotes and even a deer. Carrying runners’ mace is also a good idea according to experts.

Find a Partner

Don’t run alone. Head out with a partner or partners you know and trust. Typically speaking there is safety in numbers. Run with people who are at a similar pace as you. It does no good to have a partner if you leave each other behind.

Listen Up

Don’t run with earbuds in. I’m guilty of this, as I listen to my favorite podcasts when I’m out on a run. If I am near a busy road though, I do pull out one bud to keep an ear on traffic. But keeping your ears open will make it easier to hear if a threat is near, whether it be an animal or a person looking to do harm.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Do change things up. Running the same course repeatedly can make your trek more predictable to someone keeping tabs on your patterns. Also, posting the map of your workout on social media gives strangers a chance to know where you’re headed each time. Even if you have privacy setting in place, once something goes up on social media, people you don’t want seeing it can still view it.

Traffic Concerns

Do run against traffic. This helps runners see who is coming in their direction behind the wheel. It also makes it harder for someone to pull a runner into the vehicle.

Tune Up

Do S.I.N.G. That’s an acronym to keep in mind if you’re ever attacked. Kick, smack or hit that person in the Solar plexis, Instep, Nose or Groin. These moves can save your life if you ever come face to face with an attacker.

These are just a few safety tips when it comes to running. Use common sense. If something doesn’t seem right, trust your gut.

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I’ve been streaking

Kevin running

3.65 miles on Run Streak Day 365

On May 1, 2016, I set off on a run streak. The requirement is to run at least one mile every day to keep the streak alive. It’s now 365 days later and I’m proud to report I’m still running. I’ve run with a migraine, I’ve run with a hangover, I’ve run along the snow-packed roads of Michigan when we were on vacation in December. Christmas morning, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, Easter, my birthday. You get it.

10mile

First double digit run since 2015

In the past year, I have run a total of 822 miles. That’s an average of 2.25 miles per day, which I was hoping would have been a little more. My longest run over the past year came a few weeks ago when I did 10 miles. It was the first double-digit run since October 2015. So why did I start this streak in the first place? Several members of my running group, The Yellow Donkeys, embarked on run streaks and I was looking for a new running challenge. In 2014 I ran my first half marathon. My first marathon came in 2015 and in 2016 I ran all three legs on the River to River Relay (it was the first time I’d done all three).

Forrest_BigBeard_Mississippi

Run Forrest, run

I don’t know how long to keep this streak up. I wanted to reach a year, but with my competitive nature (believe it or not, I am competitive) I don’t want to just quit. However, I also want to add more to my fitness regimen. But ultimately, keeping the streak alive doesn’t take more than about 10 minutes a day. I am starting to feel the effects of all that road time on my ankles and knees. As I write this the internal debate grows stronger on how long to keep this up. Nevertheless, I am going to continue running for the immediate future. I want to stop on my own terms though and not because of an injury. Fellow streakers have you had second thoughts about moving forward?

 

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Why I picked comics & wrestling over running

Cape Con

For the last couple of years, I’ve joined other runners for the 80 mile River to River Relay. The race stretches across southern Illinois and is an all day event. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve enjoyed being a part of it. But this year the race fell on the same weekend as the Cape Comic Con in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Colt Cabana

Colt Cabana

That event not only features things like comic books, toys and video games, there’s also a huge wrestling element. Cape Championship Wrestling held a Super Show Saturday night featuring many talented wrestlers on the local roster as well as a handful of men and women with national recognition. The likes of Colt Cabana, Joey Ryan, Jeff Cobb and Leva Bates. When I missed last year’s event, I vowed to make it back in 2017 (I had gone to Cape Con in 2015 on Sunday, but missed a lot of the big things on Saturday).

Leva Bates

Leva Bates, aka Blue Pants

I didn’t want to go to Cape Con and CCW just to enjoy the day as a fan. I did that, don’t get me wrong. But I also used this trip to get the My 1-2-3 Cents brand out to the appropriate audience. For those who don’t know, I have a second blog called My 1-2-3 Cents that is all about wrestling. There’s a weekly podcast by the same name too.

Scooby gang

The Scooby Gang

Being on hand at both Cape Con and CCW allowed both me and iBatman (Tom Harness of Harness Digital Marketing) to network with like minded people. We connected with some of the vendors, wrestlers and the event organizer Ken Murphy. In fact, we’ve already started talking about working together in 2018. Plus, Tom had a chance to talk to a fellow veteran and Walking Dead actor Santiago Cirilo about some future projects. Overall it was a great day.

Kevin Comic Con

Toy talk with Sigs From Bigs

I will continue to run, as I’m nearing the one year mark on my running streak. But my days of being a part of the River to River Relay may be over. The opportunity to network and promote my brand are too important to pass up right now.

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Out of my shell, into my suit

 

MDMC

TapSnap booth

 

I recently attended the MDMC 17 event in St. Louis. It was two days of networking and learning from professionals in the world of marketing, social media and technology. Despite being a TV news reporter and anchor and literally have to talk to total strangers on a daily basis, I am a huge introvert. But with a goal of getting my freelance blogging career a jumpstart, I needed to attend MDMC and step outside my comfort zone.

 

Opposuits

Harness Digital Marketing team members

 

Planning for the conference started more than six months ago when I asked my buddy Tom Harness and his team at Harness Digital Marketing about the event. Tom is known as the Suit Guy here in southern Illinois for his now 14 different Shinesty/Opposuits. At the time of registration in December, my first suit, a Star Wars Storm Trooper design, was on order. Tom and I talked about wearing something crazy on at least one of the two days for MDMC.

 

Shinesty suit

PacMan & The Flamingo Kid

 

After wearing the Storm Trooper suit a few times around southern Illinois and southeast Missouri I grew very comfortable in it. The reaction was 99.9% positive. I heard one negative comment, but I’m not going to dwell on it. But because I only had the one suit and the conference extended two days I knew I needed to step up my game. That’s where Kohl’s comes in. The retailer now sells some OppoSuits in its stores. I picked up the flamingo design to let potential clients know “I have the leg up on all other bloggers.” Tom wore his Pac-Man suit (one of my favorites) because “it’s game on when it comes to marketing your business.” We came up with these slogans as we walked into the conference. Clever, right?

 

Go Daddy

Isaac from GoDaddy

 

Wearing the suits to MDMC worked. Tom worked hard on social media before we arrived letting attendees know we’d be there and suited up, ready to network. We spent a good portion of the conference together and answering questions about the suits but then the conversation turned to our careers.  Even on my own, I fielded questions, posed for photos and handed out business cards. Within minutes of walking into Union Station, one of the presenters from GoDaddy (pictured above) spotted me and asked to take a photo together. I was amazed. The suits are an immediate icebreaker. You can’t wear one without being noticed. I’m not good at making the first contact, but with the suit on, people came to me and I was able to engage in a meaningful conversation while having a good time. It was a win-win as far as I’m concerned.

 

Buzz feed

Kelly from BuzzFeed

 

The attention the suit attracts is well worth the investment. Time will tell just what the ROI will be in terms of actual blogging gigs. Buying these suits is kind of like getting a tattoo, once you start it’s hard to stop. I’m looking forward to my next purchase and still holding out hope for a wrestling themed design.

Check out OppoSuits and Shinesty

Before there were promposals…

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Now days asking someone to the prom or even the Homecoming dance has turned into quite an ordeal. I’m not knocking the creative way guys and girls are asking their dates to the dance. There have been plenty of neat videos and pictures posted on social media. Instead, I’m going to share my not so successful “promposals” from more than 25 years ago.

My junior year I had debated asking a girl to prom that I had been crushing on since 8th grade. If you read the Christmas Crush blog from my freshmen year, she’s the same girl. But now I was in 11th grade, driving and had gained some confidence. Or so I thought.

After talking with a mutual friend who didn’t squash the idea, I came up with a plan. I was going to wait for her outside soccer practice (her’s, not mine), hand her a pink rose and ask her to go to prom with me. Keep in mind I was still painfully shy and introverted beyond belief and hadn’t engaged in more than a couple of conversations with this girl.

 

junior year

Junior year, what’s not to love?

 

So there I stood in the school parking lot with a rose in my sweaty hand, waiting. My heart was pounding through my chest and the more I stood there thinking, the more I wanted to a b-line for my car and leave. But then I remembered how much I wanted this date to happen.

She walked into the parking lot alone and I walked up to her and attempted to hand the rose over and nervously asked, “Will you go to prom with me?” She paused and looked me in the eye and said, “I have a boyfriend.” I could feel my face turn a much brighter shade of pink than the rose in my hand. I apologized and quickly got the hell out of dodge. I saw another mutual friend leaving the field and jumped into her car and professed my act of stupidity. How could I not know she had a boyfriend? (She really did). I was so embarrassed.

I was down and out for the junior prom but vowed to find a date for my senior year. My first “promposal” was a simple handwritten note that I passed in between classes. I was friends with this girl but had developed a bit of a crush. She agreed to go but was under the impression it was to be as friends. A few weeks later she broke it off when I expressed interest in having a relationship.

 

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Senior year

 

I remained vigilant and actually conjured up the testicular fortitude to call a girl on the phone and actually hold a conversation. I asked her to go with me to the dance and she agreed. We went out a few times after that, but later that summer I headed off to college where a few months later I met my future wife.

I wrote this blog for a couple of reasons, it’s prom season and people tend to enjoy reading my tales of teen angst. I also wrote it because if a high school aged student is reading it, I hope it inspires you to step outside of your comfort zone. I did it a couple of times and failed, but eventually, I found love.

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