40 Fun facts about Chuck E. Cheese’s
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.
- The E stands for Entertainment.
- The company merged with Showbiz Pizza, ousting beloved Billy Bob and his cast of friends.
- Chuck E. Cheese’s was known corporately as CEC Entertainment and eventually bought out Discovery Zone.
- Chuck E.’s bandmates included Helen Henny, Jasper T. Jowls, Mr. Munch and Pasqually.
- Pasqually is the only human in the group, but all members talk and perform music.
- I have dressed up as Chuck E. Cheese (both casual and tuxedo), Jasper T. Jowls and Helen Henny (don’t ask).
- 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.
- Cleaning the ball crawl involved large nets and a trip to the car wash.
- Bandaids, socks, shoes and random toys were always found in the empty pit.
- There was a large grease trap in the kitchen which also required cleaning. I HATED this process more than just about anything.
- 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.
- Several times a year a handful of employees stayed after hours to disassemble and clean the ovens. This was a long and taxing process.
- Sometimes when an order was messed up, employees would get to eat the mistake.
- But sometimes the manager on duty was salty and would toss the order in the trash. I was never “that” manager.
- When the Power Rangers first came out we couldn’t keep Power Ranger water bottles on the shelves of our gift shop.
- 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.
- Each game only costs one token.
- Cast members were instructed to answer the phone “We’re making magic at Chuck E. Cheese. This is ___ how can I help you?”
- Each guest got a visit from Chuck E. Cheese in costume. I don’t ever remember a time when this didn’t happen.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The dough was mixed in a giant bowl and a large hook that kneaded it. The process was pretty neat.
- The chocolate birthday cake is still one of my favorite dessert items of all time.
- If the wall behind the Skee-ball machines could talk, it would have some interesting stories.
- Cast members got to dress up on Halloween.
- Every Christmas we had a party with a gift exchange, along with a toy drive for Toys for Tots.
- The main food order came each Thursday morning. The opening manager and kitchen staff had to be on hand at 7 a.m.
- Produce orders were made more frequently for obvious reasons. We used a local distributor for that.
- 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.
- 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.
- The location I worked at is now a Goodwill Store.
- 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.
- 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.
kevinhunsblogger View All
I'm a former TV news guy turned marketing manager. I like to blog, podcast and watch pro wrestling.
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