Chuck E. Cheese quits the house band
A large portion of Chuck E Cheese restaurants will largely disappear. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Munch’s Make-Believe Band has been a mainstay at Chuck E. Cheese restaurants for decades, but the song is pretty much over for the furry animated musicians.
Mr. Monk will not be found, and Jasper T. Jules, Helen Heaney, and Pasquale no longer operate the chain’s restaurants, except for one location in Northridge, California. The company announced the residency in a press release earlier this month.
“As an important part of the brand’s legacy, we know the animated ensemble holds a special place for many fans in their childhood memories,” said David McKillips, president of CEC Entertainment, the series’ parent company. “We want our fans to know that the decision to keep the band here is a gesture of love and gratitude as our legacy continues to evolve in new ways.”
The other sites are updated, as part of the continuous updating of the series by the management. The former band space will be replaced with dance floors, screens, arcade games and, in some locations, trampoline areas — because who doesn’t want to fill their kids with pizza and soda, then have them jump up and down hard?
Chuck E. Cheese is fast approaching 50 years oldy The anniversary is in 2027. The company says it has more nostalgic plans in store during the visit, which aims to attract old fans as well as new ones.
The company was founded by Atari creator Nolan Bushnell, who had long ago severed his involvement in the series. It barely made it 10 years ago, but was saved by a merger with arch-rival Showtime Pizza.
Before the mouse there was a wolf
However, Chuck E. Cheese wasn’t always meant to be a mouse. When Bushnell first came up with the restaurant concept, there were no plans to use a rodent as a mascot.
“The business started out as Coyote Pizza,” Bushnell says. “We thought a coyote would be a great mascot. I bought what I thought was a Coyote costume from a theme park costume vendor and had it shipped to the company. When it got here, it was obvious to everyone but me that it was a mouse costume.
“Instead of having another costume, we decided to use a big rat as the mascot. Marketing didn’t like Rick’s Rats’ pizza and came up with Chuck E. Cheese – they called it ‘Three Smiles.’
A mouse—particularly a Jersey-born one who made rude comments and interrupted his guests—was considered a strange mascot. As the restaurant developed, officials quickly converted Chuck E. To a mouse, who is a bit more cuddly, and they improved his manners.
And the codes the chain uses for the arcade games that pepper the restaurant? These are just bait, intended to distract people from the fact that they are spending real money, and even make them think they are getting a deal. It’s an old trick. (In other words, in the 1980s, gamers were thrilled to get 10 tokens for $1, not realizing they were still giving owners cash. Instead, they felt like they were getting the better end of the deal.)
“I guess I was never surprised that the series lasted this long,” Bushnell said. “There will always be a place for children, and I am proud that it has given so much joy to so many young children – but not always to their parents.”