Greasy pizza. Claw machines full of toys and treats. The cacophony of children's laughter, screaming, and singing.
Could you be anywhere else but the magical land of Chuck E Cheese, where a kid can be a kid?
As it turns out, this child's paradise is more than just an arcade or birthday party extravaganza.
It All Started With Atari
You probably already associate Chuck E. Cheese with classic video games, but did you know that Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, was also the founder of this classic “Pizza Time Theater”?
When Bushnell decided to open the arcade in 1977, he chose to do so with a restaurant under the belief that it would reduce competition.
It was the first family restaurant to integrate arcade games into a dining experience for children. At the time, most restaurants and arcades catered towards adults- there wasn't much out there focused exclusively on youth.
Chuck E Cheese Was Almost Called Rick Rat's
When Bushnell was first developing his restaurant, he came up with the project name, "Coyote Pizza." At one point, he even found an ideal coyote costume at a costume show and mailed it back to his team for design edits.
As it turned out, the coyote was actually a rat, but the creator simply changed the name to Rick Rat's Pizza.
Nobody, except, perhaps, Bushnell, took much of a liking to that name, and so it was quickly changed to the more pleasing, Chuck E. Cheese.
Bushnell and The Drama
The first Chuck E. Cheese establishment opened in 1977. The next year, Bushnell and Atari's parent company, Warner, had a tumultuous falling out, which led him to ultimately leave Atari.
Bushnell then reached out to the Brock Hotel Corporation for financial support, and they connected Bushnell with Aaron Fechter, an inventor who created animatronics.
These animatronics were far more superior and technologically efficient than any of the robots Bushnell had already created. However, ultimatelyk Fechter and the Brock Hotel Co. stepped away from any agreement with Bushnell.
Brock and Fechter did however come together to form their own competing restaurant called ShowBiz Pizza Place.
Of course, this controversy led to a competitive battle between both establishments. At one point, Chuck E. Cheese sued ShowBiz, and one the lawsuit which required ShowBiz to pay a percentage of profits to Chuck E. Cheese for several years.
However, in 1984, despite the legal win, Chuck E. Cheese went bankrupt, and ShowBiz, bought it out the next year.
Chuck E. Cheese In The Galaxy 500
If you haven't seen the direct-to-TV movie, think again. Chances are, it's been played in the background of your local Chuck E. Cheese, and you just never noticed it.
The movie follows Charlie Rockit, a young boy who needs to come up with a serious sum of cash to fix his parents' tractor.
Fortunately, Chuck E. Cheese and friends come to the rescue to try and win the race to help save the day.
Chuck Used To Smoke
Before he was a casual, kid-friendly cartoon character, Chuck E. Cheese, most media images depicted him smoking cigars.
In 1980, the company had the character smoke his very last cigar in honor of the nationwide "Great American Smoke-Out".
You Can Get Your Buzz On
If you need to escape from the screaming children, know that nearly three-quarters of all the Chuck E. Cheese restaurants have adult beverages” available.
Of course, you should follow common sense when drinking, especially if you're in charge of the babysitting. Always have a designated driver.
Chuck E. Cheese Broke a World Record
In 2017, Chuck E. Cheese celebrated its 40th birthday with a bang.
To celebrate their 'Biggest Birthday Ever," participants around the world joined together to set the Guinness World Records title of 8,544 kids and their families blowing party favors simultaneously for 10 seconds.
This figure beat a record set in 2009 in Tokyo, Japan, where 6,961 competed in the same challenge.
It's America's 8th Largest Pizza Chain
If you only think about Pizza Hut or Domino's when it comes to pizza, think again. Chuck E. Cheese isn't just for kid’s birthday parties- it's one of the largest restaurant chains in the country! And, yes, they even have a gluten-free crust.
Whether you associate Chuck E Cheese with sticky, childhood memories, greasy pizza, exciting games, or your favorite character (or all of the above), it's an fun place that continues to light children's faces around the world.
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