NEW YORK — Chuck E. Cheese has been given the pink slip.
The company that operates the chain of children’s pizza restaurants is retiring the giant rodent’s outdated image — and the man who voiced its character for nearly two decades.
CEC Entertainment Inc. says it plans to launch a national ad campaign today with a revamped image of Chuck E. Cheese as a hip, electric-guitar-playing rock star.
It’s just the latest makeover for the 35-year-old mascot, which started life as a New Jersey rat who sometimes carried a cigar.
CEC Entertainment, based in Irving, Texas, is struggling to revive sales at its more than 500 pizza restaurants, which offer games, prizes and a musical variety musical show.
In May, CEC said revenue at its locations open at least a year fell 4.2 percent in the first quarter. The company also lowered its outlook for the year, citing factors such as higher prices for cheddar cheese and rent.
According to ShowbizPizza.com, a Chuck E. Cheese fan site, the man who voiced the mascot in commercials since 1993 learned of his replacement only after coming across “Chuck’s Hot New Single” online and realizing it was sung by someone else. The fan site this week published a Facebook post by Duncan Brannan, the mascot’s former voice.
Brannan could not be reached for comment. But in the post, he writes that part of his assignment when he first took on the role was to transform Chuck E. Cheese from “a joke-telling, sometime off-color New Jersey rat” to a lovable, mainstream mouse.
He notes that there were various signs in recent months that suggested he was being pushed out, but that he was assured by the company that he was still the voice of Chuck E.
The Facebook post was republished by The Dallas Observer this week.
CEC Entertainment says that Brannan wasn’t fired but that it simply “chose to utilize new voice talent.”
The new Chuck E. Cheese that launches this week will be voiced by Jaret Reddick, the lead singer for the pop-punk band Bowling for Soup. The Chuck E. Cheese Facebook page now shows a silhouette of a cartoon mouse playing a guitar.
The first Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre location opened in 1977 in San Jose, Calif. According to ShowbizPizza.com, the founders originally considered calling the restaurant “Rick Rat’s Pizza” but a PR agency figured a rat would be a bad mascot for a pizza chain.
The name Chuck E. Cheese was selected because it downplayed the mascot’s species and forced people to smile when they said it, according to the site. The chain was founded by Nolan Bushnell, who also co-founded Atari and Pong.
From his position at the back of the group of armored vehicles, Derek Butenhoff saw the cloud of smoke, and then all radio communication was momentarily lost. It was day three of a four-day bomb-seeking mission in southern Afghanistan. Butenhoff ran to the smoking combat vehicle. Inside, he found his best friend: Alex Johnson, a 19-year-old soldier from Madras. “The truck was on its side,…
The holiest plant of the Christmas season may be a raggedy shrub with peeling bark that seems to grow best in a dusty backyard in Tempe, Ariz. This is Boswellia sacra, better known as the frankincense tree. The shrub’s gum resin is one of the three biblical gifts that the wise men bestowed on the infant Jesus. Until recently, Americans who wished to cultivate their…
McMINNVILLE — Dozens of local veterans are featured in a new book created by U. S. history students at McMinnville High School. “An Interview with History: A Unique Collection of Wartime Experiences” started as an oral history collaboration between teacher Francesca Morrison’s class and the Yamhill County Historical Society. But with help from the Evergreen Aviation&Space Museum and a number of individuals — including the…
Lightning is one of the main causes of wildfires in Central Oregon, but there is often a calm between the strike and ensuing firestorm. Take the flurry of fires in and around the Warm Springs Indian Reservation that flared up the last weekend of August, four days after a thunderstorm crackled over Central Oregon. Firefighters call such slow-starting fires “holdover” fires, said Lisa Clark, spokeswoman…
FRESNO, Calif. — Federal law now allows visitors to carry guns in national parks, but you can’t just slip a loaded pistol into your backpack and take a hike. Pay attention, because this is a little complicated. You will need a concealed weapons permit to carry the loaded gun in the backpack. But you don’t need any kind of permit if you just want to…