Chuck E. Cheese transforming into a rock star

Jul 3, 2012, 10:21 PM

AP Food Industry Writer

NEW YORK (AP) – 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The company that operates the chain of children’s pizza restaurants is retiring the giant rodent’s outdated image _ and the man who voiced its character for nearly two decades.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 Thursday 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 show. In May, CEC said revenue at its locations open at least a year fell 4.2 percent in the first quarter and lowered its outlook for the year.

According to ShowBizPizza.com, a Chuck E. Cheese fan site, the man who voiced the mascot in restaurants and 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 late last 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” for its ad campaign. The company said Brannan, a freelancer, is still in contract with the company to provide entertainment in its restaurants.

The new Chuck E. Cheese that launches this week will be voiced by Jaret Reddick, the lead singer for the pop-punk bank 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 idea for Chuck E. came from a generic mascot costume that was acquired by the founder, Nolan Bushnell, who also co-founded Atari and Pong. Executives 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.

___

Follow Candice Choi at
www.twitter.com/candicechoi

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

A hiring sign is displayed at a restaurant in Rolling Meadows, Ill., Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. America...
Associated Press

A surprising burst of US hiring in January: 517,000 jobs

WASHINGTON (AP) — For nearly a year, the Federal Reserve has been on a mission to cool down the job market to help curb the nation’s worst inflation bout in four decades. The job market hasn’t been cooperating. Consider what happened in January: The government said Friday that employers added a sizzling 517,000 jobs last […]
9 hours ago
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)...
Associated Press

$580M headed to 15 Native American tribes to fulfill water rights

Fifteen Native American tribes will get a total of $580 million to fund settlements that ensure access to water that's legally theirs.
1 day ago
(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

Biden’s handwritten notes part of classified documents probe

Some of President Joe Biden's handwritten notes are now a part of a special counsel’s investigation into the handling of classified documents.
1 day ago
Groundhog handler A.J. Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil, who saw his shadow, predicting a late sprin...
Associated Press

Punxsutawney Phil sees shadow on Groundhog Day, predicting longer winter

Punxsutawney Phil’s “inner circle” summoned him from his tree stump at dawn on Groundhog Day to learn if he has seen his shadow.
1 day ago
A hiring sign is displayed outside of a restaurant in Arlington Heights, Ill., Monday, Jan. 30, 202...
Associated Press

Job market still hot, December openings rise to 11 million

U.S. job openings rose to 11 million in December, delivering a setback to the Federal Reserve's effort to cool a hot job market.
2 days ago
(AP Photo/John Locher)...
Associated Press

Is pumping Mississippi River water to the west a solution or dream?

Amid a major drought in the Western U.S., a proposed solution comes up repeatedly: large-scale river diversions.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Chuck E. Cheese transforming into a rock star