Established in 1977 with its first location in San Jose, CA, Chuck E. Cheese is a chain of restaurants aimed at kids — commonly for their hellish birthday parties — and offers “pizza, a salad bar, appetizers, desserts and a feature musical and comic entertainment by life-size, computer controlled robotic characters, family oriented games, rides, and arcade style activities.” Owned by CEC Entertainment, there are over 500 corporate-owned locations and 50 franchises in 48 states of the U.S. and seven other countries. As AP reports, Chuck E. Cheese has been having a rough year and is looking to boost sales. Chuck E. — the restaurant’s mascot since the beginning — to the rescue! Unveiled earlier this month, the rodent has gotten a drastic makeover, as drawn by Chris Ayers, and will be the focus of a new advertising campaign by The Richards Group.
It’s not the first time one of our childhood icons gets the 3D, cooler-kid treatment and with each passing year and decade more and more of the flat and crude mascots are perishing. This is not to say that I feel nostalgic for Chuck E.; the damn thing has always been creepy and annoying, whether in logo form or in life-size costume or animatronic. While there has been mostly outrage online about the new look — sample comment from their Facebook page: “Chuck E. Cheese? This guy is more like Suck. E Cheese!” — there really isn’t anything wrong with him, other than trying to fit the mold of what one would perceive as a “cool kid,” which perhaps makes it a little generic. And it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t fit in better with today’s Pixar and Dreamworks worlds making him more relatable to kids and their parents. I don’t think he’s all that great and I’m not sure if a makeover will boost sales at the restaurants… at the end of the day I just really hope none of my kids’ friends have a party there that I have to take them to.