The Origins of Chuck E. Cheese

June 8th, 2017 by Benj Edwards

Nolan Bushnell and Chuck E. Cheese

I mentioned this in my most recent Retro Scan, but I figured this was worth repeating in its own post.

Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre launched 40 years ago last month — on May 16, 1977. To celebrate the anniversary, I wrote a long feature about the origins of the pizza chain for FastCompany that they published last week.

In the piece, you can learn about how Chuck E. Cheese was originally supposed to be a coyote, read about rat-related intrigue, and glean some of the visionary genius of Nolan Bushnell, who saw the chain as a way to bring arcade video games to the mainstream — as well as scratching a fundamental itch of human nature. It worked.

Hope you enjoy it.

5 Responses to “The Origins of Chuck E. Cheese”

  1. Jim Says:

    I don’t think I’ve been to a Chuck E. Cheese in close to 30 years. I do remember all the cool arcade games. It’s a little sad that new arcade games are pretty much nonexistent so all that’s left are redemption games. From what I understand, modern Chuck E. Cheeses look like kiddie casinos.

  2. Benj Edwards Says:

    Yeah, most arcades I see these days are redemption-type. There is a really awesome adult arcade and bar called Boxcar in Raleigh, though. I went there a few months ago and had a blast. Maybe I should write a review of the place.

  3. Ant Says:

    The last time I went inside was back in the (19)80s for my friend’s birthday party. The last time I saw the outside’s was in Culver City, CA, in January 2015.

  4. Geoff V. Says:

    Dayton just got a retro arcade/pub. It’s an absolute blast!

  5. bunnyhero Says:

    oh, great article! missed this when you first posted it.

    when i was a kid, i’d read about chuck e. cheese in videogame magazines. always wanted to go, but there weren’t any nearby. fast-forward to my 32nd birthday–i was living in california, and decided to finally fulfill my lifelong dream to have a birthday party at chuck e. cheese. when i called to make my reservation, they were quite amused that i was reserving a kid’s party package for a 32-year-old! i got to dance with the rat, and it was captured on video, which is on youtube. sadly i don’t have the original video– it would be nice to re-digitize it with better resolution.

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