Chuck E. Cheese

CHUCK E. CHEESE’S, THE COMBINATION pizza restaurant and arcade, has been serving up entertainment since it first opened as a “Pizza Time Theatre” in 1977. Early on, its eponymous cartoon character was a cigar-smoking rat from New Jersey. Chuck has since gone through several rebrandings—he’s now a wide-eyed mouse whose full name is Charles Entertainment Cheese—and, starting this year, the restaurant’s animatronic band has retired.

…Several weeks ago, a local Patch report in Illinois revealed a seemingly disturbing underpinning of the Chuck E. Cheese universe: A former employee told the paper that a company policy required them to demolish branded items, among them the cartoon character’s head, which is part of the costume. A Patch video captured two former employees of the recently-shuttered Oak Lawn location bashing Chuck’s brains in with a sledgehammer…

…The idea is two-fold: So that no one can find a Chuck E. Cheese costume in a dumpster, and also so that children never see the disembodied head of Chuck E. “Our policy at Chuck E. Cheese’s, for when the stores operate, is to never bring that head out by itself when the store’s operating,” he says. “Because that can be very traumatic for a child.”

Dahlke says that destroying Chuck E. is usually done “out of sight.” In the case of Oak Park, Chuck E.’s head was slated to return to a warehouse in Kansas where games and robots are typically shipped following a store’s closure. “But those employees went rogue and took that outside … they should not have been doing that,” Dahlke says. He is quick to add that most Chuck E. Cheese’s locations don’t keep sledgehammers around…

Of course Chuck E. Cheese employees don’t keep sledgehammers around…

Chuck E. Cheese

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