Anyone looking to hire a giant mouse? The company that runs the pizza-and-games restaurant has decided to send Chuck E. Cheese to the rodent retirement home at the ripe old age of 35.
CEC Entertainment Inc., which runs the Chuck E. Cheese chain, is trading in the mouse in the backward baseball cap and fingerless gloves for a younger version of their long-time mascot. The new Chuck E. Cheese will be a hip, electric-guitar-playing rock star determined to sell your youngster on the joys of pitchers of soda and skeeball. But it’s not just the often-animatronic mouse that is being retired, it’s also the man who voiced the character for nearly two decades, Duncan Brannan.
Brannan learned of his replacement when he came across “Chuck’s Hot New Single” online, according to the AP. The new mascot will be voiced by Jaret Reddick, lead singer of the band Bowling for Soup. This isn’t the pizza chain’s first mascot revamp. In fact, Chuck E. used to be an entirely different species. When the chain opened in 1977, Chuck was a rat in a hat sporting a cane. Brannan wrote in a Facebook post that was reproduced on showbizpizza.com, a Chuck E. Cheese fansite, that when he started with the company, he was tasked with transforming Chuck E. Cheese from “a joke-telling, sometime off-color New Jersey rat” to a lovable, mainstream mouse.
Now that mouse, and the restaurant it represents, are in the middle of a mid-life crisis. The chain, launched by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, faces flagging sales at its more than 500 pizza restaurants — and it’s hoping a younger, hipper image will help right the ship. It plans to launch a national ad campaign Thursday featuring the revamped image of Chuck E. Cheese, who’s new look is already peppering their Facebook page.
“Why CEC, Inc. chose to do this, or do it in this manner, one can only speculate and that is not my place,” Brannan said in a Facebook post that was picked up by the Dallas Observer. “The fact is I am grateful for the time I have had to do this, to be “Chuck E.” — grateful to God for the appointment and grateful to the people at CEC, Inc. for the opportunity.” A pretty stand-up guy, for a mouse.