Thursday, May 16, 2024

The End of the Chuck E. Cheese Animatronic Band


New York Times - "Farewell, Chuck E. Cheese Animatronic Band"

"Chuck E. Cheese was started by Nolan Bushnell, a co-founder of the pioneering video game company Atari. In an interview with the Smithsonian Institution in 2017, Mr. Bushnell said his background in arcade games, which sold for about $1,500 to $2,000 per machine, sparked his desire to open a pizza joint with the games, each of which would collect up to $50,000 in coins in their lifetime.

Mr. Bushnell said he was also inspired by a family trip to Disneyland, and particularly the Tiki Room, an attraction with animatronic birds, tiki gods and flowers.

“We can do that,” Mr. Bushnell recalled thinking at the time. “But it’d be nice to have a mascot.”

At first, the mascot was supposed to be a coyote, and Mr. Bushnell was going to call his new business Coyote Pizza. Mr. Bushnell, who declined to be interviewed, told the Smithsonian that he went out and bought a costume of what he thought was a coyote.

“I took it to my engineers,” Mr. Bushnell said. “I said, ‘Make this guy talk.’”

But a problem arose: The costume Mr. Bushnell bought was not a coyote, but a rat with a tail."

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