When I was younger, I remember getting a Cinnamon Toast Crunch bank, likely from a mail-in giveaway. The bank featured Wendell the baker, and two others. At the time, the cereal brand had three chefs. All three stared at me with kind eyes as I used that bank to collect all of the spare couch change I could find.
Eventually, two of those chefs straight-up disappeared, and Wendell was the only one left to represent the brand. They could have simply retired, but it was still an alarming discovery. I wasn’t the only curious one — one blogger and cereal fan went so far as to contact General Mills, who told them that “Wendell was the only baker that was named, and due to consumer feedback, we chose to feature him as the “Cinnamon Toast Baker” where he has remained in this title role since 1991.” It’s a lousy excuse, but it’s something.
Regardless of what happened, it’s a reminder that fictional characters and mascots mean something.
They’re part of our childhood, and we want the best for them.
Thus, fans of Chuck E. Cheese should brace themselves. His story is a lot sadder than the Cinnamon Toast Crunch bakers getting a pink slip. Buzzfeed reported on the story, saying that they did the research to figure out how he originated.
Chuck E. Cheese is best known as being the mouse behind Chuck E. Cheese’s, where “a kid can be a kid.”
They’re known for their misshapen pizza and fun arcade games.
Plenty of us have fond childhood memories of parties there. There’ve been a couple of horror stories that have emerged from past employees, but you’d likely have those in any atmosphere that involved kids hopped up on pizza and soda. Those stories aren’t the saddest aspect of the brand. As it turns out, Chuck E. himself has a really sad backstory.
There’s a reason why he loves parties so much.
Our dear Chuck E. (that “E” stands for “Entertainment,” by the way) was actually an orphan who didn’t know his parents.
Thus, he didn’t know his birthday and never got a chance to celebrate it. It’s all available in an online book titled “The Story of Chuck E. Cheese.” And yes, it’s official — Insider contacted Chuck E. Cheese’s public relations manager, Christelle Dupont, who provided the link. It’s a good read.
Chuck E. lived in the St. Marinara’s Orphanage.
Sad, but also very funny — especially if you like mozzarella sticks.
While hanging out with the other orphans, Chuck E. realized he had a passion for music. Also, pizza. Even though he never celebrated his birthday, he managed to get a lot of pizza due to celebrations for the other children. According to the story, parties happened on nearly a weekly basis, which meant pizza was flowing.
Chuck E. is a champion at the game of pong.
Just in case you need an icebreaker conversation next time you see him.
Aside from his interest in music and pizza, he also enjoyed video games. What kid doesn’t? But, the book makes sure to note that pong is his favorite and that he “almost never lost.” He once won a trophy and $50 in a pong tournament, meaning that he was a force to be reckoned with.
That $50 ended up changing his life.
With that money, Chuck E. reportedly bought a ticket to New York.
These days, $50 wouldn’t last very long in any city. But for a mouse with a dream and a hunger for greatness, it was the money he needed to bust out of the orphanage and try living solo. Despite being surrounded by so many wonderful people, Chuck E. reportedly got lonely and missed the kids he grew up with.
Rent was expensive, so he crashed at a pizza shop.
The familiar smell of pizza drew him in.
The restaurant was run by a guy named Pasqually, and Chuck E. was hiding out in secret. The fact that Pasqually had a radio made Chuck E’s stay even better. He was able to listen to music, smell pizza, and truly enjoy this second phase of life. But, eventually, he was discovered.
Pasqually wasn’t happy about Chuck E. crashing his shop.
Under normal circumstances, mice and restaurants don’t mix.
But Chuck E. pretty much saved his own life by spontaneously singing. The story states that when Pasqually realized that Chuck E. could sing songs, he chose to profit off the poor orphaned mouse and make him perform in front of an audience for publicity.
He changed the name of his restaurant to Chuck E. Cheese’s
He put a lot of faith into that mouse.
Unfortunately, Chuck E. got a little bit of stage fright. Since Pasqually had already referred to him as the “world-famous singing mouse,” that had to add some additional pressure to the night. Technically, he never actually asked Chuck E. if this is what he even wanted to do.
But, a birthday changed everything.
Lucky for him, someone in the audience was there to celebrate a birthday.
Birthdays were something that Chuck E. could do. He finally mustered the lyrics to “Happy birthday,” and ended up saving his reputation (and his life, if we’re being honest here.) That song made skeptical families believers and gave Pasqually more proof that Chuck E. was legit. It was, in Chuck E.’s eyes, the best day ever.
Pasqually and Chuck E. have been partners-in-crime since.
The pizzeria changed to be more kid-friendly, and not just for birthday parties.
Chuck E. reportedly asked Pasqually to bring games in, and the two even formed a band together. Pasqually is reportedly the only human character in Chuck E.’s well-known band, but his main goal was always making pizzas. According to the New York Daily News, his official name was Pasqually P. Pieplate — in case you were curious.
A few years ago, Chuck E. Cheese’s locations got rid of Chuck E.’s animatronic band.
It became somewhat of a punchline in television shows, but it’s still very much missed.
The band often played in restaurant locations and worked with animatronics. According to the company’s Entertainment Chief Executive, Tom Leverton, the band became more of a sideshow. Kids were more interested in seeing the live version of Chuck E. Cheese come out to present them with pizza.
For the record, Chuck E. still doesn’t have a birthday.
Even though he formed his own family, he was never designated one.
Insider reports that the company claims his birth certificate was officially lost. So, how do we know his middle name stands for Entertainment? Buzzfeed confirmed with CEC Entertainment, Inc. His full name is Charles Entertainment Cheese. And that means that his company is called Charles Entertainment Cheese Entertainment, Inc. At least we know they’re serious about entertaining.
It makes you wonder about other mascots.
The Burger King seems especially dark.
Most marketing campaigns have created little backstories about their characters, likely unaware that they’d be uncovered decades later and viewed in a depressing way. Chuck E.’s story was likely meant to be uplifting but just makes you feel sorry for the poor little mouse. Fingers crossed that the missing Cinnamon Toast Crunch bakers found brand new, lucrative careers that made them happy.
Next time you see Chuck E., be easy on him.
He hasn’t had the best life.
Also, adult to adult, supposedly it’s a nightmare being in that costume — especially if you’re helping host a rowdy party with kids who like to punch. Always treat your mascots with nothing but respect, especially since they’re probably not getting paid all that much for the job. Being in that costume is no joke.
But at least know that technically, the character is living his dream.
All of his interests tied into this one job.
In the time between the first Chuck-E-Cheese’s opening and the moment his band got permanently sacked from their daily gig, Chuck E. was able to play music, eat pizza, celebrate birthdays, and showcase his pong skills to the masses. He had very little but made the best out of it.