Say good-bye to your childhood. Chuck E. Cheese’s iconic mouse is no more.
CEC Entertainment Inc., which operates the children’s pizza restaurant chain, is looking to revamp itself after nearly two decades with the mouse and its voice actor.
The company plans to launch a national campaign Thursday where Chuck E. the rodent is replaced with Chuck E. the electric-guitar playing rock star.
The 35-year-old symbol of pizza, games and annoyed parents started off as a New Jersey rat who was a bit of a wise guy and sometimes touted a cigar. The chain first opened in San Jose in 1977.
According to ShowBizPizza.com, a Chuck E. Cheese fan site, the chain was originally going to be called Rick Rat’s Pizza, but a PR agency — thankfully — thought a rat was not the best thing to highlight when starting a pizza company.
CEC Entertainment, based in Irving, Texas, is having a hard time winning sales back in its 500-pizza-restaurant chain. The image change is part of its efforts to revive Chuck E. Cheese.
In May, revenue dropped 4.2 percent in the first quarter and the company lowered its outlook for the year.
Duncan Brannan — the actor who had voiced Chuck E. Cheese — was apparently the last to know about all this. He wrote that he discovered he was being fazed out when Chuck E. released a “hot new single” — performed by someone else:
“After serving as the voice of Chuck E. Cheese since 1993 … this comes as a complete surprise to me.”
That someone else is Jaret Reddick, lead singer of the pop-punk band Bowling for Soup.
CEC said that Brannan is not being fired. It simply chose to use new voice talent.
Right now, Chuck E.’s new identity is marked by nothing but a silhouette of a cartoon mouse playing the guitar. Unveiling of the mascot’s new image happens later this week.