If you’ve ever stepped foot in the United States of America, chances are you’ve come across a Chuck E. Cheese. What you may not have come across, however, is the origin story behind the chain’s iconic mouse mascot — and let us just warn you, it’s not the fun-loving tale you’re probably expecting.
Siddhartha Mahanta, an editor as Business Insider, recently took to Twitter to share a screenshot of Chuck E. Cheese’s Wikipedia page, which lists Chuck’s official backstory as “an orphaned mouse who does not know his own birthday” who hosts parties for kids to make up for the hole in his own childhood. Mahanta captioned the post, “Is this origin story … widely known?”
Is this origin story ... widely known? pic.twitter.com/UMF7gkSbge— Siddhartha Mahanta (@sidhubaba) August 19, 2019
The post went viral on Twitter, with many commenters answering Mahanta’s question with a firm “no” and plenty of horrified confusion.
Soon after, Buzzfeed found a digital copy of a children’s book called The Story of Chuck E. Cheese, which the restaurant published to its website in 2012. The contents of the book confirmed the statement on Wikipedia.
According to the story, which can still be found online, Chuck E. Cheese grew up in an orphanage called St. Marinara’s. Because he was an orphan, Chuck did not know his own birthday, but loved celebrating the birthdays of the other orphans in the orphanage — he loved music and games, and he especially loved singing “Happy Birthday,” even though he’d never heard it sung to himself.
One day, when Chuck grew too old to stay at the orphanage, he moved to New York City. There, he was sad, lonely and homeless. He decided to sleep in a pizzeria because he loved the music from the radio and the smell of pizza. Eventually, he got caught by the pizza shop owner, who tried to kill him. The only thing that saved Chuck was his singing — the pizzeria owner thought he had a great voice and employed him to sing to his customers in the restaurant.
On his first night up on stage, Chuck was too afraid to sing and kept getting booed. Long story short, he saw a boy with a birthday crown and couldn’t help but sing. The crowd cheered and the pizzeria became the most popular spot in town forevermore — perfect for families and birthday parties.
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We know, it’s… a lot.
And though it may be a tad bit darker than we would expect from the mouse that we grew up with, the last line of the story assures us that Chuck is doing just fine, despite his previous setbacks: “Chuck E. Cheese hasn’t stopped singing (or smiling) since.”
Childhood ruined? You be the judge.