The Chuck E. Cheese franchise evokes thoughts of entertainment through arcade games or songs performed by an animatronic mouse. In the restaurant, however, Chuck E. Cheese is known for its pizza. Some customers began to notice that the pies were bizarrely shaped and the slices didn’t fit together.
After images began circling online, a conspiracy theory surfaced that claimed that the chain was recycling uneaten slices, reheating them and serving them to other customers. While the appearance of the pizza may be suspicious, the company has released a statement falsifying the theory.
The origins of the theory are unclear, but it’s speculated that customers’ photos sparked intrigue over the internet. An image search of “Chuck E. Cheese pizza” shows dozens of pictures of misaligned slices. The conspiracy gained speed after YouTuber Shane Dawson featured it in one of his 2019 videos. He claimed that he remembered the peculiar shape of the pizzas from when he was a child. During the video, Dawson goes to a Chuck E. Cheese and shows the “mismatched” slices.
After the video came out, several media outlets reported on the theory. A representative from the company told E! News, “No conspiracies here — our pizzas are made to order and we prepare our dough fresh in restaurant, which means that they're not always perfectly uniform in shape, but always delicious.”
Buzzfeed also did its own investigation on the theory. A reporter spoke to a former employee who called the rumor “pretty funny” and “absolutely false.” They also posted a YouTube video on BuzzFeedVideo in which they interviewed a current employee about the pizza-making process.
The current employee explained that each pizza is made fresh with hand-rolled dough. Because the dough is formed first in balled portions, the pizzas can vary in size and shape. He showed how the pizza can shift when being sliced, leading to misaligned pieces. He also revealed that there are no microwaves in Chuck E. Cheese kitchens.
From looking at the pictures of pizzas, this explanation seems valid. Although some pieces look vastly different in size, the crust looks uniform. If the pieces were taken from multiple different pizzas, it’s likely that their crusts would have variations in color or size.
It’d also be challenging to pass a health inspection if the theory was true. According to the DC Department of Health, restaurants are routinely assessed on health and safety standards. Chuck E. Cheese would take a huge legal risk by breaking the health code. It’s hard to believe that it would take this risk over pizza, a low-cost menu item.
While the pizza pictures do seem unusual, Chuck E. Cheese would have little to gain by reserving pizza slices. Former employees don’t have incentives to lie about the validity of the theory. Consumers should trust that health inspections are looking for these violations. While the images are compelling, the odd shape can be chalked up to the imperfection of the cutting process. The looming animatronic mouse may seem frightening, but he isn’t harboring any secrets behind those wide eyes.
Diana Witt is a junior theatre and media arts and design double major. Contact Diana at firstname.lastname@example.org.