Posted by: Mark Nielsen | February 3, 2009

Chuck E’s Insane

An employee punches out her boss Chuck E. Cheese, King of Kid Kingdom

An employee punches out her boss Chuck E. Cheese, King of Kid Kingdom

Last week our family had the unique pleasure (ack!!!) of going to Chuck E. Cheese’s not once but twice, for two separate kid birthday parties. Luckily, I had to work the night of the first one (a Wednesday… odd choice for a kid’s birthday, but probably a lot less crowded).

I hate to sound like a stick-in-the-mud, but that place is a madhouse. From the moment you pull into the overcrowded parking lot till the moment you drag your kid, kicking and screaming, back out the door. (I’m exaggerating, but only a little.)

It’s louder than a Who concert. The music is awful. It’s wall to wall people. It’s an early indoctrination into a sort of gambling addiction (“Gotta get more tickets! So I can buy that cheap Chinese helicopter behind the counter! I don’t care if it’s only worth thirteen cents and I just paid four dollars in tokens! I want it!”) And finally, as one of my family members put it, “It smells like feet and ass.” And road salt, during the winter.

I realize there are a limited number of choices for what to do on a kid’s birthday. But I still contend it’s just a lack of imagination and general laziness that would cause a parent to subject themselves and our nation’s kids to such a hollow, sugar-and-bad-pizza-fueled, crazy experience. We throw money at the problem, and thus give away our children’s ability to be creative, talk to each other, and actually think for themselves.

[BTW, Apologies to Rickie Lee Jones, writer and singer of the great old song “Chuck E’s In Love”. I had that song in my head when I wrote this, and I’m a big fan of her work, right up to the present day. Check her out. She’s very spiritual… the antithesis of that giant rabid mouse pushing bad pizza and video games.]



  1. Thank you for offering upChuck E. Cheese (insert naked mole rat image here). Not only does that insane rodent provide unhealthy dietary choices and an unsanitary environment, his competitive consumerism indoctrination should be against the law. How sad that parents think that it’s a ‘treat’. The idea that a special event should be an occasion to reinforce unhealthy choices in such a big way illustrates parental ignorance at its best. Fast food birthday parties are twisted and so is the decision to support companies that contribute to childhood obesity. McDonald’s (and others’) recent attempts to convince us of their pure intentions are shameful. I prefer Burger King’s realistic approach: “Have it your way–or die trying. Like tobacco and alcohol companies, our stuff can shorten your life. Our sales are the result of poor decisions. If you want to abuse yourself, we’re right around the corner.”
    You unveiled the truth: it’s all about ignorant or uncaring parents who are sacrificing their kids’ well being instead of facing the hard work of being a good parent.

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