I’m willing to bet that you’re probably familiar with the pizza restaurant Chuck E Cheese’s. Created by Nolan Bushnell, who also gave us Atari, the chain was innovative in the fact that it had an animatronic band performing while you ate. It was the site of many birthday parties and it gave countless children memories that they will never forget.
It didn’t give me any, since there isn’t one where I live. Instead, my area had Billy Bob’s Wonderland, which housed the typical modern arcade games like Hoop Fever and Deal or No Deal, laser tag, and an animatronic band. I remember the animatronics being fine when I was younger, but the last time I was there, it was clear that they were malfunctioning and on the brink of death. Still, it contained many good memories.
A few years ago, I discovered that the characters in the band weren’t created for Billy Bob’s Wonderland. It turns out that they were characters in Showbiz Pizza Place, a Chuck E Cheese competitor from years ago. These characters included Billy Bob and The Rock-afire Explosion. It all made sense now. Apparently, after the chain was bought by Chuck E Cheese’s, the characters were licensed to other restaurants around the U.S., including the aforementioned Wonderland.
Recently, I was doing some browsing on YouTube and I discovered several ads for other pizza chains and Chuck E Cheese’s-inspired restaurants. I decided that they were too strange to not share, so here we are. The first one that entertains me is of a place known as Dimes ‘N Critters. The country feel certainly seems inviting for a kid in the 1980’s. Those animatronics, though, are just unsettling. Especially since this specific video slows down at the end while its focused on them. It’s kind of creepy, yet it cracks me up.
Next, there are two ads for places known as Pizza Planet, and no, it’s not the one from Toy Story. I don’t think that these are for the same location, but they’re both still worth showing off. I’m sure Andy would have enjoyed the “spaghetti and chili dinner that they call ‘Spaghilli.’” That would’ve made his visit more memorable than a toy alien.
The other Pizza Planet, oh boy. Let’s just say that Andy would’ve had nightmares for the rest of his life. Featuring a mascot known as “Pepe Roni” (really?), this place looks like a basement. A basement with Dragon’s Lair, but still a basement. From the presumably dirty ball pit, the depressing looking animatronics, and the nothingness that the kids are watching something in, I wouldn’t go anywhere near this place. Unless I had to go to Denim World, of course. I need my jeans. Oh, and I almost forgot the deal they had with the Major Indoor Soccer League club Buffalo Stallions. Make sure to have a birthday there to meet the one and only Sylvester Stallion (come on) and get a free ticket and autographed ball! As this was pre-Major League Soccer, I doubt those autographed balls were highly sought after (no offense to any Buffalo Stallions fans out there).
After these Chuck E Cheese imitators, the YouTube browsing delved into old pizza ads in general. There is a mascot in this one, called Pizza Playhouse. Honestly, this place’s inside does not look real. It looks like a low-budget TV set. Either that or they were only proud of the party room, because no games show up in this video. What else would tokens be used for? This place does house a legend in the form of Dippy the Dinosaur, though. He could give Tommy Nitro a run for his money.
For something a little more straightforward, here’s this ad for the hotel known as the Pizza Inn. Wait, it isn’t a hotel? Whatever, this ad is cool. Something about old food commercials is just relaxing. Maybe it’s because it was before the era when companies would pander by playing pop songs or making memes. Back then, all they had to do to sell the product was to show the product. That mindset with the 70’s welcoming music (IDK what to call it) makes a relaxing ad. Simpler times.
Now to get crazy again. This ad for Noble Roman’s is one of the most surreal things that I’ve ever witnessed in my life. The colorful backgrounds, the enthusiastic kids, and that monster thing combine to make something that looks kind of like a sketch on something like All That or Zoom. You know what makes Noble Roman’s different? “Rich, rich sauce! Yummy, yummy toppings! And cheeeeeeeese.” Those can make any pizza better, but I digress.
Finally, here’s the ad that made me question whether or not I’m alive: Paolini’s. Where do I even begin with this commercial? It’s amazing. The guy in the suit knows how to sell a good pizza pie. The other person in this commercial also gives a great performance of a man in denial of mediocre pizza from his former regular place. I don’t even know what else to say, besides the fact that it’s easily the best looking pizza out of all of these, but I gotta end this. So, to myself typing right now, “STOP IT!!!!! And order a pizza. Or spaghilli.”
Thanks for reading! The YouTube videos in this article were uploaded by lil k, HEMPHIL23, Beta MAX, The RetroTimeMachine, Retrontario, discohelicoptre, TheRetroTimeMachine (again), Sean Mc, and Retrontario (again). The featured image template is from Nintendo’s Mario Kart 64.