CNN- This might qualify as a kid's wildest dream: a mountain of 7 billion Chuck E. Cheese prize tickets. It's enough paper to fill 65 shipping containers, each 40 feet long, with tiny pieces of paper emblazoned with the image of the chain's mascot, a rat named Chuck. And enough to cash in for $9 million in Chuck E. Cheese prizes.
But soon enough, those tickets could be destroyed without ever getting into the eager, pizza-stained hands of the eatery's young customers. The chain, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, this week asked a bankruptcy court judge for permission to spend more than $2 million to purchase and destroy the tickets, which were printed before the June bankruptcy filing but never delivered.
Even before the pandemic, the chain was shifting to eTickets, which reduce wait times in chain's 612 locations and cut overall costs associated with the tickets. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the shift was accelerated to provide more contact-free service. But the rapid shift left its suppliers stuck with a mountain of 7 billion printed tickets that Chuck E. Cheese no longer wants or needs.
Under bankruptcy law, a company must seek court permission to spend money on anything. Chuck E. Cheese's lawyers argue that it is better to pay to destroy tickets already produced, than to risk having them fall into the hands of the general public.In its filing the company said the $2.3 million it proposes to spend on the tickets is "a cost which is far lower than the cost to the [company] should these Prize Tickets be circulated to the general public and presented ... for redemption."
See? This is why Chuck E. Cheese is about to die in a mousetrap of capitalism, ironically for not chasing the cheese. There are only so many assets a restaurant with bad food and germ-infested arcade games have during a global pandemic that is killing the restaurant business. But when one of your assets is 7 BILLION paper tickets, you have to figure a way to make chicken salad out of the chicken shit hand you've been dealt.
Not to go all old man journo on you, but there is something special about being able to put your hand on those tickets and get some ink underneath your fingernails. I bring my kids to the arcade, they play their games, and get their points get digitally added directly to their card with no dreams or goals of what they are going to get because everything is so boring and sterile. Seeing a kid getting absolutely FLOODED with tickets creates excitement in their heart as well as a buzz around the arcade on par with only whispers of a Kill Screen about to take place.
From the GOAT documentary if not GOAT film "The King Of Kong"
Shredding 7 billion tickets, or in Chuck E. Cheese terms a Chinese finger trap, 2 erasers, and one of those poppers, is a Must Watch event. Shredding 7 billion, 7 million, or even a few hundred thousand of ANYTHING is an event. Big Cat bought a lottery ball machine and every time I see it on my phone, I instantly have to watch to see what happens. How noted entrepreneur Charles Entertainment Cheese couldn't think of a better way to get rid of his extra tickets, as well as buy back any outstanding tickets in the world, is proof that that the mouse lost his fastball after building himself up from whatever gutter he was born in to become the biggest face in pizza this side of Portnoy.
Since I'm a results guy as well as someone who appreciates all the great fights Chuck E. Cheese gave Barstool over the years (Use the search function up top to view those), I would be happy to help Chuck get back on his feet with the help of a whole bunch of shredded paper.
- If a kid wants to trade 1-1000 tickets, you give them a 1:1 point ratio and shred the tickets over their head to create a pseudo tickertape parade since you were going to shred the tickets anyway.
- If a kid wants to trade in 1001-10000 tickets, you give them everything the previous kid got plus 2 handfuls of the Tootsie Rolls that have been sitting around in the prize center since the Reagan administration. No #DISRE2PECT to Tootsie Rolls either, I love them and think the fruit Tootsie Rolls are a comically underrated confectionary treat.
And finally, if a kid (or to be honest more than likely a super patient adult that didn't bite at the overpriced bouncy balls or slap bracelets) wants to trade in his/her 10,0000+ tickets, he gets the tickertape parade, the Tootsie Rolls, and he gets to light his bundle of tickets on fire along with a chunk of those aforementioned 7 billion tickets then cook a free pizza over it, which would be the most baller move ever.
Because while brick oven and wood oven pizzas are delicious in their own right, NO pizza tastes better than the taste of a ticket oven pizza that you earned from more than a decade of grinding out games like Skee Ball, Pop A Shot, and that goddamn game with the coins THAT SOMEHOW NEVER FALL OFF THE EDGE.