The real reason Chuck E. Cheese may destroy 7 billion prize tickets

How many prizes could you get at Chuck E. Cheese for 7 billion tickets? Around $9 million worth of rat-themed games, stuffed animals, and candy. And that's exactly the scenario the company wants to avoid. After they filed for bankruptcy in June (via CNN), Chuck E. Cheese's parent company asked a Texas court for permission to destroy enough tickets "to fill approximately 65 forty-foot cargo shipping containers," according to the court document (via Bloomberg Law). That's a lot of candy.

For the company behind the iconic grinning mascot, the pandemic served as a nail in a pizza-lined coffin. The chain was already struggling with falling sales and debt after a number of rebranding efforts geared toward a more quality- and health-conscious public (via Fox News and Chuck E. Cheese). CNN reported they lost almost $30 million last year alone. COVID-19 didn't just lead to a strange push to sell delivery pizza under the name Pasqually's Pizza & Wings — it also meant closing locations as a non-essential business (via CNBC).

Why would Chuck E. Cheese chuck their own tickets?

The problem was, they already had 7 billion printed tickets in their supply chain, according to the court document. The company, aware of pandemic safety measures and looking to cut costs, had even started a transition to touchless "eTickets" instead of the classic printed Prize Tickets, making these hard copies even less useful (via Business Insider).

CEC Entertainment, owner of Chuck E. Cheese, claims their plan to destroy tickets already printed with the Chuck E. Cheese logo would save them $1 million in the long run and cover the costs of buying back stock from ticket vendors and shredding it. They'd still need to spend a surprisingly hefty $2.28 million just to get rid of the tickets, but losing even more cash in the form of redeemed merch from tickets clutched in pizza-greasy hands just isn't going to fly for the rockstar rat's namesake.

But parents — don't think you've escaped the last of Charles Entertainment Cheese (his full name, via Insider) and his weirdly off-putting song and dance numbers. Chuck E. Cheese is streaming on YouTube, so you and the kids can still watch him from the comfort of your own home.