Before we grew up and realized that the animatronic animals were kinda creepy, that redeeming tickets was a total rip-off, and that every surface was covered in kid germs, Chuck E. Cheese’s was the spot. Between games of Skee Ball and rides in the mechanical car, we ate greasy pizza and glugged down mixtures of Mr. Pibb and Mountain Dew at basically every birthday party that couldn’t book the local roller rink. (RIP childhood.)
Well, leave it to YouTuber Shane Dawson to ruin that rose-tinted memory of the hottest venue of the mid-90s. Dawson is one of YouTube’s biggest stars, with over 20 million subscribers, and after yesterday’s video, almost 9 million of them might not be so stoked about Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza. In “Investigating Conspiracies with Shane Dawson,” he suggests that Chuck E. Cheese’s assembles its pizzas from old, uneaten slices—an idea that’s since gained traction because, honestly, the toppings, crust, and slices on Chuck E. Cheese’s pies don’t always line up quite right.
The video is very long, so to summarize: Interspersed with a story about an allegedly abusive man, Dawson and his companion go to Chuck E. Cheese’s and order a cheese pizza and a pepperoni pizza. The pies they receive have uneven edges and pepperonis that seem to be missing their other half. “I think it’s a bunch of pieces of pizza put together,” Dawson says around an hour in.
Dawson didn’t invent this theory—people have been suspicious for at least a decade, judging by questions posted on Yahoo! Answers—but he’s popularized it on a big platform. As of this writing, the video has over 8.5 million views, almost a million upvotes, and over 200,000 comments like “Pray Chuck E Cheese doesn’t sue Shane .”
Some pies do look a little suspicious, like the sausage pizza above, which was uploaded to Imgur to complain about the lack of cheese. It’s more striking, though, that the slices don’t line up. The ones in the bottom right corner jut out, and if you imagine lining up the crust, it does seem like dough would be missing from the center.
But according to Chuck E. Cheese’s and people who claim to work there, the pies are totally fresh—and in fact, any abnormalities in the shape are the result of this made-to-order process.
“The claims made in this video about Chuck E. Cheese’s and our pizza are unequivocally false,” a spokesperson for the chain told Buzzfeed 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.” (MUNCHIES has reached out to Chuck E. Cheese’s for comment; we have not yet received a response.)
Alleged employees of Chuck E. Cheese’s took to Twitter and Reddit to call bullshit, too. “I'm a cashier and hate my job anyway, but [Dawson’s] theory is just grasping at straws,” wrote one Reddit user, who chose to be identified as Jade. “We do not make a pizza until it is ordered. [...] That’s why the usual time to receive a pizza is 15 to 20 minutes,” Jade wrote in a message to MUNCHIES. “Any uneaten pizza that is not taken home is thrown away.”
The wonky slices are because of Chuck E. Cheese’s “special curved blade,” another alleged employee wrote on Twitter. That claim was disputed by another user who said that, in their pizza shop experience, curved blades never resulted in “deformed” circles. But according to Jade, that’s because workers slide the pizzas from the cutting board to the serving plate, which makes them “a little off” and causes them to lose some of the toppings.
Another Redditor, who claimed to have worked at both Pizza Hut and “a real pizzeria,” speculated that Chuck E. Cheese’s prepares several pies at a time, mixing and matching them as needed. That could explain the continuity issues on pies with halves of different toppings, but doesn’t seem to account for the weird alignment of single-topping pies.
Dawson typically earns a couple million views per video with clickbaity titles like “IF YOU WATCH THIS YOU DIE” and “WE BURIED OURSELVES ALIVE!,” so peddling an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory for the sake of grabbing eyeballs isn’t all that surprising. Maybe Chuck E. Cheese’s is passing off amalgamations of reheated slices as fully-formed pies, but this video doesn’t prove it.
Personally, I’m not saying that I’m going to start seeking out Chuck E. Cheese’s for dinner. But if I went to a kid’s party there, I wouldn’t turn down a slice—as long as I could guzzle it down with soda, and maybe win myself a dope plastic ring.