I was browsing through A December ’69 issue of Life magazine on Google Books and came across the advert above. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Pizza Roll before and wanted to learn more – I didn’t expect to discover the Lone Ranger during my research!
Hi-Ho Pizza Roll indeed! Digging a little deeper I discovered that this very cool commercial was actually aping another much earlier commercial for Lark Cigarettes. This is why you’ll spot a cigarette smoking man near the end!
The creative genius behind the ad, Stan Freberg, worked with Jeno’s on other commercials too!
And again, when adverting frozen pizza!
Looking over the selection at Youtube, I could probably put together an hours’ worth of material just for Jeno’s commercials but I’ll leave you to do that. I’m off to my local supermarket in search of pizza rolls…
Every year on Labor Day I think about all my old jobs and how far I’ve come!
My first official job was at Mazzio’s Pizza in Yukon, Oklahoma. I applied for a job there two days after my sixteenth birthday and got hired at the end of the interview. This was all the way back in the summer of 1989. Minimum wage back then was $3.35 an hour, which was my beginning wage. By the time I left minimum wage had risen to $3.85, and I was making a whopping $4/hour.
I started off washing dishes and busing tables and quickly moved to the kitchen. Although I spent a lot of time making pizzas at the make table, what I was best at was working the cutting table. Whoever works the cutting table is responsible not only for cutting the pizzas but also assembling the orders. That’s typically the person who messed up if your delivery shows up without the breadsticks or with the wrong pizza in the box.
Later I learned how to work the front counter as well. By learning how to work several different positions I found that I could get a lot of hours on the schedule. Some friends of mine and I created the “300 Club.” To be a member of the club you had to earn $300 on one single paycheck. That wasn’t easy to do while making $4/hour and going to high school, but a few of us did it.
I have no idea why I kept this shirt, or more importantly, why I still have it. (God knows it hasn’t fit me in at least 20 years!) The Mazzio’s I worked at is still there although it’s quite different inside. The arcade that once held Tetris, Turbo and a Black Knight pinball table is gone, all of the people working there are now half my age, and all of the pizzas they sell there are now twice the size. Do you remember when you could get two medium price buster pizzas from Mazzio’s for only $9.99?
When I was a young, Chuck E. Cheese was targeted for a demographic that was older than me and I loved it. Then when I got older they skewed younger and younger until it lost is relevancy for me at about age 12. Still, their was a time when seeing this commercial would trigger a wave of tearful begging that no mother could resist. If I kept it up for a week or so, we would drive up to the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, NJ and I would hardly be able to contain myself as we pulled into the Chuck E Cheese parking lot. 3 Slices, 2 sodas and 16 video games later I could be found sound asleep in the ball pit, dreaming of my next visit.
If you grew up in the 80s like I did, you’ll remember that Chuck E. Cheese once looked like this:
The earliest version of Chuck E. Cheese can be identified by his red and yellow color scheme, and his “rat-like” facial features including the elongated snout. There are several different versions of the early “Chuck,” but they all pretty much look like this.
In the mid-90s, Chuck received his first big makeover. His trademark derby was replaced with a baseball cap, and his red and yellow color scheme was updated to a funkier purple and green. The 90s were a very funky time. For all the things this version of Chuck E. Cheese gained, he lost at least one thing — his tail. (Some early versions of Chuck E. Cheese also had a cigar; he lost that, too.)
This version of Chuck E. Cheese has been in use from the mid-90s until this month (July, 2012), when the restaurant (in response to sliding restaurant sales) introduced a newer, even more hip version of “the Chuckster.” Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you “Gen 3” Chuck E. Cheese.
As you can see, the hat’s completely gone now. While the first generation Chuck E. Cheese was often shown sporting a cane, this one’s rocking a Gibson guitar. In a coolness battle between walking canes and guitars, I guess I would go with the guitar. The purple and green color scheme is still there on the shirt. I don’t remember what kind of shoes Chuck originally wore (I’m pretty sure he’s barefoot in some of the collectibles I own), but now he’s rockin’ a pair of red Converse shoes. Oh, and the tail’s back.
Chuck E. Cheese’s latest makeover comes along with a voice change. The new Chuck is voiced by Jaret Reddick, lead singer of the band Bowling for Soup. Reddick has already lent his voice to one Chuck E. Cheese song (“Chuck’s Hot New Single”), so maybe along with pizza and video games, Chuck will make his way onto the pop charts as well.
For a bit more information about the origins of the Chuck E. Cheese character, check out the history over at ShowbizPizza.com.