Chuck E. Cheese Design History

While most Chuck E. Cheese tokens have similar "rodent head" designs, the exact designs have changed several times over the years. In addition a couple "oddball" designs have appeared, and there are some tokens that do not say "Chuck E. Cheese" but were issued by CEC or it's affiliates. Here is a run-down of the various major designs which I am aware of. Thanks to Ron Perrick, WCS, and others for providing scans, token rubbings, and general information.


"Standard" Designs


The original token design featured an "old rat head" that looked fairly close to a real rat, with beady eyes, long nose, and whiskers. The reverse features "In Pizza We Trust", "25c Play Values" (varieties exist, see varieties page) and the date. This design was used from 1977 to 1982. The "short wiskers" variety is known on some tokens from 1981 and 1982 (note also "Cheese's" rather than "Cheese"). One of these also has the "pilgrim hat" mintmark on the reverse, so the "short whiskers" tokens were probably all made by the Patrick Mint.


"Old Rat" 1977-1982

"short whiskers"
standard obverse
standard reverse

 

Between 1978 and 1983, some tokens were made that included the name of the city and state where the token was going to be used. These tokens are significantly scarcer and more desirable than "generic" CEC tokens without cities.

In 1983 the obverse "old rat head" design was revised to the "adult mouse" design, and the text was changed. Instead of "Pizza Time Theatre" these tokens have the text "Smile America Say Chuck E. Cheese." The new images looks more like Mickey Mouse (c), with large eyes and ears and a much smaller nose. The reverse design was essentially unchanged. This design was used from 1983 through 1990.


"Adult Mouse I" 1983-1990

Partway through 1990 the border was revised, using the same image. The text now reads "Where a Kid can be a Kid" and the date was moved to below the "mouse head" image. The reverse design was also eliminated, so these tokens have the same design on both sides (with a couple exceptions, see below). This design was used from 1990 to about 2006. (2006 is the latest date of this design I've found, but later dates may exist.)


"Adult Mouse II" 1990-2006?

Starting in the 1995 some tokens have been made which have the same text, but depict a "juvenile mouse". These were made along with the "adult mouse II" design, and did not replace it. (Unconfirmed: Adult Mouse II tokens are used in franchise locations, Juvenile Mouse tokens are used in company-owned locations.) [March 2003 - the CEC in Bellevue, WA is using brass Adult Mouse II tokens in the machines, and copper Juvenile Mouse (C on Cap) tokens as "manager tokens. The relationship between these designs is obviously complex.]


"Juvenile Mouse" 1995-2000

Starting in 2001, some (all?) of the "juvenile mouse" tokens have a "C" on the cap. So far I am cataloging them as a variety of the juvenile mouse design. Design changed again in 2013, I don't know yet if any of the Juvenile mouse design will be made after 2012.


"Juvenile Mouse, C on cap" 2001-2012?

In 2013 the tokens were radically redesigned. I assume this will be the design for the next few years, but too early to tell for sure what will happen next!

"Chuck E. Rocks" 2013 - present?

At least one of the 2006 tokens has a "Z" to the left of the mouse head. These seem to be scarce, but how many were made, why they were made, and if the "Z" appears on any other years are still unknown.


"Juvenile Mouse, Z to left"


Designs Used for Just One Year


I have one token from 1981 which shows a rat head similar to the original design, but instead of being a line image, it is a raised 3-dimensional image. This design is known in two minor varieties.


"3-D Head"

In 1990, in addition to "standard" designs, a couple different designs were made which don't quite fit into the categories above. Each of these tokens has the 1990 "Where a kid can be a kid" design on the other side. (BUT see next listing)

Showbiz LogoCEC Logo

Sept 2012 - token listed on eBay with "CEC logo" as above on one side, and standard "jester head" design on the othere side. Sold for $4.99 + 0.99 shipping (I didn't see the listing until it had ended or I might have bid on it). I suspect this was a manufacturer's sample muleing two designs, in which case it may have been made later than 1990. Probably 25mm brass, but seller did not specify and hard to tell from scan.


Uncommon/Oddball Designs


25mm, NB, same image on both sides. I don't know yet how widely this token will be distributed. If lots of CEC location use it, it will be a fairly common token. If only a few use it, but may turn out to be quite scarce. I would be interested in hearing reports of CEC location using it.
Note: (Feb. 2004) Rumor has it that 500 of these tokens were made and distributed to CEC managers. I am inclined to believe this, as the CEC location I talked to had not heard of them, and I have only seen one show up on eBay. If true, this isn't really a "game token" (more of a "medal") but would be one of the rarer CEC items for those who choose to collect it.
Note: (Jan. 2005) Another collector has heard that these were sent to all CEC stockholders (one each). Many managers received them being stockholders. This would suggest a mintage of more than 500, but still relatively small. Very few have turned up in collector hands.

CEC "Mardi Gras" Token

39mm, Al (anodized gold)

For a long time I have been hearing rumors of a "Chuck E. Cheese Mardi Gras Token" but I never found anyone who had actually seen one. The above token may be what some people were recalling. According to the information I was given, this token was passed out to attendees of the invitation-only CEC banquet in New Orleans (year?). Thus it is more of a "medal" than a "token" but it seems to be quite rare. Image courtesty the Liebermann family collection.

Four larger-size CEC "tokens" have been made


Super Token (left: anodized gold; right: not anodized in error)

"Super Token" (above) These were used and issued in Portland, OR for a special promotion in 1983-4.


I was recently send a scan of this CEC "wooden nickel" token. I don't know anything about it, but it seems to be pretty scarce.

I was sent a scan of the above token in 2011 but it appears to be older.

 

Yellow plastic, 32mm (this one is (c) 2002, other colors and dates may exist, this is the only one I have confirmed)
Note! (7/04) These yellow plastic tokens have been showing up on eBay in large quantities (hundreds). They must be considered to be fairly common at present, although if most are redeemed for game tokens, they could be scarce in the future.
Note (1/05) These no longer seem to be showing up on eBay.


Large plastic token (right "stars and ball" variety)

Large Plastic token. According to a collector in Ft. Wayne, IN, the large plastic "tokens" were actually game prizes. A number of the games give out tickets, which can be exchanged for toys and the like. These large plastic tokens were low-end prizes that could be obtained for about 5 or 10 tickets. They were in use for about a year in the early 1990s. They do not seem to have been popular, as they are now fairly scarce. "Stars and Ball" variety has raised circle near stars one one side.

A few tokens have the "old rat" on one side (no date) and "No Cash Value" on the other side (below). These tokens seem to be fairly scarce.


Undated "No Cash Value"

I have recently (~2000) learned of a "Juvenile Head" design that is undated, appeared in eBay lot (below).


Undated Juvenile Head

Over the Hedge


From eBay listing: "Here is a new set of Chuck E. Cheese "Over the Hedge" promotional tokens. The nickel plated coins are the same .984 size as regular Chuck tokens but have been specially minted to promote DVD sales of the animated film. You get five different tokens, each featuring a different character from the movie. The backs of the coins are all the same - Chuck's smiling face along with the year and the "Where a kid can be a kid" slogan. This is a special limited issue item that the restaurants are offering, you need to use a special coupon and purchase a package deal to get the Hedge tokens."

 


CEC-Affiliated Tokens


There are two tokens from Australia. Grundy's, in the town of Surfers Paradise south of Brisbane, bought the CEC franchise in Australia, and issued tokens with the "Grundy's" name. (Two types, one with "Grundys" and the other just "NCV" with a map of Australia.) Later, a second location was opened in a suburb of Brisbane, and tokens were made showing the head of Chuck E. Cheese, but with the name "Charlie Cheese." The name was changed because the name "Chuck E. Cheese" was already registered in Australia by a different company, and CEC didn't want to pay A$50,000 to use the name.
Note: the relationship between Grundy's and CEC is not clear. They do seem to be affiliated or associated in some way, but possibly not very closely. Compare reverse of "Grundys" and "Charlie Cheese"



"Grundy's" Type I

"Grundy's" Type II

"Charlie Cheese", dots betwen words stars between words

I was recently sent the scan below with the information: I came across your site while searching for any information about a long gone restaurant of the 1980's in Perth, Western Australia (I still live here in Perth). It was called 'Pizza Showtime Theatre' and had all the characteristics of these CEC & Pizza Time franchises, but there is no mention of its existence, only those 2 on the east coast of Australia. It opened about 1980 in Murray Street Perth, in a disused 1930's balcony cinema (the 'Grand Theatre') and closed only a couple of years after that. Pizza Showtime was a pizza restaurant featuring singing & talking animatronic animal characters performing on stage and slot/games machines that ran on tokens, which I still have a few and have attached a scan. They measure about 26mm diameter.

A CEC token used in Saudi Arabia. I don't have any information about it.

CEC experimented with an adult food, drink, and game parlor in some of the CEC locations that were not doing well. CEC's in Reno, Cupertino, and Tampa were converted to "Zapps." The Tampa location did quite well as "Zapps" but the other locations still did poorly even after the conversion. Note the similarity between the reverse of the Zapps token and the reverse of the CEC tokens. (more information about Zapps)


Original Zapps Token

Chuck E. Cheese seems to be experimenting with adult food locations again. Here's some information I received recently: Hartford's is located along Interstate 35E in Lewisville, Texas, at the cross of Corporate Dr. Hartford's is the new concept store from the brains at CEC Entertainment Inc. It is much more for the adult crowd as there is a full service bar included. Lots of tv's decorate the walls turned to different sports channels. They even have screens in the bathroom. Their specialty item is baked pizza. The reason you cannot find any information on the place is that it is a test store. A 2nd location will be built before advertising will start. When first introduced almost a year ago [2001], the small game room used tokens. They have since switched to quarters and bill readers. Note: Hartford's token also known copper-plated.


TJ Hartford's token (reverse same, but "OC" mintmark under date)

Here's a puzzle: This "Token Town" arcade token (below) has essentially the same design as the older CEC reverse, with a few of the words changed. I have heard that these are from locations which closed down when CEC and Showbiz combined, but I'm still unclear on how closely they are related to CEC.

Return to Chuck E. Cheese page