Greta Kooy, News Editor // Illustration by Valeriya Kim
On Feb. 11, YouTube personality Shane Dawson released his now infamous video titled “Investigating Conspiracies with Shane Dawson”. Shane is no stranger to investigating conspiracies, in fact, it’s kind of his shtick. I’d even go as far to say, without suggesting he’s a nut job, that he’s the king of conspiracy theory videos. Personally, I’ve watched every single one he’s ever uploaded, and I’m not the only one. At a minimum, Shane’s videos draw in an audience of over 6 million viewers, and since his account was created in 2005 he’s amassed a total of 4,819,863,592 video views. Having been up for a month now, this scandalous video has been seen by over 27 million people. This conspiracy video was different from his others however, this video made global news.
Although Shane discusses more than one theory in his hour and a half-long video, the focus is on Chuck E. Cheese. That’s right folks, the pinnacle of childhood dreams and adult nightmares is at the centre of a very public and very controversial conspiracy theory that set Twitter on fire. Chuck E. Cheese’s secrets lie within the sauce… Well, actually the crust, or rather in the idea that the crust and toppings never seem to match up from slice to slice. Are you laughing yet?
Shane and other skeptics dished out the theory that Chuck E. Cheese recycles its pizzas, mixing and matching unfinished pies from different tables and parties and then passing them off as freshly made pizzas to new guests. Before you completely discount this one due to its absurdity, there is some pretty convincing “evidence”. Countless photos are available on Google of mismatched pizzas, and online employee testimonies suggest that conspiracy nuts aren’t that far off from the truth. Following Shane’s video, several past and current Chuck E. Cheese employees came out in support of his claims. That being said, there were many that immediately “debunked” the theory, and Chuck E. Cheese naturally denied the conspiracy in a statement to E! News saying, “The claims made in this video about Chuck E. Cheese’s and our pizza are unequivocally false… 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.”
The Chuck E. Cheese pizza thing is nothing new, Shane himself has covered the topic in previous videos and the same can be said for the countless number of other online content creators. The difference is that Shane is notably more influential than he was just two short years ago, and conspiracy videos in particular have recently gained enormous traction. This may or may not, however, be due to YouTube’s recommendation algorithm that, until January of this year, essentially promoted conspiracy theory-related content. Regardless, the pizza theory blew up and I was hypnotized by it.
In contrast to his previous videos covering the Chuck E. Cheese topic, Shane left the house (snaps for you, Shane) in search for answers. With his regular company in tow, he hit up a local store and ordered one pepperoni and one cheese. When the pies came to the table, Shane and friends were shocked. I was shocked. We were all shook. The pizza was exactly what he wanted, and most likely didn’t want at the same time. At first glance, several pieces were off. It just didn’t look right. Upon further inspection, which included a trip to Home Depot and a serious attempt at realignment to try to give the franchise the benefit of the doubt, Shane proved that his pizza really was off. It even looked like there was an entire piece missing. That’s when I knew that I had to go and find out for myself.
On a relatively sunny Saturday, when I already had about 100 other far more important things to do, I drove for nearly an hour and a half to go to the only Chuck E. Cheese in BC. Lucky for me, it just so happened that Megan, our Opinions Editor and resident professional critic, who also decided to ignore her adult responsibilities for the afternoon, was free. We excitedly, albeit shamefully, walked through the doors of the corner-of-the-strip-mall Chuck E. Cheese and braced ourselves. The girl standing at the entrance asked if we were there to join a party, to which we replied: “Nope, just here for the food.” She looked confused, and I’m sure she wasn’t the only one to be baffled and mildly concerned. We were two 25-year-olds with no children to accompany and seemingly had no business being there.
But we were there, and we had a job to do. We ordered a medium pepperoni pizza and waited in anticipation at a booth located right next to the exit. It didn’t take long for me to realize that all the childhood fun and excitement that I had once associated with Chuck E. Cheese had completely vanished. For the most part, this particular location felt like someone’s well-lit basement, filled with random game machines and an old McDonald’s PlayPlace structure stuffed into the corner. It sucked. Mr. Chuck E. Cheese even made an appearance at one point, but his lackluster performance was celery on a scale of water to ghost pepper and it made me feel bad for the kids. They deserve better.
When the pizza finally got to our table, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed. My tinfoil hat had been on for nearly three weeks and I was convinced that we’d get a Frankenstein pie. But it was perfectly round, and frankly delicious. There is an argument to be had about whether or not certain locations practice less than sanitary pizza procedures, but that absolutely was not the case at this particular Chuck E. Cheese. I still wouldn’t recommend going there unless you absolutely have to, but I can now say with absolute confidence that it’s not because of their pizza.
Shane’s come under fire since uploading his latest video and has received a lot more attention than he probably ever expected because of it. With that being said, he’s got millions of loyal, die-hard subscribers, many of whom probably went to Chuck E. Cheese just like Megan and I did, simply out of curiosity. So, despite being in the news (again) for some unfavourable comments, Chuck E. Cheese has finally, for a brief moment, appealed to someone over the age of 6. Can they really be that mad?