Popular YouTuber Shane Dawson thinks he smells a rat at Chuck E. Cheese’s.
On Monday, Dawson shared a video, as part of his “Conspiracy Series,” in which he suggests that the family entertainment center serves pizzas made from leftover slices and that he has the pie pictures to make you go hmm.
Dawson says in this video that he has believed since he was a child that the staff collects leftover slices, assembles them together in a pie, reheats the whole thing and serves the Franken-pizzas to unknowing customers. The sometimes comic, sometimes melodramatic video has received over 8 million views.
Chuck E. Cheese’s told HuffPost that Dawson’s theory is completely untrue.
“The claims made in this video about Chuck E. Cheese’s and our pizza are unequivocally false,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
Dawson’s idea may sound half-baked, but its hook lies in the numerous photos of what he claims are Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza pies. In the video, he points out that most of these pies have pieces of different sizes and appear uneven. He also says that pepperoni pieces cut in half on one slice often don’t line up with the slice next to them.
Note that Dawson interweaves his pizza conspiracy theory with another story involving abuse and domestic violence, which tends to downplay the severity of the latter tale and makes for a very odd parallel.
But Dawson doesn’t seem to be the only person who has cooked up this idea about Chuck E. Cheese’s. In the video, he shows himself searching the internet and finding other novice sleuths, mostly on Yahoo Answers, who have also wondered the same thing.
Throughout the video, Dawson chooses his often-hushed words carefully, saying that most of this is his “opinion,” asking someone behind the camera if he’s going to be sued and making numerous references to his lawyer.
This kind of showy caution tends to be a theme in Dawson’s “Conspiracy Series.” He warns that everything he covers are just “theories.” But not all his theories are so lighthearted. Dawson’s channel, which has over 20 million subscribers, has published videos that source from extreme corners of YouTube, using footage and narratives put together by creators who also support anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, according to Motherboard.
Last week, The Verge reported that YouTube had briefly pulled ads from one of his videos that claimed the California wildfires were set on purpose. Some of the ideas that Dawson earnestly proposes as possibilities in the video are that the fires were sparked by direct energy weapons, by microwave explosions ordered by electric companies and by people burning down their homes to collect insurance.
Motherboard notes that fringe and far-right content tends to do well on YouTube, producing tons of views and giving content creators the incentive to create more extreme content.
Dawson’s Chuck E. Cheese’s video has an investigative component: At one point, he says he and others visit a Chuck E. Cheese’s location and order several pies. The pizzas on the table all appear to have uneven slices.
At another point, Dawson brings home what he says is a half-pepperoni, half-cheese pie from Chuck E. Cheese’s. He uses a ruler to try to figure out how the pizza would have been sliced in the restaurant and concludes the cut marks simply don’t line up.
“I think we’ve proven that these two halves were never together,” he says. “There is a reason and legally I’m not gonna say what I think that reason is.”
Ultimately, Dawson concludes that his recycled pizza theory remains “unsolved.” But when the video was posted, some people were impressed by his theory:
Here’s hoping that Dawson’s next Chuck E. Cheese’s deep dive centers on the mysteries lurking at the bottom of the chain’s ball pits. Now that would be truly terrifying.