I guess I’m a Ween apologist. I’ve liked the Pennsylvanian band ever since my buddy’s penny CD club accidentally sent him Chocolate and Cheese instead of the Weezer album he’d ordered. After noting all the underboob on the cover, our sixteen-year-old hormones graciously decided to give it a chance. Instant love.
They’ve always made me laugh, with the same glee that dick and fart jokes do, and I’ve often found myself singing the chorus of one sophomoric Ween anthem or another over and over like a mental hiccup.
But it was a real downer when I realized early on that the only other Ween fans out there were, as Aaron “Gene Ween” Freemanhas put it, “children and retarded people.” It became quickly apparent that mentioning them in polite company would almost certainly lead to sour faces and distrusting, sideways glances.
Ween became a seriously guilty pleasure, hidden under my mattress and played only at low volumes with the curtains drawn.
My poor wife has had full access to everything behind closed doors, though, and on a recent occurrence of the ever-popular “Sing Ween Songs At Your Spouse” game (not her favorite), I found myself bobbing my head at her like an emu and barking, “Where’d the cheese go?”
In 2002, an advertising firm hired Ween to write a jingle for Pizza Hut’s promo-pie,the Insider – a pizza with cheese hiding in the crust. The ad campaign characterized the Insider as “edgy,” and the firm found the perfect “edgy” band.
Ween was given very loose instructions and sent into the studio. They returned with a song that was turned down flat, with more loose instructions attached. The back-and-forth went on for five days, with the band writing six songs in completely different styles; from “spaghetti western to stuff that’s really mysterious rock that’s over the top shit.” All rejected.
Apparently, the frustration finally erupted into the open air when the above “Where’d the Cheese Go?” was passed over. Later, Mickey “Dean Ween” Melchiondo would say, “In my opinion, it is one of the best tunes we wrote all last year.”
The ad agency’s reason for turning it down? Still not edgy enough.
In response, the band returned with a reworked, newly-titled “Where’d the MF Cheese Go At?”
Ween got fired.
But they still got paid. And the song became a cult sensation, as evidenced by the broken and bleeding trail of YouTube parody videos. A trend that the band would later come to regret, as Dean lamented in an interview with Flak magazine:
“I’m done with the Pizza Hut thing. Every-fucking-body keeps asking about it. It’s the most publicity Ween has gotten in the last two, three years, and it has nothing to do with Ween or what the band is. Tuesday night, we’re doing an all-request concert broadcast on weenradio.com and we let the fans vote online for the set list. And, as of last night, the fuckin’ Pizza Hut song is number two on the list. It’s like, oh, great. The fuckin’ Pizza Hut song.”
And here I am, a decade later and still laughing about it. The Ween brothers would probably send me dead puppies in the mail if they knew. Please don’t tell.
If you’re interested, here’s the shitty jingle Pizza Hut finally landed on: