Moms don’t generally relinquish control of their kitchen appliances to the kiddies, especially the oven, and for good reason – a 450-degree chamber isn’t the best place for kids to stick their hands. And yet, the oven is where all those delicious baked goods come from – moist cupcakes, gooey chocolate chip cookies, basically the finest treats a kitchen can offer. And what about all those future culinary wizards, eager to get a head start in the world of batter and frosting concoctions? Luckily, for the upcoming chefs of the world, and the rest of the kids who simply dreamt of their very own bakery – where they could escape the “don’t touch that” limitations imposed by nervous adults and churn out a never-ending supply of tasty concoctions, there was the iconic Easy-Bake Oven. Let’s take a look back at a toy that offered the sweetest of rewards.
For over 40 years, kids have remained mesmerized by the Kenner Easy-Bake Oven, introduced in 1963. The original models were turquoise and didn’t quite have the realism of the 1969 Premier Model, complete with fake dials and non-functioning clock – and available in the popular and enduring appliance shade of Avocado Green. Both models utilized a 60-Watt light bulb for their baking power, not powerful enough to cause a third-degree burn but certainly enough to teach the valuable lesson of not touching glowing objects (in a way that drove the point home more strongly than a game of Hot Potato could ever hope to achieve).
With an assortment of baking pans and pre-made mixes, budding chefs need only add water to the provided powder, give it a few stirs and pour it into one of the pans. Then, once inserted into the baking compartment, the clock-watching begins. Anyone who has ever attested to the fact that time flies, never had an Easy-Bake Oven to contend with. Minutes seemed like hours, especially considering that once the baking process was complete, another 10 minutes in the cooling chamber was required. Of course, this step somehow got neglected much of the time as kids generally don’t possess an unlimited amount of patience – although they did miraculously manage enough control to frost their delicacies before consumption. There is always available time when it comes to adding a layer of sugar paste.
In 1978, microwave ovens were just starting to amaze the population and Kenner changed the appearance of the Easy-Bake Oven to mimic these technological marvels with the Easy-Bake Mini-Wave. In recent years, the Easy-Bake Oven & Snack Center has replaced the older models and now boasts an increase in power – a result of the old 60-Watt bulbs being replaced by the far superior 100-Watt bulb!
Bulb size aside, bulb functionality was always the most important, and oft-neglected aspect of the baking process. Anyone with any Easy-Bake experience can attest to the necessity of keeping a supply of replacements close at hand. Nothing destroyed the excitement of the moment more than watching Thomas Edison’s prized invention flicker, then fizzle out, when it was needed most. Lack of a backup meant the injustice of consuming cold batter that was never allowed to reach its full potential. Sure, it might still be tasty in its own right, but just try to frost it. It was a mistake that few made twice.
Today, the Easy-Bake oven is just as popular as ever, and thanks to corporate tie-ins comes in Dunkin Donut and Oreo varieties, as well as including toppings such as M&M’s to perfectly compliment your creations. Over the years, an astounding 16 million Easy-Bake ovens have made their way into the lives of boys and girls alike and probably served as the catalyst for more than a few future pastry chef careers.
And for those that feel they have mastered the modest intricacies of the Easy-Bake oven, any kid between the ages of 8-12 can send their recipes off to Hasbro (who bought Kenner in 1991) and see if they have what it takes to score an invitation to New York City for the Bake-off Finals held each year. Just be sure to pack a few extra bulbs.
We’d love to hear all of your memories in our comments section. Tell us about the tasty treats you made, tell us your horror stories, as we fondly pay tribute to the Easy-Bake Oven and all the delicacies it has bestowed upon us over the years.