Nostalgia for the good old days of Easy-Bakes

Hayley BronnerCooking with a light bulb sounds like something a college student would do on a daily basis.

In reality, almost every little kid wanted to do that. Little girls and boys across the country forced their parents to run to the toy store to buy an Easy-Bake Oven for a holiday, birthday or when they needed a present. Of course, after the usual novelty of a new toy wore off, the oven just sat there with the rest of the things that nobody ever played with, but on occasion, a rush of excitement would come back and you would need to bake in the Easy-Bake Oven. This was simultaneously the best and weirdest toy that children under 10 played with.

The effects of the Easy-Bake Oven have lasted long past its invention. In 1963, Kenner Products introduced the first Easy-Bake Oven, which was designed to resemble a conventional oven and came in two colors, pale yellow and turquoise. This first oven was heated by two 100-Watt incandescent light bulbs.

Over the years, this design changed many times, including in 2012 when Hasbro, who bought Kenner in the 1990s, came out with the premiere version that comes in black and silver. These colors were made after a young girl from New Jersey started a petition to change the Easy-Bake Oven to gender-neutral colors in order to avoid discriminating against any children who wanted to use the product. Hasbro agreed and made a new version so that every child could feel free to bake poorly.

Over 50 years there have been around 10 different models of the product with varying colors, designs and availability.

SHELLI BRANNUM/ CC BY-NC 2.0 The Easy-Bake Oven and Snack Center symbolize childhood for many.

SHELLI BRANNUM/ CC BY-NC 2.0
The Easy-Bake Oven and Snack Center symbolize childhood for many.

The version that most of us are familiar with is the Easy-Bake Oven and Snack Center, which was introduced in 1993. It looks very similar to a microwave oven and came in pink and turquoise. The packaging included a few mixes for cake, cookies and frosting, baking pans, cooking utensils and a recipe book. Additional mixes could be purchased once you ran out of them and, of course, we all did within the first week.

The Easy-Bake Oven and Snack Center was powered by a 100-Watt light bulb and, although the recipe book says that everything could bake in under 15 minutes, it always took longer. I mean, we were literally baking with a light bulb. Nonetheless, this was still our favorite toy; even if it was shoved into a closet for extended periods of time, it always saw the light of day again… until it made its last appearance and then went to Goodwill.

Baking with a light bulb seemed funny and easy when we were young, but now it is relevant to living in a dorm. Although we have microwaves and refrigerators in almost every dorm room, there are only so many things that we are capable of making. Microwave eggs are kind of weird and cold leftovers are only good half of the time. Dragging ourselves down to the common kitchens is way too much effort, and actually putting together food to put in the oven is unimaginable.

If you are an upperclassman, you are probably surviving on pasta and canned spaghetti sauce, and freshmen give thanks everyday for the accessibility of the FFC. “Easy-bake” sounds pretty appealing when all of our time is taken up by studying, homework, papers, midterms and extracurriculars. While the Easy-Bake Oven was intended for desserts, a Hopkins student would probably find every type of food possible to cook in their plastic box with a light bulb.

Do you think the RAs will allow an Easy-Bake Oven in the dorms? The toy resembled a microwave, so if you close one eye and squint hard enough with the other, your microwave could be an Easy-Bake Oven.

The Easy-Bake Oven is a classic novelty toy that has influenced generations since 1963. Now that we are in college, thinking about baking with a light bulb brings us back to our childhood where we begged our parents to help us so we could bake our very own cake in our very own oven. The mixes were simple, which is exactly what we need now because of the lack of free time we have during school. Microwaves just don’t cut it anymore. Easy-Bake Ovens should make a comeback for 18- to 22-year-olds.

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