I remember begging my mom for an Easy Bake Oven. Well, actually, I begged her for the Creepy Crawlers playset and an Easy Bake Oven, but she said I could have only one. Since I was too young to explicate a formal critique of gender dichotomies in children's toy advertising, and brownies seemed way more useful to me than bugs, I went for the Easy Bake. Only one photo exists of me using my new toy--in it, I’m frowning at the little white oven, waiting for a heart-shaped cookie which will inevitably be burned in the center, raw-doughy on the sides, and taste like plastic. Much to my cake decorator mother’s disappointment, the Easy Bake Oven did not cultivate in me a lifelong love of baking. She would later teach me how to use a conventional oven, though I would remain only vaguely interested in helping with her cakes, and very interested in eating them. It's worth noting, though, that not everyone had my same poor attitude about the Easy Bake Oven; I have friends who cite the toy as their gateway into frosted food heaven.
This is the Easy Bake Oven commercial from my youth that I remember most vividly. I wanted to be the girl with the most M&M cake.
The Easy Bake Oven still exists, though it is definitely not the Easy Bake Oven of my youth. Hasbro has released a new model of the oven which eliminates the light bulb heating element and features a bigger cooking chamber, allowing for more substantial treats. The change comes after numerous reports of burns and other injuries sustained from the original incandescent bulb-powered design, and the phasing out of such bulbs for more efficient fluorescents. The Easy Bake Oven now works more like a real oven, reaching temperatures of 375 degrees.
The new Easy Bake “Ultimate Oven” also bears little physical resemblance to the toy first marketed in 1963. While budding bakers still push their pans in one end of the oven and out the other (with a redesigned pan pusher that totally looks like something I’d buy at Babeland), the oven itself looks like a cheap plastic purple microwave. The advertising for the Easy Bake Oven has changed, too. Rather than focusing on girls baking with their moms (or with muppets), the commercial now features a gaggle of pre-teens in pink aprons dancing in the kitchen:
I’m not even gonna get into how Hasbro once released a “Queasy Bake Oven” marketed toward boys (which included a brain-shaped Jello mold, because heaven forbid boys enjoy a cupcake and girls be reminded that they have brains, am I right?). I’m just going to sigh deeply, shake my head, and wonder why my friends didn’t come over for preternaturally sexy/fully choreographed baking slumber parties. I mean, we were probably too old for Easy Bake Ovens by then (though not old enough to use curling irons like the girls in the commercial), but I would have totally pretended to play one of those guitar-shaped cookies with my teeth, and we would giggle and my mom would glance over her shoulder at us and smile, maybe declaring “Oh you!,” and then we would go into my room and eat some more, and after everybody fell asleep, I’d freeze their training bras and masturbate with the pan pusher.
Share your memories of the Easy Bake Oven in the comments section.
Easy Bake Ultimate Oven photo via Hasbro.