The Easy Bake oven, the toy that baked cakes and cookies with a light bulb, was introduced in November of 1963, which makes it 50 years old. It was immediately coveted by children all over, including yours truly. Todd Coopee, who collects Easy Bake Ovens, published a book called Light Bulb Baking to chronicle the long history of the toy. It wasn’t the first child-sized oven, but it certainly became the most popular. The trick was using a light bulb as the heating element, which just seemed safer to parents than a real oven, despite the fact that the 100-watt bulb reached 350 degrees. Coopee tells us the story behind the toy’s amazing popularity.
The Easy-Bake Oven came out in a time when America was in love with technology, particularly appliances and other innovations that made day-to-day chores faster and easier. Thanks to electric freezer-refrigerators, frozen dinners could be heated and served on a TV tray; thanks to developments in food processing, cakes could be whipped up in a jiff with boxed mixes.
Coopee’s parents even owned a bakery, but they did not poo-poo this toy as a shortcut to true baking. Instead, it was a way for their kids to do what they did. “We were always around baking, so we wanted to have something we could do on our own,” Coopee says.
“We could mix these little cakes and cook them ourselves and give them to guests to eat, as we’d seen our parents do. Whether or not they thought our cakes were any good, I don’t know.”
But the Easy Bake Oven is running up against an obstacle that may change it forever. Energy regulations have put an end to the 100-watt light bulb, the basis for the ovens. Read about the new direction for the toy as well as its 50-year history at Collectors Weekly.
(Image courtesy of Todd Coopee)