A few days ago, my youngest son was watching television, and a commercial for the children’s Easy Bake oven came on. He watched as the girl on the screen baked up a mini cake, and he said “Why don’t they make something like this for boys?“
I told him that I remembered a girl in the news a few years ago who did just that –she petitioned the toymaker to offer the Easy Bake in colors that were a little more manly, because her younger brother wanted one that wasn’t pink or purple. I told him I was pretty sure the Easy Bake came in neutral colors now, and that it wasn’t an overly “girly” toy back when I was a kid too. Back then, my Easy Bake was beige and brown — apparently, Kenner was way ahead of its time in the early 1980s.
“I can call Grandma and see if she still has mine,” I offered.
Let me back up a bit. My parents’ basement is something of a wonderfully-kept time capsule. Mom and Dad have hung onto many of my and my sister’s favorite toys since we were children. If it was put away on a basement shelf when we stopped playing with it, chances are, that item is still there. Board games we had as children were lovingly kept on the shelves. As my children have grown up, the game of Life, Monopoly and others have moved from their house to ours. When my sister’s daughters started getting into My Little Pony toys, my mom dug our own vintage Ponies out of the basement for them to play with. Chances were high that my Easy Bake was still sitting on a shelf in the home I grew up in.
It was worth a shot. (I’ll be honest too — I would have trouble spending $50 for a toy oven when real, dorm-size microwave ovens often sell for the same price!)
I called my mom, who reported that yes, indeed, my Easy Bake oven was still at their house in its original box. She offered to bring it over the next time she came by.
Today, Mom stopped by and dropped my Easy Bake Mini-Wave oven off. I thanked her for hanging onto it since 1981 (according to the manufacture date on the box!)
“Well, it is yours,” she replied.
She added that my dad plugged it in today, and its original 100-watt lightbulb still worked. Had it really been 35 years since I played with it?
As soon as my boys came home from school, they were delighted to see the Easy Bake on the kitchen table. They wasted no time in setting it up, washing the pans, and getting ready to bake.
We had no Easy Bake-specific cake mixes on hand, but I did have some bargain cake mixes in the house. (Why buy those tiny mixes when cake mixes are on sale for .79?) A quick web search noted that 3 tablespoons of cake mix blended with one tablespoon of milk would fit the Easy Bake pan perfectly.
The boys were on their way to making mini rainbow chip cakes! I should add that my kids do cook in the kitchen pretty regularly, but there is something very novel about a toy oven that actually cooks food. They couldn’t wait to try it out.
The first cake slid in, and the boys waited for 15 impatient minutes while it baked. They squinted at the tiny vent holes inside the oven door to peek at the cake rising, and I remembered doing the same thing when I was a child.
Success! As one cake came out, my oldest son was ready to pop another little pan into the oven. And, as soon as the cakes cooled, it was time for the best part: Eating!
It was so much fun watching my boys play with something I enjoyed as a child. (It also makes me think about which of my children’s toys I ought to keep for them for my grandchildren to enjoy someday…)