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The Easy-Bake Oven
March 3, 2011 1:33 PM   Subscribe

The Easy-Bake Oven has inspired some children and mutilated others en route to being immortalized in The National Toy Hall of Fame. But with 100-watt incandescent light bulbs effectively prohibited from manufacture starting in 2012, the suprisingly versatile cooking instrument is being retired in favor of an "Ultimate" model powered by a non-bulb heating element.
posted by Joe Beese (73 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hasbro couldn't raise the dough to pay off the lawsuits and finally saw the light.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:42 PM on March 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ah, the Easy-Bake Oven. Mine was from a garage sale down the street. It smelled funny and made a cake with a nicely burned crust and a soft, gooey uncooked middle. Some ideas are just meant for the scrap heap.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:42 PM on March 3, 2011


I thought those things were only legal in Mexico...
posted by hincandenza at 1:45 PM on March 3, 2011 [18 favorites]


I miss my Easy-Bake Oven. Food I was allowed to make! Myself!

I adore the marketing copy: "This new oven ... offers an extensive assortment of mixes reflective of the hottest baking trends for today." Kids love sous-vide!
posted by adipocere at 1:45 PM on March 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


A friend of mine in college got an Easy-Bake Oven as a gag gift, so of course we used it to cook the included mixes. The resulting cakes and cookies were awful.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:46 PM on March 3, 2011


Blazecock Pileon: It smelled funny and made a cake with a nicely burned crust and a soft, gooey uncooked middle.

That's a feature not a bug.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:47 PM on March 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


For a few bucks more you can get your kid a workable convection toaster oven and call it a day. Not responsible for molten kitchen playsets.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:48 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Easy-Bake Oven is what started my wife on the road to becoming a chef. She says she can still recall the taste of that cake, and her wide-eyed childhood amazement that these powders she had somehow mixed together had resulted in that perfect little round cake.
posted by fixedgear at 1:48 PM on March 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


New Easy-Bake Oven Recall following PARTIAL FINGER AMPUTATION; consumers urged to return toy ovens

is the title of my new one-man-show. It's going to be a biting social commentary about growing up in the 80s and the difficulties facing the 'prodigy generation' as they enter the global-work-force.

SPOILERS: the protagonist opens a vegan friendly bakery in the rust-belt after spending 3 years unsuccessfully looking for work in Major American Metropolis. His long-term girlfriend will be an Asian-born photographer who generates most of their income from taking cloying pictures of abandoned garment factories. Though they both work in the city, they will choose to live in the exurbs.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:49 PM on March 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


This story was on the NBC Nightly News a week or so back and Brian Williams seemed physically angry that someone was messing with the Easy-Bake Oven. Like, his eyes were cold and hard and his fists were all balled up, knuckles white.

So either the dude loves his lightbulb brownies or his depiction in 30 Rock is closer to the truth than previously suspected.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:50 PM on March 3, 2011 [23 favorites]


I can attest to the incredibly terrible results from the EZ Bake. My daughters made me every packet, and they were so terrible and bizarre tasting my wife threw it out and taught them to make cookies in the real oven. Much better.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:52 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The most difficult aspect of using an Easy Bake Oven is finding a place to stash the end product while simultaneously telling your daughter how yummy it is.
posted by perhapses at 1:52 PM on March 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Joe Beese: "...."Ultimate" model powered by a non-bulb heating element."

Mr. Fusion + Flux Capacitor = Timely Brownies
posted by zarq at 1:52 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Needs moar creepy crawlers.

Seriously, those little trays would come out of that thing hot enough to melt flesh. I got the notches to prove it.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:53 PM on March 3, 2011


> So either the dude loves his lightbulb brownies or his depiction in 30 Rock is closer to the truth than previously suspected.

You've seen his appearances on Letterman and Stewart, right? He looks like he's just barely able to contain an explosion of pure sass that will instantly burn all his current bridges. Give the man some brownies.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:53 PM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought those things were only legal in Mexico...

You are thinking of the Cornballer
posted by Mister Fabulous at 1:55 PM on March 3, 2011 [10 favorites]


Goodness. Just make a very tiny microwave.

Hahahahahahahahaha.

I'm sorry.
posted by anniecat at 1:55 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


...powered by a non-bulb heating element.

Fire!

This food was cooked using the same force that powers HELL!
posted by mmrtnt at 1:55 PM on March 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


But with 100-watt incandescent light bulbs effectively prohibited from manufacture starting in 2012

This is a classic bit of conservative FUD, and is patently untrue across several levels.

For starters, halogen incandescent lamps will meet the criteria, and bulbs used for the purposes of heating would likely fall under the "special use" exemption, as will appliance lamps (like the one in your oven/fridge/microwave), plant lamps, outdoor lamps, and 3-way lamps.

Bulbs producing more than 2600 lumens (~>150w) are exempt (and already probably meet the lumens-per-watt requirement, given that halogens and arc lamps have dominated this space for several decades now)

That said, a real heating element (which Easy Bake have apparently been using since all the way back to 2003) is going to be a lot safer, more efficient, and should outlast the life of the oven.

I suspect these stories have nothing to do with each other. Eliminating the bulb is an obvious and good engineering decision.
posted by schmod at 1:58 PM on March 3, 2011 [16 favorites]


The "ultimate" easy-bake oven is just a box of ho-hos. How much easier is it than being pre-baked?
posted by GuyZero at 1:58 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Needs moar creepy crawlers.

yeah, those things were GREAT for teachin' us little brats to keep our dang fingers off the burning-hot metal! (And yep: I've got some notches that probably match yours..... did you ever try burning the Goop on purpose? The burning-plastic stink worked beautifully for annoying older sisters!)
posted by easily confused at 2:01 PM on March 3, 2011


My daughter got one of these for Christmas. She wanted it soooooo bad. It sits in the pantry, unused, because we've not been able to find one of the damned bulbs for it.
posted by jbickers at 2:02 PM on March 3, 2011


I had an Easy-Bake. But I had to get permission from Mom each time before baking with it, so instead I'd just mix up the powders with water and then secretly eat the chocolate batter while sitting in my closet.

what? no, I'm not diabetic. why do you ask?
posted by castlebravo at 2:04 PM on March 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is a classic bit of conservative FUD, and is patently untrue across several levels.

I have no opinion on the subject - having no knowledge of it either. But the last link includes a Hasbro announcement specifically mentioning post-2012 unavailability.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:06 PM on March 3, 2011


There is a Seinfeld episode where Kramer is selling non-low-flow shower heads out of the trunk of his car. As he holds one up that's about foot in diameter he says "They use this one on elephants at the zoo." It will be like that with incandescent light bulbs. /derail
posted by fixedgear at 2:06 PM on March 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


But at any rate, it's amusing to have FUD and Easy Bake Ovens mentioned in the same breath.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:07 PM on March 3, 2011


I recently saw over a dozen Easy Bake Ovens for sale at the Goodwill near me. In case someone wants to stock up on the classic model before they're gone forever.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 2:09 PM on March 3, 2011


My daughters made me every packet, and they were so terrible and bizarre tasting my wife threw it out and taught them to make cookies in the real oven.

Sounds like my case -- I think i remember some kid I knew on my street had one and a bunch of us were sooo jealous when we were at her birthday party and she let me try mixing the batter a bit...

But any other EZ bake memories are overshadowed by me and my friend Lisa being allowed to bake cookies for real when we were about nine -- even when we burned things and set off the fire alarm and put in too much butter and things melted all over the stove and stuff. (Usually at Lisa's house, as her mother had the much more practical perspective that us making relatively harmless mistakes like that would teach us stuff.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:09 PM on March 3, 2011


I miss my Easy-Bake Oven. Food I was allowed to make! Myself!

This was, in a nutshell, the value proposition as I understood it at the age of five. And it was the shit, far as I was concerned.

It was 1978, and my friend Jill had one. She was six, the extra age of wisdom seemed to be part of the make-your-own-food deal. You could just go to her house and make cakes and eat 'em. No questions asked, no parental regulator on portion size. Everyone had toys, but this was equipment. This had real power. So I asked for one for my birthday. Nope. Xmas? Sorry, kid. I was devastated (though partially placated by my multiple space Lego kits). But what're you gonna do? Boys on Canadian military bases in 1978 do not get Easy Bake Ovens of their own.

I'll tell you what you do. You just flat-out refuse to learn to be handy. Just like seemingly congenitally suck at the most basic of home improvements. Lose your shit completely on Ikea shelving. All the while learning to make a perfect Thai curry and dashing off Marcella Hazan quality pasta like it's all in a day's work.

Your parents come to visit now, and your dad tells you yours is the only risotto he likes, and there is a kind of sweet, gentle vengeance. He doesn't say it, but he knows now you should've got your Easy Bake Oven. Then maybe you would've learned to fix the leak in the guestroom shower.
posted by gompa at 2:10 PM on March 3, 2011 [62 favorites]


Goodness. Just make a very tiny microwave.

I think these would sell like hotcakes. I would buy one for my cube to nuke hot pockets or whatever.

As for HasBro can't they switch to halogen? or would those be too hot?
posted by Ad hominem at 2:12 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Inspired some children and mutilated others.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:15 PM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


> Mr. Fusion + Flux Capacitor = Timely Brownies

Bah!

You children and your fourth-dimension, self-assembling, nano-particle cakes.

In my day we had to use tungsten-filament vacuum bulbs to expand and aerate unleavened dough.

And we were darn happy to have them, too, despite the burns and blindness!
posted by mmrtnt at 2:16 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the lab I used to work in, we had an oven for annealing wafers up to 1200K in a few seconds. The heat source was just multiple banks of commercial quartz-halogen light bulbs embedded in a water-cooled heatsink. Motherfucker drew like 50 amps of three-phase and more PCW than anything else in the lab.

But we still called it the Easy-Bake.
posted by 7segment at 2:20 PM on March 3, 2011 [12 favorites]


Food I was allowed to make!

Children as young as 2 are allowed to "sous chef" with me while I cook.

Myself!

And my wife has been letting our almost-10 year-old make brownies and cookies with his friend for about 2 years.

Except for sharp knives and burners, cooking isn't that dangerous.
posted by DU at 2:21 PM on March 3, 2011


I have to confess that I slowly approached a woman holding an easy bake oven during my turn at a white elephant party just to cruelly enjoy her squeals of terror that I'd take away her precious prize. I'm not proud of that... well, maybe a little proud.

She got to keep the oven, I'm not a total monster.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:23 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My mom was insulted by Easy-Bake ovens. She was of the "you want to bake something? Let's teach you how to make pie!" school.

I had a washing machine that hooked up to the garden hose, though, and a half-size iron that I used to iron my dad's handkerchiefs.

wait, I think she might have had ulterior motives...but damn, I loved that washing machine
posted by catlet at 2:38 PM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


http://happycake.ytmnd.com/
posted by K'an at 2:42 PM on March 3, 2011


Oops

http://happycake.ytmnd.com/
posted by K'an at 2:43 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


...powered by a non-bulb heating element.

Like the on in this?

I burned myself quite regularly with mine when I was a kid.

Good times.
posted by mmrtnt at 2:45 PM on March 3, 2011


A giant squid stole my Easy-Bake.

Footage of its recovery.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:53 PM on March 3, 2011


I used hot rocks and cast iron and lard.
posted by clavdivs at 2:57 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great FPP, thanks. Reminded me (for obvious reasons) of this beautiful song.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:28 PM on March 3, 2011


DU : " Children as young as 2 are allowed to "sous chef" with me while I cook."

My kids spent a bunch of time last year (at age two) doing the same. Now that they're three, they can get a little more involved, which makes it more fun for all of us.
posted by zarq at 3:31 PM on March 3, 2011


I have several 4-packs of 100 watt soft-whites which I've had since the days when Walgreens was giving a pack away for free every month. I eventually realized I have no legitimate lamps which can safely take a 100W bulb, due to the heat and the plastic sockets they all say 60W max.
posted by localroger at 3:45 PM on March 3, 2011


An EZ-Bake oven without a lightbulb is like a car that doesn't run on gasoline. It's scary and probably a liberal plot.

In short, any move to get people to use new technology is bad and environmentalism is all about control. Thank you and God bless America.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:49 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan writes "For a few bucks more you can get your kid a workable convection toaster oven and call it a day. Not responsible for molten kitchen playsets."

Easy bake ovens, or at least the one my daughter bought this winter, are a lot safer than a toaster oven. It's pretty well impossible to come into contact with a hot metal surface even if you have five year old girl arms. And even if you did the heat is 100W spread out over the envelope of a pretty good size piece of glass. A toaster oven is going to have ~1500 watts concentrated in a dozen or so inches of pencil thin Cal Rod. The gradient is much higher.

schmod writes "That said, a real heating element (which Easy Bake have apparently been using since all the way back to 2003) is going to be a lot safer, more efficient, and should outlast the life of the oven."

My daughter's oven bought in January, in Canada though, still uses a bulb. Good thing I didn't throw out the dozen or so bulbs we replaced with CFLs when we bought our house.
posted by Mitheral at 4:01 PM on March 3, 2011


Toys that carried the risk of serious injury were always the best toys. I fondly remember some of the awesome chemistry sets you could get in Britain in the sixties. The burns healed eventually, but the happy memories will be with me forever.
posted by Decani at 4:18 PM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


*quietly shelves blueprints for the Easy-Shred Blender*
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:21 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am your new non-bulb heating element.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 4:40 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't there a Sealab 2021 about this?
posted by jeffburdges at 4:45 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


My brother had a Pretzel Jetzle. I had a lollypop maker whose name I forget. 45 minutes to make a dozen dime sized pretzles and 2 seconds to scarf them down. The lollypop maker had a hotplate that boiled sugar. I never got the timing right so they were either soft and floppy or burnt. I liked the burnt ones. I'm amazed that I never got third degree burns.

Good times!
posted by Splunge at 4:48 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lollipop. Damn it.
posted by Splunge at 4:50 PM on March 3, 2011


As dangerous as the Easy-Bake was, it couldn't match the Vac-U-Form, which combined a dangerous heating source with the fumes from melting plastic sheets. But only weird kids ate the output.
posted by tommasz at 4:56 PM on March 3, 2011


Mine was actually a second-hand Suzy Homemaker oven that I bought with MY OWN THIN DIME at a rummage sale when I was five. It didn't have the safety bars common to later toy ovens; I put my hand into the oven, which was made of searing hot metal.

I adored that oven...

... partly because I didn't rely on the apparently awful EZ-Bake branded mixes.

I made cakes from the slightly-less-crappy Jiffy mixes, or scratch recipes scaled down, or my mom would save me a bit of batter when she made a full-sized cake. I made cookies: home recipes baked a few cookies at a time. I made cinnamon toast.

I also made my first casserole in the toy oven: leftover slices of boiled potato, a few chunks of ham, and green beans, all topped with shredded cheese. Mom had it for lunch, making yummy noises all the while. She was so tickled at the prospect of someone else making her lunch that she started letting me rummage through the fridge to make casseroles any time I felt like it.

I LOVED that oven.
posted by Elsa at 4:56 PM on March 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Uh, I want a vac-u-form.
posted by wierdo at 5:00 PM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wanted an Easy-Bake oven SOOO BADLY, but I was a boy and I knew that they were for girls, so I didn't ask for one for Christmas, but I really really did want one. I'd look longingly at them if we happened to go to Child World, and the Penny's catalog in the bathroom had three pages that were totally dog eared: the Super 8 cameras, the electric guitars, and the Easy Bake oven. My parents mus have known how badly I wanted one. What am I talking about? Of course they knew, they bought me one, and it was awesome, and I was so happy. Yay Easy Bake!
posted by dirtdirt at 5:18 PM on March 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


I remember wanting to build a vacuum table when I was in high school so I could finally do something crafty, but I had no car and was too afraid to ask my mom to take me to the hardware store just to build something big and awkward she wouldn't like to keep around the house. I had designs from people who used vacuum tables to make Storm Trooper outfits bookmarked and everything.

And there was a children's toy that did the same thing on a small scale at one point. Huh.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:30 PM on March 3, 2011


My Easy Bake Oven taught me that adults lie.

When I was 6, my mother had to go to the hospital. It was the first time we had been apart and being the worried type, I thought I'd bake a chocolate cake for her using the Easy Bake Oven I had just received as a birthday present. I fussed over the mixing of ingredients (just adding water is a big ordeal when you are six), stirred the mix with the miniature spatula, obsessively watched the timer, pulled my little cake out of the oven and left it on the counter to cool while I skipped off to do some other thing for a while.

When I came back the cake was gone. GONE! Just a few crumbs were left! To this day I can still picture the exact number and shape of those crumbs sitting on the counter next to the little oven pan. I was distraught in that way that little kids get, crying my head off and asking my dad how my cake could possibly disappear. He said, "I'll bet the darn cat ate it." So, I cried a lot more and scolded the cat and cried even more because I didn't have any more chocolate cake mix and I don't really remember if I ended up taking anything when I visited my mom other than more tears and my tragic story of the bad cat that ate her cake.

So...many years later, I'm visiting from college and helping my dad clean out the garage and my Easy Bake oven surfaces, still in its box. I hadn't really played with it since The Incident, some due to the trauma but mostly because my parents didn't buy any cake mix refills. My dad hefts the box and says, "Hey, remember that time I blamed the cat for eating your cake?" and then he claps his hands over his mouth because it was clear from the stricken look on my face that until that moment I didn't realize he was the cake stealer.

I was pretty sore at him for a while after that but I did apologize to the cat.
posted by jamaro at 6:02 PM on March 3, 2011 [30 favorites]


I had Easy-Bake Oven envy when I was a kid as well, but Boy Scout camp more than made up for it. Cooking over a campfire has all the best things about being a preteen boy: setting fires, messing around with knives, and doing something that you really have no idea of how to do with the greatest enthusiasm. I "invented" fried bread one year (yeah, I know, everyone in the British Isles grew up with it, but it's not so much of a Yankee thing, at least in the upper Midwest). I watched the other boys carefully select a long, thin branch, carefully whittle one end to a point, carefully put a piece of bread on the end, and carefully hold it just the right distance from the fire, and I took the little frying pan from my mess kit and some butter and I just fried that shit up. I was hero for a day.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:56 PM on March 3, 2011


Oven, schmoven. I had a wood-burning kit when I was 9.

...which sounds cool, but it was dead boring, filled the room with smoke, and as a result was abandoned after one use.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:21 PM on March 3, 2011


Boys on Canadian military bases in 1978 do not get Easy Bake Ovens of their own.

Really? I never even heard of that poll!
posted by Twang at 9:44 PM on March 3, 2011


My wife's cousin had his own toy lead smelter to make D&D figures. That thing was lethal, he still has the scars, as does the table.
posted by arcticseal at 10:35 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's what I'll never understand: why not just let kids go bake real cakes? In a real oven? Like, give them a recipe written out in exquisite detail, help them out the first few times, and then let 'em loose? This is what I did. I was baking cookies with Mom at about age 4, and graduated to making my own chocolate chip cookies at 5 or 6. It's great! Alchemical magic turns butter and eggs and sugar and flour into delicious chocolatey doughy deliciousness! You can make cookie dough and leave it in the fridge and sneak spoonfuls of it when no one's looking! Homemade cookies are way better than the Keebler crap that everyone else in the cafeteria has! And cakes are even easier!

Is the oven hot? Hell yes the oven is hot, which is why I stopped touching the heating element after I burned the everliving crap out of both forearms a couple of times. Can you damage the counters by putting hot cake pans directly on the Formica? Hell yes you can, and there are still scorch marks in my parents' kitchen, for which infraction I was not allowed to make cookies again for a while. But in second grade, this was godlike power, which no incandescent bulb could have ever given me.
posted by Mayor West at 6:14 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's what I'll never understand: why not just let kids go bake real cakes? In a real oven? Like, give them a recipe written out in exquisite detail, help them out the first few times, and then let 'em loose?

Some parents are freaked out by the possibility that their babies could burn themselves. I remember reading once that the whole "the heating element just a lightbulb so it's safe and won't burn" aspect was a big selling point.

And yeah, some parents really, really get scared about kids hurting themselves in the kitchen. I remember seeing another thing -- an infomercial in the mid-90's - advertising some kind of tinfoil you could actually use in the microwave, and the host was showing off how you could use it to cook hot dogs, and suggested that "it's perfect for teenagers to cook all themselves, because you don't want them to actually use the oven becuase then they'd get hurt." And I was floored that someone would be so worried about teenagers hurting themselves in a kitchen -- shit, I was making my own dinner for myself some nights when I was in junior high.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:45 AM on March 4, 2011


Yeah, I remember the Vacuform. My friend Bobby had one. Pro Tip: Do not attempt to make a vacuform of your fist.

Really.
posted by Splunge at 7:06 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's what I'll never understand: why not just let kids go bake real cakes? In a real oven?

I used the real oven, too. I made my first full family meal (three courses, for seven people) at the age of six... but the toy oven is different, or at least it was for me.

That toy oven was magical, in part because it was scaled down for me. I could open the door (yes, mine had a hinged door, which meant it opened up to a box of searing hot metal --- that lightbulb got things HOT!) without effort, without climbing up in a chair, without help from an adult, and without an adult hovering nearby anxiously.

For a little kid (and especially, in my case, for the youngest in a big family), that kind of freedom from authority was itself a treat. I loved cooking on the real stove and the real oven, but that was a different kind of task, one that meant discussion and planning and, at first, adult supervision.

Cooking in my toy oven was free from those strictures. My parents believed the toy oven was safe for me to use unsupervised (though, thinking back, I'm amazed they never noticed how viciously hot it got, or that the cord was already frayed when I got it second-hand.

My tiny recipes required such a tiny quantity of ingredients that even in our budget-pinched household, I was allowed to use them without asking. And, of course, in a busy, crowded house with only one real oven, there was always a chance someone else needed to use it, or needed to do other kitchen tasks without a five-year-old underfoot.

But my tiny oven was MINE: I could decide to bake a tiny cake and then do it without asking permission, without getting approval, without any supervision at all. I could make surprise cookies for my siblings, or a mini birthday cake for Dad, or a little lunch for my stay-at-home Mom, all without anyone hovering over me.

To me, that little oven was a tiny slice of freedom, of feeling like an adult.
posted by Elsa at 7:29 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never had an EasyBake oven, though I probably would have liked one. I did learn to bake in a proper oven by the time I was ten though, so at that point I likely felt I hadn't missed out on much. I was the kind of kid who, if I found instructions for a kid's recipe or craft or anything in a book or a magazine, totally wanted to do it. And I was hardly every allowed to try because my mother would say it wouldn't turn out well and would and just be a waste of material/supplies. I think she thought if I couldn't do things at an adult level it wasn't worth spending any money on it. My first sewing projects were doll clothes made out of the scraps left over from my mother's sewing projects — so it didn't matter how they turned out. And she ravelled out my first knitting projects because they didn't turn out well and she didn't want the yarn wasted. I suppose there's some merit to that attitude because I was always very skillful at making things compared to compared to most other kids my own age and as an adult I still am, but I won't be using that approach with any children. Kids need to work and explore and play at their own level, and yes, to be taught and gently challenged to do progressively better, but it's just too harsh to expect them to do things at an adult level and dismiss their work as a total waste of time and materials when it doesn't measure up.

My niece Peaches Swan had an Easy Bake that her older sisters gave her for her birthday one year. She loved playing with it and I remember her happily and proudly feeding us all goodies she baked for us one day when I was visiting at her house. As I recall the cake she made wasn't half bad. Her real name being Rachel Rae, this gave me a great set up for a joke I made one work day in the lunchroom. A co-worker of mine was saying, "Oh Rachael Ray is a cook — she doesn't bake." I said, "Oh yes, Rachel Rae bakes. She has her own Easy Bake Oven." My co-worker knew I had a niece named that and said, "Ha ha," but grinned in spite of herself.
posted by orange swan at 7:37 AM on March 4, 2011


And I was hardly every allowed to try because my mother would say it wouldn't turn out well and would and just be a waste of material/supplies. I think she thought if I couldn't do things at an adult level it wasn't worth spending any money on it.

I hadn't even thought of this, but you've hit something central to my own appreciation (which borders on the rhapsodic) of my toy oven.

In my family, there was a lot of unstated pressure to DO THINGS WELL. Not to try hard, or to work hard, or to practice, but to DO WELL. My parents paid lip service to experimentation and the importance of hard work, but they tacitly valued the ease of immediate success over diligence and practice.

When I made a cake in the real oven, it was a supervised project, or at the very least a project for which I got adult approval, and therefore it was expected to turn out well. It had to be fluffy and pretty and pleasant to serve, it had to be a successful use of family resources, it had produce the expected results.

My experiments in my toy oven were freed from all those expectations. It was a place where I could experiment, I could play around without expectations, where I could FAIL, and no one judged me for it. No wonder I have such amazingly fond memories of that little aqua box, of its fumy smell and cracked silvery fake burners, of the creak it made when I opened the door. No wonder I've thought so often about acquiring one on eBay or Etsy, no wonder I've been thinking of it so often.

Yikes, this is better than therapy.
posted by Elsa at 8:07 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You were throwing your shoes right up over the wire
I was setting those Easy Bake Ovens on fire. . .

posted by Danf at 9:04 AM on March 4, 2011


Oven, schmoven. I had a wood-burning kit when I was 9.

I'm pretty sure I got a soldering iron that had interchangeable tips when I was ten. Last night we were watching a DVD transfer of old Super 8mm family movies. It was Christmas morning and I got a Handy Andy tool set. A metal case which had two saws - a coping saw and a little keyhole saw - two hammers and a chisel. For kids. Made of real metal. I was five or six.
posted by fixedgear at 9:56 AM on March 4, 2011


All of this just confirms my opinion that one generation's sound parenting is the next generation's felony child abuse.

Yeah, I remember the Vacuform. My friend Bobby had one. Pro Tip: Do not attempt to make a vacuform of your fist.


My dream was to make fake plastic handguns with mine, but the plate was too small. Probably why I'm here today typing this.
posted by tommasz at 10:43 AM on March 4, 2011


Damn. Memories coming back. I also had a Fright Factory. That's the one where you made scars and wounds and stuff. I remember being late for school one day because I HAD to make a stitched scar for my face. I brought it to class, stuck it to my face. It fell off. And my teacher threw it in the garbage.

::sigh::
posted by Splunge at 11:14 AM on March 4, 2011


anniecat: "Goodness. Just make a very tiny microwave."

They already did. Metafilter bonus: It's bean-themed.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:24 AM on March 5, 2011


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