The year was 1978. The season was Christmas. And the activity was a serious one: the annual writing of letters to Santa by my little sister, brother and myself. I don’t remember what else I asked Santa Claus for that year, but I know that after reminding him of my many stellar accomplishments during the previous 12 months, I made it abundantly clear that I REALLY, REALLY wanted that groovy Easy Bake Oven featured in that year’s Sears Wish Book.
I am sure that I loved all my Christmas gifts that year. Santa was always exceptionally good to us Allison kids. However, I will never forget the sting on that particular Christmas morning of rushing down the stairs only to realize that while Santa had indeed delivered the much-longed for Easy Bake Oven, he’d somehow made a terrible error… AND BROUGHT IT FOR MY LITTLE SISTER.
Oh sure, I was having fun with my new Simon electronic game, and I enjoyed watching my little brother wrestle with his bendy new Stretch Armstrong action figure (the one with the bandaids, no less). I didn’t want to seem ungrateful. However, all day on Christmas that year, I remember sneaking longing glances at my little sister as she happily prepared a variety of wee and tasty baked goods for all of us to enjoy.
That evening, with all three of us kids exhausted from a day of Christmas mania, we all settled in to watch something on TV, and what should my wondering eyes should appear but a commercial for the Easy Bake Oven that I had not received as requested. Life, I decided, could certainly be cruel.
Happily for me, my little sister was very nice about sharing, and she and I enjoyed many happy afternoons together baking and pretending to bake in her spiffy red Easy Bake Oven. At one point our little brother got in big trouble for attempting to melt some of his tiny green plastic army men inside the Easy Bake, but my mother was able to scrape all the military residue out of the Oven’s innards, and regular cake baking resumed. The Easy Bake was huge fun, and Betsy and I played with it well into middle school.
It’s hard to believe, but by that Christmas of 1978, the Easy Bake Oven had already been a favorite American toy for 25 years. Invented by a fellow named Ronald Howes, Sr. (see photo gallery below), and introduced in 1963, the Easy Bake was an instant hit with kids – mostly girls, truth be told – all over the country. In fact, in that first year of 1963 alone, at least a half a million Easy Bake Ovens were sold.
The look of the Easy Bake Oven has evolved over the years, offering a glimpse of each generation’s evolving style aesthetic. The 70s saw harvest gold and avocado green Easy Bakes, while 1980s models included versions resembling a giant microwave oven, as well as one or two that remind me of early Macintosh computers. However, no matter how the look of the Easy Bake changed, kids’ love for this enduring classic never has. In 2006, the Easy Bake was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, and as of today, it’s estimated that more than 23 million Easy Bakes have been sold, with upwards of 140 million Easy Bake mixes stirred and baked into delicious little treats.
Last weekend, my sister Betsy (yep, the sister who got that Easy Bake Oven that I was supposed to get) and I had SO much fun introducing our three youngest daughters – five year olds C and NC, plus 2 year old G – to the joy baking, using the newest version of the Easy Bake. Given the girls’ ages, lots of hands-on supervision was required by the moms, but as you might imagine, we really didn’t mind. We were taken right back to our own childhood, as we would sit in our shared bedroom on a Saturday afternoon, mixing and stirring and baking together.
As you can see, our kids were just as taken with the Easy Bake Oven as their mothers were back in the day.
Did you have an Easy Bake Oven growing up? Which model and color? I’d love to hear your own Easy Bake stories.
Below, I’ve assembled a 50 year pictorial history of this iconic toy. Maybe you”ll recognize your own childhood Easy Bake Oven among the photos!
(Just click on the arrows in the gallery below to scroll through all the Easy Bake Oven pix.)
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Want this toy? You’re in luck! Every single day leading up to the holidays a blogger will be giving away a toy! Simply comment below for your chance to win a HexBugs Warriors Battle Zone Playset.
Do you know a deserving family, school, or charity this holiday season? We’re giving away one grand set of 20 toys from Target, including those mentioned in this post! To nominate, simply comment and tell us why you’ve selected them!
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