What is an Easy-Bake Oven?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Welcome to the world of incandescent cookware. In 1963, Kenner Toys (now a subsidiary of Hasbro) introduced the Easy-Bake Oven to a generation of young girls eager to experience the wonders of home-style baking. The original Easy-Bake Oven was a scale model of a 1950s oven, with two 100 watt light bulbs as heating elements. Some say the Kenner engineers were inspired by the small ovens used by New York City pretzel vendors.

Cake mix for an Easy-Bake Oven.
Cake mix for an Easy-Bake Oven.

By using the heat generated by incandescent light bulbs deep inside the unit, Kenner hoped to minimize the possibility of accidental burns caused by standard heating elements. Young users of the Easy-Bake Oven only needed to turn on the oven unit for a few minutes for preheating. Because of the variable heat generated by the light bulbs, however, the cake mixes included with the original Easy-Bake Oven had to be modified for low-temperature baking. This is why many young bakers' experiences with Easy-Bake Oven recipes was so variable. Under-cooking was a common occurrence, and the original cake mixes were not as flavorful as one may have hoped.

The Easy-Bake Oven comes with the potential for accidental burns for children.
The Easy-Bake Oven comes with the potential for accidental burns for children.

The Easy-Bake Oven did become a success for Kenner, and later its parent company Hasbro. By the late 1960s, the toy oven took on even more decorative elements of its full-size cousin, including the popular avocado green color of its surfaces. Cake mixes and other desserts became even more sophisticated as brand name companies such as Betty Crocker began offering their services and product lines. The flavor and consistency of Easy-Bake Oven offerings improved significantly, and young girls often used their Easy-Bake ovens to create tea cookies or other treats for afternoon parties.

By the 1970s, the Easy-Bake Oven had succumbed to the new decorative trend called Harvest Gold. For the first time, toy ovens also featured simulated digital numbers and other modern elements. The recipes and mixes also evolved throughout the 1970s and 1980s, making it possible for young bakers to make a few recipes from scratch. Improvements in the design of the Easy-Bake Oven also minimized any possible exposure to the heating elements. A special tool actually pushed the batter-laden cookware into the oven, and the bakers could observe the cooking process for better results.

The use of incandescent light bulbs as heating elements raised a number of safety concerns over the years, especially among parents who feared a child would be burned during the changing process. Leaving the bulbs burning after a cooking session could also be a waste of energy and a potential fire hazard. In recent years, however, Hasbro has largely replaced the incandescent light bulbs with other heating elements largely hidden within the unit.

In 2007, Hasbro recalled a million Easy-Bake Oven units because of a perceived design flaw. Young users could potentially receive burns if they attempted to retrieve a trapped cooking plate with their fingers. The potential for accidental burns or electrical shocks has always been a concern for manufacturers of toy ovens, although such incidents are very rare. An Easy-Bake Oven is still a good way to introduce the art of cooking and baking to children, but adult supervision and guidance is very important.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


I wonder what will happen to Easy Bake ovens when incandescent light bulbs are finally phased out? I'm guessing that Hasbro will get special permission to keep including the bulbs as long as they're considered heating elements and not light bulbs. I hope they don't have to quit making them altogether, since I want my grandkids to grow up with something that I played with as a child.


I absolutely loved my easy bake oven to the point of taping one of the legs, where I used it so much. I now have two beautiful daughters and I am not impressed at all with the easy bake ovens now. The excitement for me was being able to look in that little window and watch my cake bake. Now you stick your cake in, wait, then push it out the other side. Where's the fun in that? Maybe I haven't looked hard enough but it would be so nice if they brought back the 1970's reddish orange brick colored easy bake oven. Or just put the windows back in them.


I have heard of an easy-bake oven, but I always thought it was just a fake, plastic oven. I didn't realize you could actually make real easy bake oven food.

It seems like a sweet gift for a child, but even better are the memories I have of actually cooking with my mother in the kitchen. She let me experiment with different (easy) recipes and was so proud when I managed to produce something edible. I hope parents use these toys as a chance to interact with their children and help them to gain confidence in their own abilities.

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