Using Your Easy-Bake Oven Is About to Become Difficult

Most every girl born since 1960 has had one of her earliest cooking experiences with an Easy-Bake Oven. One of the rare toys that actually accomplishes something, the Easy-Bake is heated by a 100-watt light bulb. What could be a more permanent fixture of modern life than a light bulb, its designers at Kenner Products must have thought when they created and launched Easy-Bake in 1963. Of course we'll never have trouble about that.

How times change. Come 2012, environmental regulations will restrict the sale of light bulbs, specifically that 100-watt incandescent. The compact fluorescent lamps that will replace them are more energy-efficient, but for precisely that reason, they just don't give off much heat. A CFL bulb won't cook your sparkly-pink Easy-Bake Betty Crocker Sugar Cookies, or much of anything else.

The company has announced that it plans to release a whole new product, the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, that will introduce "a new way to bake for the next generation of chefs." The new toy will feature "a heating element that does not use a light bulb and offers an extensive assortment of mixes reflective of the hottest baking trends for today." One hopes that the aforementioned hot baking trends include more natural ingredients and fewer preservatives and artificial colorings.

Here is the irony: Hasbro Inc. (HAS), the company that now owns Kenner and the Easy-Bake product line, brought back the retro design of the toy that today's parents remember from their childhoods, and ditched the 2003 "modern" revamp that customers didn't care for -- even though, presciently, that unit didn't use a light bulb for heat.

Americans Love Our Light Bulbs

In part, the downfall of the redesigned toy can be blamed on a safety recall of nearly a million ovens. There were 29 reports of bruised or squished hands and fingers, and five reports of burns. However, for the most part, the revamped ovens worked as expected. The nostalgic regrets expressed over the past few months over the upcoming reinvention of the Easy-Bake Oven are a clue that customers' preference for the old-fashioned light bulb-powered version has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with our love affair with the way things used to be.

We're all loathe to lose the incandescent bulb. Not only does it bake cookies appropriately slowly in our children's retro toys, it just looks right to us. It's part of our country's iconography: What idea doesn't have a light bulb over it? What picture of our famous innovators can be sketched without Edison's curvy creation? Many consumers report that the CFLs don't last nearly as long as advertised, and there major concerns about mercury toxicity from discarded CFLs. It's understandable that we don't want to let go of our incandescents, and the fuss over the Easy-Bake Oven is just one more manifestation of that.

With the retirement of the incandescent bulb in 2012, all existing Easy-Bake Ovens will be useless, once the light bulbs inside them have finally baked their last cupcakes. Somewhere between 16 and 25 million Easy-Bake Ovens have been sold since 1963, and it's not a stretch to expect that at least 4 or 5 million of them are still in operation. All but a few collectors' pieces will be destined for the landfill once their heating elements are no longer available in your neighborhood grocery store.

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) has introduced a bill to save the incandescent bulb from its fate. A Hasbro spokeswoman told DailyFinance the company was "watching the developments with interest," but that it "stood by" its earlier statement regarding the fall launch of the integrated-element Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven.

The general adoption of the CFL seemed nothing but sensible when Al Gore first began encouraging us all to save energy and money by replacing our bulbs. The reality of the new world lighting order seems far more complex, fraught with everything from mercury-tainted landfills and disappointing efficiency/expense results to the obsolescence of some of our most beloved toys.

Perhaps America's new light bulb should have spent a little more time in recipe development.

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At Last DS!

On topic, lets save the incandescent light bulb. Let's not let our government regulate this away too. The supposed new and improved are not. The government has fooled you. It's supposed to be government for the people and by the people. They have you convinced that we're beholdin' to them. It's not true. They work for us. Again, we can stick together and say HELL NO. Get those incandescent lighting manufacturing jobs back to this country. And let's forget about the others that are more expensive and inefficient and even worse make the easy-bake over obsolete. We don't like that. The government is supposed to answer to us. Not the other way around. Thank you. I hope you take this to heart.

March 15 2011 at 11:49 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Our once great free country has been overthrown by the stupid liberals.

March 15 2011 at 10:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I am stocking up on incandescent 100W bulbs. Yes baby.... I will set the price!

March 15 2011 at 8:44 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

I know this sounds selfish, but I will not recycle the CFL's, they will go in the garbage where they belong...when Millions of Americans are tossing these little China hazards in the landfill and mercury levels rise and water is polluted, maybe then the Government will say, hold on.....time for CHANGE, lets do away with CFL and honor what Edison created for us and go back to HIS lightbulb. So hold on Americans....we'll get our lightbulbs back and maybe by chance and American company will start producing them. I can see it now...biggest illegal imports of 2015...Cocaine, Herion..Lightbulbs....HAHAHA

March 15 2011 at 8:07 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nhguy580's comment

Stock up on candles....Government will take away electricity next....Hold on...the candle wax doesn't contain lead in it does it? I wouldn't want my guest to sue me for breathing in lead poison....Government is like Natural Gas, you can always smell it when it's in your house....

March 15 2011 at 8:28 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Ron and Boo

100 watt bulbs are also used to heat reptile tanks. They can't shut down the companys that make them. Even the red and black ones they make for using at night would work in the ovens.

March 15 2011 at 7:56 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

screw them and refuse to use those dangerous cfl. If they passed a law to turn in every Jew or Black or ___________(fill in the blank) would you do it. Laws don't make right but are all about might. Refuse to go blindly over the cliff,say NO and enough to this maddness.Nuff said.

March 15 2011 at 7:34 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I read how everyone is stocking up on the lightbulbs, how everyone loves the old style...I agree, I'm stocking up too and I'll never use anything else. However, that is whats wrong with us...instead of fighting for our right to buy what we want, we just let the Government control us and we run off to the store to buy bulbs....I'm guilty too, but Government has us exactly where they want us, we are sheep and instead of fighting we back down. As petty as it may sound, we need to fight for our lightbulbs, overturn such a silly law, then...the Government will start taking us serioulsy, otherwise...they'll continue to take the things we love away from us until we have been beaten down and beg for there mercy.

March 15 2011 at 7:30 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nhguy580's comment

Don't need to ask any one for permission(overturning law)just ignore such maddness and treat it with the disdain that such stupidity diserves. With more people like yourself then I think we shall overcome. This law is so blatantly bad that maybe it's a good thing that they passed such nonsense,maybe the sleeping giant(the masses) will finally wake up.

March 15 2011 at 7:40 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

Never had one as a kid, recently bought one for my daughers ... could never find the required bulb and were disappointed that the front didn't even open. We made some of the mixes in the regular oven but they were disappointingly TINY(i.e. cookies the size of quarters) ... finally threw waste of space, effort and money in the trash.

March 15 2011 at 7:28 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply

Had one when I was a kid and it sucked. 20 years later bought one for my niece and it sucked. 5 years ago bought one for my other niece. Still sucks.

March 15 2011 at 7:18 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply

I never had an Easy Bake Oven as a kid so for my 40th birthday my sister bought me one. I haven't even opened the box and I'll be 50 in Aug. I guess I better buy a dozen 100 watt bulbs quick so my future granddaughter will be able to use it or I'll be able to sell it in the future cause without those bulbs it'll just be useless.

March 15 2011 at 6:41 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply