Remember When... is a weekly feature every (#Throwback)Thursday where we look back on a moment that changed the world of pop culture forever. Come for the nostalgia, stay for the reminder that you are getting SO OLD.
What Happened: It was 1963 and an inventor named Ronald Howes dreamt up a toy oven that cooked food using an incandescent light bulb. All little girls needed to do was take cake mix, add water and pop it in the oven to cook. Under a light bulb. The Easy-Bake experienced a resurgence in popularity in 1993, and by 1997, more than 16 million Ovens had been sold. They're still around, though the cooking process is a bit more legit (no light bulbs). And there's a version for boys, too!
What Else Was Happening: Depends how old you are and how old you were in your Easy-Bake Oven days: Maybe you had it during The Cold War, when The Monkees were on the radio and JFK was still in office. Maybe, as a child of the ‘90s, you did all your baking between episodes of Rugrats and Clarissa Explains It All. Maybe you have it now, though if you are still using an Easy-Bake Oven, this is probably too mature of a website for you to be on. Where are your parents?
How We Remember It:
Lindsey, Fabulist Intern: "I got an Easy-Bake Oven when I was five and loved it...for the three days I had it. My first few batches of kid friendly brownies and cookies were textbook. Then, while baking a tiny cake with my mom, the oven burst into flames. A kitchen full of smoke and an empty fire extinguisher later, my Easy-Bake Oven career was over. Childhood = ruined."
Emily Popp, Fabulist Writer: "I asked for one for Christmas, and I remember imagining it being just like the commercial: Our kitchen would be filled with elaborate, three-layered cakes and dozens and dozens of pies cooling on racks.
"Cut to me trying to pry a hardened brownie the size of my second grade palm out of a miniature baking pan. I sadly tried to serve it to my family as 'dessert' that night, but I think I wound up just pretend feeding it to my American Girl doll."
Jenna Mullins, E! Loves Editor: "My sister was the one who got it for her birthday, but I was the one who would hide in our storage closet to use it. I guess she just wasn't meant to be pastry chef, because she didn't care that I hogged it all the time. And because I was so young, I had zero patience for the amount of time it took to cook anything, so I basically just ate the treats after 30 seconds in the oven. The brownie batter was on point, I do remember that. Basically, Monica on Friends said it all: ‘It is unreasonable to expect a child to wait for a light bulb to cook brownies!' I was an uncooked batter eater."
Julia Hays, Audience Development: "The Easy-Bake Oven surged in popularity during a transitory time in our nation's home food preparation history. What seemed like a child's plaything soon became a sad afternoon routine. Children of working parents who are coming home after school alone don't need a fake oven—because they're already heating up their own Chef Boyardee while they wait for their family to come home after dark. Even if a kid has the chance to play around on a mini oven, for fun rather than necessity, we should probably teach them to bake potatoes instead of cheap brownie dust, right? Childhood obesity is a real and pressing issue in 2014. Let's get FLOTUS on that. Fun aside: I recall witnessing several college students who used Easy-Bake Ovens as their primary dorm kitchen appliance. There's nothing sexier than a guy cooking you up a breakfast sandwich in a decade-old toy while you sit, hungover, on his twin bed questioning your life choices and debating getting tested at the student health center. Nostalgia, am I right?"
Romina, E! Online: "We didn't have Easy-Bake ovens in Germany where I walked six miles to school every day and lived in darkness. You Americans have it too good."