Washington's push to phase out incandescent light bulbs for more lower-wattage, energy-saving bulbs had an unintended casualty: the Easy-Bake oven as we all know it.
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Since launching in 1963, Hasbros Easy-Bake Oven has been through 12 versions, varying in color from avocado green to orange. But todays purple streamlined Easy-Bake Oven isnt just different on the outsidefor the first time in nearly 50 years, the toy no longer requires a 100-watt light bulb as a heating element.
Unfortunately for Easy-Bake lovers of yesteryear, modern, energy-saving fluorescent lightbulbs are useless when it comes to baking up mini cupcakes and brownies; only older incandescent bulbs provide the heating power needed for making Easy-Bake treats, and they are becoming something of an endangered species.
The new Easy-Bake Oven contains a heating element that Joe Cacciola, president of Fuzion Design, the firm that Hasbro partnered with on the redesign, says the new heating element is more like a traditional oven and allows for consistent heat throughout the oven chamber. The new cooking toy, which will hit stores this fall, is also around 50% larger than previous models.
Michelle Paolino, VP of global brand strategy and marketing for Hasbro Girls Brands says that the company went for a "modern makeover" when designing the new Easy-Bake.
"It was important to us that the new oven looked more like a real appliance than just a toy, so we incorporated a style similar to what you see elsewhere in the kitchen. We also wanted the child to feel like it was built for them, so we gave it a great color purple- and some cool graphics," says Paolino.
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"There are few other appliances or toys whose technologies have been exactly the same for 50 years, so I think it may have been time for the Easy-Bake Oven to modernize, says Patricia Hogan, curator at the National Museum of Play and the National Toy Hall of Fame, which inducted the toy in 2006.
Parents were comfortable with their child using a toy that contained a lightbulbthere were lightbulbs all over the house, so they seemed pretty darn safe. But the absence of the bulb doesn't change the kind of play that kids do with the oven, says Hogan. They still have to read the directions and follow one step after another. They still have to mix things up and measure and exercise some patience in waiting for the cake or cupcakes to bake.
Another change in the modernized Easy-Bake Oven, known as the Easy-Bake Ultimate oven, is the price. At $49.99, it weighs in at a substantially higher price point than the previous models priced at $29.99. With that said, the new oven allows for more variety in bakingkiddos can whip up both sweet and savory items including pizzas, pretzels, red velvet cupcakes and whoopee pies.
I think the kids may get more out of it if they can be more creative, but I feel like parents are parsing their toy pennies a little more closely these days than in years past, says Hogan. But the Easy Bake Oven is one of those toys that has proven its longevity and popularity, and its a good investment in play.
The oven is designed for children ages 8 and up, and even without a lightbulb, Hasbro says parental supervision is still required.