The Easy-Bake Oven, the classic children's baking toy first marketed in 1963, has received the latest in a string of design makeovers, this time losing the 100-watt lightbulb that for decades generated the heat to bake the cakes and other treats kids could make in the oven.
Part of the reason for the redesign is the phasing out of incandescent lightbulbs. The compact fluorescent bulbs that are the new standard generate less heat than their predecessors, which is good for the environment, but not helpful to little bakers.
The forced re-engineering also handed Hasbro an excuse to give the Easy-Bake -- which in the 1960s and 1970s came in the era's popular kitchen decor colors -- its most modern makeover yet.
"This gave us a reason to do it completely differently," said Michelle Paolino, a vice president of global brand strategy and marketing at Hasbro.
"We wanted it to look more like a real appliance, not a plastic toy," she said.
About the size of a big bread box, the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven is clearly designed to fit on any kitchen counter, assuming a parent is willing to shell out $49.99, a steep hike from the last model's price tag of $29.99. "It looks sort of like an Art Deco toaster with wings -- a purple one," said Patricia Hogan, curator at The Strong, which includes the National Museum of Play and the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, N.Y. "It's just so cool."
The oven targets girls between 8 and 12. The beauty of the oven, the company and users say, is that children can mix and bake mostly themselves -- the food gets pushed in one end of the oven, cooks, then comes out the other side. Still, Hasbro says parental supervision is required.
(image via: http://www.boston.com/)