When I was a kid my mom wouldn’t let me have an Easy Bake Oven, because she rightfully despised the idea that little girls were to be trained to be nothing more than kitchen drones and caregivers, pretending to be satisfied with the prospect of whipping up triple layer delicacies with a big bogus smile on their faces and popping amphetamines on the sly to get through the day.
Of course, this was the mid-70s, right smack in the middle of Women’s Lib, and my mother, married at 18 in 1958, was not hard core like some who were born a bit later. But had had her consciousness raised at least to the extent that she’d be damned if her little girl was going to have an Easy Bake Oven.
I, of course, just wanted to make (and eat) those little round cakes like the girls in the commercials. But my desire for a sugar and a smidge of what I thought was normalcy (those girls looked so happy! What could be wrong with cake?) was outweighed by the fact that my mom saw the Easy Bake Oven as a plastic, plug-in symbol of all that was accursed in the world and in particular her small corner of it.
Fast forward some 30-plus years later, and I had not a qualm when my daughters got an Easy Bake Oven from a friend for their birthday. The pendulum has swung from barefoot and pregnant (and, presumably, baking) to bra-burning and sitting in (and buying Drakes Cakes) and has now settled in the middle: It’s OK to bake if you can tolerate the carbs, but lord knows it’s fine to go kick a ball or read a book or think deep thoughts. Baking is like Play-Doh is like Pixos is like Legos–something to do to that your mom (or your dad) is going to have to scrape up off the carpet later.
It would no more occur to my girls that baking was demeaning than that they couldn’t be President or Hannah Montana, if their parents would only also get them that elaborate Karaoke set (which they’re not going to do).
Now, onto the question of the ages: How does a 100 watt light bulb generate enough heat to actually bake a real, albeit small, cake? I had a bite of one today, and it was vile. But I’m glad my girls have the right to bake vile cake as they so choose.
Photo by X-ray Delta One CC
May 22, 2010 at 11:01 pm
Props to you for letting your daughters bake! Who knew a child’s toy could have such civil rights connotations!
May 23, 2010 at 7:54 am
I had an Easy Bake Oven when I was a kid and now I’m lucky to boil water. My hubby does all the cooking!
May 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm
Very funny blog!! I like your intro. I have been feeling the “no longer hot” bit lately. Ugh! I just found your blog! Come visit me at Mama’s Little Chick.
May 24, 2010 at 3:21 pm
My mom wouldn’t buy me an EZBake Oven, but not for feminist reasons. She said it wasn’t any more work to make a “real” cake, and she’d much rather help me make a regular cake than waste money on a mini-oven.
May 24, 2010 at 3:27 pm
I always wanted an Easy Bake Oven. Women’s lib has become such a part of who we are that we don’t really even consciously think about it anymore. We can be whatever the heck we want to be. I am glad my daughters will get to experience that mentality. I will say that my daughter will play with anything from dressup clothes to a play kitchen to trucks and trains.
I totally love your blog name!
May 24, 2010 at 4:17 pm
Oh, lord, do EasyBake Ovens still exist? They were a bone of great contention in my world some time in the 60s, when my step sister’s grandmother bought her one, to my mother’s great irritation.
About the same time I (older sister) was trying to do the Girl Scout cooking badge. Among other things it required your mother to sign a statement that you had cleaned an oven.
My mother looked genuinely puzzled and revealed that she had never actually cleaned one herself. “When they get dirty enough,” she said, “I just move.”
I never did get the cooking (or any other) badge.
And yes, I can confirm, cakes baked by lightbulbs are really yucky.
May 24, 2010 at 5:18 pm
haha. funny post. I was in law school when my nieces were young. my sister bought her girls tiny little brooms and dustpans, etc. I was so offended that she would do that. I have mellowed in my middle age, but I still think the broom is too much. I think the easy bake is great though! they should stop making it pink and market it to boys as well as girls!
May 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm
My daughter is 9 and loves to cook. Actually all my kids do, but my 9 year old can actually do some things by herself like, get the gallon of milk out of the fridge without dropping it, crack eggs without letting shells fall in, etc. She has even made us some fresh pasta from scratch. She does however LOVE her Easy-Bake. I don’t think anyone actually considers that cooking. I think, like you said, its marketing for the most part; anything miniature is great. Also my daughter actually has a fondness for that artificial/hostess, twinge in the back of your throat, tear in your eye sweetness that you can only get from certain food-like products ( I have a couple of grown up friends like that too). Since we don’t have any of that stuff in our kitchen (sadly for her, all of our grain is brown and all of our sugar is raw) she gets her fix for both the miniature, real-like oven and the cringe-making, food-like substance from Hasbro.
May 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm
Your Mom must have known my Mom! She had the same reasoning for not allowing me to have an Easy Bake Oven in the early 70’s, although in retrospect she may have just wanted to avoid the mess they make and the “Mooooommmmmm, the bulb isn’t working” “Mooooommmmm, he/she is touching my Easy Bake oven and you said it was just for mmeeeeeeeeeee” arguments that probably came prepackaged with it.
This same Mom however had no compunction about buying her GRANDDAUGHTER (my daughter) an Easy Bake Oven the fist moment she expressed an interest in it back when she was a 6 year old. Mom’s excuse was the EBO, being no longer pink (my daughter’s over was a plastic version of stainless steel color) was now no longer sexist… and of course her granddaughter was just so darn CUTE when she asked her for it.
Bill Cosby was right. That woman was not my mother. She was an old person trying to get into heaven.