For many girls (and some boys) in the 60s and 70s, their first experience baking was under a light bulb. For some it was the light bulb of an Easy Bake Oven or, in my case, the light bulb of a Suzie Homemaker Oven. I remember being a bit envious of my friend Nathalie who had the Easy Bake Oven because it seemed so modern at the time compared to my oven that looked just like—well—an oven. The Easy Bake oven you push the cake through as if it is on a conveyor belt. Push it in on one side unbaked and when it is done, push it out the other side beautifully baked. Yes, it is a manual operation but the concept seemed so cool to me.
Nonetheless, I loved my Suzie Homemaker Oven. It came with little cake pans and little boxes of cake mix. You mixed up the batter by adding water, and then poured the batter in the pan. Then you just slid it into the oven, turned it on and the light bulb did the rest—very slowly. I remember that I used up the boxes that came with the oven fairly quickly. But figuring out how to make the right amount of batter—not too much and not too little—on your own was too difficult so I reverted to baking in the big-girl oven, my mom’s gas oven (see also Ode to baking chocolate chip cookies). Yes, I still played with the Suzie Homemaker Oven but I baked in the real kitchen.
I was reminded of my early mini-baking experiences when the Toys R Us Christmas catalog arrived in the mail last week. It was so much fun to comb through the catalog and see what is “hot” this year for kids. What caught my eye—besides the ride-able for kids miniature electric powered Kia Soul in green—was the Easy Bake Oven. It is now shaped like a microwave oven though you still slide the pan through it. And the Easy Bake Oven is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. I wonder if it still uses a light bulb. There were no Suzie Homemaker Ovens in sight.
The other items in the toy catalog that I would have loved to have as a little girl—hey, I would even consider getting one at my current age—are the amazing kitchen playsets. Listen to this description: Deluxe Kitchen with Realistic Sounds, Granite-Style Countertop & 38-piece Accessory Set. It has an oven, a microwave, bread-baskets (with bread) and condiments☺. And the fridge even has a front water and ice dispenser. That’s better equipped than my current kitchen. They offer it in pink and also in “Neutral” as they describe it that is shown with a little boy and girl playing together. Those sets make me want to go in my kitchen and play. Hey, that’s what I do whenever I bake! Let the holiday baking begin. This time without a light bulb!