The Near-Death of the Easy-Bake Oven?

Photo: ThinkstockPhoto: ThinkstockBy Lynn Andriani

The Easy-Bake Oven has been around since 1963, turning out tiny cookies and cakes with the heat from a 100-watt bulb, and inspiring future foodies such as Bobby Flay and pastry chef Gale Gand.

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When Congress decided to ban the energy-sapping bulb, though, Hasbro engineers were faced with a challenge. But kitchen-minded kids (and their parents) can relax: The oven isn't going the way of the Atari 2600. It's evolving--something that's actually very much in the spirit of the Easy-Bake, which has spawned a gourmet Easy-Bake cookbook with recipes from famous chefs, recipe sites that include such creations as Wild Mushroom Flan, and even a PC that lets you cook pancakes at your desk (okay, that one isn't real, but wouldn't it be fantastic?).

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The latest incarnation of the Easy-Bake, which goes on sale this fall, has a fancy internal heating element instead of a light bulb, and doors on the left and right sides instead of in front. Such innovations--plus a larger cooking chamber and baking pan--blow the menu of baking options wide open to include cookies, red velvet cupcakes, pizza, pretzels, cinnamon twists and brownie sticks.

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As much as I love the idea of an almost 50-year-old toy getting a modern makeover (and we're nothing if not fans of constant evolution), I think Michelle Paolino, VP of global brand strategy and marketing for Hasbro Girls Brands, put it best. She has strong ties to the Easy-Bake, having played with one as a kid in the early '80s, and she was excited work on the update: "A lot has changed," she says, "but that feeling of creation is still really relevant today."

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