The Untold Truth Of The Easy-Bake Oven

Few toys have stood the test of time as well as the Easy-Bake Oven, which enables kids to make their own baked confections, including cakes, cookies, and pretzels. While its appearance, functionality, and available baking mixes have changed over the years, the Easy-Bake Oven remains an iconic toy kids love. When it comes to nostalgic American toys, it's hard to ignore the fun you had with your first Easy-Bake Oven as a kid or the one you taught your child how to use. There's even a National Easy-Bake Oven Day, held on November 4 to celebrate the toy for its continued popularity with both children and adults.

The Easy-Bake Oven has an interesting history that spans decades and is built on a legacy of child-sized ovens that started decades earlier. Whether you've used the toy yourself or have admired it from a distance, you'll want to know the untold truth of the Easy-Bake Oven.  

Child-sized ovens started in Victorian times

Since it dominates the market today, it's easy to think that the Easy-Bake Oven was the first oven created especially for kids. However, there were many ovens created just for young, aspiring cooks long before the Easy-Bake Oven became available. According to Atlas Obscura, working child-sized ovens became popular in the late 1800s. They were made from cast iron or steel, and you could use wood pellets or other sources of fuel for heat. Using real fire had obvious safety concerns, and slowly electric ovens replaced many of these wood-burning ovens by the 1920s.

According to The Strong National Museum of Play, in the 1930s, well-known toy manufacturer Lionel, most notable for their toy trains, produced electric toy ovens. By the 1950s, fiberglass-insulated ovens became popular. Working ovens became popular choices for kids that wanted to make believe that they were playing in their own houses, but the release of the Easy-Bake Oven would prove to be a game changer.  

New York pretzels vendors led to the Easy-Bake Oven

The Easy-Bake Oven was inspired by pretzel vendors in New York City in the 1960s. According to, the toy makers that worked at Kenner Inc. were particularly drawn to the use of the two 100-watt light bulbs to heat the oven instead of using a real-wood burning fire or electric baking coils to cook the food. The ability to use a light bulb as a heating source was novel in that the light bulbs did not get as hot as the other heat sources. This made it a safer product than earlier models of child ovens, since it had protections against direct access to the heating source.

The original Easy-Bake Oven was sold with cake and cookie mixes, special utensils made for the oven, a recipe book, and slide-thru baking pans. This ability to slide the pans through the cooking chamber reduced the risk that kids would burn themselves on the oven's heating element.

The Easy-Bake Oven launched in 1963

The first Easy-Bake Oven hit store shelves in November of 1963, just before the holiday shopping season. According to Good Housekeeping, the original Easy-Bake Oven used an incandescent light bulk to heat food up to 350 F. It sold 500,000 units in that first year at a price of $15.95, which is over $100 adjusted for inflation, according to Daily Delish. The initial design featured an extremely small oven and was available in a teal or pale yellow color.

Over the years, Easy-Bake Ovens have changed in appearance to reflect style changes of the time. For instance, in the 1970s, you could buy an Easy-Bake Oven with fake wood paneling and an avocado green color. In the 1980s, a yellow mini microwave design was introduced. After that came the purple and pink accent colors that remained the signature palette for many of the Easy-Bake Oven models released over the past few decades.

Easy-Bake Oven was co-branded with Betty Crocker

A partnership between Betty Crocker and the Easy-Bake Oven started in 1969, two years after the General Mills company purchased Kenner, Inc. (via "Light Bulb Baking").  At the time, new Easy-Bake Ovens came with five miniature boxes of baking mixes. (More mixes could be purchased by families as they needed them.) According to Good Housekeeping, Betty Crocker provided German Chocolate Cake and Rainbow Chip Cookie mixes for the Easy-Bake Oven in 1973. Having a company like Betty Crocker produce the mixes meant that the final products were closer to a recognizable dessert. 

At one time, coupons for Betty Crocker products were included with every Easy-Bake Oven sold. Models in 1969 came with a Betty Crocker cookbook, too. There was even a red Betty Crocker-branded edition of the Easy-Bake Oven that came out. Ultimately, the Betty Crocker and Easy-Bake Oven co-branding ended after 18 years when Tonka acquired Kenner, the toy's parent company (via Toy Tales).

Sales have exceed 30 million units

It's easy to underestimate the commercial success of the Easy-Bake Oven. However, the product continues to be a big seller. According to Hasbro, more than 30 million Easy-Bake Ovens have been sold since the toy's launch in 1963. It's also estimated that sales of Easy-Bake Oven mixes exceed 150 million. As the products are still available, this number will only continue to grow as more parents purchase Easy-Bake Ovens for their families.

According to Daily Dot, based on its sales performance, the Easy-Bake Oven is "one of the most popular toys of all time." Easy-Bake Ovens also have quite the pop culture following with appearances on many TV shows, including prime time shows aimed at adults. This includes mentions on "Fringe," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Seinfeld." During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, former first lady Michelle Obama mentioned how she had an Easy-Bake Oven growing up.

The original bulb was banned due to a change in federal law

In 2007, the heat source used in the Easy-Bake Oven had to change to meet new standards in federal law. Specifically, the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 forced the design to be altered. According to Reuters, this law made it impossible to get 100 watt incandescent light bulbs starting in 2012. Since this was the light bulb used in the Easy-Bake Oven, Hasbro needed to create a new version with a different heating source.

Hasbro subsequently launched a light bulb-free version of the Easy-Bake Oven and also offered some microwave oven-based baking sets for kids. According to Tastemade, this re-design changed how you loaded the pans so that children had to use tongs to put the pan into a front-loading oven. This presented its own safety concerns, as children stuck their fingers into the oven and burnt themselves.

Easy-Bake Oven was recalled in 2007

The 2007 re-design turned out to be a disaster for the Easy-Bake Oven. According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, Hasbro, Inc. recalled 985,000 Easy-Bake Ovens in February 2007 because young children got their hands or fingers caught in the oven's opening. Specifically, the recall listed entrapment and burn hazards as the reason behind the recall. The company offered a free retrofit kit in an attempt to remedy the problem, but the quick-fix resulted in more issues.

Between February and July of 2007, there were 249 reports of children who had their hands or fingers stuck in the opening of the Easy-Bake Oven, and 16 of the 77 reported burns were serious second or third degree burns (via the CPSC). In one case, a five-year-old girl had to have her finger partially amputated. As a result, the company stopped offering the retrofit kit and simply recalled the faulty Easy-Bake Ovens.

It's in the National Toy Hall of Fame

To be selected into the National Toy Hall of Fame, inductees must have longevity, recognizability, and foster learning or creativity through play (via Today). Since it checks off all those boxes, the Easy-Bake Oven was inducted in 2006 during a ceremony at the Strong National Museum of Play located in Rochester, New York. 

That same year, Lionel Trains also became a part of the National Toy Hall of Fame, which is an interesting coincidence considering the company also had its own line of child ovens in the 1930s. While Easy-Bake Ovens were used during the induction ceremony to make sugar cookie and other treats, there were some culinary misfires. In an interview with NPR, Christopher Bench, curator of the National Toy Hall of Fame, admitted, "the Blues Clues muffins, those were pretty dreadful, I have to say, and the color was the color of Tidy Bowl, not a color that you want to have foodstuffs in."

A teenager started a petition for a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven

In 2012, 13-year-old McKenna Pope advocated for a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven. She wanted to buy her little brother an Easy-Bake Oven and was surprised that it only came in pink or purple. According to Time, Pope made an online video and a petition on to get Hasbro to create a gender-neutral version that would be more appealing to young boys like her brother.

Many celebrities chefs including Bobby Flay, Michael Lomonaco, and Manuel Trevino supported Pope's cause. The petition ended up earning more than 40,000 signatures (via CNN). As a response, Hasbro announced the launch of a black and silver edition of the Easy-Bake Oven that became available starting in February 2013 at the New York Toy Fair. Hasbro noted in a statement, "We value input from our consumers and given the widespread interest in McKenna Pope's story, we extended an invitation to McKenna and her family to visit Hasbro and meet with our Easy-Bake team."

Multiple companies owned Easy-Bake Oven

The Easy-Bake Oven has changed owners over the years, from Kenner to Tonka and then Hasbro which currently controls the brand. According to Kenner History, Kenner Products was officially established in 1947. The Cincinnati, Ohio-based company was known for popular toys manufactured in the U.S. after World War II, including a Bubble-Matic Gun and Bub-L-Rocket. In 1967, food conglomerate General Mills (the maker of cereals such as Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch) acquired Kenner. Since General Mills also owned Betty Crocker, this meant that there were more baking mixes available to young bakers.

Then, in 1988, toy company Tonka Corporation acquired Kenner, but more change would soon come. In 1991, Hasbro acquired what was left of Kenner and the Easy-Bake Oven, and folded it under the Hasbro umbrella. Despite all these changes in ownership, the Easy-Bake Oven remained a big seller and continues to endure generation after generation.

There are Easy-Bake Oven mobile apps

Most kids love to play with technology, especially on their phones. As more brands create virtual editions of their classic games, it makes sense that classic toys like the Easy-Bake Oven would make their way to the app store. This includes popular toys such as the Easy-Bake Oven.

In 2011, Hasbro launched a Easy-Bake Oven app for kids to design their own cupcakes on tablets and smartphones. According to, the free mobile app gave kids a new way to have fun with the Easy-Bake Oven by making cupcakes using their smartphone or tablet in a fully virtual environment. Kids could fill up pans with batter before sliding the pans into a virtual oven. Then, the cupcakes could be customized and shared through Facebook or email.

While the Hasbro-released app is no longer available, there are unofficial Easy-Bake Oven apps offering recipes and other tips available through the app store for Android and iPhone devices.

It's one of Time's 100 All-Time Greatest Toys

Plenty of toys have made an impact on kids' lives throughout the years, which is why it's so impressive that in 2011, Time named the Easy-Bake Oven as one of the 100 greatest toys of all time. It joined a list of other recognizable names such as the Radio Flyer Wagon, finger paint, army men, the hula hoop, and Barbie. Other toys launched in the 1960s that also made the list of Time's 100 All-Time Greatest Toys include G.I. Joe, Barrel of Monkeys, Etch A Sketch, Lite-Brite, Hot Wheels, Slip 'n Slide, Barbie's Dream House, and Playmobil.

According to Hasbro, by the time the Easy-Baked Oven celebrated its 50th birthday in 2013, there had been 12 different models of the toy including the 50th Anniversary black edition of the Ultimate Easy Bake Oven. We're sure there will be several more editions to come.