Posted in 20th Century, anecdotes, childhood, memoirs, personal history

The Easy-Bake Oven Mystery

The other day, I was in the parking lot of my local grocery store. I spend a good deal of time at grocery stores, being not just a lover of food, but also a lover of shopping for food as well. As I made my way into the store, I passed the back of a car where a woman was loading her groceries and I noticed a box tucked in the trunk. It was a new-toy box and it housed a modern-day Easy-Bake Oven. I almost said to her, “Oh, some little girl’s going to be very happy this Christmas!” For some reason, I didn’t, but it did make me think: what little girl wasn’t happy to receive the Kenner Easy-Bake Oven? Or perhaps, what little boy? I mean Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay had to start somewhere, right?

Okay, so maybe they didn’t actually have one, but you know what I mean.

As a child, I loved to fool around in the kitchen, helping my mom with stirring batter and adding garnishes and mixing various wet and dry ingredients. I used to go to the library regularly and often would come home with big kid-sized books filled with fun, easy recipes to help children learn their way around a kitchen.

When the Easy-Bake Oven came out in the late Sixties, I wanted one desperately. I wrote to Santa and asked for one nicely. I pleaded with my mother to make sure that Santa knew I was a good girl and I deserved the shiny turquoise, tin oven with the silver cake pans and the accompanying cookbooks. I even appealed to my father to put in a good word (little did I know, that he had a real “in” in the Santa department).

When Christmas morning came, I was crushed to discover no EBO! Actually, I was incredulous! Still, I put on a brave face and accepted the Barbie doll house, the new doll-clothes and even the target-shooter (the one where the chicken laid the egg whenever I hit the cardboard barnyard with my rubber-tipped missile from the plastic gun) that curiously, Santa wanted me to have.

The most devastating thing about that Christmas, was that my good school-friend, Janey Thomas got the exact Easy-Bake that I wanted. It was turquoise and shiny and chock full of pans and spatulas and recipe books. Janey made no bones about how wonderful Santa had been to her and I was turquoise, er, green with envy.

I was already jealous of Janey because her grandmother was a knitter. She used to knit Janey fantastic doll clothes for her Barbies and one summer, she even knit a funky bikini bathing suit for Janey, herself. My grandmother, ironically, was the baker. She baked wonderful rolls, pies, cakes and her specialty was homemade donuts. When she came to visit from Nova Scotia once a year, she would bake up a storm, but she couldn’t knit a stitch.

So, why was I the one with no Easy-Bake Oven? To this day, it still baffles me, but a stint with Janey Thomas’s oven laid all my keen fascination to rest.

One day, I was over at her house and she suggested we play with her Easy-Bake Oven. I remember how much fun it was for a budding chef like me, to empty the packets of cake mix in the tin cake-pans and add the water (or milk–I can’t recall), stir it all together and pop them in the two-story oven. It even had a light inside to do the baking. When the cakes came out not long after, we iced them with green frosting and then we had to eat every last morsel.

I’m not sure whether it was all the sugar, the excitement at finally getting to use an EBO, or a combination of both, but when I got home, I spent most of that night barfing up all that Easy-Bake Oven goodness into our toilet.

I never mentioned that particular toy ever again and eventually, I taught myself how to knit.

Kathleen Mortensen©2009