Monday, August 8, 2011

If the Easy-Bake Oven can adapt to a world without incandescent light bulbs, then I have faith that the rest of the country can do it, too.

Easy-Bake: Change makes a bulb go off
Thursday, August 04, 2011

Congress may be pulling the plug on 100-watt light bulbs come 2012, but the ban to keep non-energy-efficient bulbs out of homes won't dim another piece of Americana -- the Easy-Bake Oven.

Since 1963, the toy appliance by Hasbro has delighted children 8 and up with trendy colors and an assortment of desserts and snacks kids could cook up thanks to the incandescent light bulb that heated the unit. This fall Hasbro plans to launch a redesigned oven with a new heating element, larger cooking chamber and extended line of goodies -- including red velvet cupcakes and pretzels -- for aspiring bakers and chefs to create.

The Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven ditches the light bulb heat source for one that is "very similar to a conventional oven," said Michelle Paolino, vice president of global brand marketing and strategy for Hasbro Girls Brands. "It heats just like a real oven ... [and] it plugs into the wall." Hasbro says the updated product maintains the same level of safety as the former model and is appropriate for the same age group.

The new oven is roomier and accompanied by larger baking pans. Each oven also comes with a cupcake pan, pan pusher/spatula and storage drawer.

To complement the upgrade, Hasbro has come up with a variety of new treats to prepare. Old favorites, such as cookies and cakes, will be joined by pizza, pretzels, brownie sticks, red velvet cupcakes, checker cakes and cinnamon twists. "What we try to do is look at what tweens are eating and what they'd want to make," Ms. Paolino said.

Although Congress' legislation largely informed the new look and makeup, Hasbro is always brainstorming how to keep toys fresh, she said. Over the past 40-plus years, the Easy-Bake Oven has undergone more than 10 makeovers that embodied colors and styles that were on-point at the time. In 1969, it boasted an avocado-green facade and an oven hood. It was designed like a microwave for a more modern flair in 2003.

While the Internet and a bevy of electronic gadgets compete for kids' attention these days, she said she is hopeful the Easy-Bake Oven won't meet the fate of the 100-watt bulb anytime soon. "We feel like baking is more relevant and cooler than ever," especially because of personalities like Martha Stewart and reality shows like TLC's "Cake Boss." "We can give kids a tool to be those next famous bakers and chefs."

The Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven is expected to arrive in toy stores nationwide in late August or early September and retail for $49.99, up from $39.99.

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