Ronald Howes, the inventor who created the Easy-Bake Oven, died last Tuesday at 83 years old. His work spanned a wide spectrum–he worked for the defense department developing weaponry, but also developed a nontoxic Play-Doh, the Spirograph toy, and glow-in-the-dark compounds.
The idea for the Easy-Bake Oven actually grew out of a trip to New York — a colleague had just returned from the city, and told Howes about the street vendors peddling roasted chestnuts. Howes set out to make a toy version of a roast chestnut cart, and the Easy-Bake Oven was born, heated by a light bulb to make it (relatively!) child safe. The toy has been getting kids hooked on cooking for over forty years.
Checking in with Easy-Bake today, it’s a little dispiriting to see that it’s still marketed to girls alone. Surely we’ve come a little farther than that?