Easy-Bake Oven: The Littlest Energy Efficiency Victim

It was the 1970s, and I was about seven years old when I received my very own avocado-green Easy-Bake Oven with the watch-it-bake window. And watch it I did. I loved mixing up that gooey batter, pouring it into the tiny tin pan and lovingly sliding it into the oven with the “pan pusher.” The 15 minutes it took to bake the cake seemed like an eternity. When it was finally done, I was rewarded with a barely edible little pastry and a big sense of accomplishment.

easybake2What an idea: the ability to bake real food from a working oven with an ordinary, household light bulb! What kind of dough boy magic was this? Well, it wasn’t magic but inefficiency.

A standard incandescent bulb is only 10% efficient at producing light, according to Environmental Protection Agency. The other 90% of the electricity it uses is lost as heat—enough heat loss to literally bake a cake.

Kenner Inc. sold the first Easy-Bake Ovens in 1963, inspired by the lights vendors used to keep pretzels and other street food warm. One would imagine that, with all of the technological progress in the last 50 years, the incandescent bulb would have improved to the point that it could no longer cook food. That is not the case. In fact, traditional light bulb technology hasn’t changed much since 1913 (the same year Henry Ford introduced the assembly line).

Consumer Reports has conducted ratings comparing 60-watt incandescent bulbs (because they’re the most popular type sold in the U.S.) and their LED/CFL equivalents. In those tests, both LEDs and CFLs used from 65% to 85% less electricity than incandescents, and also have a longer lifespan.

But with the heat-loving light bulb’s slow death spiral, what’s become of the Easy-Bake Oven? The manufacturer (now Hasbro) is managing the change just fine. Well aware of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the company transformed it into the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven back in 2011. The new Ultimate Oven cooks cakes, pizzas and more with “a heating element similar to a conventional oven.” In addition to cooking a greater variety of foods, non-gender specific color options are available for future Bobby Flays and Wolfgang Pucks.

It just doesn’t feel the same, does it?
Image Source: hasbro.com

Although I can wax nostalgic about my old toys, I don’t feel the same way about my old light bulbs. I prefer the telephones and computers of today compared to the ‘70s, and I’m happy with today’s new energy-efficient light bulbs.

Check out responsiblebynature.com for the locations nearest you to purchase discounted energy-efficient lighting and to properly dispose of spent CFLs.

By Connector, Mary LaLone

9 Responses to Easy-Bake Oven: The Littlest Energy Efficiency Victim

  • Terry Pepper
    March 26, 2014

    Thanks for the information. With 2 grandkids that will reaach the “Easy-Bake” age in a few years, it is good to know that they will have this experience. And, as a grandpa, I won’t have to clean up the mess!

  • Tim Bachicha
    March 26, 2014

    I am angry that the 60-watt and 100-watt incandescent bulbs have been eliminated. I use them to provide inexpensive heat to water pipes in areas that are prone to freezing when the temperature gets below zero. This has been a very cost-effective solution for a problem area. When my current supply of those bulbs are gone, I will be faced with a rather expensive solution, whether to beef up insulation in a very difficult location, do an expensive remodel in that area, or purchase a small energy-hog heater. I used to use a small ceramic heater but found it cost more to operate than a 100-watt bulb. Before I started using the 100-watt bulbs, I had to replace that heater every year. In addition, the light given off by the bulb gave me assurance that the area was being kept warm enough to not freeze. I am very capable of making decisions about what energy I choose to use and pay for. The current hullabaloo surrounding the forced elimination of incandescent bulbs and forcing us to use the expensive and dangerous new bulbs is nothing more than another attempt by our government to control another aspect of our lives.

    • Jesse G
      March 27, 2014

      TIm – you can use heat tape, or even christmas lights. You can also insulate the pipes with foam tubes as well. Problem solved. I would agree that the new bulbs are very likely to not be disposed of properly, and not all CFL lightbulbs perform the same, with some not achieving claimed life.

  • Sandy
    March 27, 2014

    It wasn’t only the government…it was the bulb manufacturers too. They stand to make a fortune off the the new bulbs. I’m sure their representatives were all over Congress to pass another attempt to run our lives because we aren’t capable of doing it ourselves. :(

  • Seer Clearly
    March 27, 2014

    Let’s get a little grip on reality here. As the article says, the incandescent lightbulb is 100-year-old (actually more) technology. It wastes 90% of the electricity you put in it. Energy that is made from non-renewable resources that have a finite lifetime. Even if you ignore global warming, what will you have to say to your kids when the cheap coal and gas we use to make electricity today are all gone in 100 years because our generation wasted it? “Have a happy stone age?”

    Tim, there are great solutions to your problems, including electrical heating tape you can wrap around the pipes. The tape lasts longer than the bulbs anyway, so there’s less chance of a pipe bursting due to a burned-out bulb.

  • Brigitté
    March 27, 2014

    I am in agreement with the previous responders. I had an Easy Bake Oven myself. Normally, I have a problem adjusting to change. Although I wright, I don’t like to hang out on the computer all the time. Who is making the decision that the incandescent lights need to be eliminated? The government? . . . .And 20 years later, there will be a new administration in the congress, senate, and whomever else makes these “snap” decisions. The problem the CITIZENS have with the GOVERNMENT is that the GOVERNMENT seems to be filled with people have taken on public jobs working for the City or State, yet have no interest in the public they will be serving, thus loosing the trust of the people.

  • Chris
    March 28, 2014

    I’m all about saving energy and money. But I don’t believe the EPA has any right forcing me to buy the type of bulbs they want me to buy. Let me make my own decisions about whether I want to use incandescents or not.

    And don’t tell me that it’s better for the environment. What a load of BS. It’s all about money and control.

    How far we have fallen.

  • gmh
    March 30, 2014

    What a bunch of whiners! Did you complain this much when TVs were upgraded or old versions of computer software were no longer supported? Times and technology change, and companies tell you all the time to upgrade.

    On the plus side, I’m glad there are still Easy Bake Ovens.

  • Xynyx
    April 1, 2014

    Oh, the agony! They took the slide rule, they took the mimeograph, they took pulse dialing… and they even took the 8-track tape! Those commies!

    Technology marches on. Get over it. Humanity needs to use energy more wisely… or our time, here, will be even shorter.

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