Design & prototyping
Ronald Howes was the original inventor of the the Easy-Bake Oven after seeing street vendors be able to keep their food warm by heat lamps. The toy company Kenner began producing the idea in 1963 and used 100-watt incandescent light bulb as the heat source which got up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The original version looked similar as a conventional oven and came in pale yellow or a teal color. Each of the original Easy-Bake ovens come with the oven itself, a baking pan, a mixing bowl, baking utensils (spatula and rolling pin) and a cookbook with brownie and cake mixes (Rieselman, 2013).
Since the original version of the Easy-Bake oven came out, Kenner (now a division of Hasbro) has updated its design 11 times throughout the years and changed the style of the unit and colors. The design of the oven changed depending on the different technology advances and trends during each time frame. The oven has changed from a conventional oven design to a microwave to a typical oven range we are familiar with today. The colors have ranged from teal, avocado green, pink, bright yellow, purple, and blue. Other versions of the oven were launched as well. In the 60s and 70s a corn popper, and a potato chip maker which became very popular. In 2002, Hasbro released queasy bake cookerator which was designed specifically for boys to make gross recipes instead of the traditional brownies and cookies.
Manufacturing & Production
Hasbro now owns Kenner which was the company who began selling the Easy-Bake oven. Hasbro is located in New Jersey but most of their products including the Easy-Bake oven, are manufactured in China because it is cheaper. Hasbro has many third party manufactures for all of their toys but the Easy-Bake oven is made in one of the factory’s in Dongguan, China. They hire both male and female workers to run the assembly lines while machines make the pieces. The assembly lines pay a little over $100 dollars per month for their workers. Hasbro’s Chinese factories have been reported to have illegal overtime, poor living conditions, and labor contract violations in the past couple of years (China Labor Watch, 2014). The materials to make the Easy Bake oven unit includes plastic, metal, and the heating element.
In 2007 Hasbro recalled one of their most popular models because kids were getting their fingers caught in the opening where you push the tray in. There have been 249 reports of children who were getting their hands or fingers caught, 77 of those reported burns, 16 reported to have second and third-degree burns. There was also a five-year-old girl who had severe burns which led to getting part of her finger amputated. About one million of those ovens were affected and Hasbro offered free retro-fit kits to help eliminate the danger (Dakss, 2007).
Marketing for the Easy-Bake Oven was directly towards young girls to play with for years. On all of the packaging’s, it included only images of girls as well as their other advertisements. The Easy-Bake Ovens were viewed to be made directly for girls with the colors of the ovens and the graphics that came on them including flowers. In 2002, a version was made for boys which was called the Queasy Bake Cooperator, and it was very different than the typical Easy-Bake Oven. This version involved recipes called “Mud ‘n Crud Cake” and “Drool Dog Bones” (Part Select, 2013).
It was not until a twelve-year-old girl name Mckenna Pope wrote to Hasbro and started a petition that had received over 45,000 signatures on it fighting for a gender neutral Easy-Bake Oven. She wanted her younger brother to feel comfortable playing with his very own oven, not a girly oven. Since then, Pope was invited to visit Hasbro headquarters and Hasbro announced a new gender neutral silver and black edition that will be marketing to both boys and girls (Pope, 2012). Now the new packaging includes a young girl and boy on it with the boy being involved in the baking process.
When Kenner launched the Easy-Bake Oven they had sold 500,000 units in the first year which cost $15.95 to manufacture it and the consumer paid $115 now with inflation (Hasbro, 2012). By 1997 over 16 million of the ovens were sold and Since 2011 over 23 million Easy-Bake Ovens have been sold by Hasbro. The sales continue to rise and has now been named on the top 100 toys of all time list (Part Select, 2013). You can buy the Easy-Bake Ovens at any big box stores such as Walmart, Target, and Toys R us. You can even find some original collector ovens on ebay or other auction sites.
Users of the Easy-Bake Oven can get support by contacting Hasbro with any questions. There was a recall announced in 2008 because children were getting their fingers caught in the door for the oven, which resorted in burns. For users who need access to the recall form they can go online at www.easybake.come or call (800) 601-8418. Users are also able to go online and read through the frequently asked questions answered by the Hasbro company employees and asked by real users.
When using the Easy-Bake Oven the user is provided with a couple of mixes but is able to purchase new mixes when they run out. Before the Easy–bake oven switched from the incandescent light bulb to the new heating element, the users were responsible for replacing the light bulbs pretty frequently if the toy was being used a lot. Other parts that might have gone missing such as the cooking trays can be sold separately through Hasbro online.
Recycling & Disposal
Hasbro has announced that they want to minimize their waste, improve energy efficiency, conserve water at their facilities as well as reduce greenhouse emissions. Hasbro is also working on reducing their packaging material, “eliminate polyvinyl chloride from packaging, increase recycled content and source paper responsibility” (DesMarais, 2013). As for the Easy-Bake Oven specifically, all of the plastic units can be recycled, except for the new heating element, the packaging and instructions can be fully recycled. “The factory’s use vegetable based printing inks and water-based coating in its printing processes” (Hasbro, 2014).