The florescent lightbulb did! With its 100-watt light bulb slated for obsolescence, the beloved toy faces what MSNBC calls "an uncertain future."
While some have accused the humble Easy-Bake of reinforcing gender norms, who'd have thought it would be an enemy of the environment? E-Z — which has also been responsible for a few not-wholly-unexpected injuries and a recall (have these kids not heard of a toy potholder?) — has been forced to regroup. Says MSNBC,
The company has announced that it plans to release a whole new product, the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, that will introduce "a new way to bake for the next generation of chefs." The new toy will feature "a heating element that does not use a light bulb and offers an extensive assortment of mixes reflective of the hottest baking trends for today." One hopes that the aforementioned hot baking trends include more natural ingredients and fewer preservatives and artificial colorings.
While the description conjures up something vaguely sinister — I'm imagining a tiny Marcel engaging in child-safe molecular gastronomy — it's probably going to crank out a similar assortment of slow-baked treats. The question is whether, robbed of the nostalgia element, it'll still hold the same appeal.
Here is the irony: Hasbro Inc., the company that now owns Kenner and the Easy-Bake product line, brought back the retro design of the toy that today's parents remember from their childhoods, and ditched the 2003 "modern" revamp that customers didn't care for - even though, presciently, that unit didn't use a light bulb for heat.
What we'll be looking at, from the sounds of it, is a careful blend of old and new — a sort of refurbished brownstone with all the mod-cons. As to kids, we're guessing they'll be happy — or jealous, depending on their parents — either way.