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Easy-Bake Oven

Hot Holiday Toys of the Past: Easy-Bake Oven

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LOS ANGELES (CIRCA) - Since its debut in 1963, the Easy-Bake Oven has been one of the most popular holiday toys of all time, according to Business Insider. But despite the toy's unprecedented success, it was far from the first of its kind.

Original Easy-Bake Oven" commercial from 1963

For about as long as there have been ovens, there have been children's versions of them. Back in the late 1800s, when the cast-iron stove was used, there was even a supposedly kid-friendly version of that.

Sounds safe, right? Well, that's where Kenner Products comes in.

Star Wars Auction
Action figures from the "Star Wars" movie series are displayed during a press preview at Sotheby's in New York. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Kenner is perhaps best known for creating the original line of "Star Wars" action figures in the 1970s -- some of the most valuable in the world today. But before that, Kenner designer Ronald Howes came up with the idea for a safe children's oven after spotting a street vendor keeping pretzels warm with just a light bulb.

APTOPIX Sidewalk Santa Parade
A pretzel pushcart vendor watches as people dressed Santa Claus walk down the street during the annual Sidewalk Santa parade in New York. (David Goldman/AP)

The original design featured two 100-watt incandescent bulbs capable of reaching high enough temperatures to bake virtually anything. By utilizing a simple household product like a light bulb -- together with a design that kept the heat source inaccessible to the user -- Kenner created a product that could be easily marketed to parents as safe. In fact, Kenner originally tried to call the invention the "Safety Bake Oven."

Kenner would go on to be bought out by bigger companies, and the design of the Easy-Bake Oven changed with it. The toy started taking the shape of a microwave in the 1980s and then in the 2000s, Hasbro created a front-loading oven to more closely resemble a stove. This design however, allowed kids to reach in and get their hands caught, leading to a massive recall of around 1 million units after several children reported serious burns.

TOY RECALL EASY-BAKE OVEN
A safety recall notice for the Easy-Bake Oven by Hasbro is posted on the shelves in a Target store in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2007. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Today, the oven is back to its safer slide-in/slide-out design, though due to the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which regulates light bulb efficiency, the oven now uses a ceramic heating element.

Over its 70-year history, the Easy-Bake Oven has been a steady seller and is still available in stores now.

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