Light is heat. Yup, we learned that with the Easy Bake Oven. More or less.
Light bulbs emit light, duh. No science needed there. And with the commercial promptings of Kenner, virtually every American girl & boy learned, marveled, at the knowledge of cooking with the heat from a light.
Cooking with a light bulb, who knew?!
Put some painfully expensive batter in a tiny pan, stick it beneath the light bulb, and you’re cooking! Well, not cooking per se. I mean you can’t do meat, fish, poultry or God forbid, pork! And I never did try veggies.... I guess you can say you can bake with light. Sorta. The results were expensive arid-dry-crumbling-on-the-top brownies, which were, by the way, still gooey on the inside. And that’s not quite meant in the ‘good way’ like a warm chocolate chip cookie. It was not quite as tasty as one dreamed. Often the packets were opened, mixed, and eaten in their raw goo states.
Since I am digressing, I would also like to mention that the Easy Bake Oven was also a wonderful craft tool. We learned quickly to make other things with the oven. Ahh, children are so creative... There are no limits to a child with a new toy who has used up all packets of cake mix & parents who laugh hysterically at the request for more. (Did I mention how expensive those mix packets were?)
Anyway, bereft of any baking, we employed our ovens in a new way.
A favorite Easy Craft Oven use was making candles. Step 1: get all those crayon bits that lie in the bottom of the old plastic crayon bucket (usually an old Halloween pumpkin, but now-a-days kids use McHappy Meal plastic containers, Tupperware or left over Easter Baskets). Step 2: Remove last remnants of paper wrap. Step 3: drop aimlessly into the miniature cake pan. Step 4: Place in the oven, and watch as your colorful wax bits melt into a psychedelic liquid; you know you are done when your eyes are watering & you can’t be certain the smell is the melting crayons, or if it’s your hair too close to the raging light bulb.
It is only when you see it dried that you realize you failed to put a wick in. No matter, you sell them as candles at the next family rummage sale; your grandma, aunt and the weird old neighbor lady buy them anyway (its a way to avoid the over-watered, under-sugared warm lemon-aide .) Smarter kids sold them to other kids as ‘giant jumbo rainbow crayons.’
And you also learned that the heat of the sun can destroy the same things that the light bulb heat brought to life. (Ok, ok, so in science the law is “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can only change one kind of energy into another.” Therefore, the sunlight converted your nifty crafts. Sometimes this was a good thing - you could now add a wick!)
My personal favorite Easy Craft Oven activity was to paint on paper with melted wax. Not being an idiot (ok, except for the consistent failure to put wicks in my candles, I was rather smart), I didn’t finger paint with melted wax. Instead, I’d heat up the pan under the light bulb, remove it safely with a glove on, and place it, upside down, on a large old book. Then I’d take the piece of paper with my horse drawing (I always had dozens of them lying around), place it on the hot pan, holding it firmly in place with my gloved hand, and color in with a crayon. The wax melts smooth & easy, flowing onto the paper like a dream. When it dries it still looks wet. Perfect for a glossy black stallion’s coat! Super! It is a tedious process to keep heating up the pan, and the smell of the relentless bulb searing on whatever gunk was left in the oven would be nauseating...
What gunk lies in the oven compartment? Well, aside from the brownie mix drips, the melted crayon bits, bits of stuffed animal fluff (hey, its everywhere in a house with kids!), it depends on what other creative experiments your siblings & friends tried in the oven. My cousin used hers as a kiln with clay. Ok, it was Play-Doh and it never worked right, but she tried. If you think it smells weird under normal use, well, don’t try to imagine it cooked, and stuck with bits of wax, cake mix & fur. *ack*
And that's why I cannot collect the Easy Bake Oven. I'd have to play, & it would smell.