Not like they used to

February 07, 2007

Years ago, a district salesman for the Kenner Products toy company came up with the idea of a working toy oven for kids. Company executives greenlighted the project on one condition - it had to be perfectly safe. And so in 1963 they introduced the light-bulb-powered Easy-Bake Oven and created an American pop culture standard.

Yesterday, nearly 1 million Easy-Bake Ovens were voluntarily recalled by Easy-Bake (now a subsidiary of Hasbro Inc.) because children can catch their fingers in the oven's opening and get burned. This is possible only because the oven was redesigned last year to look more like a traditional kitchen range (in keeping more with the original turquoise model) and less like a microwave oven (the standard since a 1978 redesign).

In other words, Hasbro made a mistake by making a product that looked retro but, in terms of actual quality, wasn't quite retro enough.

We'd say there was a lesson for fellow U.S. manufacturers in this unfortunate episode except the Easy-Bake, like most toys, is made in China.

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