This shouldn’t be such a hard decision.
Bee has this at the top of her list of gifts she’d like for the holidays. Our hesitation isn’t because the toy oven has an age recommendation of 6 and up. No… wait, is it 7 and up? I’ll go look… hold on… holy cow, you aren’t going to believe this – they have it as 8 and up!? You should be 8 years old to be able to place your hands carefully near a lightbulb?!
Anyway, no, the reason is that she made pancakes on the stove top just this morning (she’s 4), and has been cooking with me since she could stand. She helps cook everything already. It is true that she can’t reach the oven to put things in, or take things out – – but it is also true that the Easy Bake oven says that adult supervision is required (so that oafish 8 year old of yours doesn’t get in trouble with a lightbulb).
She wants to bake independently – and the toy isn’t even recommended for that. It costs a good 6 bucks every time she’d want to make a cookie-sized little cake (pro-tip, you can make 3 actual cakes for that money).
The marketing and package design are sexist and entirely dismiss boys as a consumer. Cooking isn’t for girls any more than it is for boys. That notion is absurd and reflects an ugly history of keeping women tied to the home while men go out and earn – as offensive to the men who would prefer to be caregivers as it is to the women who want to pursue careers.
To some people, that is going to sound unfair. It turns out that (according to the reviews I’ve read) a big audience for this toy is the mothers that wished they had it as a child and now want to live vicariously through their children. That it doesn’t occur to them to just bake with their kids is odd to me – but I know how nostalgia can be a heavy motivator. There is the underlying point that their own parents didn’t get the oven for them for some reason. I’d be willing to bet that ability to afford the toy isn’t the main reason (though it may have been the main reason given) – I imagine that since their own parents did a lot more cooking than parents do today, they had similar reasons for denying this toy to their kids: they cooked regular food with the child instead.
And there is the problem area. The “we’ll just cook normal food together, honey” solution didn’t satisfy the children in question (the one’s desiring to live vicariously through their kids today). Maybe it is a sort of desire to do miniature cooking – maybe the tiny frivolousness of the venture is the main attraction and shouldn’t be dismissed so lightly? Or – maybe it’s the advertising blitz this toy relies on. Bee doesn’t watch commercial TV much at all (only on occasional Saturdays does she watch network cartoons) – and yet the commercials she’s seen for the EBO have made a big impression.
I don’t want this to be her Red Rider BB gun – the thing that she sits back and says “yeah, these are wonderful presents, but what I really wanted was that Easy Bake Oven”. I’ve heard some interesting arguments for allowing your child to pick out trashy toys from time to time, so that they get a sense of self-determination and learn that sometimes things look better than they are – and that mom and dad are sometimes right about something being a piece of crap.
A substitute idea we have had is to get quality kid-sized baking impliments for baking real food in the real oven. She already has a few – and we’ve seen some good ones out there. The play kitchen, while not a complete waste of time/money/space has not turned out to be something she’s very interested in. She wants to do the real thing – and more power to her.
Here is the part we came up with that I think might be brilliant:
Some complaints about the EBO are that it is too expensive, and that you can get a good quality toaster oven for that price. Do see where I’m heading? The mini muffin trays and cake pans we’ve seen on the market could fit in a toaster oven (I’ll check on this to be certain, but I know at least a mini cookie tray would easily fit). We could also use it for strictly practical uses – heating/baking small things at lunch time, etc. (with more energy efficiency). So – what if we had a chat with Santa about getting a real oven for Bee instead of a plastic piece of crap with a lightbulb in it and decals for temperature gauges and timers? It wouldn’t cost any more – she could make a wider variety of things – it won’t end up unused in a closet somewhere even if it didn’t hold her interest. So – a couple of kid-sized pans, good children’s oven mitts, and a run-of-the-mill toaster oven could be ideal. Rational compromise.
We’ll run it by the man up north.
While you can get a regular toaster oven for less than an EBO – it would be of poor quality or too small a size, so we are 86ing the EBO subject in favor of just using the kitchen as usual. Some kid-sized muffin pans and oven mitts are in order, though – hopefully they will scratch some of that EBO itch for the Bee. Also, the notion of losing more counter space was weighing me down. Maybe the suggestion would work for someone in other circumstances, though – and it seemed like a fun, smart alternative at the time.
stop the press:
Here is exactly what we wanted. Real non-stick cookware, real recipe cards with scaled ingredients.
Li’l Gourmet is the brand – they have some real sets and some play ones, the real ones are right on the money for us.
They also have a cupcake making set, a cake baking set, and others – – each have more decorating accessories than the Easy Bake brand, and they make food with ingredients you have in your cupboard, in actual batches. The price is lower as well.