You know those times when you plan an activity to do with your kids that you think you “should” do, but in retrospect wonder why you do things you don’t want to do in the first place?
Enter the Easy Bake Oven.
Easy Bake? Easy my… let’s discuss this toy that I, yes I purchased for my kids. If you’re not familiar with it -and if you grew up in the 80’s or 90’s that doesn’t seem possible- the Easy Bake oven is a toy oven that allows kids to create a delightful culinary treat from start to finish, via a pre-mixed ingredient bag.
Sounds cute, right?
And oh, they DO make it look cute. Even the oven itself is adorable.
Now, I’m enough of a veteran parent to sense that this is the type of toy that is best avoided. But… I had that moment of weakness, during the Christmas shopping season. And I blame the lack of sleep and carb overload for making a bad toy decision.
I bought one oven for both little girls, because I knew that:
a. Whoever did not receive it would never, ever let me forget it.
b. I’m not buying TWO ovens.
And the girls were THRILLED on Christmas Day. They wanted to bake right away; thank God for Aunt Chell, the fun aunt, who was excited to try it out with them.
And I should have paid attention, because I vaguely remember her saying, “This is more involved than I remember.”
Fast Forward to summer. The oven has been sitting in it’s box since Christmas. Not because the girls didn’t want to bake, mind you. It was sitting in its box…. hidden deep inside one of our basement closets, away from view. Strategically away from view.
But one day as I tried to sneak an item out of that very same closet, #4 glimpsed the box & shouted, “Let’s BAKKKKEEE!”
And the sounds of “BAKKKKEEEE!” brought #5 running.
I guess we were going to BAKKKKKEEEE.
So I hauled the box upstairs & sat it on the table, plugged in nearby.
“Ok, let’s ba-”
Oh. Ohhhh. My bad.
I’m not sure why I assumed a toy oven with a light bulb for heat wouldn’t need preheating. Then again, I’m still not sure how a toy oven bakes cake with a light bulb anyway, so some things remain a mystery.
So now I decide to, you know, READ THE DIRECTIONS, & set out the supplies.
The oven came with a baking packet: “Strawberry & Devil’s Food Cake”. Sounds good, right?
Ingredient Packet: Not nearly as cute as the oven.
Since there were two flavors, each girl was to mix one flavor each. So after 20 minutes of preheating, we spent 5 minutes debating who would mix what flavor, & 2 minutes recovering from a sulk from not mixing the flavor preferred.
I’m not sure the flavor mixed really mattered…. because there was not much flavor to MIX.
That’s it- the WHOLE CAKE.
You know the fun of tasting raw batter? My girls didn’t. There was no batter to sample, because… after mixing the “cake”, there was no fun to be had because there was nary a scraping left.
“Mom, I bet it tastes good… I think it does. I couldn’t get enough to tell.”
Ok, fine. It IS a toy oven. So after mixing their teeny, tiny bowls of teeny, tiny batter, we read the next step: which was to pour BOTH flavors into the teeny, tiny pan.
In a nutshell: 3 minutes arguing about who would pour first, followed by 7 minutes of me “directing”:
“No, scrape it slower… SLOWER… noyou’rerunningintotheotherside- let me help, no just HELP- not so fast, hangonasecondit’syoursister’sturn….”
(Note the yellow “partition” in the middle, ensuring equal space for both girls… SIGH.)
Here’s where they set my latent OCD on fire; note the “batter” all over the pan edge.
But you know you’re trying to make it fun for the kids, so you maintain the enthusiasm in spite of your internal, “WTF is this??!” that’s steadily brewing.
Then the cake slides into the oven to bake for 15 minutes, which leads to a steady stream of THIS:
“Is it done yet? Now?? NOW?? How much longer?” How about now?”
Finally, it was done. And sliding it out of the oven was… rocky.
The only thing left to do was mix the frosting & decorate the cake. Or try to, with bakers gobbling up thee teeny, tiny bit of frosting meant for the teeny, tiny cake.
One hour later, the finished cake looked like THIS:
But it’s not about how looks, but how it tastes, right?
Yeah. It was “GROSS!”
That’s the bakers’ opinion, not mine. There was not enough teeny, tiny cake for anyone but the bakers.
Long story short, it took 1 hr, 10 min for all three of us to determine that the Easy Bake Oven is neither easy or tasty.
But on the bright side, the girls did have fun TRYING to bake, & I had fun TRYING to help them bake.
And, on the even brighter side, they no longer care about the Easy Bake oven, so back into the basement it goes.