Monday, February 22, 2010

Easy-Bake Oven Inventor Dies at Age 83

It's a sad day in pop culture history. The inventor of the Easy-Bake Oven has walked towards the white light bulb in the sky. Ronald Howes Sr., passed away this weekend at the age of 83.

Howes spent his life inventing — from high-tech defense weaponry to printers. He was a modern day Caractacus Potts, but he had a little more success than his "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" counterpart.

In 1963, Howes made an indelible mark on the lives of many young girls when he created the child's toy oven that baked cakes and brownies with a 100 watt light bulb.

We remember the Christmas we got our first Easy-Bake oven. We can picture stirring the batter in the tiny bowl with the even tinier spoon. We can conjure up the smell of the bubbling brownie mix and the taste of the flavorless white cakes. And we also recall running out of cake mix on day one and from there on in substituting toilet paper for cake mix and pretending to eat the crusty concoctions at our stuffed animal tea parties.

In more recent years, the Easy-Bake Oven was redesigned. The light bulb was replaced with an actual heating mechanism and it looked more like a microwave oven. Open the door, place the pan inside, and it sits there and lifelessly bakes. But in the glory days of the EBO, the best part was sliding the pan into one side, pushing it slowly over the light bulb heater, waiting for it to turn from goo to cake, and pushing it out the other side. A young girl's culinary miracle.

The genius inventor worked for many years at Kenner and in addition the Easy-Bake Oven, he also worked on other toy products for the company including Spirograph and the Close-and-Play Record Player.

Thank you, Mr. Howes, for the hours of entertainment. May heaven be a giant laboratory for eternal inventing.

Read his full obituary here.

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