Easy-Bake Oven and Mud Pies


Oh, that headline to the news story in the April/May 2013 “Reminisce” brought my magazine browsing to a screeching halt. My eyes zeroed in on the page and a flood of warm memories overcame my soul.

No, as a child, I was never fortunate enough to have an Easy-Bake Oven. However, had the jolly old elf in the red suit decided to leave one under our meager Christmas tree, my heart would have melted.

The Easy-Bake Oven made by Kenner Inc. would have been the first appliance gracing this young homemaker’s play house. This safe-to-use oven (now 50 years old) was powered by two 100-watt light bulbs and came with a recipe book, cake mix, and slide-through pans. Please understand that while growing up in a made-from-scratch household, cake mixes had never graced my mom’s pantry shelves. I really wanted to know what General Mills had put inside those boxes with the mouth-watering cakes pictured on the front. Betty Crocker was touted to make scrumptious cakes just by opening the box. Could I do the same thing? My dollies and I would have had a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L tea party had we been able to enjoy the delicious crumbs from a cake made with a mix and baked inside that snazzy little oven. Don’t you think?

But, alas, I had some redemption to the situation. Perhaps it was Woolworth’s or the J C Penney toy store or maybe even the Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog that came to my rescue. Wrapped in white tissue paper and tied with red curling ribbon beheld the Christmas package that was exclusively for this little beginning baker. Baking supplies of junior-size cake mixes, miniature cake pans along with a wee-size rolling pin were now in my possession. Could life get any better!! I remember mom and dad with smiles on their faces as I opened the package. I knew that I didn’t need a little girl’s oven. I had our big oven to use, and mom would help me when I needed to bake those cakes for an exquisite tea party with my twin dollies, Janine and Charlene.

Traveling back farther into my childhood, hours upon hours were spent with my sister on our farm as we made mud pies. My-oh-my, we created an outdoor bakery full of pretend pie flavors by using berries, weed seeds, and twigs. Sour dock seed was my absolutely favorite decorating ingredient. I can still see those little green seeds of summer topping my pies. Metal jar lids served as our pie tins, and heat from the sun baked the pies until we deemed them to be done. Had there been a county fair mud pie contest, I’m sure one of my beauties would have captured the grand champion ribbon! How about you? Were you a champion mud pie baker, too?

My baking skills have come a long way since the days of mud pies, Easy-Bake Ovens, and cake mixes. But the joy of the art of baking and the creativity explored in this area as a child served as catalysts for the now abundant “madness” that engulfs me when I am in my comfort zone in my home bakery.

Miss NiNi