Ready for another blog post about light bulbs? Sorry, I'm going to write one anyway. I'll keep it short.
One of the cultural icons that was caught up in the light bulb wars was the Easy-Bake Oven, a toy that has been on the market for going on half a century. Incidentally, my daughter never had one; during her passage through the 8-12 age demographic that Hasbro markets the Easy-Bake Oven to, she preferred re-arranging the living room furniture to build forts. But I digress.
In older versions of the Easy-Bake Oven, the heat for baking cakes and other treats came from another cultural icon - the 100-watt incandescent light bulb. Which made sense because 90 percent of the electrical energy that goes into a 100-watt incandescent bulb comes out the other end as heat rather than light.
With the 100-watt space heater, I mean incandescent light bulb, on its way out as a result of lighting efficiency standards adopted in 2007 legislation, the fertilizer hit the cooling equipment. Rumors flew - in addition to stripping Americans of their liberty to buy any damn light bulb they want, party-pooping nanny staters were bringing tears to little girls by taking away their Easy-Bake Ovens.
As usual, the broiling rhetoric did not match reality. When clever businesses face a compliance challenge, they put on their thinking caps and innovate, which is what Hasbro did. Toy designers replaced the Easy-Bake Oven's light bulb with a heating element, a small-scale version of elements fitted into adult-size ovens found in any all-electric kitchen.
And Hasbro's designers figured that, since they were reworking the toy's innards, why stop there? The toy received a sweeping makeover, giving it a 21st century, techno-sizzle look with dramatic curves and a head-turning purple color scheme that is way different from the Betty Crocker-ish look the toy sported back in the day. ($50 at amazon.com) Compare a 2011 Corvette with a 1966 Chevelle and you get the idea.
Plus, designers found that replacing the light bulb with a heating element brought a side benefit - more even heating that results in better quality baking.
The lesson of the Easy-Bake Oven story is the next time talk radio agitators whip up overheated talk that energy efficiency will result in economic indigestion, take the ravings with a dash of salt. Even better, toss them into the compost heap.
Look for reviews of new energy efficient light bulbs in the January issue of Good Housekeeping.
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