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National Toy Hall of Fame List.

Hall of Famers: Easy-Bake, Lionel


ROCHESTER, N.Y.—The classic Easy-Bake Oven and Lionel Trains were inducted today into the National Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong National Museum of Play.

The hall displays historic examples of America’s beloved toy classics, toys that have inspired and engaged multiple generations.Criteria for induction include: icon-status (the toy is widely recognized, respected, and remembered); longevity (more than a passing fad); discovery (fosters learning, creativity, or discovery); and innovation (profoundly changed play or toy design).

Inspired by New York City pretzel vendors, Kenner introduced the Easy-Bake Oven in 1963 with two 100-watt bulbs for a heating element and a unique design that minimized the possibility of burnt fingers. Accompanied by mixes, a recipe book, utensils, and three slide-thru pans, the oven debuted in turquoise and pale yellow. Since then, its design has undergone numerous changes, including the addition of an LED display after Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Hasbro bought Kenner in 1991. In the product line’s history, more than 23 million ovens have been sold and more than 140 million mixes have been baked.

According to Strong Museum curator Patricia Hogan, “The Easy-Bake Oven had a distinct advantage over other toy stoves: it actually baked foods. It’s safe, it works, and the best part is that the play makes its own reward. Fifteen minutes in the oven and a slurpy, gooey, doughy concoction becomes a delicious—okay, edible—confection.”

Lionel Trains was the creation of engineer and entrepreneur Joshua Lionel Cowen, who built his first electric train as a store-window attraction around 1900. When customers asked to purchase the train instead of the product it advertised, Cowen realized the toy’s potential and, in 1902, started the Lionel Manufacturing Co. Lionel train sets were noted for their authentic detail, smooth-operating three-rail tracks, and transformers that allowed kids to control the speed of their trains. Shrewd marketing made every boy think of Lionel trains each time Christmas came around. “Everybody is happy when it’s a Lionel Train Christmas,” proclaimed one advertisement.

“For more than a century, Lionel trains have idealized the cheerful, prosperous middle class family life of American childhood,” observes Hogan. “Generations of boys and their fathers bonded over the Lionel trains set up around the Christmas tree and the family room. In its heyday in the 1950s, Lionel accounted for two-thirds of all the toy trains sold in the United States.” The company remains a player in the electric train market.

To date, 35 toys (and one other plaything: the cardboard box) have made it into the National Toy Hall of Fame: Alphabet Blocks, Barbie, Bicycle, Candy Land, Checkers, Crayola Crayons, Duncan Yo-Yo, Easy-Bake Oven, Erector Set, Etch A Sketch, Frisbee, G.I. Joe, Hula Hoop, Jack in the Box, Jacks, Jigsaw Puzzle, Jump Rope, LEGO, Lincoln Logs, Lionel Trains, Marbles, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, Play-Doh, Radio Flyer Wagon, Raggedy Ann, Rocking Horse, Roller Skates, Scrabble, Silly Putty, Slinky, Teddy Bear, Tinkertoy, Tonka Trucks, and View-Master.

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