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Looks like it’s lights out for these Easy-Bake memories

POSTED: September 18, 2011 1:30 a.m.

I’ve seen a lot of things go during my lifetime, including 45-rpm records, 8-track tapes and the hi-fi record player that would play a stack of five or six albums.

But it seems that we are about to say goodbye to the 100-watt incandescent light bulb.

The truth is, we are about to say goodbye to all of the old, inefficient incandescent bulbs.

But the truth is, the good old 100-watt bulb has been more than just a light bulb for me.

When I was about 6 or 7, a company called Kenner introduced the Easy-Bake oven. A girl in our neighborhood received one from none other than Santa Claus.

The Easy-Bake came with little bitty cake mixes that only required the addition of water. Once mixed, you slide the cake pan into a slot that was heated by not one, but two 100-watt bulbs.

When you are 6 or 7, the jury is still out on whether or not you like girls. But if a girl your age can mix up and cook a little cake, she may be worth the cost of getting a cootie shot, which was required for hanging out with girls.

Easy-Bake is now owned by Hasbro, the company that brought us G.I. Joe and Mr. Potato Head. They announced this week that because the 100-watt bulb is going the way of the nickel Coke, they’ve had to make a new contraption that looks nothing like the Easy-Bake of old. It looks more like a microwave oven.

But 100-watt bulbs were good for more than cake baking.

I had a rather inventive streak when I was about 11 or 12 and 100-watt bulbs were an important part of it. I built a little gizmo that would make a 100-watt bulb light up when the phone would ring. It nearly burned the house down, but it worked ... once.

We also were the recipients of some of those sad baby chicks that were dyed pastel colors at Easter. We used the old 100-watt bulb to keep them warm, during the days before I decided to see if baby chicks could swim like their fowl cousin, the duck.

We used 100-watt bulbs to keep other livestock, including rabbits and premature puppies, warm.

I lived in a house during my single years that had no heat in the bathroom. Without money to buy a heater, the 100-watt bulb and a cheap reflector kept me from becoming a total ice cube.

The demise of the old bulb was an act of Congress. This is the same outfit that gave us those horrible low-flush toilets in the early 1990s. The new ones work pretty well, but those early ones should have been flushed.

In those early days, folks would go to Canada to buy the old style toilets. They’ve now stepped up security at the Canadian border and a bootleg commode can probably send you to the slammer.

I thought about venturing across the border for a few last 100-watters, but I’m told that the Canadians have followed suit and ended sales of the old bulbs.

For now, I’m going to sit back and listen to an old 45 and remember the way we were. I still have a copy of "You Light Up My Life."

You can’t make this stuff up.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.



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