Our 5 Favorite Vintage Food Toys

We did not own one of these as a child, probably because our mother had greater aspirations for us than "drive-thru jockey."
We did not own one of these as a child, probably because our mother had greater aspirations for us than "drive-thru jockey."

The creator of the Easy Bake Oven, Ronald Howes, passed away today at the age of 83. It seems that he lived a full and happy life, being the inventor of a toy that taught millions of children the joys of baking (and the dangers of touching a heating element, before the oven was made more child-friendly sometime in the 1970s). Hundreds of thousands of tiny, tiny, not-very-good cakes will be consumed today in his honor, but we wanted to honor Howes in a different way: reminiscing fondly about all the vintage food-related toys of our childhood.

Food was the subject of most of our childhood games growing up. Not terribly interested in either Transformers or Barbie dolls (except for the Barbie that came with her own vanilla-scented kitchen and accessories -- we can still smell them now), our playtimes revolved around activities like creating restaurant menus from manila paper and crayons, making mud pies and trying to convince our granddaddy to eat them or setting up plastic food items along the bookcases in the house and pretending to go grocery shopping with our molded plastic shopping cart. (It was orange and yellow and was basically cooler than 50 Little Red Wagons put together.)

A striking memory from childhood is going to the old Children's Museum of Houston with our mother and getting to hit up the most exciting exhibit there (to us): The child-size grocery store that mimicked a regular grocery store in every single regard, except that it was stocked with plastic foods and no adults were allowed inside. It even had wee, working cash registers and conveyor belts at the cashwrap. We were in heaven -- until the museum volunteer working the entrance tried to hand us a "shopping list" that had pictures of the food items we were supposed to pick up instead of a list with the names of the items. Our incensed, epic, four-year-old tantrum at this indignation -- "I can read, THANK YOU VERY MUCH" -- is legendary in the family to this day.

Below are five of our favorite food-related toys from our youth. What are yours?

Our 5 Favorite Vintage Food Toys

5. Snoopy Sno Cone Machine: From what we recall of our own machine, this sno-cone maker didn't make particularly good or even particularly recognizable sno-cones. But it was molded in the shape of Snoopy's dog house, and what's not instantly loveable about that? We seriously doubt that any palatable sno-cones were made with this cash cow, but if you were one of those who figured out how to make great sno-cones with it, let us know.

4. Play-Doh Fun With Food: We had the burger-making iteration of this line of Play-Doh toys and vaguely recall trying to trick neighborhood kids into eating the tiny burgers we made out of Play-Doh. They neither looked, felt nor smelled like burgers in even the remotest sense, which could be why those kids shunned us for years and looked as us funny at the bus stop.

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