15 Vintage Toys That Sparked Our Love for Cooking

Do you remember what first drew you into the kitchen? It might've been one of the vintage toys here!

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Candy Land

Gumdrop Mountain, Candy Cane Forest and Ice Cream Sea. Candy Land has been sparking imagination and making mouths water since its invention in 1948 by Eleanor Abbott. The first version included only locations—characters wouldn’t be introduced until 1984. The game has undergone many changes through the years (what happened to Plumpy?), but it remains a children’s classic.

You can make a Candy Land cake!

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Mr. Potato Head

When Mr. Potato Head was first distributed by Hasbro in 1952, it was sold as multiple plastic parts with pins to stick into a real potato or other vegetable. Following complaints by parents that kids were playing with rotten produce, Hasbro introduced the plastic body in 1964.

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Toy Ovens

The word “toy” might be a misnomer in the case of children’s stoves from the ’40s and ’50s. Before the Easy Bake Oven, children’s ovens, like Little Chef, Little Lady and Suzy Homemaker, had actual burners that could really cook food. Some even clocked temperatures up to 500° F.

Want to get your child started in the kitchen? Here’s our guide to kitchen tasks for every age.

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Corn Popper

This popular toy had whole generations practicing their popcorn popping skills! The toy helped toddlers learn to walk, and the loud popping noises inside the popping chamber tormented pets for decades. While very successful, the idea for this toy was sold to Fisher-Price for only $50.

Find the best brands of popcorn for your family night.

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Play-Doh Fun Factory

This iconic kid’s toy found a higher purpose after its original invention as a wallpaper cleaner. The Play-Doh Fun Factory let kids create multitudes of cool shapes, including Play-Doh food that you definitely tried to eat. Later versions made it even more tempting, like this Burger and Malt Shop kit. You can still make your own Play-Doh at home.

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Hi-Ho! Cherry-O

Hi-Ho! Cherry-O challenged us to learn to count and to love cherry treats. The first person to pluck all the fruit from his or her tree got to shout—you guessed it—”Hi Ho! Cherry-O!”

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Easy Bake Oven

Ah, the Easy Bake Oven—either your own prized possession, or the source of unending envy of your friends who had one. Easy Bake Ovens were much safer than earlier children’s ovens, heating up little cakes and treats with two 100-watt bulbs. The ovens were an instant hit when released in 1963, selling 500,000 in that first year alone.

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Creepy Crawlers

If Easy Bake Ovens were too tame for your mad little scientist self, there was Creepy Crawlers. The kits contained metal molds of horrifying bugs, which could be filled with a liquid called Plastigoop and heated in the oven or on a hot plate to make figurines that nightmares are made of.

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Shrinky Dinks

These clever crafts were invented by Wisconsinites Betty Morris and Kate Bloomberg as a Cub Scout project in 1973. Made of polystyrene plastic, the shapes were colored and cut before baking, where they reduced to one-third the size but expanded to nine times the thickness of the original cutting. For many children, their first introduction to safely operating an oven came from creating these “Shrinkles.”

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Baby Alive

First introduced in 1973, Baby Alive dolls had a working digestive system—after being fed packets of food, they would either poop, pee or throw up. Owners learned how to change diapers and heal diaper rash, and never asked their parents for a younger sibling ever again.

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Hungry Hungry Hippos

Four hungry hippos compete to snap up the most marbles before they are all gone. Were you a champion at Hungry Hippos? Excellent news—Gen Con at the Indiana Convention Center hosts an annual Hungry Hungry Hippos World Championship.

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Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake and her cat Custard were first designed by Muriel Fahrion, and brought to life by her sister Susan Trentel in ragdoll form. What made Strawberry Shortcake unique? Her hair smelled like actual strawberry shortcake.

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Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine

The Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine was actually a revamping of the Frosty Sno-Man Sno-Cone machine. This machine taught children the value of hard work and perseverance, because it was really difficult to grind those ice cubes.

Find a recipe for the grown-up version of a Snoopy Sno-Cone.

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Fisher-Price Kitchen Toys

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Fisher-Price released delightful kitchen toys, like the Magic Burners Stove Top Cookin’ which had little plastic flames that rolled up when you turned on the burner, or a microwave that rattled as the timer turned.

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While not a physical toy, this arcade game was one of many food-inspired video games that rolled out in the early 1980s. Chef Peter Pepper raced to collect ingredients for his hamburgers while avoiding his enemies Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Pickle and Mr. Egg. This seems like a dig at people who enjoy a good egg on their burgers, but the game still made us hungry.

Maggie Ward
Maggie’s background in the arts gave her a penchant for collaborative communication and the pursuit of conveying ideas in a clear, striking way. Outside of writing for Taste of Home, Maggie loves playing the piano and writing music, as well as performing with various bands and theatre productions around the city of Chicago.