Recall Madness

by Stacey

With all these recent recalls many of us have been wondering, who can you trust? I’ve asked it here and so have others. But now I’m wondering if we’re asking ourselves the wrong question. Maybe we need to be wondering, “Do I really need to be buying all this crap?”

I started thinking about this after I saw the recall of Easy Bake Ovens yesterday. I remember this toy from when I was kid. I wanted one. Badly. But there was no way my mother would have bought me such an elaborate gift. It wasn’t her style. And she didn’t encourage our grandparents to lavish us with expensive toys either. I’m not saying that I was deprived. I wasn’t. It was just a matter of principle. It didn’t feel right to her to give us expensive things to play with.

When I look back on it, I remember messing around with art supplies and playing lots of ball with my brother. I did have a Snoopy doll that I dressed up in clothes. And we had board games and blocks. I remember coveting that Easy Bake Oven though. I think because I didn’t get it, the unmet desire left a more lasting impression than if I had gotten the thing and realized the little cakes you can make in it aren’t as good as the Chips Ahoy cookies in the kitchen.

These days my son is very into the idea of having a pirate ship. A good friend of his has a very cool one made of wood and my son loves to go to his house to play with it. I am reluctant to get him one though because I think it is good to have some things out there in the world that you don’t get to own. Grownups have to contend with this in daily life. Maybe it will translate into a lesson about not getting into credit card debt trying to buy things you can’t afford.

But pirate ships aside, there is plenty we do buy for our son. He’s got lots of toys, way more than I remember having as a kid. A hyper consumer culture and the availability of lots of affordable toys have helped to create this situation. And yet we know that many of these products are made in China where, we’re learning more and more, there are serious concerns about quality control.

Maybe it’s time to realize there’s no free lunch. If we willingly fill our homes with stuff made under dubious circumstances, maybe it should come as no surprise that there’s a price to pay in quality and safety. Maybe we don’t need ubiquitous Thomas the Train and weird Veggie Booty and too-pink Easy Bake Ovens. Maybe all our kids really need is some balls to kick around, some clay and finger paint, and a doll or two.

Wow I’m high up here on this horse. No need to shoot, I’ll come down now.



Filed under consumer culture, Made in China, parenting, recalls, safety, toys

4 responses to “Recall Madness

  1. dcslugabed

    Hi Stacey! Soli likes putting things into other things and after she’s done, she sings “Da!” as in the second half of “Ta-da!” There are lots of plastic toys for toddlers that are designed for her to do this with; we have a bunch and Soli likes them. But the other morning we were out with the dogs and she bent down over some dry dirt, pulled a small rock out of the dirt, replaced it in its indentation, and said, “Da!” I don’t know if a rock in a path regularly trodden by dogs and humans is more or less likely to cause her harm than a plastic toy made in China, but it was very satisfying to both of us to play this game she created out of the dirt.

  2. Hey that’s great! Soli got to have the joy of putting something in its place AND she got a nature experience! Two for one. I think if we wanted to, we could look for ways to replace the plastic stuff with stuff from the real world. da!

  3. annamcclendon

    I was deprived as a child as well! Not really. But I was never allowed a Barbie doll, the pretty plastic peach bossom buddy of my generation. My mom went as far as returning birthday gifts of the said forbidden doll. Her point: Barbie is a bad role model for young girls, and we will have nothing to do with it. So instead, I got dolls of various ethnicities, from different countries, and with realistic body shapes. I remember being upset at times, especially when my birthday presents got returned, however I think I understood most of the time that I just couldn’t have it. And that was that, mom’s rule. For good or bad, I endured a childhood Barbie-less. My UN troop of dolls and I climbed trees, made forts, swam, and played in the backyard where Barbie would not have been comfortable. Her feet weren’t even flat, how could she run in the dirt?
    So, did forbidding Barbie teach me a lesson for life: I don’t know, I sometimes still want things I can’t have, and buy things I don’t need. But I do know, that if I have a daughter, I won’t let her have Barbie either.

  4. dagmire

    i agree with you anna, i think we all sometimes want things we can’t have and perhaps part of it is putting it in perspective. just what is it we want and why do we desire it so much? what disturbs me most about this is the princess stuff my daughter covets. she got the whole deal for her birthday as a gift from a friend- shiny silver shoes, earrings, crown and wand.
    the earrings and wand broke quickly (thank god) and the crown has disappeared, but she does walk around the house in the shoes and it bugs me, but not enough to take them away.

    having kids has made my memory of small exchanges with my mom quite sharp and clear at times.
    i did have an easy bake oven and my strongest memories about it are all centered around my older brother running off with my cakes before i could eat them
    so perhaps the grass is always greener…

    my unfulfilled desire was centered around calvin klein jeans
    my mom’s reply to the constant badgering was that she was not going to buy me jeans that cost twice as much as levis if i was going to outgrow them in a year

    but back to the princess thing
    i do know i was into the fairytales, castles and and wands when i was small, but i didn’t have the plastic crap to go along with it
    does having the plastic make it worse?

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