Southern women still say their Easy-Bake Oven was the BEST!

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That Easy-Bake Oven was tough to beat.

Now that the Man in Red is giving his sleigh a tune-up and Mrs. Claus is checking in with North Pole Dry Cleaners to make sure they'll have his suit ready in a few weeks, we thought it would be fun to have a Christmas Eve throwback and ask: What were your all-time best Santa gifts?

When we checked in with our Facebook Brain Trust and asked for really good Santa gifts, some clear winners emerged: ponies, bicycles, dolls, and the granddaddy of culinary toys, the Easy-Bake Oven.

Many a Southern dad has cheerfully eaten a slightly soggy (or crispy) cake baked in that oven, which was heated with a light bulb. “Those tiny mixes were adorable!” remembers one Easy-Baker.

“Of course, the year I got an Easy-Bake Oven with a couple dozen items to bake was a good one,” says a former junior chef from South Alabama (who now has three grandchildren and answers to “Nonna”). “My older brother and I got up before daylight and had eaten all the baked goods by the time Mother got up. I think we promptly got put on the naughty list for the next year!”

We also loved such Santa presents as life-size dolls, not to mention Chatty Cathy, Tiny Tears, and Baby Tender Love. (Tip: Never bathe Chatty Cathy. It waterlogs the speaker in her chest, and from then on, she’ll speak with an unfortunate gurgle.)

Southern girls are suckers for livestock—chalk it up to our agrarian forebears. “One year, I got a plastic pony with money attached so I could choose my own real pony,” says one lifelong horse lover. “I’ll bet Santa didn’t realize how well I could search the ads in The Birmingham News and make phone calls. Best gift ever!”

Eventually, we would graduate to sound equipment, like that first transistor radio or stereo, and fashion statements. (Who remembers getting a pair of white patent leather boots under the tree back in the day?)

Still, there will always be a place in our hearts for bicycles with banana seats, majorette costumes and batons, vanity tables from Sears, and child-sized desks and toy pianos.

One closing word of thanks to Mama and Santa: They tried to get us off on the right foot with Suzy Homemaker washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and ironing boards. But for some of us . . . Suzy just never took. Maybe Santa should’ve brought us a junior Swiffer mop. Or the Merry Maids’ phone number.

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