Howes, who was raised by a grandmother after his mother died during childbirth, was always a smart kid. He taught himself to read before kindergarten, even. When World War II came about he was just a teenage, so he lied about his age to enlist in the Navy. When he got out, he went back to high school, and went to college at the same time!
Eventually he got a job at Kenner, where he met his wife, a secretary in the toy department. There he developed a nontoxic Play-Doh, as well as one of my favorite drawing toys, the Spirograph.
But it was the Easy-Bake Oven that made him a star among millions of little girls over half a century. The idea for it grew came from the way New York City street vendors peddling roasted chestnuts. Howes set out to make a toy version of a roast chestnut cart, and the Easy-Bake Oven was born, heated by a light bulb to make it child safe. The toy has been getting kids hooked on cooking for nearly 50 years.