When I was little, I played with an Easy Bake Oven. The oven I played with was not mine, it belonged to the girl next door … but we both played with it the same, waiting for our cookies and cakes to “bake” by the light of a light bulb. A 13 year old girl named McKenna Pope has started a petition to ask the Easy Bake Oven toy manufacturer to release a gender-neutral version of the toy so that it can be marketed to both girls and boys … like McKenna’s little brother Gavyn. I applaud this push for gender-neutrality and hope that we soon will see Easy Bake Ovens marketed to girls and boys, any child who wants to play.
Since the celebrity chef revolution of the early aughts, food has been more visible in pop culture than ever before. But despite dozens of TV programs that glamorize butchers, bakers, and sous-vide duck breast with truffle jus-makers of both genders, Hasbro still only targets girls with the commercials and packaging for its Easy-Bake Ovens — which come only in shades of purple and pink. (Not like there aren’t any boys who like purple and pink, but still: the feminine slant is clear.) But 13-year-old crusader McKenna Pope is determined to change that. In late November, she launched a petition urging Hasbro to manufacture and promote a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven, all for the sake of her cooking-obsessed little brother, Gavyn. “I want my brother to know that it’s not ‘wrong’ for him to want to be a chef, that it’s okay to go against what society believes to be appropriate,” she explains. “Please, sign this petition, help me in creating gender equality, and help the children of today become what they’re destined to be tomorrow.”
Two weeks later, the petition has garnered over 41,000 of the 50,000 signatures McKenna set as her goal. Celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Top Chef alum Manuel Trevino are also supporting McKenna’s campaign … Though Hasbro hasn’t commented on the campaign yet, the Associated Press says McKenna is scheduled to meet with executives from the toy company next Monday. Let’s hope the meeting ends with plans to release a cool new stainless steel Easy-Bake — and ads that feature little boys and girls happily munching on lightbulb-baked cookies together.
Bravo, McKenna, Bravo! This is so cool. Toys shouldn’t be sold to just boys or just girls, toys are toys for all kids. I have a feeling that McKenna’s little brother Gavyn is going to be able to have an Easy Bake Oven of his own … not that he can’t have a pink one but I think it makes a difference if Hasbro validates the desires of all little boys who want to play chef with toys of their own.