The Push Is On For A Gender-Neutral Easy Bake Oven

Boy's Toys

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.

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  1. you know…i’ve never had a easy bake oven..and now that they come in purple i reallllly want one.
    im kind of surprised they never marketed to boys. i mean i know cooking/baking at home has always been seen as a “girls” thing, but 5 years or so with superheros making a huge comeback…i could totally picture a batman version of the oven.

  2. Megan

    Yea, I’m also surprised they haven’t tried to market to boys yet. It seems like an obvious evolution. I love that this little girl started this and now gets to meet with the company. So cool.

  3. blueseashellgirl

    my son had one when he was younger, and yes, he still wants to be a chef…….his was silver and purple i think, about 7 years ago….he loved it! now he bakes with my grown-up baking equipment! :) go McKenna!

  4. My husband always wanted one when he was little, too. It’s about time.

  5. Lauren xx

    My little brother had a dollhouse. He used the dolls and his action figures in it. He is now a 23 year old man who has always been comfortable with his heterosexuality. (He actually helped found a GSA chapter in his high school…) Why do we need “gender neutral” versions of toys? Why can’t we just accept what our kids want to play with without fuss? Why is purple a “girl” color? Plenty of men look great in purple and rock it proudly.

    Asking Hasbro to make a gender neutral toy basically says that it’s not okay for boys to have purple things. Are we bugging DC comics to make a pink sparkly Batman so girls can feel more comfortable playing with action figures? It’s a two way street, here. We should be accepting of all, not being overly-PC.

    • Karen

      I agree with you! The ovens are not off-limits to boys as they are. If boys feel that they are off-limits because of the color, then *that feeling* is something that should be addressed.

      (Also, I can’t ignore that even though little girls, not boys, may be spending their childhoods envisioning themselves as bakers or cooks, it’s the boys who seem to grow up and become famous chefs.)

    • @Karen — No toy is “off limits” to any child because the choice, ultimately, is up to their parents. The problem here is that the Easy Bake Oven has always been marketed to girls. If you do a Google search for the toy, this what you get:

      Easy Bake | Cooking & Baking Games for Girls | Hasbro
      http://www.hasbro.com/easy-bake/en_US/ShareLearn more about the Easy Bake Oven line. Parents, find out fun and new cooking games for girls. Also discover different Easy Bake Oven recipes, mixes and …
      Where To Buy – Easy Bake Oven Videos … – Play – EASY-BAKE Ultimate Oven
      You visited this page on 12/12/12.

      A father that sees this might be less likely to buy the toy for his son.

    • Karen

      Yeah, they should not specify girls in their marketing material. I agree with that.

      I know the issue of the parents’ limiting toys based on gender is complicated and won’t be fixed anytime soon, and perhaps this is a small step in the right direction. I’m glad they will be including girls in the marketing material for the stainless steel oven. I hope they include boys in the marketing material for all the other colors, too…

      There are just SO MANY disturbing issues with how gender is taught to children. Toys, cartoons, kids’ shows. Ugh.

    • @Karen — Yes :D

    • Megan

      I do agree to an extent. There are boys who would love to play with an easy bake oven, but don’t want something that is pink or purple. So, if boys want to play with it but want it in green or blue, what’s wrong with that? That would also be their preference

    • Jenn

      You’re right Lauren that it’s not about the toy it’s about society and societal perception. Have a look at this toy catalogue from Sweden : http://twentytwowords.com/2012/11/30/swedish-toy-catalog-goes-gender-neutral-11-pictures/ We can learn a lot by their catalogues, and if more countries advertised like them more people would realise kids play and act quite androgynous until those preteen and teen years(unless otherwise pressured from society and/or adult interactions).

      I think society has created such rigid gender boundaries for kids it’ll take several generations to change them. Even before birth people associate colours to a gender identity. Pregnant with a girl, buy all pink gadgets, from clothes, bottles, slings, cots, car seats, dummies, and even nappy bags, as if everything has to be colour-coded for gender. Everything blue for boys, and it only escalates from there.

      My daughter, 6, enlightened her friend’s mother a few months ago. She was playing with friend(male), and they were putting on dress ups. Her friend chose to put on a ballerina costume with tutu and fairy wings. His mum told him he should be dressing up in the boy costumes when my daughter piped up and said, “The costumes aren’t boys or girls, they’re just clothes, for everyone!”

  6. http://www.buzzfeed.com/seancurry1/genderswapped-swedish-toy-catalog-5qqa

    I kinda agree that purple is a gender neutral colour so I am not too sure what the beef is there. I agree that toys should be marketed in a generless way (the the Swedish flyer posted above) to stop gender stereotytping.

    Have to say, with it being a Hasbro product, there is a good chance this young girl may succeed in a way. Hasbro has been phenomenal in the promotion of the new My Little Pony show which is geared towrds 6 year old girls. The bronies are a HUGE reason why this show has succeeded and Hasbro knows that and markets products to them now too.

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