Easy Bake Ovens Go Gender-Neutral

by Liane Membis

One girl’s quest for an appropriate Christmas gift has pushed major toy-maker Hasbro to make some adjustments to one of their most classic and loved products: the Easy Bake Oven.

13-year-old McKenna Pope of New Jersey launched an online petition in late November when her four year-old brother asked for an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. She could only find pink and purple products — nothing that would be suitable for her a young boy with a passion for cooking. Pope set out to find a gender-neutral easy bake oven and made her statement on how the toy seemed to imply regressive societal structures for women.

I have always been adamantly against anything that promotes specific roles in society for men and women, and having grown up with toys produced by the Hasbro corporation, it truly saddens me that such a successful business would resort to conforming to society’s views on what boys do and what girls do,” she wrote in her Change.org petition.

“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. There are, as a matter of fact, a multitude of very talented and successful male culinary geniuses, i.e. Emeril, Gordon Ramsey, etc. Unfortunately, Hasbro has made going against the societal norm that girls are the ones in the kitchen even more difficult.”

Last Wednesday, the petition had garnered nearly 41,000 signatures, including the attention and support of some celebrity chefs, like Bobby Flay. After meeting with Hasbro executives in Rhode Island, Pope’s innocent request has proven how important the inversion of societal roles is to women of the next generation.

Starting in summer 2013, Hasbro will debut its unisex baking ovens that the company has been designing for nearly 18 months. The ovens, which feature a color change, will debut in February at the Toy Fair in New York.

  • http://twitter.com/KiaJD Nakia (@KiaJD)

    Yup. Given that men make up the majority of the upper echelons of the culinary world, it’s ridiculous that young boys and men aren’t encouraged to see cooking, baking, etc as something worthy of their exploration. They clearly want to play with these toys because they’re fun and with an Easy Bake, you get sweet treats in the end! What kid doesn’t want that? Go into any daycare or preschool and I guarantee you one of the most engaging and fun toys is the play kitchen set. Lots of knobs, buttons, doors to open and close. Oh… and simulated fire (kids love fire, no pyro). By making these toys gendered through the use of pink and sparkles, boys (and non-traditionally “girly girls”) miss out on an honestly fun time.

  • Liyah D.

    I agree! So many people are like “My son will be looked at like a ____ if he plays with that!” They are little kids. Its just a toy!

  • Oh

    Why should it matter if it’s pink though? After all, who cares what society has to say? Your little boy wants to play with a pink oven than that should be fine too. LMAO

  • omfg

    “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. There are, as a matter of fact, a multitude of very talented and successful male culinary geniuses, i.e. Emeril, Gordon Ramsey, etc. Unfortunately, Hasbro has made going against the societal norm that girls are the ones in the kitchen even more difficult.”

    i find it odd that it has to be cast as the boy using the oven to cultivate a profession and passion but for girls it is a means of nurturing domesticity.

    the girl actually defeated her own purpose imo. i actually dislike the premise upon which this petition is based.

    we need more women chefs.

  • C

    That’s cool. I really do wish toys would become less gender-targeted, like this. Why does baking or playing parent to a baby doll or playing with a play kitchen have to be aimed at little girls only, when many boys also like to do those things? And girls like Hot Wheels (mine sure does), super hero characters, stuff like that, too.

  • Blue

    I don’t think everything should be gender neutral (because I don’t feel both genders can be equal at every thing) If I had a son & he asked for a baby alive, he wouldn’t get it. But this is a toy that can be gender neutral since there are a lot of men that are chefs & are damn good at it.

  • kaybee

    That’s a great idea..I signed the petition.

  • ….

    exactly. the fact that she feels so strongly about her brother not playing with a pink toy makes her whole “going against society” point null and void.

  • http://gravatar.com/chanela17 chanela17

    what is wrong with purple??? justin bieber wears purple. men wear purple all the time 0_o

  • Pearlsrevealed

    I loved my Easy Bake Oven and I was not a girlie girl. I would have loved a stainless steel look or any color besides pink. I hated ‘pink & yellow for girls’ and ‘blue & red for boys’ color standards as a kid. regardless of how faulty her premise is, boys need to be encouraged to cook. I think a lot of men act like boys because they are looking for momma to cook and take care of them. Need to learn early how to hold there own in the kitchen. IMO. LOL

  • Mademoiselle

    Oh come on. She’s a kid herself. Her “purpose” was to buy a toy for her brother that wouldn’t make him uncomfortable or targeted. I don’t think she was trying to be a feminist with this petition — just a decent big sister/13-year old, and using “what he wants to be when he grows up” was her way of making her very personal wish generic enough for lots of people to relate to. Give the girl a break.

  • Mademoiselle

    What if your son wanted to play the dad with his sister when she asks him to play “family” with her? Would you forbid him from playing with his sister’s baby alive too (is she not allowed to play with his cars & such for reciprocity’s sake)? Isn’t child care a gender-neutral activity (shouldn’t it be)? I guess my main question is what would you be afraid would happen if you gave your son a baby alive to play with (what do you think he’d be doing as a child with the toy that he wouldn’t have to learn how to do as an adult with an actual baby)?

  • http://gravatar.com/nataya1280 nataya1280

    Something is really wrong with you people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She is 13!!!!!!!!!!! As a kid she is going against society. Hello little boys are “supposed to play with water guns and firetrucks” not bake. Think about every toy you have bought your son, nephew, male child in your life…. Ugh I cant with all of you

  • http://gravatar.com/nataya1280 nataya1280

    Thank you!!! At least you get it!! She is 13 not 30 ppl!!!

  • RenJennM

    Purple is awesome. And my favorite color. Just… had to mention that.

  • RenJennM

    At first, I didn’t know how was going to feel about the idea of making the EasyBake Oven gender neutral because in my head, I was like, “uhhh, why?” But after reading this, it makes sense.

    Like the first commenter said, most professional chefs today are men. We should be encouraging young boys to want to learn about cooking. By making cooking toys like the EasyBake Oven another color instead of pink (even though purple is AWESOME and my EasyBake Oven back in the day was white), it’ll make some boys feel more comfortable enjoying the toy. Pink, purple, white, and any other color should still be available, but providing another color (say, chrome or black) could be cool. Perhaps, it’ll even increase their sales.

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