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Hasbro To Unveil Gender-Neutral Easy-Bake Oven


Two weeks ago an eighth grader named McKenna Pope made waves when she created a Change.org petition to convince Hasbro to make a more gender neutral Easy-Bake Oven so that she could buy one for her four-year-old brother, who loves to cook but is a little small to work with a real oven on his own. The Easy-Bake Oven has a long history and has come in a number of colors including green, yellow, and orange over the years, but ever since 1993 the oven has come in shades of purple, pink, and teal and marketing has tended to exclusively feature girls using it.

Well, Pope’s petition got enough notice that Hasbro invited her and her family to its headquarters to look over their prototype for the next Easy-Bake Oven in black, silver, and blue, and say they’re even planning to return boys to the ads and packaging for the toy!

From the LA Times:

Hasbro has been working on the new color scheme and design for about 18 months, said John Frascotti, Hasbro’s chief marketing officer… ”I think that they really met most or even all of what I wanted them to do, and they really amazed me,” McKenna said, adding that her brother thought the new design was “awesome.”

I think it’s easy to look at Hasbro’s move here and see motivations of femmephobia, the idea that the frilly, pink, and classically feminine is inherently bad, and not simply a set of should-be-innocuous characteristics that lose their neutrality when girls are boxed into them and boys are vehemently pushed away from them. But I think there is also tremendous value in, so long as our society has these incredibly rigid ideas of what is “feminine” and “masculine,” creating gender neutral options. After all, Hasbro’s new Easy-Bake Oven isn’t flipping to be marketed expressly to boys. Take a look at the last time they tried that, a decade ago, with the “Queasy Bake Cookerator,” which sets itself distinctly apart from “girl baking” to “gross cooking” just to make sure nobody is confused about what sort of kid should be playing with it.

The ability to cook at a basic level is something that we expect and associate of grown adults regardless of gender, even if it’s only for themselves. Casting it as ”women’s work” to children is a harmful stereotype, to girls and boys, and it’s good to see Hasbro’s thinking about it. And, unlike certain companies I can think of, recognizing that their product appeals to more than just the demographic they’ve been pushing it towards.

(via The LA Times.)

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  • http://twitter.com/ryorin Shoshana B

    This is fantastic to start with and made better with their acknowledgement of Miss Pope. Bravo, Hasbro. Bravo.

  • Natasha Tafel

    Woo!!

  • April Tara

    Apparently I bought my daughter’s Easy-Bake Oven just in time, before they released these purple flowery models. (Actually, she bought it herself last year, on clearance and using a gift card she got for Christmas.) Hers is a gender-neutral mint green and white. Maybe they should just go back to making that one.

  • http://twitter.com/LJo83 Lindsay Beaton

    The whole “marketing cooking to girls” thing always baffled me as a kid, because my dad was the cook in the family and so as a little girl (when the world was still seen in black and white) I considered the kitchen to be a boy’s domain. As my brother and I got older HE was the one interested in emulating our father, and is now an excellent cook himself, whereas I CAN cook but mostly see it as a chore to be endured (must eat to live, blah blah). I would get into these weird arguments with my friends: “Your DAD cooks?” they would say, and I would give them an equally befuddled tone right back: “Your MOM does?” It cracks me up to think about it now, but it probably says more about society than I ever caught on to then–my parents were really young compared to most of my friends’ parents, to the point where they were a completely different generation. I guess I still find the whole need to market to a specific gender re: cooking strange.

  • http://twitter.com/sarasakana Sara Sakana

    I just don’t get why they were pink-and-purplefied in the first place. Back in the day, they came in the same colors actual appliances came in.

    In fact, when I was a kid, we had Legos (not the ridiculous pinkified Legos that pass for “girls’ Legos” these days, actual Legos) being marketed to girls and boys appearing in Cabbage Patch Kid ads.

    We didn’t always try to brainwash kids into believing that pink and purple things were only for girls–or, even worse, that ONLY pink and purple things were for girls. Why has this gotten WORSE in recent years? Why are we going backwards and trying even HARDER to push the myth that there are such things as “girls’ toys” and “boys’ toys?”

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    I remember our family getting that Queasy Bake Cookerator… And it’s true that it’s not like they’re going 1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back, with saying the New Colors are “Boy Colors.”

    So, I’m glad for the Change, Regardless of the Approach. Let’s just hope this is a Start to a Future Gender-Neutral Toy Aisle with ALL Colors, Pink and Baby Blue alike being Treated as Equals, along with boys and girls. :)

    I also Saw this Video about a Bunch of Professional Chefs (Though, strangely, No Professional Bakers. You’d think they’d be the 1st to get on this?!) called “Everyone Can Cook,” and it’s Cute how they say, boys and girls can be Chefs.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1hB0S7u06U&feature=youtu.be

  • Anonymous

    I just don’t understand that if they’ve really been working on this “for the past 18 months” they didn’t just say so when the kid originally asked.

  • http://twitter.com/ladynysa Lindsay

    I don’t get why a purple Easy Bake Oven is a “problem” for boys to play with in the first place. I think it would teach a better lesson to promote that boys and girls can play with ANY toy, no matter what the color or subject, as long as they are having FUN with the toy.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    And this is what it looks like at 1:14: http://abcnews.go.com/US/boy-friendly-easy-bake-oven-teen-girl-bat/story?id=18003828#.UNC8aUJptyp

    I didn’t get why this was made into such a big deal, too, unless Hasbro wasn’t going to Market the New Easy Bake to both boys and girls. Well, I bet they’ve been wanting some Good Publicity after their Horrid Reaction to that other girl’s ‘Guess Who’ Inquiry about its Unbalanced boy to girl Ratio.

  • http://twitter.com/TheWholeyTruth Jennifer Wholey

    “Hasbro has been working on the new color scheme and design for about 18 months.” My Easy Bake oven (in the ’90s) was white. How difficult is that, honestly? Yes, back in the day there were games that plainly played to specific genders (Dream Phone, anyone?) but it feels like in the last few years the market has been absolutely saturated. Now, one must hunt ferociously to find a children’s gift that isn’t overtly, painfully gender specific. I went to the Lego Store recently to buy a present (for my very grownup self) and I was positively sickened by the “girl” Legos. Apparently, I need a pre-set narrative framework in order to engage in creative play and I’m only supposed to be interested in activities that have to do with socializing or animals. Please excuse me while I go vomit.

  • http://twitter.com/kayedacus Kaye Dacus

    The irony of this situation to me is that for children, cooking and the kitchen are gender-identified the girls’ domain. Yet as adults, men dominate the upper tier of executive and celebrity chefs. Where did these men get the idea that they were welcome in the kitchen? Where are all of the female power chefs? Certainly now that they’re more recognized with several cable networks dedicated to food/restaurants, people are recognizing the need for the executive-chef glass ceiling to break. But what is the disconnect between the Easy Bake Oven being marketed predominantly to girls but men dominating professional kitchens? I love that they’re moving to a more gender-neutral design/marketing. But what can be done to encourage more girls to consider becoming professional chefs?

  • John Wao

    Kudos to McKenna!

  • Carmen Sandiego

    It’s not just the colors, the marketing in recent years has featured only girls playing with it, whereas they used to feature (in both tv ads and in catalogues) boys and girls playing with the ovens.

  • http://twitter.com/Mianameah Mia Nameah

    I’m so happy this is coming out. My best friend asked for one for Christmas many years as a kid but never got one because “they must have thought I was kidding.”

  • http://twitter.com/sarasakana Sara Sakana

    BREAKING NEWS: some people (even girls) just plain don’t like pink, purple, and flowers! Film at 11!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sarakenobi Sara Fires Rodgers

    my sister said the same thing – but honestly, the stigma of a boy having pink and purple stuff is a lot to deal with. it would be more appealing in neutral colors (like a nice SHINY RED!). if they put boys on the packaging with the pink and purple floral Easy Bake it would be a step forward though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sarakenobi Sara Fires Rodgers

    my husband said the same thing about Care Bears!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anna-Sophia-May/100000092990769 Anna Sophia May

    I remember the year every one of my 16 cousins, boys and girls alike, got a care bear for christmas. we were all so excited. we played with them for hours and hours, it was great.

  • Anonymous

    This is my life! Seriously. Mom=heat up leftovers, Dad=homemade egg noodles.

  • Anonymous

    Part of the up side is that they apparently met with the petition girl so they are at least involving themselves in the discourse. And I think they are only marketing to boys now because of her…

  • Anonymous

    Thought he was kidding? Maybe that’s why no one would ever buy me lego’s as a little girl? (Or maybe they just were afraid of stepping on them!)

  • Brian

    The marketing of the past X0 years has made that far more difficult than it should be. There’s a place to fight that battle, but it’s not here, not with one product.

  • http://twitter.com/fingerpprojects Fingerprint Projects

    McKenna’s story is another example of the – cool stuff kids do – Don’t
    underestimate what the next generation of kids are capable of. She is just one of the kids featured on http://fingerprintprojects.com – a collection of stories about activists, entrepreneurs, innovators and philanthropists under 18.