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Things to Do With Your Kids

13-Year-Old Girl Whose Little Brother Wants an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas Petitions Hasbro for a Gender-Neutral Version


New Jersey eighth grader McKenna Pope has a four-year-old brother, Gavyn, who wants to a be chef when he grows up. For Christmas, in the boy’s own words, he wants “a dinosaur and an Easy-Bake Oven.” As anyone who’s ever seen or had one knows, the Easy-Bake Oven is marketed pretty much exclusively to girls, with a pink and purple design and commercials featuring young girls making baked goods decorated with hearts and pink frosting. (On Hasbro’s Website the Easy-Bake Oven is in the “Cooking & Baking Games for Girls” section. There’s no equivalent section for boys.)

Miffed by the suggestion that cooking is somehow not a sufficiently “manly” interest for young boys, Pope started a Change.org petition to get Hasbro to include boys on its packaging and to offer the Easy-Bake Oven in gender-neutral colors like red, blue, and green.

Writes Pope in the petition (which also features an adorable video of Gavyn getting his bake on by mixing cookie dough), the Easy-Bake Oven being aimed toward girls “sends a clear message: women cook, men work.”

“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.

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.”

Preach it, McKenna.

The petition, which went up last Thursday, currently has nearly 18,000 signatures. There’s been no response from Hasbro yet, which after the frankly weird way they handled a six-year-old writing them about gender inequality in Guess Who? a few weeks ago doesn’t surprise me. Your PR department needs to get it together, Hasbro. I mean, it’s the holiday season, your execs are probably swimming in swimming pools full of money anyway. But even if you’re not going to offer more gender-neutral products (which, of course, you should), at least put in an effort to make yourself not look all Grinch-y. Give us some indication that you realize the way you’re promoting gender stereotypes is problematic.

And then, y’know, do something to fix that. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

(via: The Daily Beast)

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  • Alicia Hansen

    A teal one would be cool. That’s gender neutral and I I wouldn’t have been against it when my daughter was younger. I hesitated when I got hers then because it was all pink…I had this aversion to pink at the time, lol. Serious Kudos to this girl.

  • strife

    Great idea! It’s almost a dumb idea not to do it unless they’re against sales. What kid wouldn’t want to make their own sugary snacks? That’s all the marketing they need.

  • http://twitter.com/KennyZ3D Kenny Zaborny

    There was an easy bake oven in the network operations center where I used to work. We all would amuse ourselves by baking random things if the stress got a little too much. It would have been nice to have one that wasn’t so pink. The visiting executives were always a little weirded out. If it was a neutral color they probably wouldn’t have known what it was.

  • Amanda W

    Hasbro should make a retro chrome and aqua or red Easy Bake oven, IMO.

  • Anonymous

    Look what wonders the Internet has wrought, that an 8th-grader can directly petition a major corporation! Wowza!

  • Anonymous

    I’m all for gender-neutral stuff. It’s a shame, though, that we have to solidify that pink is definitely not something boys can ever like and never should in order to quick fix this.

    I do like that we’re stepping away from pink is only color girls are interested in, though, but it’s not like we can’t start teaching boys it’s OKAY to like the color pink, too.

  • http://twitter.com/lnxchk Mandi Walls

    That is one seriously princess-ified Easy Bake Oven. The one I had in the early 80′s was an ugly red and black thing.

  • Pernoda

    When my brother was little his favorite thing to do was to help Mom make
    cookies. He didn’t want an Easy Bake Oven necessarily (we didn’t even
    know it was a thing at the time) but he did want to be a baker when he
    grew up. Granted, he’s not doing that now but he can still make some
    damn snazzy cookies.

  • Anonymous

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t they work in some completely new way now, as incandescent bulbs (the original’s heat source) have been legislated into oblivion?

  • http://twitter.com/atomicnoggin Patrick Denny

    Go one further. Get some celebrity chef to put his face on the side of an easy-bake oven. I mean Ramsey’s mug on the side of a box would sell tonnes of units

  • http://www.facebook.com/NoelFigart Noel Lynne Figart

    You know what gets to me? The original EZ bake ovens back in the 1970s WERE NOT PINK. They were red, yellow or avocado (It was in the 1970s).

    In fact, it seems to me that toys are more strongly sex differentiated than I ever recall when I was a child.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.matson6 Mark Matson

    If this works, they’ll probably create a boy version, with Mario Batali shouting BAM! on the box. Toy-R-Us can’t even handle gender neutral toys. They’ll never get it.

  • Anonymous

    My mom says she had the same aversion while shopping for us. The girl aisle was a headache of pink. Now that I’m grown up, I too would love a turquoise one!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.matson6 Mark Matson

    Incandescent bulbs are right next to the new ones at the supermarket. I even bought some recently for above the kitchen table, as the new ones are too bright.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Yep. They redesigned it last year; now it works more like a normal oven, just smaller. And pink.

  • http://twitter.com/hrtsmom Trina Talma

    I was about to say the same thing. A friend of ours had one when I was a kid, and I seem to remember the box had a girl *and* a boy on it too.

  • cadiajo

    I agree. This sort of push for gender-neutrality strikes me as being anti-feminine. It treats pink and hearts as something exclusively girly which makes it undesirable and unworthy of contaminating our precious boys with nasty girlishness. If girls can like blue and green and black, then why can’t boys like pink? It’s a devaluation of the feminine and although I’m sure that is not the intention of this little girl and her supporters, I can’t say that I can get behind this move of pathologizing pink.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    I agree. Ideally there would be several colors to choose from—if anyone, girl or boy, wants an Easy-Bake oven that’s pink with purple swirls on it or whatever, more power to ‘em.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Well, after my Magneto action figure used my Creepy Crawlers oven to melt my Iceman action figure (which totally worked, ruining both the oven and the action figure, gave me a headache from the fumes, set off the smoke alarm, and got me in big trouble), my Dad switched things up and bought me an Easy Bake Oven. Although Magneto never got in on the cooking, I made lots of terrible food with that thing and never once thought about its sun-stained purple-fading-to-pink, yellowing-white exterior.

  • Kelly McClellan

    I don’t think it’s demonizing pink necessarily – pink used to be quite a masculine color and blues were considered feminine. Little boys even wore dresses in the early 20th century.
    I think the issue is more that EVERYTHING in the girl section is pink. The problem is not that a boy doesn’t feel comfortable getting a pink toy. The point is that the toy ONLY comes in pink because it’s considered a girl toy that belongs in the girl section (which is generally a WALL of pink.) Making things in more gender-neutral colors would solve that problem.

  • Rick

    Well this idea is total shit. That is all that needs to be said about this. Next…

  • Becca C.

    C’mon Hasbro…listen to your consumers for once.

  • s0nicfreak

    My daughter got a blue one for Christmas last year. Way to make an issue where there is none…

  • EleniRPG

    That Daily Beast article includes a commercial for a no-longer offered “Queasy Bake Cookerator” marketed to boys (message: boys are allowed to cook treats as long as they give them gross-sounding names?). I’m not so sure about the “queasy” part, but I definitely think we should use the word “cookerator” more often. “Honey, the cake is ready to be taken out of the cookerator.” See? What kind of man would allow himself to be seen as afraid of a little cookerating?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jordan.ruttle.1 Jordan Ruttle

    Whats crazy is that pink used to be very strongly associated with boys and blue with girls. People thought blue was dainty and pink was a tougher color. I think it was around the fifties where the reversal became prominent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ernie-Dunbar/587002680 Ernie Dunbar

    Actually, the marketing reinforces the pathologizing of pink. Fine, make it pink if you must. But market it to boys too. Heck, if you really want to build toys that are all about cooking, why not make it look like stainless steel instead, being the current fashion in kitchens? Which brings us back to the question “Why exactly *is* it pink?”

    This girl’s message doesn’t mention that in spite of this weird reinforcement about how only girls cook, those “culinary geniuses who happen to be men” are more the rule than the exception. The chef as a profession has been male-dominated for a good long time, and in fact is still actually quite chauvinist. But she doesn’t know this, I think.

    What’s really outrageous though, is what Hasbro is *really* doing. They’re promoting the strict gender role of the woman as a free domestic servant. This isn’t the only product they do this with.

  • TheBoost

    Dont know where you shop, but a quick look at the top online sellers (Amazon, Target, ToysRUs) only sell them in Purple/Pink.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ernie-Dunbar/587002680 Ernie Dunbar

    Why not stainless steel? That makes far more sense with respect to current kitchen fashion anyway.

    And besides, the granite counter-top/stainless steel look is exactly the look of my sons’ play kitchen. Guess who got *my* money?

  • http://twitter.com/Rockybalboa211 Louis Gonzales

    Easy Bake Ovens are the worst things ever! The best thing you can do for your children is to teach them how to use a regular oven! Then you can teach your children how to make pies and cakes for your love! :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ernie-Dunbar/587002680 Ernie Dunbar

    That’ll be hard. Nearly all celebrity chefs are men anyway.

  • s0nicfreak
  • http://twitter.com/FroWillis Sarah

    My boyfriend was literally saying the other day that he would have LOVED to have an Easy Bake Oven as a kid. Why? Because then he could have made thing to EAT in his ROOM.

  • http://twitter.com/Rockybalboa211 Louis Gonzales

    I would love a rick bayless easy bake oven! :D

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Also, I was the fat kid for three years. So…

  • TheBoost

    I stand corrected. So is this an older teal model? Because the sleeker pink/purple one is still always the first hit, and cheaper.

  • John Wao

    …out of the mouth of babes…

  • s0nicfreak

    Well like I said she got it last year. And looking on ebay there are TONS of this model, as well as other blue models and some red ones, going for $10 – $25. Many new in box. So this kid can either choose to get a pink one and have the zomg latest model, or he can choose a blue one for cheaper. My guess – the pink and purples ones sell better, so when making the latest model that is what they went with. But there are several colors to choose from.

  • http://profiles.google.com/kitfoxtrot Christopher LaHaise

    Yep, I remember this too.

  • http://profiles.google.com/kitfoxtrot Christopher LaHaise

    For a period in ancient Japan, pink was considered a manly colour. Specifically, sakura pink, and salmon pink.

  • Ren D

    i remember mine was yellow and that was in the 80′s

  • http://twitter.com/Loerwyn Kathryn

    Does something have to be pink to be feminine, and does something pink have to be feminine? You’re equating pink with femininity, which is part of the problem itself. Pink should not be just for girls, it should be for everyone. Making less toys (for girls) as pink does not make those toys somehow anti-feminine. Making more pink toys for boys does not mean you’re feminising boys.

    You’re – in both cases – increasing the colour options available for toys.

  • http://twitter.com/rockinlibrarian Amy W

    We had a yellow one growing up, but I think it was a knock-off, not an OFFICIAL Hasbro Easy-Bake Oven. That may be where the confusion lies.

  • Kyle Smith

    After this, can we move on to sewing machines? As a male who has mad skillz on the sewing machine, I’d prefer it if the manufacturers would leave off the little pink accents and dump those twenty cutesy decorative stitches that no one of either gender ever uses. A plain white machine with practical stitches will be fine.

    By the way, I taught myself because beginners’ sewing classes are all about sewing tote bags and aprons instead of learning how to repair your jeans and shirts. I eventually made a bag — a duffel bag that has now logged about 50K miles as checked in luggage.

  • Anonymous

    I had one in the late 1980s and it was white and brown.

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

    Agreed.

    Feminist Frequency notes this pretty well with LEGOS.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrmRxGLn0Bk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe65EGkB9kA

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

    That boy may not have a crappy Easy Bake Oven, but at least he’ll always have Role ModeIs. Any Toys should be Marketed and More Broad in Styles to both boys and girls, in general. Just like with the My Little Pony; Friendship Is Magic toys, owned by the same company, Hasbro, boys like Ponies, too. Pink shouldn’t be Demonized, but like Blue, should be treated just like any other Color and like any Color, it’s Boring and Uncreative if there’s only ONE Color.

    Has this girl seen Pixars’ Ratatouille?

    I watch a lot of Food Network & Cooking Channel and it’s hard to find any Female Big Shot Chefs (Where are my Female Iron Chefs?! :’(). What the Easy Bake Oven is Promoting, Truthfully, is not any kind of Cooking Skills for Independence but rather Subservience (He and all the EBO’s Target’s Audience are probably better off Cooking with their Parents with REAL Equipment.). Men may get called a “girl” for being interested in cooking or even baking, but are also hypocritically, expected to turn cooking and baking into a business and make MONEY.

    I know, the Patriarchy is an Irrational, Hypocritical, Contradictory, Sadistic, Masochistic, Aggressive, Society & Culture.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000500177841 Rachel Banzhaf

    I have a plain white basic stitch machine. It’s probably twenty years old though, so I don’t know what’s out there now. But I recently discovered the decorative stitches exist and am very jealous.

    My sewing classes were at a fabric store and they just told you to show up with any beginner level pattern (some companies label them as such.) Much better than the home ec classes…

  • Nick Gaston

    GI Joe™ Field Kitchen, or Transformers™ Cybertronian Nutrient Dispenser/Energon™ Processor Unit.

    Give the former some MRE-style entree mixes, and the latter desserts with neon-purple sprinkles and cube shaped pans.

    There, Hasbro. I did your work for you. I’ll be waiting for my check.

  • http://www.facebook.com/atlred Jessica Parker

    I don’t think it’s so much the color that is the problem. All the advertising features girls ONLY, and (like someone else said), it’s the massive number of ‘girl’ products that are pink. You find gender specificity more now than 20 or even 10 years ago. Kids clothes, though not pink, obviously MUST have ruffles, flowers or butterflies if they are for girls, and boys? Trains, dogs and dinosaurs. My first child is a girl, and we could use almost NO hand-me-downs for my son for this very reason. And not to mention that IF a couple wants to leave their baby’s gender a surprise, there are almost NO gender neutral options anymore for anything. It’s the corporations’ way of locking you into one gender when you purchase, and thus preventing you from reusing the item and needing to buy yet another later on. Unfortunately, we have gotten to be a VERY wasteful society, and Hasbro’s just another on the bandwagon.

  • Rick

    Oh and you people are morons for going along with it. Whine more get a petition and try to make everyone else suffer for your narcissistic Gender Identity Disorder. Stop pandering to these minority nuts. Come on and wake up people stop hugging your trees and get a clue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003037095323 Jerilyn Nighy

    I want the TF one. Though an Energon Cube might look better as Jello or a frozen treat.

  • Anonymous

    Still has the problematic lack of equal representation though. The packaging has three girls and no boys.

  • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

    Heck, if you really want to build toys that are all about cooking, why
    not make it look like stainless steel instead, being the current fashion
    in kitchens? Which brings us back to the question “Why exactly *is* it
    pink?”

    I agree. The colours it had in the 1970s and 1980s tended to reflect the then-current grown-up kitchen fashions. At some point, I guess they decided that it was best to just scrap that idea and make it pink? o_O

  • s0nicfreak

    I’m sorry but that’s just realistic. It drives me nuts, personally, when there’s an unrealistic varriance of kids playing together in an unnecessary effort to show that a product (or tv show) is “for everyone” (i.e. that they want everyone to buy/watch). Odds are, girls would get together and play with this – boys probably aren’t going to do it with them, because most American kids have it drilled into their heads that they should only have friends of the same age and gender (even if their parents are very open minded in that respect, the way schools separate them pretty much ensures they only make friends with similar kids).

    By your logic I could say “hey, there’s no mixed-Asian kid on the box, so it’s problematic for my daughter.” But that’s silly. My daughter paid no attention to what the kids on the box looked like.
    If your kid decides what toys they want based on what the people on the box look like, THAT’S an issue imo.

    This boy obviously doesn’t need a boy on the box to want this. He just wants one that isn’t pink – fine, he can get one. So there is no issue here. If the kids on the box are going to bother him, his parents can take it out of the box before giving it to him.

  • Alli

    This story is incorrect–she is calling for boys to appear on the packaging of the Easy Bake oven, NOT to create a “gender neutral version” in other colors. It’s an important distinction–boys are not incapable of using a pink/purple colored toy, nor should they feel like they shouldn’t.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.bledsoe Karen Bledsoe

    My dad bought me a used Easy Bake oven when I was a kid, back at the end of the 60s. It was aqua blue, sort of rectangular, and was a functional oven (you could burn yourself if you weren’t careful, so you had to learn to be careful around hot things). I remember the box had a picture of a girl AND a boy peering into the “in” slot as the girl loaded in a pan full of batter. Why are toys so much MORE gendered than they were several decades ago? Why such rampant and aggressive backsliding? And who really thinks an oven needs to look like an airstream trailer upholstered in pink floral chintz?

  • Anonymous

    But if it’s not so much that the color is the problem, why COULDN’T you put the pink clothes or those with butterflies on your son?

  • WikiMomma.com

    I totally agree! We got my 5 y.o. an easy bake from the seventies on ebay. it’s orange.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reorourke Ray O’Rourke

    So where is the petition? I’m sure she’ll get a lot more people to sign it if its made available!

  • Life Lessons

    AMEN AND HALLELUJAH!!!!! I think my oven was green. That is totaly gender neutral and it worked!

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    Oh snap, I would love to use a cookerator. Heck, thanks to MacHall, I still call the microwave the nucleorator.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    Alton Brown all the way. EVERYone wants to cook with Alton!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Brown/100003806213451 Mark Brown

    Well, there were canonical chip-sized energon goodies in G1 (Kup fed some to the Sharkticons in the movie).

    And Animated introduced us to the TFs drinking oil, and let’s not forget Beast Machines’ technorganic orchard full of technorganic apples.

  • Ilene

    My very basic Singer (that I bought 6 years ago) is all white with blue/red accents and I love it. It’s no frills, gets the job done, and I really don’t use any fancy stitches.

    It’s interesting, now a days the simpler machines are the ones with the “girlier” designs on them, but if you go to an actual sewing shop all of the more advanced machines are very neutral colors. I guess they’re trying to use this cutesy marketing scheme to get younger girls involved? I say who cares what your sewing machine looks like, it’s the stuff you make with it that’s amazing!

    But good for you, and I totally agree that classes should be taught in how to do alterations! And that more men should know how to fix their own clothes. I’ve had to teach myself from the internet how to tailor and alter clothing, and it’s been an adventure…

  • Ilene

    And with Alton Brown you can even add some science to the recipe!

  • Anonymous

    Well in this instance I only meant to point out that the color was only part of the issue thus she is not making “an issue where there is none”.

    Not sure how you think three girls is the definition of realistic though when plenty of men and boys like to bake.

  • s0nicfreak

    If you read the whole comment you will understand. I guess what you actually want is to whine rather than to help the boy get a blue easy bake oven.

  • http://www.facebook.com/renee.martin.718 Renee Martin

    Here’s the thing, boys don’t need gender neutral kitchen toys to encourage them to be chefs. The truth of the matter is that when cooking becomes a paid occupation men are celebrated over women. Look at the last few years of culinary awards and you will see that men greatly outnumber women and there are in fact more male executive chefs than women. Men are not put off from cooking as a career, it is in fact women.

  • http://www.facebook.com/de.baisch De Baisch

    “Here comes the Fun Cooker!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Diana-OmegaSama-Davidsson/100000695823547 Diana OmegaSama Davidsson

    Yeah, I think mine was green and white or something… and my friend had a red one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    Dangit, now I seriously want an Alton Brown junior cooking set/science lab.

    It’s gotta come with those little yeast puppets.

    And hopefully a giant paper mache’ chicken.

  • Ilene

    I really enjoyed when he was on Mythbusters a few weeks ago. Made me wish they still showed the guy’s series on tv!

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.truxillo Laura Truxillo

    He was on Mythbusters?! I have GOT to see that.

  • locuas

    everytime i see one of those ovens i remember the simpson’s episode where Homer boughtone just so he culd use it while driving.