American multinational Hasbro has announced it is developing a new gender-neutral oven after a complaint by a 13-year-old girl that it was sexist.
Teenager McKenna Pope wanted to buy one of Hasbro’s Easy-Bake ovens for her little brother Gavyn, who loves to cook.
But when it came to purchasing the gift, the New Jersey schoolgirl found Easy-Bake only comes in pink and purple.
Incensed by the gender stereotype, McKenna started a petition at change.org, collecting more than 40,000 signatures. In a video posted to go along with her petition on the site, McKenna said: “I feel that this sends a clear message: women cook, men work.”
She also points out that lots of top chefs are men, saying there are many “male culinary geniuses like Gordon Ramsay.” McKenna also garnered the support of chef and restaurateur Bobby Flay and Top Chef star Manuel Trevino.
Now, it seems Hasbro is sitting up and taking notice as the Rhode Island-headquartered firm has invited McKenna and her four-year-old brother to meet its Easy-Bake team and look at a prototype of its newest model, which has a black, silver and blue colour-scheme, something Hasbro says it has been working on for 18 months.
The Easy-Bake Oven was first introduced in 1963. Originally, it used an incandescent light bulb as a heat source, but current versions use a true heating element.
So far, more than 16 million Easy-Bake Ovens have been sold. You get packets of cake mix with it to make the perfect puddings.
Originally, the Easy-Bake Oven came in a pale yellow or turquoise, colours which perhaps would be more appealing to both genders. But the recent models are mainly purple with pink colour accents.
McKenna said she was delighted by Hasbro’s reaction, saying the firm was even putting boys in TV commercials as she suggested. “I think that they really met most, or even all, of what I wanted them to do, and they really amazed me,” she said.
Now, the Easy-Bake Oven, which has been targeted at girls over its history, will go gender-neutral next year. The silver and black version will feature both boys and girls in any commercials and packaging and will be sold alongside the purple version of the toy.
John Frascotti, who is Hasbro’s chief marketing officer, said: “It’s actually a product that’s played with by both boys and girls. We will continue to offer the existing product too because it’s so popular.”
Hasbro added in a statement: “Consumers can look forward to it becoming available in fall of 2013.”
The new colour scheme will be unveiled at the industry Toy Fair in New York in February next year, with the toy hitting the shelves in summer.
For now, Gavyn is making do with a pink version of the existing product after being given one by television show Inside Edition after they heard about the petition. But McKenna said her brother thought it was “awesome” that a boys’ version was being released that he could cook with.