13-year-old McKenna Pope of Garfield, NJ, wanted something different for her younger brother, Gavyn, who loves to cook.
After finding him trying to bake tortillas by placing them on top of a light bulb, McKenna and her parents decided the best present for their budding Mario Batali would be an Easy-Bake Oven.
Yet when they went to purchase one, they could only find ovens in the gender-specific hues of purple and pink—and without boys featured in any of the marketing materials.
Shopping for groceries, menu planning, daily meal prep for busy families, lunch box packing—in our culture, these mundane tasks have historically fallen to women, wives, and mothers.
Cooking as an art form, however, or being a veritable chef de cuisine (which involves the identical tasks of “menu creation, management of kitchen staff, ordering and purchasing of inventory, and plating design”, well… that’s been the purview of men for a long time. But certainly not because Hasbro (Easy-Bake Oven’s manufacturer) tried to help boys get comfortable in the kitchen.
Au contraire. In fact since its introduction in 1963, the Easy-Bake has pretty much been only been marketed to and coded for girls. And though not all of its incarnations have been pink, its packaging and advertising campaigns have more than suggested that baking sweets by the heat of a light bulb is a uniquely feminine pursuit.
This is a notion that was only underscored by the 2002 launch of the “Queasy Bake Cookerator” and the “Queasy Bake Mixerator”.
These sanctioned boys suiting up in an apron by making their time in the kitchen all about “creepy” experiments and creating “gross-looking but great tasting” food and drinks like Mud ‘N Crud Cake and Blend-A-Booger Drink.
Since McKenna Pope believes this sends a clear—and disturbing—message (women cook, men work), she recently lobbied Hasbro hard (like 41,000 signatures hard) to include boys on the packaging and to sell the oven in non-gender specific colors. And it worked!
Not only did the company invite Pope to its Pawtucket, R.I., headquarters to hear her out, it has also announced a forthcoming gender-neutral line featuring black, sliver, and blue ovens.
But here’s the cherry on top: upon hearing about McKenna’s request, a gaggle of male top chefs from around the country came together lickety-split to create the five-star Everyone Can Cook video to voice their support.
“I had an Easy-Bake when I was a kid,” says Spencer Rubin, a partner in NYC’s ultra-hip Melt Shop. But the time has come, he says, for Hasbro to “make an Easy-Bake for dudes.”
So, how ‘bout it, guys?