New Jersey teen wants Easy-Bake Oven to appeal to boys


Share
Originally Posted Online: Dec. 07, 2012, 1:16 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 07, 2012, 1:34 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Four-year-old Gavyn Boscio loves to cook and asked for an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. But when his big sister went to buy one, she discovered to her disappointment that it comes only in girly pink and purple, with girls — and only girls — on the box and in the commercials.

So the eighth-grader from Garfield, N.J., started an online petition asking Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro to make the toy ovens in gender-neutral colors and feature boys on the package.

By Friday, 13-year-old McKenna Pope's petition had garnered more than 30,000 signatures in a little more than a week.

And celebrity chef Bobby Flay, who owned an Easy-Bake Oven as a boy, is among those weighing in on her side.

In a video McKenna made to accompany her petition on Change.org, Gavyn whips up a batch of cookies and tells his sister he wants a dinosaur and an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. When she asks him why there are no girls in the commercial for Easy-Bake Ovens, he explains: "Because only girls play with it."

"Obviously, the way they're marketing this product is influencing what he thinks and the way that he acts," McKenna said in an interview. She said her little brother would probably be OK playing with a purple-and-pink oven by himself but would be too embarrassed to use it in front of his friends.

A spokesman for Hasbro did not return calls for comment.

In a letter McKenna received on Monday, a Hasbro representative told her the company has featured boys on the packaging over the years and said a brother and sister were finalists for the Easy-Bake "Baker of the Year" award in 2009. Hasbro also pointed to Flay as an example of a chef who traced his career to an early experience with the Easy-Bake.

McKenna found the response disappointing.

"All they really told me is that boys play with their products. I already know boys do play with your products, so why are you only marketing them to girls?" she said. "I don't want them to make a boys' Easy-Bake Oven and girls' Easy-Bake Oven. I want them to make an Easy-Bake Oven for kids."

The debate over whether toy companies are reinforcing gender stereotypes — pinks and princesses for girls, guns and gross things for boys — seems to flare every year, particularly at Christmas, and has involved such things as Legos, toy microscopes and Barbie dolls. Now, it has extended to another one of the most beloved baby boomer toys, introduced in the 1960s.

Flay, 47, said he asked for an Easy-Bake for Christmas when he was about 5. He remembers it as a "putrid green" and recalls baking cakes with his mother from mixes. (The Easy-Bake Oven back then used a light bulb as a heating element; now it operates more like a real oven.) At the time, he said, the stereotype was that only women cooked, but a lot has changed since then.

"I cannot tell you how many young boys are my fans. And they want to grow up, and they want to cook," the Food Network star said.

Jim Silver, a toy expert and editor-in-chief of Timetoplaymag.com, played with an Easy-Bake himself when as a kid and said boys still play with it, just as girls play with Hot Wheels cars. He said Hasbro is simply marketing to the audience most likely to buy the oven and there's nothing wrong with that.

About seven years ago, Hasbro had a cooking product aimed at boys, the Queasy Bake Cookerator, which included recipes for gross-sounding treats such as Dip n' Drool Dog Bones and Mud n' Crud Cake. "Sales failed miserably," Silver said.

Flay said he is not surprised it failed because Hasbro was trying to appeal to boys in a stereotypical way. Instead, he urged the toymaker to think about widening the market for the Easy-Bake.

"Why not actually create something that everybody knows the name, but also it comes in different colors so that boys, girls, doesn't matter, they can pick what color they want and it will make them a little more comfortable to buy it?" he said.

In the meantime, he said, Gavyn's family should buy him an Easy-Bake Oven anyway.

"Absolutely. If that's what he wants, why not get it for him? I mean, who cares what color it is?" he said.









ARC








 



Local events heading








  Today is Saturday, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.






(More History)