Fun For Everyone: Do We Need More Gender-Neutral Toys On The Market?

11 comments
December 19, 2012 ‐ By Vernetta Freeney
Hasbro's associate manager of publicity Pat Jarret standing with a new version of the Easy-Bake oven. AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

Hasbro’s associate manager of publicity Pat Jarret standing with a new version of the Easy-Bake oven. AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

Hasbro, the company behind the Easy-Bake oven, has decided to implement a gender-neutral design, the outcome of a successful campaign launched by a 13-year-old New Jersey girl.

McKenna Pope had considered buying one of the toy ovens as a Christmas gift for her younger brother, Gavyn, but discovered that the only color options were purple and pink. He wanted one that looked like a dinosaur. She started a petition on Change.org — “Hasbro: Feature boys in the packaging of the Easy-Bake oven” — which has gotten more than 45,000 signatures. The campaign gained so much momentum, celebrity chefs like Food Network star Bobby Flay threw his support behind her.

Hasbro invited the entire Pope family to their headquarters in Pawtucket, R.I. on Monday to discuss the changes they have been working on over the last 18 months to the Easy-Bake oven line. John Frascotti, Hasbro’s chief marketing officer, showed the prototype of the Easy-Bake oven featuring a new design and new color schemes which will come in black, silver or blue to McKenna for her approval.

“They really met most or even all of what I wanted them to do, and they really amazed me,” she said, adding that her brother Gavyn thought the new design was “awesome.”

McKenna Pope and her brother Gavyn. AP Photo/Julio Cortez

McKenna Pope and her brother Gavyn. AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Frascotti tells USA Today that the toy has come in tons of colors since it was launched in 1963, and “solid sales” prompted the company to take steps to broaden the consumer base. Hasbro will unveil the new color scheme at the Industry’s Toy Fair in New York February 2013 to the public. It won’t be available to purchase until fall 2013.

“It’s actually a product that’s played with by both boys and girls,” Frascotti said. “We will continue to offer the existing (color scheme), too, because it’s so popular.”

So the question is whether there is this huge market for gender-neutral toys, like a black Easy-Bake oven. Would you let your son play with one?

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  • ChiTownGirl

    I’m sorry…what’s girly about a stove, other than the color? Anybody that likes to eat needs to know how to operate a stove. And anyone that wants to be “pretend” to eat should be able to play with a “pretend” stove. Some of the manliest men I know ate the fruits of their sister’s or cousin’s Easy Bake Oven as a kid. Stop reinforcing stereotypes of women cooking and men eating. No matter how it may have been marketed in the past, a stove has ALWAYS been a gender neutral toy. Go get yourself a cup of cocoa and one of those cooked-by-a-lightbulb cakes and get over it. ;-)

  • arie

    what happened to the old days when things were just as they were…we are so determined to make EVERYTHING acceptable…idc what “you” say a girl toy, is for a girl and a boy toy is for a boy….stop trying to push your”open” views on your child…i have a very open mind, but i am an adult that has seen and been through alot and i know what should and shouldn’t be…a child doesn’t know that until you teach them…

    • Charla

      Wouldn’t a parent naturally share their views with their children? That doesn’t make sense. And playing with an oven will not turn a child gay….

  • Nikki

    Nope! Some parents use their children to make these “I’m not homophobic” political statements. A girl is a girl and a boy is a boy. However, if your child feels that you should dress outside of the norm, you should wait until they are able to stand up for themselves. You have NO IDEA what you’re doing to their self-esteem. If I had a son and he wanted to wear pink shoes, I’d tell him no. When he’s ready to give an “F.U.” to the bullies on his own, then go ahead.

    • Kay

      This is about toys not clothing, I’m sure everyone understands the need for gender specific clothing. Toys however is a different matter which is what was discussed in the article.

      • Nikki

        Okay, I did get off topic. Some people feel it’s okay to let their son play with Barbie dolls, and I don’t. Same thing with girls and action figures… But that’s just me

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=27602164 Celeste Demby

          what’s hurtful to a child’s self esteem is to have a non supportive parent especially a parent that is non supportive of why they are and how they are trying to express themselves.

          • Nikki

            What about when they go to school and are bullied for expressing themselves? Not being accepted by their peers that they spend the most time with during the school year…

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Philli-Msdvm/1060269164 Philli Msdvm

          Being that mired in gender roles is sad. And to spread that to your children is even more so. Let them be children without having to worry about all that foolishness. They go through phases and moods just like adults do. Just because they play with toys that weren’t necessarily made for their gender isnt going to turn them into something you don’t like! I was a tomboy, and played with boys most of the time, and I am just as feminine as any other woman today. Relax!

  • Charla

    My thing is there are amazing chefs who are women and men. There’s really not a need for certain toys to be gender specific. My son is a toddler and when I pick him up from daycare he sometimes play “house” with the other kids. They grocery shop and sometimes he pushes the cart and sometimes he pushes the stroller lol. I can’t get mad because males should also do those things.

    • Pivyque

      Exactly.