by David Mendez
Last month, 13-year-old McKenna Pope went with her mother to buy an Easy-Bake Oven for her 4 year old brother, who had shown an interest in warming food up with a light bulb—and was unhappy with the fact that the ovens only came in bright, feminine colors. So, she made an issue of it, launching a petition on Change.org to get people interested in her cause:
“Boys are not featured in packaging or promotional materials,” she says in her petition. “And the oven comes in gender-specific hues: purple and pink. I feel that this sends a clear message: women cook, men work ... I want my brother to know that it's not ‘wrong’ for him to want to be a chef.”
Pope's mother, Erica Boscio, says her daughter got the idea for the campaign after a recent visit to Target, where the mother-daughter duo had planned to buy an oven for Gavyn following his tortilla incident. When they saw the packaging, they didn't think it would fly. Boscio says her daughter went home and "did her homework," researching to see if there was a more gender-neutral version. She didn't find one.
Good news, folks; the petition worked, and McKenna saw the proof with her own eyes after accepting an invitation to Hasbro to view the new, masculine prototype:
Hasbro confirmed in a statement that the new oven is in the works, and will be unveiled at the Toy Fair trade show in February in New York City. The toy will be available for sale in the fall of 2013. That’s when Pope's brother will get his oven. "Given the widespread interest in McKenna Pope’s story, we extended an invitation to McKenna and her family to visit Hasbro and meet with our Easy-Bake team," the company said. "During her visit, we showed her a new black and silver Easy-Bake Oven design that has been in development over the past 18 months."
Awesome—but one question: does it really take 18 months to develop a new colorway for a plastic box fitted with a light-bulb? New repaints of Transformers figurines come out every few months and are sold at a premium price for being "limited edition"; surely this hasn't been in production for a year-and-a-half...at least, not unless you count "sketch in the margin of last year's meeting notes" as "in production."
Either way, bravo and brava to Hasbro and McKenna, respectively.