WASHINGTON – McKenna Pope is a smart New Jersey eighth grader, a loving sister and these days a force for change.
Many of us never had a problem with Hasbro’s Easy-Bake Ovens, a toy that has been in our homes since the 1960s, but she did.
McKenna’s 4-year-old brother, Gavyn, loves nothing more than to help Mom cook and asked for only two things from Santa this Christmas:.a dinosaur and an Easy-Bake Oven. So McKenna and her parents went shopping and found ovens in girly colors of pinks and purples with pictures of girls on the boxes, and that bothered McKenna.
She decided to take on toy giant Hasbro and challenged them to rethink their marketing strategies – urging them to use gender-neutral colors and more boy faces in the promotional materials and on the boxes. May I just point out this is a 13 year old!
But wait, it gets better. McKenna posted an online petition on Change.org asking Hasbro to make the changes, and so far, almost 40,000 people have signed it, including celebrity chef Bobby Flay. Flay, who has TV shows on Food Network and has opened many Flay restaurants, says “yea for Gavyn,” admitting he, too, asked for an Easy-Bake Oven at age 5. (And he hasn’t done so bad).
You can’t watch a new cooking show or competition on food channels without seeing many male contenders. New restaurants are opening up everywhere featuring the menus of male cooks. I, myself, would have lived on yogurt and frosted flakes for many years if not for the culinary skills of my talented cook of a husband. McKenna can see it, why can’t Hasbro?
In Hasbro’s defense, the company says it has featured boys in ads. Seven years ago, Hasbro introduced the Queasy Bake Cookerator, a product aimed at boys which included recipes for gross-sounding treats such as Dip n’ Drool Dog Bones and Mud n’ Crud Cake. It bombed, and Hasbro went back to its target audience. Who could blame them?
But 2013 is almost here, and there are a lot of little girls out there who are a lot smarter than I ever was at their age. McKenna doesn’t want a separate oven for girls and one for boys, She just wants an Easy-Bake Oven for everyone.