The Easy-Bake Oven was invented by the late 60s by Ronald Howes, who was inspired by the small machines used to deliciously roast delicious chestnuts in New York City. I don't know if this purplespolosion of plastic crap was what Mr. Howes had in mind when he created the original micro hornito (what my Spanish-language version was named!), but no matter, it's what exists now. Featured in the "Cooking & Baking Games for Girls" section on the Hasbro site, the pastel monstrosity sits, waiting to teach little
ones girls everywhere how to get in the kitchen and make some damn dinner. Of course, as the Mary Sue points out, there's no equivalent section for boys.
Garfield, N.J. eighth grader McKenna Pope noticed this inequality when thinking of presents for her four-year-old brother, a budding chef. She proceeded to call bullshit on Hasbro and launched a petition on Change.org. She writes:
I have always been adamantly against anything that promotes specific roles in society for men and women, and having grown up with toys produced by the Hasbro corporation, it truly saddens me that such a successful business would resort to conforming to society's views on what boys do and what girls do.
I want my brother to know that it's not "wrong" for him to want to be a chef, that it's okay to go against what society believes to be appropriate. There are, as a matter of fact, a multitude of very talented and successful male culinary geniuses, i.e. Emeril, Gordon Ramsey, etc. Unfortunately, Hasbro has made going against the societal norm that girls are the ones in the kitchen even more difficult.
Go, McKenna! When you run for President, please contact me, I'd like to get in on the ground floor of your campaign and I have ideas. (First up, replace water with candy!) (Next up, I already fired myself!)
You could argue that little boys should be made to feel comfortable playing with toys that are pink and marketed to girls — and they should be — but a more gender-neutral toy would make baking accessible to all. Because, try as I might, I can't really get my seven-year-old niece that into cooking, but my four-year-old nephew pops popcorn with me over the stove like a pro. I'd totally get him an Easy-Bake Oven to play with when he gets a little older, hopefully by then Hasbro will have gotten their shit together when it comes to gender issues.
Until that happens, I'm just gonna teach him to cook using an actual oven. Oh wait, maybe that's what I should do anyway. I kinda remember my Easy-Bake Oven baking floppy chemical cookies and it didn't teach me shit about actual ovens. No joke, I don't think I boiled water until I was in my late teens. Wait, are Easy-Bake Ovens actually good for anything?