Dating back to the 1960s, Hasbro's Easy-Bake Oven has launched countless children on the path to culinary stardom. This holiday season, however, it's cooking up controversy instead of cake.
Why? Ask McKenna Pope, the 13-year-old girl from Garfield, NJ., who is taking Hasbro to task over its promotion of the product, which she says stereotypes "baking and cooking as a solely girls' hobby."
In doing so, she's earned the support of renowned male chefs, including the Food Network's Bobby Flay.
Pope started her campaign after her cooking-crazy four-year-old brother asked for an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. To his (and her) dismay, however, Hasbro only produces the ovens in pink and purple, and judging by their promotional materials, doesn't expect boys to play with them at all.
"Girls aren't the only ones who are supposed to cook," Pope said in a Youtube clip accompanying her petition. "Is this really the message we want to send to our youth? I thought that as a society we had far moved past that. But no, we continue to put forth the stereotype that men don't cook -- they work."
The plucky teen is far from alone in her sentiments. At the time of writing, the petition had topped 40,000 signatures -- and chef Bobby Flay, who as a boy asked for an Easy-Bake oven himself, threw his weight behind the campaign in an interview with the AP.
"I cannot tell you how many young boys are my fans,' Flay said. "And they want to grow up, and they want to cook."
Besides Flay, top chefs including Top Chef's Manuel Trevino and Porterhouse New York's Michael Lomonaco have voiced their support of the campaign, releasing a Youtube video in support of the cause.
Hasbro's Easy-Bake Oven is not the first toy this year to draw fire for promoting outdated gender stereotypes. Toy of the Year contender Lego Friends attracted controversy back in January at its launch, when its curvy minifigures and girly themes caught flak from pressure groups and Lego-loving parents.
More recently, an Irish six-year-old took Hasbro (yes, again) to task for the scant number of female characters in the board game Guess Who.