Would you buy an Easy-Bake Oven for your son?

APNewsBreak: Unisex Easy-Bake oven on the way

FILE -- This is the current version of Hasbro's Easy-Bake Oven. The company is moving to make it more gender neutral so boys can feel free to bake too.

Hasbro has announced that it will be selling Easy-Bake Ovens in gender-neutral colors so boys can get their bake on without being embarrassed. A little girl from New Jersey started a campaign asking Hasbro to offer a boy version and puts boys in the commercial but it seems like the company was already thinking the same thing.

From AP:

“McKenna Pope, 13, of Garfield, N.J., got more than 40,000 signatures on her online petition at Change.org and the support of celebrity chefs including Bobby Flay, who backed her call for Hasbro to make a gender-neutral oven and to include boys in the ads.”

“She was prompted to start the petition after shopping for an Easy-Bake as a Christmas present for her 4-year-old brother, Gavyn Boscio, and finding them only in purple and pink.”

“…Hasbro has been working on the new color scheme and design for about 18 months, and decided to invite McKenna to see it and offer her thoughts, said John Frascotti, Hasbro’s chief marketing officer.

….Frascotti pointed out that the classic toy has had about a dozen different color schemes, from yellow to green to teal to silver, since first being introduced in 1963. The most recent iteration, introduced in 2011, is mostly purple with pink accents.

“He said it’s sold well since then, and that prompted the company to look for a way to update it and to broaden the consumer base by doing it in different colors.”

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

“Hasbro plans to introduce the new color scheme at the industry’s Toy Fair in New York in February. Frascotti said people are likely to see it on store shelves next summer.”

I agree with Hasbro’s marketing officer that boys have probably always used their sisters’ pink ones, and I don’t think they thought twice about it as long as none of their friends were around. But it makes total sense to me to make it gender neutral with cooking being so hot and food/cooking shows featuring men being so prevalent.

(This is also interesting in light of our recent discussion about men driving more buying decision and marketers using more “manly” colors to draw them in.)

Longtime AJC food columnist John Kessler wrote in 1998 about what happened when he bought an Easy-Bake oven for his daughter and when HE asked for an Easy-Bake Oven in 1970:

“By my unscientific straw poll, the Easy-Bake Oven was a hot seller for Christmas 1997. My daughter Rachel, who had long coveted this toy, got one. So did the other two Rachels in her first-grade class, her cousin Sam and the 9-year-old nephew of a colleague of mine.”

“Not bad for a decidedly low-tech toy whose basic trick —unchanged in 35 years —is cooking tiny baked goods with the refracted heat of a 100-watt light bulb.”

“And though five random children is no basis for a market study, I’d still say that one important demographic shift is revealed nonetheless. More boys seem to be joining the ranks of easy bakers, even though Hasbro spokeswoman Audrey Basso admits that the ovens are still marketed primarily to girls and their mothers.”

“That wasn’t the case back at Christmas 1970. Back when I wanted an Easy-Bake Oven of my own.

“When I told my parents they looked concerned —nearly aghast. My four older brothers and sisters snickered ruthlessly. I might as well have asked for a set of hot rollers and a jar of Dippity Do.”

“But on Christmas morning a large, potentially Easy-Bake-sized box appeared under the tree with my name on it. I ripped into it, took it out of its box, plugged it in. Bliss.”

“I remember the 1970 model came not only with an oven, but also a griddle on top. Right there, under the tree on Christmas morning, I fried a hot dog. The only way my parents could drag me away from my Easy-Bake was an excursion to see “The Aristocats.”

“Later on I worked through the mixes that came with it —miniature boxes decorated with idealized pictures of layer cake that belied the tasteless little hockey pucks they actually produced. Before long the oven was retired to the attic without much fanfare, as doubtless millions of others have been since the fad heated up.”

“Sales have been steady since the Kenner toy company (now a division of Hasbro) introduced the Easy-Bake Oven in the early 1960s. It was was an immediate success, selling more than 2 million units by 1967. Soon a household word, it begat a number of product-line extensions including the Easy-Pop Corn Popper, the Easy-Bake Bubble-Gum set as well as a taffy machine and a blender/juicer.”

“Improvements on the basic model, introduced at various times, have included a 20-minute timer and a dual-temperature oven. The “slide-thru baking pan” that keeps little fingers from reaching into hot baking chambers was introduced in 1968 and has remained a feature to date.”

“But though the basic mechanism inside has remained unchanged, the design of the oven casing has undergone a major face lift. Twenty-seven years to the date after I first laid delighted eyes on my own Easy-Bake Oven, I’m staring at Rachel’s gleaming white model, and I’m in shock.”

“It looks like a microwave! Right down to the purple sticker bottom panel that flashes a perpetual time of 12:30.”

“She, however, is entranced. And desperate to get cooking. “Daddy, come oooon!” she implores, tugging on my hand and urging me up and out of an armchair. She had already taken grandpa on a tour through every convenience store open on Christmas morning to find the required 100-watt standard light bulb. She had already cajoled mommy into removing the back of the oven with a Phillips screwdriver and installing the bulb. Now it’s my turn to help her cook.”

“Cooking Easy-Bake style is not difficult. You select a mix and combine it with a precise teaspoon or two of water, measured from the provided M&M teaspoon. Rachel and I make a batch of seven dime-sized sugar cookies and slide them into the oven with the long sliding stick. After a few minutes we push them through to the cooling rack. They are actually delicious.”

“The Easy-Bake Oven will celebrate its 35th anniversary at the Toy Fair in New York next month. Cagey sources at Hasbro plan to make a “big announcement” about the toy, but they can’t tell me what it is yet, so stay tuned. Maybe they’re introducing contemporary mixes for creme brulee and tiramisu.”

“Later on we prepared the yellow cake with chocolate frosting and carved it into six itty-bitty wedges that Rachel passed around after dinner. Another winner. Now she’s out of mixes and wants me to pick up more at the toy store. She also wants to melt nacho cheese in the warming cup you put on top of the oven.”

“I hope not. With any luck they’ll reintroduce the griddle top. Then Rachel and I can pop “The Aristocats” into the VCR and fry up some hot dogs.”

Like John, I wanted an Easy-Bake Oven for years when I was little. But when I finally got it, I found it to be disappointing. (I think my mom waited too long and I was too old.) I didn’t think it cooked very well (occurs to me now I wasn’t patient enough) and even as a young girl I thought the pre-packaged tiny cake mixes were not economical. I quickly moved on the real oven and stove top.

I never bought one for my kids I guess because I wasn’t that impressed with it when I was young.

Do you think it’s necessary to change the Easy-Bake Oven colors/packaging? Would you buy one for your son? Would the color/packaging affect that purchasing decision?

If you’re a boy, did you every play with an Easy-Bake Oven? Did you claim it as your own or was it officially your sister’s?

53 comments Add your comment

ATL Born and Raised

December 18th, 2012
11:17 am

Why not just teach your kids to use a real oven or at the very least a toaster oven? Let them help their parents make dinner at night. Seems more practical to me.

Mayhem

December 18th, 2012
11:21 am

Absolutely!!! Boys NEED to learn how to cook.

Queasy

December 18th, 2012
11:28 am

A few years ago Hasbro came out with an oven for boys: the Queasy Bake Cookerator Oven. It was an Easy Bake Oven alternative for boys. It made disgusting, gross things like bugs and brains and snot. I don’t think it’s in the stores anymore, I don’t think it was a big hit. LOL If I had a son, and he was interested in cooking, then I would have no problem getting him an Easy Bake Oven. Cooking shows are all the rage, and most of the famous chefs are men. So yes, I would encourage him to cook, if that’s what he wanted to do. It would be nice if they made it in some other color besides pink. Why is everything for girls pink? Not all girls even like pink!

Stacey

December 18th, 2012
12:02 pm

I never owned one myself but my sister got one for Christmas when she was around 9. Although she wouldn’t let me play with it, she sometimes shared the treats with me. We used all of the mixes pretty quickly so after that my mother bought us the little boxes of Jiffy cake and frosting mixes (one layer cake size) and she would bake enough to share with everyone. My husband said he loved playing with his sister’s but I don’t think he ever wanted one of his own. My son has outgrown it but if he had asked for one when he was younger, I would not have had a problem with getting it for him.

Stacey

December 18th, 2012
12:08 pm

@ Queasy…I forgot about that toy. I bought my husband’s little brother something similar to that when he was around 10. I don’t remember what it was called but it came with bug molds and you melted gummy worm type disks then let them harden. He loved it Christmas day but before the end of the year it put away never to be seen again. :-D This was probably the mid 90’s.

Mayhem

December 18th, 2012
12:24 pm

My Brother and I had “Creepy Crawlers” which was the bug mold. I also had “Flower Power”.

JS

December 18th, 2012
12:36 pm

Yeah, I’d tell that son of mine “go bake me some cookies and when your done, go knit me a sweater.”

sarah

December 18th, 2012
12:53 pm

ABSOLUTELY!!!!!! Most of the top calibr chefs in the world are MEN. Why is it such a big suprise that a little boy would be interested in cooking?

I get that it is technically “baking” but for little kids/safety reasons, it is the perfect starter kit for a budding future Wolfgang Puck or Chef Ramsey.

Double Standard

December 18th, 2012
1:09 pm

The American Way……….do anything for $$$$$

DB

December 18th, 2012
1:18 pm

Well, I had one as a little girl, and I loved it, but I remember being frustrated at getting “refills” — my mom would sigh at the cost and after a while, I decided it was more fun to cook in a “real” oven.

So, given that, I didn’t buy either my son OR my daughter an Easy Bake Oven. I ended up teaching them both how to cook on a real oven and a real stove, from scratch, without pre-packaged stuff. As a result, I have a daughter who thinks that the perfect graduation present would be a Kitchenaid stand-alone mixer. :-) She made a pitch at taking MINE with her to college when she moved into her own apartment, but that idea got shot down VERY quickly!

Bulldawg

December 18th, 2012
1:26 pm

mystery poster

December 18th, 2012
1:28 pm

There used to be a department store called Hills, were they here in GA?
Rather than buy my daughter an easy-bake oven, I bought her a little set with a heart-shaped pan about the size of an easy bake pan, frosting plunger (whatever it’s called), and a couple other novelties. On the back was a recipe for the perfect sized cake to cook in the microwave.

I had a Susie Homemaker oven, and like others on this site, found the replacement mixes to be too expensive. This kit was great, it used the stuff you already had in the house and you could make as many cakes as you wanted.

Quicker than my Susie Homemaker, which cooked with a light bulb.

mystery poster

December 18th, 2012
1:29 pm

To answer the question:
No, I wouldn’t buy my son an easy bake oven. Then again, I wouldn’t buy my daughter one either.

Bob

December 18th, 2012
1:45 pm

If he asked for one, why not.

Many of the Best Chefs are Men, and not gay (so far as i know) Emeril Lagasse, Gordon Ramsey, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri Wolfgang Puck, etc.

K's Mom

December 18th, 2012
2:00 pm

I would, but my husband would wig out. I want a kitchen set for our boys and the hubs says no. It is irrational and dumb, but it is the only thing he has ever said a firm no to, so it is not worth the battle. K is 2 1/2 and has recently started helping me unload the dishwasher and he helped me bake cupcakes (I measured and he dumped). So I will use the kitchen interest and actually make it useful. Santa is bringing a mop and broom (hubs has no issue with that) since K loves to “clean” and the regular broom handle is just too long for him to manage.

But I like that they are making toys for boys that encourage household responsibility.

kjsd

December 18th, 2012
2:06 pm

my son can have an oven the day he takes out the trash without being told.

Thrash

December 18th, 2012
2:13 pm

Don’t kids sit around the house enough now eating low grade junk food?

Mayhem

December 18th, 2012
2:15 pm

Real men can cook, not just on a grill. My husband can walk into the kitchen, and grab stuff out of the fridge & cabinets, and whip up a fabulous dinner, without a recipe.

Just the other night, he took a pound of ground beef, browned it up in a skillet, added kale, garlic, salt & pepper, some jarred salsa and a little parm cheese. MAN it was good!!!! Later this week, I want him to try that again, but using chicken instead of hamburger….

I normally do the cooking, but he knows his way around a kitchen, and I think that’s so sexy……

motherjanegoose

December 18th, 2012
2:23 pm

Never had one myself nor did my kids. I think we had the creepy crawler thing though. My daughter is an amazing cook nonetheless. My son can cook and is really teaching himself. He was never interested in it when he lived at home. He calls me to ask questions.

DB the mixer thing is too funny! My daughter drools over those. I do not have one but my Mom did. We are more alike than different, as are our kids! Funny that we met here and have so much in common. I am excited to see you in February!

ON/OFF topic. We are just back from a weekend cruise to celebrate our 30th anniversary. While I travel all the time, it was our first cruise. We went to the pastry demo and watched a chef prepare a Black Forest Cake and tasted it too. It was delicious. Chefs are quite often men and they do a great job.

I was amazed at the fact that all the cruise staff are from other countries. They were clean, efficient and worked hard too. They contract for 9 months and do not see their families. Most send money home to their families. In short, they make a tremendous sacrifice and work very hard to have a better life. They also have to learn English and be able to communicate.

On the last night, we had 5 wait staff sing LET ME CALL YOU SWEETHEART to us, in honor of our anniversary. It was the funniest thing. They were doing their best but the inflections and tune was not the same as if the singers were from America. I appreciated their diligence and work ethic plus the sacrifice.

BTW I got a steal on the cruise on Cruises.com and asked my husband if he wanted to give it a shot. I would recommend their web site. It was fun!

Mayhem

December 18th, 2012
2:41 pm

Cruising is a blast!!! They have SO many activities on the ship for all ages. We did a towel folding class when we went up to Alaska…..We’ve been on two cruises and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!!!

I’m getting a Kitchenaid mixer for Christmas, and I can hardly stand the wait (please Christmas don’t be late…LOL)….I’ve wanted one for SO long, as I want to start baking. I love to cook, but have never really baked. I want to start making breads, scones, cakes, etc……and possibly sell them.

Lexxus98

December 18th, 2012
2:43 pm

Yep..my son loves to cook and so does all the men in the family (on his father’s side)…he has been asking for an easy bake oven for 2 years and when I show it to him he’s like why is it Purple/pink…

motherjanegoose

December 18th, 2012
2:52 pm

@ Mayhem…I started baking in HS, on the farm. Picked the berries and went in to make a pie crust for a pie. I also made bread from scratch the old fashioned way. I used to love to bake/cook but since I have been doing it for 40 years, it has lost it’s luster. I am delighted to have my daughter home with her enthusiasm! I will try ANYTHING she is willing to produce and she has shared some tasty things.

And

December 18th, 2012
2:54 pm

motherjanegoose

December 18th, 2012
2:54 pm

LOL…my husband thinks he is cooking when he makes mac and cheese or grills a steak. My daughter gives him grief about it: THAT IS NOT COOKING! He can make breakfast and I am thrilled for him to do it!

Tiffany

December 18th, 2012
3:03 pm

Happy Anniversary MJG! 30 years together is definitely something to be proud of! My son has always loved cooking and I think it is great they can market these types of toys to boys as well as girls. My son was lucky to have an older sister that had an easy bake oven and all of the kitchen stuff anyway…so he got to play with all of the cooking things.. He did get his own little vacuum cleaner for his birthday one year. One of my son’s favorite things to play with when he was little was the Fisher Price kitchen…so don’t be afraid to buy a boy a kitchen set or an easy bake oven, ect. Anything that gives them a love for helping out around the house is a good thing!

catmom

December 18th, 2012
3:05 pm

I never saw the point of an Easy Bake Oven. My mom taught me how to cook, and I was using the oven and stove (with supervision) by the time I was 8 or 9 years old.

Fernessa

December 18th, 2012
3:15 pm

Absolutely!!! Boys NEED to learn how to cook. The best chefs are men.

Producer

December 18th, 2012
3:15 pm

Hell no! Why don’t yall open minded posters also
Throw a dress on your boy and let him parade around
like a fruit? Lord, let the wussification of America
continue!

Producer

December 18th, 2012
3:17 pm

I’ll bet yall wouldn’t get your son a cap gun, would you? LOL!

PJDuluth

December 18th, 2012
3:25 pm

My son wanted one, so we got him one of the teal ones a few years back. He loves cooking and even has a play kitchen in his room.

Producer

December 18th, 2012
3:33 pm

Teal? What color is that? What’s it close to?

yuki

December 18th, 2012
3:37 pm

I don’t know how I would feel if my son asked for one…but I know my husband would be against it. I have no problem with boys learning how to cook but in the past I never could imagine buying my son a play kitchen and I doubt he would get one of these either. If he is interested in cooking I would just wait a while and help him to learn how to cook on the real thing, with supervision.

C. Tampa Ironworse

December 18th, 2012
3:44 pm

Chicks love guys that can dance & cook. So get him this oven and get him dance lessons. He’ll never spend a night alone from College on…

motherjanegoose

December 18th, 2012
3:48 pm

Teal is dark blue green. My sister’s boys had a Little Tikes play kitchen when they were small. It was passed to my daughter. They are both grown men now. Why is this a big deal? What about men who are tailors…is that a problem?

Producer

December 18th, 2012
4:06 pm

Would your daughter or you for that matter rather buy calendar of buff firefighters or a calendar of male tailors? Women love men who act like men.

nate

December 18th, 2012
4:10 pm

I’m holding out for the e-z-bake smoker and grill

Liz

December 18th, 2012
4:13 pm

TrishaDishawareagle

December 18th, 2012
4:29 pm

Somewhere along the way, (maybe Nov 5th 1985) this country slipped into an alternate time line where justin beiber is cool and boys want easy bake ovens..and an ahole named barry is president?

Release the mayan calender!

TrishaDishawareagle

December 18th, 2012
4:33 pm

producer, maybe if boys had real boy toys and girls real girl toys to reinforce natures norms at early ages, they would not turn out like squirrelly rainman defectives like lanza

yuki

December 18th, 2012
4:58 pm

@TrishaDishawareagle…yikes, but I tell you I have to agree with you to a certain extent.

I didn’t say it’s a big deal for a boy to have a kitchen. I just wasn’t comfortable with my son having a play kitchen, and my husband wouldn’t have it anytime. Not that he asked for one anyway…..he like cars, trucks, superhero’s etc. and that is just fine with me. I dont’ have a problem if he wants to play with the one at school or whatever.

I’m sorry but I don’t think boys should wear dresses because they “want to” and I also don’t think girls shouldn’t be encouraged to play with dolls or wear pink. I think for most kids gender specific play comes naturally. Being an individual is fine but I think some parents take it overboard just to show they are “progressive”.

Ann

December 18th, 2012
5:11 pm

@ Trisha – Uh, it wasn’t lack of “boy toys” that made Lanza “defective”. Seems like he had plenty of boy toys and shooting practice.

FCM on my cell

December 18th, 2012
5:32 pm

70% of Chefs are men. Yes make a less girly one for boys

BETTER just teach them to cook in a kitchen & dont buy the fire hazard light bulb bakery.

Ann

December 18th, 2012
5:35 pm

@ Producer – How does “not knowing” how to cook for yourself make you more macho?

My 7 year old loves baseball, basketball, pocket knives, whittling, cooking and dancing. Life is way too short, as we were all reminded last week, to not follow our interests and passions. And, that applies to kids as well.

My husband and I have both supported our son’s interests that cross typical gender boundaries in the U.S., It is not parents trying to be “progressive” as Yuki states. Our son became interested in taking dance classes at age 4. Do we tell him that it is “wrong” because it is not common in the U.S. out of some biased fear or stereotype? While a lot of Dads of boy dancers are supportive, some say “no” because they are afraid they will be teased or afraid that it will impact their sexuality somehow. The reality is that kids will be teased about something in their childhood anyway. The joy that dancing brings outweighs all of that. If “cooking” made boys or men homosexual, I think we would have a heck of a lot more gay men than 10%.

My siblings and I, boys and girls, had an Easy Bake Oven that we shared and had fun with. My brother developed a love for cooking and baking at a young age and now makes many of the meals for his family, which his wife appreciates. While we were dating, my husband wooed me with several home cooked meals.

Anyone who discourages their son from cooking and baking is setting their child up for difficulty with this basic life skill, which is important in many ways, from a health standpoint and also financially. In the modern times we live in, men often do not get married until their 30’s, and there is a great chance they will be living on their own as a young adult, later perhaps as a divorced Dad or as a widow. They will likely have a spouse who also works, with shared household duties. Unless you want your 28 year old son to come over to your house regularly for meals or to be stuck eating McDonalds and Ramen noodles most days, teach them to prepare meals. My Dad, who had spent much of his life not cooking, had to learn how to cook most of the meals in his early 60’s when my Mother had years of cancer treatment. The kitchen is a great place for kids to learn many skills, including, math, how to improvise and adapt, how to budget, nutrition, etc.

FCM on my cell

December 18th, 2012
5:42 pm

@ DB…I was new married and we were with his family for Christmas. I opened my gift…a kitchen aid 4qt. his mom said “I raised you better! You dont give a Christmas gift with a plug!!” She was mortified. My brothers & sisters in law all said they would trade if I didnt like it. I loved it! 13 years later the mixer has outlasted the marriage. ;)

FCM on my cell

December 18th, 2012
5:57 pm

@ PRODUCER. Tyler Florence, Michael Symon, Jamie & Bobby Deen, Robert Irvine, Geoffrey Zarkarian, Nate Applebaum, Marcus Samuelson, Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay,Aaron Sanchez,& Pat Neely….that is a goid start to a male calendar. Thanks for asking.

Misty

December 18th, 2012
6:17 pm

Sure! Why not? If he was younger and not interested in learning to cook/bake on a real stove, but had an interest in baking, why not? Then as he got older, I’d teach him to use the stove. There are many great chefs and bakers… besides, they’ll need to learn how to cook if they want to survive bachelorhood! :-)

Parent

December 18th, 2012
6:23 pm

No, pretty soon you won’t be able to buy the light bulb for it.

DB

December 18th, 2012
6:24 pm

@FCM: Haha, my husband learned that somewhere, and I can’t shake him of it! I mean, it’s not as if he likes jewelry stores, either, so I don’t know why he’s so traditional that way! One of my favorite attachments is the ice cream maker — it makes great frozen drinks, not to mention ice cream!

drh

December 18th, 2012
6:40 pm

Cooking is a life skill. Everyone eats, not just women or even bachelors! That’s not a “progressive” statement, that is just life. It’s not even like when men get married they never step foot in a kitchen again-or at least I hope not in this age of 2 income families and equal responsibilities. Why is it that we encourage our girls to explore varied interests but balk at the same for our boys. All the people commenting here saying “no way” or “my husband would never allow it”, wow! I hope my daughters steer clear of your sons later in life. It sounds like they are going to be unskilled and repressed!

Angi

December 18th, 2012
9:22 pm

Susie Homemaker! Wow..I had one of those too! :o)