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Male chefs: Easy Bake Ovens aren't just for girls


Should the Easy Bake Oven be a gender-neutral toy? Chefs say yes!

A New Jersey girl who started a campaign to make a more gender-neutral Easy Bake Oven has cooked up support from big name chefs around the country. The likes of “Top Chef” judge Hugh Acheson and  Joshua Whigham, a former “Chopped” contestant and Los Angeles chef,  have taken to social media to comment on the cause. And the toy-maker has taken note: It was announced today that Hasbro will invite 13-year-old McKenna Pope to their offices to discuss how to make a gender-neutral design a reality.

Story: Teen: Boys want an Easy-Bake Oven, too

Julio Cortez/AP

McKenna Pope, 13, right, and her brother Gavyn Boscio, 4, pose for a photo at their home in Garfield, N.J. on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012.

Pope launched the petition on Change.org after searching for a present for her 4-year-old brother, who had become noticeably interested in cooking. When she went to the toy stores, Pope was turned off that the oven was specifically designed for girls -- only being offered in the colors purple and pink.

She's not alone in those sentiments. The petition has since received over 40,000 signatures, and in a recently launched YouTube video, Whigham teamed up with fellow big-name chefs like Laurent Tourondel and Michael Lomonaco to voice support for Pope's efforts as well as encouraging boys to get their bake on. Whigham suggests asking the folks at Hasbro for something like stainless steel or black might help neutralize the toy. Even if it goes back to its former red, black and yellow colors, perhaps then baking won't just be viewed as a game for girls, as many of industry members recall from their childhood.

But chef Hugh Acheson tweeted that the color of the Easy Bake really shouldn’t matter:


Chef Art Smith vividly remembers the response his Southern father gave him when he asked for an Easy Bake: “He said, 'Son, it's too girly.' So I got a Tonka truck instead,” he told TODAY.com. But that didn't stop him. One day he convinced a girlfriend to let him bake with her. “We made a chewing gum cake. Well, it smoked up the house and got taken away.”

New York pastry chef and head judge of “Top Chef: Just Desserts” Johnny Iuzzini also recalls playing with the Easy Bake as a kid.

“My friends ribbed me a bit, but they would always try whatever came out,” he said. “There is something very gratifying to mix ingredients together, watch them bake, rise and then be able to consume them – no matter what age you are.”

Will there be sweet victory for Pope at the end of this? The more inspired young bakers there are in the world, the better, we say.

Krista Simmons is a Los Angeles-based multimedia journalist. Follow her on Twitter. 

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