December 17, 2012

Unisex Easy-Bake Oven on the way

The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Hasbro says it will soon reveal a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven after meeting with a New Jersey girl who started a campaign calling on the toy maker to make one that appeals to all kids.

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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 started a petition demanding the toy company Hasbro make its Easy-Bake Oven more boy friendly. She was inspired to do so when Gavyn put the oven on his Christmas wish list and she and their mother, Erica Boscio, found the toy only available with girls on the packaging and in pink or purple colors. The petition garnered more than 30,000 signatures in a little more than a week. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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This Sept. 8, 2011 file photo shows Hasbro's newest version of their famous "Easy Bake Oven" in Pawtucket, R.I. An eighth-grade girl from Garfield, N.J., has started an online petition asking Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro to make the toy ovens in gender-neutral colors and feature boys on the package after she went to buy one for her little brother and discovered that it comes only in girly pink and purple, with girls and only girls on the box and in the commercials. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

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 invited McKenna and her family to its Pawtucket, R.I., headquarters to meet with its Easy-Bake team, and on Monday, they drove to Rhode Island from New Jersey. During the meeting, Hasbro executives showed off a prototype of their newest Easy-Bake: one that's black, silver and blue.

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.

McKenna said the company is doing everything she asked, including putting boys in the ads.

"I think that they really met most or even all of what I wanted them to do, and they really amazed me," she said, adding that Gavyn thought the new design was "awesome."

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.

As for McKenna's Christmas present for her brother, she said the TV show "Inside Edition" gave the family an Easy-Bake Oven after learning of her campaign. For Christmas, she said, she'll probably buy him some mixes to bake in it.

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