Memo to Boys: Cooking Is Kind of for Girls, According to Toy Maker

As you may have heard, that mainstay of the toy room, the Easy-Bake Oven, just got a spiffy new redesign. Now, aspiring young chefs can prepare everything from red velvet cake, cookies, s’mores, pizza, and more in an oblong mini-baker heated by energy-efficient heat lamps. All I could think as I read the news was: My kids are going to go nuts for this. That is, until I checked it out and saw that the new Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven is…purple. Isn’t that kind of a girl color?

I’m confused. I have two boys who love to bake. In fact, I have pretend-eaten more than 74 varieties of Play-Doh pizza -- last night’s special was shrimp, M&M and broccoli. In the era of Jamie Oliver, Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Tyler Florence, did no one at Hasbro, the makers of the toy, ponder that perhaps there’s a little guy out there who might want to whip up a batch of warm soft pretzels, too?

When I contacted the company to ask why they didn’t opt for a gender-neutral color choice like white, gray, green, yellow, or really anything other than pink or purple, I got the following response from Michelle Paolino, Vice President, Global Brand Strategy and Marketing:

"Through the years, based on both market research and buying patterns, we have seen that the primary interest in the Easy-Bake Oven comes from girls. Clearly, we believe the Easy-Bake Oven is a great product that can provide lots of enjoyment for both girls and boys ages 8 and up. However, as a mass marketer and manufacturer, good business dictates that we carefully manage our marketing expenditures, and in the case of the Easy-Bake Oven, this translates into concentrating our primary efforts on girls."

Well, maybe more boys would play with it if it wasn’t purple. The Easy-Bake Oven has been around since 1963 -- looks like in some ways, it’s still stuck there.

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