After meeting with 13-year-old McKenna Pope, whose petition asking for a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven for her little brother garnered more than 40,000 signatures and was backed by celebrity chefs, Hasbro on Monday announced that they would make a black-and-silver version to appeal to both boys and girls.
Related: Top Chefs Join Call for Gender-Neutral Easy-Bake Oven
"I was a little nervous, because I really wasn't sure what to expect going in," McKenna told Yahoo! Shine in an email. "However, once they began showing me around and I had the opportunity to really understand them more as a company, and also express my opinions on their prototype, my nervousness sort of melted away."
The new Easy-Bake Oven should be available in stores in 2013, Hasbro executives told Yahoo! Shine. They said that they spent about 18 months working on the prototype.
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"We value input from our consumers and given the widespread interest in McKenna Pope's story, we extended an invitation to McKenna and her family to visit Hasbro and meet with our East-Bake team," Julie Duffy, Hasbro's vice president of global brand publicity, told Yahoo! Shine on Monday. "The new design will be unveiled at New York Toy Fair in February with the rest of our new products for the year."
McKenna decided to petition the company after her 4-year-old brother Gavyn Boscio, who loves to cook, said that he wanted an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas -- but was sad that they only came in "girly" pink and purple.
"I knew Hasbro would probably not take me seriously if I just wrote to them, and I'd probably just get a generic response," the teenager told Yahoo! Shine. "However, by starting a petition, I showed that there were so many more people who felt the same as I did!"
In her petition on Change.org, she told the toy company that the gender-specific colors and the fact that boys are not featured on the toy's packaging "sends a clear message: women cook, men work."
She pointed out that there are plenty of successful and talented male chefs in the world, and asked Hasbro to "please help our youth understand that cooking and baking is for everyone, not a specific group of people."
She's pleased with the results of her petition, and says that her little brother loves the new design. "He toured the factory with me," McKenna told Yahoo! Shine in an email. "And he was ecstatic! He truly thought it was the coolest thing ever, especially because it was inspired in part by him and his wanting to be a chef."
When Easy-Bake Ovens were first introduced in 1963, they came in two colors: yellow and turquoise. Since then, the toy has gone through several redesigns and about 12 different color schemes. (In 2002, Hasbro targeted boys with the "Queasy Bake Cookerator," a green-and-black version with a science-experiment -- not cooking -- theme. It wasn't popular.) The Easy-Bake Oven's 2011 version is purple with swirly pink accents.
"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," the company said in a statement earlier this month. "Clearly we believe it is a great product that can provide lots of enjoyment for both girls and boys ages 8 and up."
McKenna says that it's time other toys shed their stereotypes, too.
"I think that the toy industry is truly dominated by gender stereotypes, and that other toys like maybe NERF guns which at marketed to boys should be marketed to girls as well," McKenna told Yahoo! Shine. "However, you have to fight one battle at a time if you ever want to win a war, and this is a truly amazing battle that we've won."
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