- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 11, 2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Some well-known male chefs are getting behind a New Jersey girl’s call for Hasbro to make a gender-neutral version of the venerable Easy-Bake Oven.

Chefs including Manuel Trevino of TV’s “Top Chef” and Michael Lomonaco of Porter House New York are featured in a YouTube video applauding McKenna Pope’s online petition, which had attracted about 40,000 signatures as of Tuesday on the website Change.org.

The 13-year-old eighth-grader from Garfield, N.J., started the petition when she went to buy an Easy-Bake Oven for her 4-year-old-brother, Gavyn Boscio, but discovered it comes only in purple and pink. She wants Pawtucket, R.I.-based Hasbro to feature boys on the box of the toy and to make it in gender-neutral colors.

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay said last week he agreed that Hasbro should make an oven in other colors to appeal to boys, and in the nearly three-minute video posted online Tuesday by Mr. Flay’s publicist, several chefs from around the country joined in on the call.


Mr. Lomonaco is known for his TV appearances and was executive chef at Windows on the World atop the north tower of the World Trade Center at the time of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In the video, he and other chefs root for McKenna.

“We signed your petition, McKenna! You get Hasbro to change that packaging! Little boys and little girls can all be chefs,” he said to cheers from the rest of his kitchen.

The low-wattage toy oven, originally offered by Kenner Products before being bought by Hasbro, debuted in 1963 with a turquoise color scheme and retailed for $15.95. Over the years, the company has offered updated versions in avocado green, “harvest gold,” purple and pink, as well as a 1978 orange, white and brown Mini-Wave microwave variation. The Easy-Bake Oven was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2006.

Laurent Tourondel, who has started restaurants around the world, said cooking is for girls and boys, while New York chef Spencer Rubin made a direct plea to the company: “Hasbro, please make an Easy-Bake for dudes.”

Joshua Whigham, of The Bazaar by Jose Andres in Los Angeles, said he supports making an Easy-Bake that’s more friendly for boys.

“I can understand not wanting to cook on a pink oven,” he said. “Ask Hasbro for a steel, or a black or a something really cool oven.”

Brad Spence of Amis Trattoria in Philadelphia says he has young children at home.

“My son, I cook with him every Sunday, so I’d love to see something like that happen,” he says.

McKenna’s mother, Erica Boscio, said that her daughter is scheduled to meet with Hasbro representatives on Monday.

A spokesman for Hasbro did not immediately return a message seeking comment.