Hasbro announced plans Monday to unveil a black and silver Easy-Bake Oven after meeting with the New Jersey teen who started a campaign asking the toy maker to offer the product in gender-neutral packaging.
McKenna Pope's Change.org petition earned more than 40,000 signatures and the support of celebrity chefs who backed her request to change the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven's girl-centric pink and purple packaging to include boys, too. She also asked Hasbro offer the product in different "non-gender-specific" colors that appeal to boys and girls.
Hasbro said the black and silver design has been in development for 18 months and pointed out that the oven has been offered in a variety of colors since 1963, including teal, green, yellow, silver, blue and purple.
"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 Easy-Bake team," Hasbro said in a statement. The company did not say whether it would change the packaging to include boys in its marketing.
The 13-year-old launched the petition after on behalf of her 4-year-old brother, who wanted an Easy-Bake oven for Christmas. She could find them only in pink and purple, which she felt would discourage him and other boys from using them.
On Monday, McKenna delivered boxes filled with petition signatures to Hasbro's headquarters in Pawtucket, R.I.
"I was so excited when Hasbro asked to meet with me. I wanted to make sure they were hearing the feedback from 40,000 people who supported my campaign," McKenna said in a statement from Change.org. "I'm thrilled that they not only recognize the importance of a gender-neutral Easy Bake Oven, but also, they've committed to launching one in 2013. Now, boys and girls can choose any color oven they want!"
The new design will be unveiled at the New York Toy Fair in February with the rest of Hasbro's new products for the year, the company said.
McKenna's petition generated national conversation about how packaging and marketing might enforce gender stereotypes and discourage children from playing with particular toys. Others, including the Toy Industry Association, said toys come in different colors based on feedback from consumers and retailers.