Easy Bake Oven
When I was growing up one of the toys I wanted most was the Hasbro Easy Bake Oven. The first Easy Bake Oven was produced in 1963 and newer and more improved versions have been constantly produced ever since. I remember seeing commercial after commercial on all of my favorite television channels showing little girls baking in the kitchen with their moms using the Easy Bake Oven. I think one of the reasons why the Easy Bake Oven was so alluring to me was that after so many years of observing my mom cook, I too could now learn to cook with a toy specifically designed for girls my age.
While reading Gary Cross’ article “Modern Children, Modern Toys,” I thought about the Easy Bake Oven in reference to toys geared towards gender rolls. In the article, Cross says, “Parents certainly expected playthings that imitated current adult roles. Not surprisingly, toys were primarily sex-stereotyped miniatures of contemporary adult tools and work settings” (Cross, 24). Although Cross is referring to toys in the 19th Century, it is apparent that modern toys sold today also seem to be sex-stereotyped. In most of the Easy Bake Oven advertisements that I can recall, there are only girls and their mothers using the toy. Also, while many of my friends that were girls were lucky enough to have the Easy Bake Oven, I knew of no boys who had nor wanted one.
Initially when reading Cross’ article the idea of sex-stereotyped toys designed to teach children conventional adult roles seemed like an ancient idea so far away from what we teach children today. However, when looking closer at advertisements and the popular toys that girls and boys play with, it is apparent that gender roles are still engrained in the marketing of modern popular toys.
Below is a commercial for the Easy Bake Oven. It should be noted that the most liked comment (77 likes) on the YouTube video is from user Z33Z11 who says, “i was disappointed when my dad said it was a girl toy but i snuck and used my sisters at night.”