Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bobby Flay Defends Easy Bake Oven for All Kids

When thirteen-year-old McKenna Pope first petitioned toymaker Hasbro to change the color - and subsequent marketing - of the Easy Bake Oven for all kids, rather than just girls, she probably didn't know one of the most famous and accomplished celebrity chefs would come to her defense.  No less than Bobby Flay has publicly voiced his support for McKenna's petition - which garnered 30,000 signatures in a week.

McKenna's petition began when she responded to Gavin's assertion that "only girls play with [Easy Bake Ovens]."  And, it's not hard to understand why.  The ovens are pink and always have been decorated and presented in a "girly" way.   Despite Hasbro's assertions that it has portrayed boys on the box and in the commercials in the past, there is little doubt that the ovens - and the entire concept of cooking and baking - is geared toward girls.  Which, of course, is sad in a world of the Food Network with plenty of male celebrity chefs.  In fact, outside of the home kitchen, the culinary arts have been dominated by male chefs (just like all industries).  So, it's nice to see the culinary arts elevated out of the gender-specific home kitchen.

The idea of boys baking - or becoming cooks, even chefs - is one aspect of our need for a renewed support of Career and Technical Education.  In a country that is more and more interested in quality living and haute cuisine - and is ever more defined as a service economy - our schools need to cultivate and support the culinary arts ... even at the earliest years.  Thus, I am proud of McKenna Pope and her campaign.  And I am thrilled by Bobby Flay's public endorsement.  Bobby Flay, who says he asked for an Easy Bake Oven when he was five years old, is the perfect role model for young men who may not fit the paradigm of the model student, but can work wonders in the kitchen - or in some other non-academic art.

Way to go McKenna.  And thanks Bobby Flay.

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