ELKO — When his sister, McKenna Pope, gained national attention, Trey Pope got his own small celebrity status among his friends at Elko High School.
“People in my school are saying, ‘Dude, what your sister is doing is really cool,’” Trey Pope said.
McKenna Pope, 13, started advocating for a gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven a couple weeks ago, said Julia Price of Elko. Price is Pope’s grandmother on her mother’s side.
“About two weeks ago, (McKenna) called me up and said ‘I’m working on this petition; Who should I send it to?’” Price said.
Price, who uses social media for her job, suggested she Tweet the petition to various chefs and the Food Network. The next morning, McKenna Pope had 33 signatures, Price said.
McKenna Pope was born in Jerome, Idaho and lived in Elko from the age of 3 to when she was in first grade, Trey Pope said. Trey Pope is 14, just one year older than his sister. When their parents divorced, he decided to stay in Elko with Price. McKenna Pope lives in New Jersey with her mother, younger brother and step-father.
“She’s quite the activist,” Price said. “She stands up for what she believes in.”
The petition to Hasbro asks the company to make the Easy-Bake Oven a gender-neutral product. The product currently only comes in pink and purple, and advertising typically includes only female actors.
“I feel that this sends a clear message: women cook, men work,” McKenna Pope said in her petition.
McKenna Pope drafted the petition when her 4-year-old brother, Gavyn Boscio, wanted an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas. She opposes the message Hasbro is sending.
“I finally signed the petition today,” Trey Pope told the Elko Daily Free Press Monday. “I’ve been on the fence about it, but it got down to the fact that it’s that way in our society, and it should be changed.”
The petition has gained over 39,000 signatures of the needed 40,000. McKenna Pope has been featured in Time magazine, CNN, Good Morning America and Newsweek, Price said.
“When I was four or five, I used to share an Easy-Bake Oven with McKenna,” Trey Pope said.
When it comes to questions of gender equality, Price is impressed with her daughter’s success.
“My parents told us a woman’s place is where she wants to be,” Price said. She grew up with all sisters, no brother.
McKenna Pope’s other family in the area have been spreading her message via social media such as Facebook, Trey Pope said. He attributes Facebook as a major contributor to spreading McKenna Pope’s message.
“It’s her thing to be that one person who sticks out in the crowd,” Trey Pope said.
As far as what happens next, Price said Hasbro has contacted McKenna in response to her petition.
“They’re going to let her go to Rhode Island and design a new, gender-neutral Easy-Bake Oven,” Price said.
The first Easy-Bake Oven was turquoise and came out in 1963, according to the Hasbro website. The toy is listed under the “Cooking & Baking Games for Girls” section on the Hasbro website.