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Should little boys play with kitchens?



I love this article. Even (even more?) on CH, I see so much gender stereotyping and chauvanism. I think it's terrific that some people have their big beautiful brains wide open. I'll look forward to lots more.

  1. My 2 yr old nephew got a toy kitchen for xmas this year (the same model pictured) and has a little apron and hat. He loves it. As someone who isn't a fan of the colour pink, I like that there are some toy kitchens that are more realistic looking (my apologies if I insult anyone with a pink kitchen). He already loves to eat, so I hope that when he gets older he will learn to love to cook.

    2 Replies
    1. re: viperlush

      I'm SO wanting to be a grandmother so if/when I am, a toy kitchen will definitely be a gift from me regardless of the gender. Love the apron/toque idea.

      1. re: c oliver

        Grandpa was the only one that he would "cook" for. He kept pushing everyone else out of the room.

        But I did get to decorate a gingerbread house with him. I squeezed icing onto the candy, he placed it on the house. I wasn't allowed to do anything else.

        He loves my mom's sugar cookies and I know she is looking forward to his next visit so that she can bake/decorate them with him.

    2. Fabulous. If we had a house with that kind of space, and the money, we'd buy a play kitchen for our son as well. As it is, I just sat him on my lap yesterday while we watched daddy prepare a casserole. and sometimes he sits with Dad and watches Mommy make the casserole. Which to me, is what it's all about. Food shouldn't prefer either gender, and should be something that's the most fun thing of all to do at home.

      3 Replies
      1. re: rockandroller1

        You know what, rather than a toy kitchen, you're much better off giving your son the opportunity to work with real pots, pans, and food. Even a two year old can tear up herbs, mix batter, or use a rolling pin to "roll" out dough. My boys never had much interest in toy kitchens; they wanted to interact with the real stuff. One of them, at age 9, is a fairly competant cook.

        1. re: tcamp

          I bet this little boy is already doing what you suggest.

          1. re: John E.

            Indeed, he stirs up plenty on the floor with his pots and pans and spoons. He also "helps" every time we put away groceries which is a sneaky way for me to get him to identify foods. He takes each item (that he can lift - he's only 20 months old) out of the bag and hands it to me. Oh thank you son, that's a nice red pepper. Now, can you get that bread out of there? Thank you. Etc.

      2. One would hope that shouldn't even be a question these days. Sadly enough, it still is.

        1 Reply
        1. re: linguafood

          I was thinking the same thing but don't remember it being an issue. All the boys and girls had toys kitchens when my children were little and no one bat an eye. Maybe it's the circle people hang out in. We inherited a great one from my nephews and then passed it on to another nephew.

        2. love this. thanks for sharing, c.

          1 Reply
          1. absolupositivilutely!

            Not only are there more male chefs than female, but the last time I checked, there was nothing about cooking that required ovaries....any more than working on a car requires testicles.

            We should all grow up to do something we love.

            I was an instructor several years ago at a Young Chefs Academy franchise...we had *lots* more boys than girls...and judging by the condition of their aprons at the end of class, the boys definitely "got into" their work more than the girls did!

            YCA is real cooking, just aimed at kids, and a great way to create little Hounds, as they don't cater to typical kid preferences...one week we did a lightly curried cream of pumpkin soup (which was awesome, by the way) -- I almost fell over when a 9-year-old tasted it, got a thoughtful look on his face and said "this would be killer with some crab meat."

            He was absolutely right, but I didn't expect that out of a 9-year-old.

            1. Gender and other invidious stereotypes are still very much with us, but fortunately they seem to be less common with each generation. Here's looking forward to the day when peoples' interests and opportunities aren't limited by what kind of junk they have in their undies.

              1. I had a "play Kitchen and drive up McDonalds (not sure if they are allowed to make anymore).. There is nothing wrong with given this to a boy!! The problem arises when gender specific toys are given to opposit sex. Meaning a " pink princess oven and bake set" might not be appropriate for a male.

                10 Replies
                1. re: Augie6

                  But a pink princess oven is "appropriate" for a girl, b/c pink has been the designated color for little girls? Gee, let's not ever change this...

                  1. re: linguafood

                    I didn't mean to emphasize the pink part of the equation. Honestly the whole gender color deal is crazy. Although, the "princess" portion does make it acceptable to a girl. Now, I am open to be proved wrong, but I think the "princess portion also rules out that its suitable for a boy.

                      1. re: Augie6

                        I absolutely promise that no little boy is going to be gay because of having a pink anything. Promise.

                        1. re: Augie6

                          I would vote for getting rid of princess adulation for both sexes.

                          1. re: chowser

                            I save that for one of the dogs.

                            1. re: Augie6

                              <Now, I am open to be proved wrong, but I think the "princess portion also rules out that its suitable for a boy.>

                              I can't prove you wrong - you're just expressing an opinion - but I can certainly suggest (with evidence!) that boys sometimes aspire to be princesses. And I can further add my own opinion, which is that there's not much wrong with this, as it hurts no one.


                              1. re: small h

                                I've heard of that book. Thanks for the link. BTW, I agree with you.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  hmmmm... interesting.. I will agree it doesnt hurt anyone and NO ONE has the right to tell that kid to be a certain way..Sterotypes destroy more people that they every helped. Although, I do have a problem with that book, but not a topic for this board.

                                  Great Post BTW,!!! this site gets better everyday

                        2. I had a wooden toy kitchen as a kid (I am a guy). I played with that thing all the time. Until I graduated to the real kitchen when I was around 10. Then I never looked back.

                          1. When my son was 2, he got a spatula from the kitchen, removed some small books from a low bookcase and began sliding the "cakes" into the "oven." He didn't need a play kitchen and he certainly didn't know anything about gender stereotypes.

                            I'm glad to say he never has got hung up on what should or shouldn't interest him. Last summer he took a cooking class for teens. There were several guys, but it was still a good way to meet girls. (He'd figured out long ago that drama and singing classes are also great for that.)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Glencora

                              We have a friend who's a great big, athletic guy who loves to cook and knows his way around a wine cork. He's in his early 50s and took cooking in high school to meet girls and then figured out how great it was.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                I remember in high school my friend and I took Electrical Theory to meet boys. We must have added something to the class... The teacher said we'd pass if all we did was show up! LOL

                            2. Hi everyone,

                              Love the article...

                              When my three now-40ish sons were about 5, 7 and 10, they started whining about the food.

                              First it was breakfast. I said, okay, fix your own. There's food in the kitchen.

                              A couple of weeks later it was lunch. Okay, fix your own.

                              Finally, along came dinner. That took a little longer to figure out. The final plan was each kid was assigned one day a week when they were in charge of dinner. Completely. Although if they needed help, big hot pans, big knives and such, I was available.

                              The rules were:

                              1. It needs to be a real dinner, as in, no, you can't serve ONLY ice cream and cookies and no, you can't just order pizza, make it yourself.
                              2. I need to be told ahead of time what ingredients you need.
                              3. You clean up your own mess and get the dishes into the dishwasher.
                              4. No fair moaning and groaning about what your brother fixed. (Actually, there was a lot less moaning and groaning about a brother-fixed dinner than there was about a Mom or Dad-fixed dinner!)

                              All three turned out to be adventurous and accomplished cooks. (I have one DIL who doesn't cook at all. Well, she DOES know how to make bread pudding but that's about it!)

                              Worked for me!!


                              2 Replies
                              1. re: I used to know how to cook...

                                Terrific story. And that's how it start s(whether good or bad) - at home.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  It did work out well.

                                  Secondary benefit was leftover night. Everyone could have something they liked.

                                  I'd haul out all the leftovers and warm them up. Had a steamer thing that was aluminum pans in a rack over water. When the water in the bottom pan boiled away it shut off and rang a little bell.

                                  Gosh, that was a neat appliance. Wish I had one now...


                              2. My five year boy loves to play with food "toys." He has so many Melissa and Doug food toys that we had to buy a large rubbermaid bin to store all the stuff. We did order the M&D kitchen for Xmas, but it arrived damaged so we sent it back and we haven't replaced it.

                                And the kicker, he is enrolled in a cooking class as part of his after school enrichment program. Age 5! They call it kids cuisine. The instructor is obsessed with yogurt, I guess because its a great base to make dipping sauces-which they have done the first two classes.

                                1. There's a series of hacks online about how to build your own kitchen from ikea parts or old bookcases. Here's one:

                                  A great idea for people with less resources or who want to avoid the pink/blue debate or branding.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: thursday

                                    Now how cool is that? And a future family heirloom.

                                  2. i dont see much chauvinism about cooking...
                                    theres great female and male chefs...doesnt matter to me the gender of the cook....
                                    as far as little boys and girls playing with a kitchen... why not?
                                    when they are little kids play is play..gender doesnt come into it unless adults force it to
                                    my daughter wants to do whatever we do whether thats laundry,cooking or me working on the car...
                                    and in our house i (dad) do all the cooking...
                                    1 because i like to
                                    2 my wife is a teacher she has a busy enough day as it is..

                                    if anything she gets reverse chauvinism from her female coworkers and family saying that shes the one who should be cooking...
                                    like last year at xmas..a family friend of hers gave her the betty crocker cookbook knowing that i did all the cooking..she said it was to help her cook for her family.....like we werent eating anything at all...

                                    never mind i can pretty much cook anything and do so happily

                                    and i also plan on teaching my daughter to cook

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: srsone

                                      Chauvinism is a two-way street definitely. And I think it's far more prevalent than this thread represents. I see it in my life and I see it here on CH. There are plenty of women here who consider it their "job" to do the cooking. And if they're raising children I'd think it's likely that they would instill that in their child/ren. And the fact of that Christmas gift to your wife (which makes me want to puke btw!) seems to bear that out. Glad your family doesn't buy into that.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        forgot... i already had a copy of the same book also.....just a little older version

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Damn right it's their job!! Just kidding, I'm a stay at home dad who does almost all of the cooking in my house. My son is definitely getting a kitchen when he's a little older (he's 15 months old now). Last week I was holding him while salting the pasta water and he reached his hand into the salt box and tossed some into the pot. Now, whenever we're in the kitchen he looks for the salt to throw in whatever is on the stove.

                                          1. re: donovt

                                            If I have any grandchildren in the next few years, could we do an arranged marriage? Seriously, I totally adore hearing those stories.

                                      2. Sadly, this is totally a question. I was at a friend's little girl's 2nd birthday party a few months ago, and one of her little friends came in and he made a beeline for her toy kitchen. His dad completely freaked out about him playing with the kitchen, because kitchen's aren't for boys. The kid couldn't stop talking about it, so they gave him a toy "barbeque" for Christmas, because that's more manly.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: JasmineG

                                          That is just sad. That makes me sad for that little boy.

                                        2. I think the issue of a little boy playing cooking with a toy kitchen is likely less of an issue now than just a few years ago. Right now there are more males in culinary schools than in law schools, or so I've been told.

                                          I have a nephew who got a toy kitchen when he was little because he was always pulling a chair up to the sink and stove to help cook. His younger brother also played with the kitchen. The older boy is now a college offensive lineman (300 lbs.) and his 'little' brother is across from him as a 6'4" 285# noseguard. The line coach is always telling him to eat more because he is a little undersized for a nose tackle.

                                          1. should little girls play with plumbers tools? Funny how the majority of replies here are from females

                                            21 Replies
                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                              As much as I was loving the c o's post and link I was thinking the same thing BBoy. My grandfather paid for auto mechanics classes when I turned 18 and that gift was as valuable as a gift from my great grandmother who taught me how to bake bread.

                                              Irregardless of the stereo types out there my children will learn as I did to embrace any opportunity to tackle a skill. Lord knows, we all need to learn how to do a number of practical things in our day to day lives.

                                              I recall a number of threads on CH about easy bake ovens, child chefs online, young food bloggers who all have taken a hit from varying perspectives on gender. How sorry I feel for anyone who hasn't learned the benefit of knowing how.

                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                My daddy wouldn't let me get my driver's license til I could change a tire on the car. But I don't think your and my experiences were or are the norm, do you? I'm proud of all of you.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  Probably not the norm for our generation c o. but we're talking about today and I just don't have the patience for anything that stands in the way of learning a skill. Gender for me and everyone I know shouldn't stand in the way of anything that teaches. Bottom line. It's time to evolve.

                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                    Ah, but there are still some knuckle draggers around. Maybe a tire iron up against the head would help open a few minds :)

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      Even knuckle draggers need to learn how to cook :)

                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                        Yes, and if people would stop enabling them. I.E., 'ooh, my husband/children won't eat THAT' then they'd either eat or cook --- or, in a perfect world, both. And I think starting it with little tykes makes it a foregone conclusion.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          c, all we can do is encourage. I don't waste energy on the non believers. It's not about gender, it's about skill. Teach.

                                                        2. re: HillJ

                                                          Agreed...and limp wrists need to learn how to build a deck

                                                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                            I have very weak wrists but seem to manage just fine - in and out of the kitchen.

                                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                              BB, everyone benefits by learning new skills. Labeling people doesn't teach useful skills.

                                                              Off to have a great meal.

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                agreed again....knuckle dragger has a similar connotation...if you're gonna be open minded

                                                                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                                  My reference to "knuckle dragger" was alluding to Neanderthals (although I don't remember if they actually stood fully upright) when HillJ mentioned evolving. But I DO have weak wrists so not sure what you meant by that.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    He actually said "limp wrists", which I believe is akin to saying someone is "light in the loafers".

                                                                    As for the topic at hand, I remember one of my younger siblings having one of these, and we would all play with it (brothers and sisters). And heaven help someone if he or she tried to snatch my EZ Bake Oven from me!

                                                                    I completely fail to see what the problem is.

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      ah. Again it's an opportunity to teach skills . That's all I focus on. At the end of the day, the gender debate is not for me. c o, I've enjoyed the thread!

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        Here's a link to a site that sells, among other things, dolls for boys. Or the one shown at the bottom has outfits for either sex.


                                                                        My hope is that this thread, if it continues, is friendly and on the topic of boys playing cooking.

                                                  2. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                    Sure, why not? When I was very small h, I loved my Tonka trucks.

                                                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                      Not only *should* little girls play with plumbers' tools if that interests them...I own my OWN plumbers' tools.

                                                      Boys need to be taught to cook and do laundry and clean house...and girls need to be taught to fix leaky toilets and change a tire and do yard work.

                                                      Everybody grows up to be an adult, and all of those things are part of being an independent adult.

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          Agreed. When we got married, a few older types asked us if we were registering for anything for my DH since the registry consisted of cooking gear and bone china. "Yup," he said. "The wok, steamer, nice pots and pans and non-metal utensils are for me." (I'm a notorious reformed metal-on-metal user.) "But what about a toolbox or a drill?" "Nope. The wife already has a set. You can ask her if she needs new ones, though." =) They didn't ask. And I could have used a new socket wrench...

                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                            Not that I can see. I value my cordless drill more than I do my immersion blender :)

                                                        2. My toddler son got a toy kitchen over his father's huge HUGE disapproval (you'll turn him gay!)@@
                                                          He loved it. He is thirteen now and has moved into the real kitchen and is just fine, thankyouverymuch. Some of the world's greatest chefs are men, so I honestly don't even know what the fuss over this is.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Bear1101

                                                            The fact that ten years ago your husband disapproved indicates that we've still go a ways to go. I think there's a mental/emotional disconnect between a toddler having a toy kitchen and Thomas Keller :) Shouldn't be but still is in some cases.

                                                            I had lunch with a CH yesterday and we were discussing this thread. He does the VAST majority of the cooking in his family and speculated if his teenage daughters consider that "man's work" :)

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              I never got the relationship between cooking and being gay. Where does it come from? THe men in my family also are the main cooks, excluding my grandmaw(2nd gen Italian). So technically everything did stem from her, but the men carry the orders out lol.

                                                              **I really want to go look for my play kitchen , I bet my parents still have it...

                                                          2. Never bought my 4 year old son a toy kitchen (kinda pricey). But he likes the kitchen and cooking. I (male) do most of the meal cooking ..and he knows that..and helps my wife bake.
                                                            We have taught him that cooking is a proper and expected thing for him. He enjoys it..wanting to look in pots, stir things..pour things..etc. They also "cook" simple items at pre K.
                                                            But that does not mean he wants to play with dolls. He considers dolls a girls toy.
                                                            Ok to maintain a little gender idenity. He doesn't need to be completely androgynous. Thats a bit creepy for me.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: rochfood

                                                              Absolutely. I believe gender id happens at conception, rochfood.
                                                              But most importantly, you're focusing on teaching how, that's very cool!

                                                              1. re: rochfood

                                                                Aren't "action figures" just a different type of "doll"? Nothing wrong with bringing them into the kitchen and having pretend meals after the cooking is done.

                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                  A..doesn't play with action figures very much (may not even have any)
                                                                  B. Since you are being obtuse about it..we are talking baby dolls marketed to girls.
                                                                  You possibly do not watch TV..but it's pretty obvious some toys are marketed to girls..and some to boys. Action figures ..boys..baby dolls ..girls. My son somehow magically can differentiate between the 2. So no..when a "girls" toy commercial comes on..I sometimes ask him (out of curiosity) "do you want that ? )..he's says no..it's for girls. Yep..not interested in the pink strawberry shortcake items.. sorry.
                                                                  And as far as the kitchen..he can't play in there or bother me..cooking can be dangerous..so he does his little bit (if there is one)..and is out.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    I happily played with my older brother when he was setting up battles among his GI Joe's. I also decided one of my Barbies was Paratrooper Barbie (not from a military family, but we lived in a military town), and went as far as making tiny MREs for her.

                                                                    My parents shared cooking duties pretty evenly, and encouraged both my brother and me to help in the kitchen. My brother didn't have play kitchen, but when I got one for my birthday it was fully stocked with hand-me-down play food, pots/pans, and dishes from my brother and older cousins (both male). We also all learned to fish about as soon as we could walk - granddad taught us to catch the fish, and grandmom taught us how to clean them.

                                                                    1. re: mpjmph

                                                                      We all caught the fish but Daddy cleaned 'em and cooked 'em. And the hushpuppies that went with them. And that was in the 50s and 60s.

                                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                                      I have a nephew who asked for a baby doll when he was a tot -- his baby sister was still tiny, and he wanted his own to play with.

                                                                      So we bought him a baby doll and accessories (all blue, as he requested)...and my sis-in-law said he became quite good at "nurturing" his baby.

                                                                      He now plays tackle football and brought down two bucks in this year's hunt...the baby doll doesn't seem to have hurt him any.

                                                                  2. My 12 month old son's new favorite play activity is to take a few little bowls and little spoons and stir in the bowls. He uses the spoon to move his imaginiary food between the bowls and then serve everybody up some of his "food". This CH-mommy couldn't be prouder.

                                                                    1. Our son (who is now 15yo) had a little kitchen - I think it was primarily white, with blue accents (I hate pink); his sister played with it when she came along. He also had an Easy-Bake oven, which was also passed down to her. At some point early on, they realized that it was much more fun to make food with the real kitchen equipment.

                                                                      We've taught both of them to cook, which they do, though they like totally different things in the kitchen. Son took Home Ec (they call it something else these days) because he thought it sounded fun. Of course, he already knew how to make all the (easy) stuff they did in class, including smoothies, but he still had a good time. And he could always answer the obscure food/cooking questions that the teacher asked, due to his CH parents.

                                                                      We try to raise both our kids in a gender-neutral way, and I think we're pretty much successful. Hubby does most of the day-to-day cooking and most of the housecleaning; I do laundry, car stuff, kid stuff; we both do yardwork and financial housekeeping. So we're providing good role models, I think, even if some of our household roles are more traditional - because others aren't.

                                                                      But it still surprises me that lots of kids (boys) who are my kids ages do not know much of anything about cooking. It's sad, if you ask me.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Lexma90

                                                                        Y'all sound perfect! And I'm optimistic that things are slowly changing. But I'm impatient. I'm 64. Will I live long enough???

                                                                      2. Hmmm.... I'm don't see what the big deal is. Children play with what they have on hand. It's adults that give things their "sexist" slant. While the author of the article tries to justify her points, she exposes her own sexist views.

                                                                        I bought my nephew toy food and toy cookware without even thinking whether it was gender appropriate. He likes to play cook so I thought those would be fun toys for him.

                                                                        Also, it's interesting that people have a hangup on pink and blue. A coworker mentioned that his family (Danish?) pink and blue are actually opposite to what we know in the USA.

                                                                        My point is to let children play and adults need to just watch and enjoy.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. my 2 year old LOVES his play kitchen we got for him for christmas. it was his idea to get it and kept asking us if santa was going to bring a kitchen for him for x-mas. it's pretend play and which is a part of developmental milestones for the little ones. i feel like the people who are against boys with kitchens clearly haven't been in the back of a professional kitchen. it's like stepping into a men's locker room. yes, of course it's b/c they relate the toy to being domestic versus being a chef.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: trolley

                                                                            I couldn't help to keep thinking of this during the entire thread.... Has anyone here seen the show Cake Boss? (understandable the show can be judged in many ways, but focus on the concept) It is primarily a group of men that bake cakes and deserts...You would think that these shows would help eliminate this stigma

                                                                          2. Folks, this thread is getting unnecessarily mean-spirited, and very far afield from anything even remotely to do with food, so we're going to lock it now.