I didn't choose Betty. She chose me.

I didn't choose Betty. She chose me.
The Betty Crocker Kitchens 1940

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Betty Crocker Search for the American Homemaker of Tomorrow Scholarship

For the next couple of months I'll be blogging quite a bit about the Betty Crocker scholarship program. It was an unbelievably interesting scholarship program. General Mills awarded millions of dollars to high school senior girls (and later on boys). And they didn't even have to major in home economics.

I wasn't able to include anything about the scholarship in my book because I couldn't locate any national or state Betty Crocker scholarship winners to interview. Now, don't get my wrong, I've spoken with many winners from individual high schools. Any many have shown up to one of my book events wearing their Betty Crocker Homemaker pins and all of them claim they knew nothing about home economics, they were just good test takers. One woman told me that she just took the test in 1968 just to get out of class and wound up with the highest score. She was honored at an all-school assembly. She was no Betty Crocker and her friends haven't let her live it down to this day.

If you are a former recipient of a Betty Crocker Scholarship, I would love to hear your story.

****2013 Update****
Keep those stories coming! And if you have related-photos I would love to see them. And if you just stumbled upon my blog for the first time, take the time to check out all the comments on this post. These histories are fantastic.

94 comments:

Nickname unavailable said...

I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow award for my high school in 1974. I didn't get any scholarship money but I did get recognition at graduation awards day and the lovely silver charm with the hearth ! ;)

the goddess said...

I was second-place winner in the state of Pennsylvania in 1976. Got a $500 scholarship, which in those days was not chump change.

Our Wildest Dreams said...

Ladies! So nice to hear from you! I've been researching a lot about the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow and I love hearing from winners. If you are willing to share, I would love to hear much more about your experience! Details, please!!

Cole said...

I won the Betty Crocker Future Homemaker of Tomorrow award at my high school in 1974. I still have the letter and cute silver charm. I didn't know anything about a scholarship. I was 17, married and pregnant when I got my award. I didn't realize the test I took was for an award. I had been baking and sewing since I was 7. I took cooking and sewing every year during junior high and high school. I attended 7 different schools between those years and have memories of each home ec class. It's difficult to recall any one particular teacher's name, but I recalled I loved them all! Not to downplay any of my teachers, but one cooking teacher at Palmdale High School stood out for being funny! In my senior year I took commercial foods which was 2 periods. A lot of my guy friends were in there, and we had fun learning, cooking, eating and cleaning up!!

mary said...

I won the award for my school in 1969. I always loved to cook and had a wonderful home-ec teacher the one year I was allowed to take it. I was very surprised to win the award, but very honored. It always felt a little odd to graduate during the heigth of the womens lib movement with this honor. Now it is cool to know how to cook again. My how things change.

Melinda said...

I haven't thought about being Homemaker of Tomorrow in 1959 at my high school, for 50 years until preparing for our 50th High School reunion. Our class president asked for people to talk about something particularly interesting from high school.

I took the Homemaker of Tomorrow test as a lark, with about 30 other "girls" from my high school class. Even though we attended a semi-rural high school, Hickory High School, Hickory Township (now Hermitage) Pennsylvania, and none of us had even heard of "feminism" many of us did not want to think of ourselves merely as homemakers. We wanted jobs, careers, education. I was so caught up in my senior year of high school, I was not even aware until now that the purpose of the program was the awarding of scholarships. Of couse I didn't win one.

When I got my undergraduate degree in 1965 at Penn State (BS in hospital dietetics/nutrition) ironically it was in the College of Home Economics. I continue to have an avid, abiding interest in food and nutrition.

I recently read that Barbara Kingsolver was a Homemake of Tomorrow. That pleases me. I like her writing and her politics.

I live in California and continue to work part time as a licensed mental health therapist.

Grace said...

I received the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow Award from my High School in 1975 and yes, you are right about being a good test taker. I was the only girl of four that DIDN'T finish the test HOWEVER I DID finish the essay part. I was very methodical and meticulous about the multiple choice questions on the test and tried to be very logical about the answers. I have ALWAYS loved Home Economics and have been cooking meals for my family since I was 10 yrs old. But as for recognition after it was announed over the PA system during home room class (I was mortified mind you), all the jocks started ribbing me about making them a sandwich. My 15 minutes of fame, I guess.

Our Wildest Dreams said...

I love , love, love these posted comments! Thank you so much for sharing.

So interesting to see the similarities and differences in your experiences.

I really love reading the old Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow tests.

Like I've said on many occasions, the tests are hard!

Bravo to anyone who got a BC scholarship. You may dismiss it all saying that you were just good taking tests, but your are also one smart cookie!

Keep these stories coming!!

Morag said...

My chemistry teacher and the HomeEc teacher had a running feud. He believed that HomeEc was a waste of school money and not a real science. My senior year he bullied me into signing up for the test and said if I didn't win it I wouldn't pass chemistry. I had no ideas what this was about because I hadn't had a day of HomeEc in my life and the teacher for didn't know me from Adam, but I was a whiz at chemistry and biology and because I had to lay out sewing patterns and cut the fabric for my mother and cut up a lot of beef for my parent's restaurant I was familiar with sewing patterns and techniques and can identity where a cut of meat came from on a cow blindfolded. I was also good in debate and English composition too and wrote fairy impressive essay on the 'role' and importance of mother in the home, none of which I actually believed a word at the time. Still I was floored when the results came back and I had taken the prize. The HomeEc teacher was none too pleased and wanted to disqualify me because I wasn't a HomeEc student. I guess there was a dust-up at a staff meeting and the chemistry teacher won and I was presented the charm by a very grudging HomeEc teacher.
Linda Albert
1972 Hardin Montana

Kate said...

I was the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow winner for the state of Missouri for 1973. Winning for the state meant a $2500 scholarship. Paid my dorm fees for 2 years, so it was a great help. I had never taken a home ec course, but was a good test taker. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school that was pretty strong academically. I signed up for home ec one year because I wanted one easier course but was called to the principal's office and told that honor students weren't allowed to choose home ec in lieu of AP Chemistry. So...no home ec, but I still won. In addition to the scholarship, state winners were all given a trip to Washington, DC. It was a pretty great experience, and it gives my friends now something to chuckle about.

Martha said...

I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker Award in 1975. I still have the silver charm on my charm bracelet that I still wear. My award was given at the senior spring award ceremony. I received marriage proposals from some of my teachers! The interesting thing about my award was that I was also a magna cum laude graduate from my high school and had taken home ec courses my junior and senior year to fill in my schedule. Like many other people responding, I loved to cook and do crafts from a little girl. I still have the cookbooks my mom ordered for me from Carnation and from Imperial sugar. As a retired teacher, I am enjoying reconnecting with my kitchen and my needlearts.

Our Wildest Dreams said...

Again, I love these Betty Crocker Scholarship stories. Keep 'em coming. And Kate, you're the first state winner I've heard from! Can you share more about the national competition? I would love to hear more!

Keesling said...

My name is Gregg Keesling. I beleive I was one of the first male winners of the Betty Crocker Award. I won in 1976 while attending Winchester Community High School in Winchester, Indiana.
Girls were allowed to attend shop class, so I asked if I could attend Home Ec and was given permission. I took the test and won. I was told I was the first male winner in Indiana. I wonder today if there were other male winners prior to 1976 or subsequently. I was also the All Conference Quarterback for our Football team that went 9 and 1 that year.

rick said...

My name is Rick. I was in a sales class in 1973 at Procter Hug High in Reno, Nevada. This class consisted of six or seven males. The teacher of this class and his wife (also a teacher) were friends with the home economics teacher and she had asked if the sales class would take the test. I was told at the time that this was the first year that males would be allowed to compete, and I won for the school. I was also told that I was the first male to win at the high school level in the nation. I wound up doing an interview on a local radio station. My picture also appeared in the yearbook with the title "Betty Crocker Future Homemaker of Tomorrow". A friend wrote in my yearbook under this picture that the only thing worse would be a least likely to succeed award. I still have the charm and certificate and hear about this at our high school reunions.

Our Wildest Dreams said...

Gregg and Rick,

It's good to hear from you both! Thank you for sharing your stories. I wish I could have included the scholarship in my book, but at the time I had so little information about the actual winners.

Did you know that Dilbert creator, Scott Adams won the Betty Crocker Scholarship?

Keep these stories coming! I want to know if anyone who has already posted remembers any questions on the test.

Sandra said...

I won the award from Oregon in 1967. Dr. Beverly Lorell, a lifelong friend through this connection, was the state winner from Arizona, also in 1967. I, too, never took a home ec class. However, our home economics teacher and I had an incredible trip to Washington, DC and Williamsburg. I have mementos from this trip including signatures from Bobby and Teddy Kennedy, and an ongoing fascination about the political process. My one memory of the test has to do with a mathematical determination of number of cans of paint required to cover a certain number of walls...The 1500 dollar prize paid for half of my freshman year in college. As my father so nicely put, "That was yummy. Are there seconds?"

Our Wildest Dreams said...

Sandra! I'm so happy that you shared your story. I haven't talked to too many state winners. Do you remember how you found out the news that you won for the entire state of Oregon? I love that you stayed in contact with your fellow contestant, Dr. Beverly Lorell. Thank you again for sharing your story!

JW said...

Looks like 1976 was the year of the male as far as the Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year goes. I,too, won for my high school that year, being the first year males could take the test. Now, my story's a tad different as the Home Economics teacher was so distraught that one of "her girls" did not win she saw to it that I was not informed of the state test or any scholarship money that was available. Just too funny.

I did not take Home Economics or the male equivalent at my school, Bachelor Living as I just took the test to get out of class. I aced it.

I got a half page spread in our yearbook and recognized at awards day and also had my picture in the local newspaper. My wife enjoys a laugh when I relive those glory days as the Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year at Lee High School for 1976.

Jim

Ms Suki said...

I am another good test taker who didn't have a home ec class, but who won this award for my school in 1974. I am curious as to how you moved onto the state level. Perhaps they only invited the top scorers or something to take another test? At any rate, I did not even realize this was a scholarship program. I was invited to the spring honors banquet along with my parents and I could not imagine which award I would be winning. It was quite a shock for all of us as I was not much of a homemaker nor did i have any interest in anything associated with homemaking. The only question I remember had to do with the best method for finding studs in a wall.

zendey said...

I was wondering if that contest was still around.All senior girls at my school in 1969 were required to take it. I thought it would be a waste of time, since I'd never taken Home Ec. I got a 98, when four years of Home Ec got some girls 20's and 30's. All I won was a charm and a paper certificate, which I had to go back to school after graduation to get, because the teacher refused to give it to me. As I waited in the hall, there was a lot of yelling, and the teacher stormed out and glare at me, and the principal smiled and gave me my award. Two of my cousins had won the award before me, and another did the next year.

psimmons56 said...

In 1974 I won 2nd place for the Betty Crocker Future Homemaker of Tomorrow for the state of Arkansas. The 1st place winner was a boy.

Our Wildest Dreams said...

Great to hear from more winners! I really wish the internet was this savvy when I was writing Finding Betty Crocker; it would have been great to include Betty Crocker Homemaker Scholarship Stories.

I thought of you all while listening to NPR's Talk of the Nation the other day. Did anyone catch this? A discussion about home economics then and now. http://www.npr.org/2011/09/06/140220140/op-ed-for-healthier-kids-bring-back-home-ec

Maureen said...

I won Littleton High School's 1975 Betty Crocker Family Leader of Tomorrow.

Unknown said...

I won the Betty Crocker Family Leader of Tomorrow award for my high school in Clackamas County, Oregon in 1975. Like many others who posted, I just took the test to get out of class. However, I was taking Home Ec. I didn't know that I had won it until awarded during graduation at the end of the school year. And just like all the others, no scholarship, just a certificate and a silver charm. Still have it.

HFranquet said...

Same story here: I found out that I could try for a scholarship by getting out of class one period, so I took the test and won for my high school in 1975. I felt bad for all of the girls who had taken lots of home ec classes because I never did. Like a lot of you, I was smart and a good test taker--and I certainly knew how to cook and sew.

The only question I remember went something like this: "Susie finds a rat in the attic. What should she do? A. Scream and run. B. Call her husband at work. C. Put the rat in a bag."

My best friend and I were notified that we were to receive something at the senior awards assembly just before graduation. My friend won a scholarship, and when they announced my name for the Betty Crocker award, my mother screamed. It was horribly embarrassing for a National Merit Finalist to win the home ec award, but I also got a certificate for participating in a science program. I had been hoping for money.

When I went to college, one of the first boys I met had been the winner at his high school!

iowawoman said...

It is so cool to see this! I won the Betty Crocker scholarship in 1971. I have no idea now how much it was worth, but it was very welcome. The only discomfiting thing was that I'd never heard of it, but another girl (known to be the Smartest Girl in the School) wanted to get it, and the guidance counselor said at least two girls had to try out. I knew my way around the kitchen from helping my mom out, and evidently aced the test. I still feel a little bad about the other girl. Plus, I was this hippie-wannabe, so it was very embarrassing to have won this!

cindy said...

I have wondered a long time about this award and what it's future had been. I won in 1971 at South Point High in South Point, Ohio. I didn't know there was a scholarship involved or that there was any level beyond high school. All the senior girls and one "token" boy took the test. The award was given at graduation. During graduation, I sat next to a girl who had taken home-ec all four years, while I had only taken one. I was sure she would get it. Wow, was I surprised to receive it! Years later, my daughter and step-son called me "Susie Homemaker". I still have the charm, but I don't know it anything else like paperwork came with it. My mother saved virtualy everything so I'm sure if there was something else she would have given it to me. But maybe not, now as I think, she didn't save my slide rule! Let's teach kids these days to use that! It was really nice to read the other comments, as I thought this might have fallen by the wayside. Is it still given each year? Cindy

Our Wildest Dreams said...

It's great to collect all these Betty Crocker scholarship stories! Keep 'em coming. And thank you everyone for continuing to share your stories. It's so interesting that so many people had the same exact experience: not into home ec, but a great test taker. And Cindy, no the scholarship program ended in the early 1970s.

Thanks again, all!

Our Wildest Dreams said...

I should also add that some schools, but certainly not all of them continued with the scholarship until the mid-1970s. I believe that was based on interest of school administrators.

elda said...

This is all too funny! I love the stories. I received the charm in 1974. I was one of four girls in our senior class (small school) and of the four was the least likely to consider herself or be considered a homemaker. So we were all very surprised when I learned I had gotten the award.
Now, I had taken home ec classes for four years, but only because there were very few alternative classes at my school. I was a member of FHA (Future Homemakers of America) and was even the chapter president my senior year, but as a member of the FHA, I got to go on field trips and to state conferences. For a small town girl, that was a big deal in those days. But, I never considered myself a homemaker, nor did I have any real desire to become one.
Today, I'll mention it in conversations on cooking and food and someone is talking about a recipe and then they find out I don’t cook. I tell them I took four years of home economics and learned how to cook and fold a napkin and set a table and organize a kitchen (which actually is good to know). I know how to cook… I just don’t want to. I was the Dawson High School 1974 recipient of the Betty Crocker Family Leader of Tomorrow award! But I don’t cook.

mom2five said...

I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow Award from Eureka High School in 1971. I took the test because my home ec teacher thought I should. I totally forgot about it until my mother and I were listening to the radio one morning and heard it announced on air that I had won. I still have the certificate and the pin. And yes, I did become a homemaker. Married 40 years now with 5 children. And I've loved every minute of it!

Primarylady said...

I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow award at Tulare Union High School in 1972. I did go on to major in Home Economics Education and teach Home Ec for a few years before my children arrived, but I only took the test, to be honest, to get out of class. When I learned I had enough credits to graduate early, the whole Home Ec staff was in a dither, knowing I had won, but not knowing if I could still receive the award! Turns out I could. I still have the charm. No scholarship money for me, but I did earn a couple of other scholarships that were earmarked for the 'top Home Economics student,' who apparently was me that year! Had my picture taken with the winner from the other high school in our town, and a very nice write up in the local paper! (I still have it!) I was a little embarrassed at the time, but looking back, I feel pretty delighted about the whole experience.

Butterfly2 said...

I represented the state of California in the 1966 Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow, from Granada Hills High School, CA. I'd been cooking for my family since I was 11, and sewing since about that time, but was more interested in journalism and science. I recall taking the test because my best friend (with whom I usually walked home) was taking it, and I didn't want to miss her company. I recall writing furiously in answer to the essay question because in my mind there wasn't any doubt that a woman could be a homemaker and have a careeer, too! When I won the state award, my best friend bought helium gallons tied with a ribbon to charcoal, and made me walk around school for a whole day with those things. She is still a great treasure to me 50 years after we first met each other. I think 1966 was before they gave out the silver pins (I don't recall getting one of those), but my award paid my whole first year's tuition at Stanford. I now still make wedding dresses as a hobby for family members and former students, and work as a scientist and biology professor.

LynnSW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LynnSW said...

I was the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow for my school in 1974. Like many of the others, I was a good test taker, was not in Home Ec classes, and took the test because my best friend (who was in Home Ec classes) was taking the test and I wanted to get out of PE. The Home Ec teacher was annoyed that I won and came to my Accounting class one afternoon to quietly give me the silver charm and letter from Betty. No recognition was made in the yearbook or at an awards assembly. I actually felt kind of slighted by the way I was treated. Prior to starting my professional career (I am a school administrator), I was a full-time homemaker for 13 years while my children were young. In my opinion, being a homemaker is one of the most important jobs that a person can have. My younger daughter (33) is Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and I can't think of more important classes that high school students can take. Years later, few people will use the calculus, chemistry, or term-paper writing skills they learn in high school...but almost everyone will use the homemaking, parenting, and family relationship skills they learn in FCS classes.

Susan Marks said...

Hello to all you Betty Crocker winners! Wow, truly great to hear all your stories. I'm sorry for my absence; I've been working hard on more books and films. Please, keep 'em coming. I want to hear from anyone who took the test! Butterfly2, can you tell me more about your experience in the national competition?

Susan Marks said...

LynnSW, it makes me a little sad that they didn't give you proper recognition! People play it down all the time, but the Betty Crocker Scholarship was a very big deal. And in some schools, the winners were announced at all-school assemblies or even dances. Thank you for sharing your story and a big congratulations to you.

LW said...

I came across my 1962 Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow brooch this week. No way was I a future homemaker: in homemake class I sewed an apron I was hand stitching to the skirt I had on; and when goofing off and tossing biscuits to a friend in cooking class, had one go awry, stick to the ceiling, and then loosen to fall near the head of our teacher. All of us were surprised when in school assembly it was Linda Gibson's name called as winner. All of us knew it should have been Alice Kirksey winning!!! In today's vernacular - it was a LOL moment.

Susan Marks said...

LW, you must have been a good test taker! I've read many of those test questions and they certainly have little to do with what we traditionally think of homemaking, right?

Dan said...

So I took the test in 1976 because we had a new class that included boys called Married Life and I was a male student in that class. And yes, I won. And in small town south Georgia, it was not every young man's dream, I can tell you. Made dating a little more challenging at least. Now I'm very proud of the fact I won, and my wife doesn't complain about my cooking.

Dan said...

By the way, General Mills opened the contest to boys in 1973, so I wonder what year we first had a male winner?

Duke said...

I (a male) won for the state of Georgia in 1976. I think a boy won for the nation that year, but I'm not sure anymore.

Dan said...

This gentleman has his award posted on his LinkedIn site. An early male winner?

Mark Nowotarski-Betty Crocker Future Homemaker of America - Farmingdale High School 1973.

Susan Marks said...

Dan and Duke, thanks for your post. I really wish General Mills kept better records of the scholarship winners. Because there are a lot of unanswered questions! (And misinformation) Still, it's a big myth that most companies save their histories - so I'm grateful that GMI saved as much as they did. Hopefully, people will keep on finding this blog and we will suss out the winners. On a side note: I did hear that Scott Adams of Dilbert fame won the scholarship at his high school.

Susan Marks said...

Also Duke, did you go to the national competition? Or was there one that year? What did you win?

Duke said...

Susan, I did go to the national competition in D.C. representing Georgia in 1976. I remember enjoying the trip which was for a few days, accompanied by my favorite teacher, meeting the other state winners, seeing a few sights and meeting some Georgia congressmen. I don't really remember anything about the national competition - I guess there must have been some interview. I won some scholarship money which was nice, and a big red plastic Betty Crocker spoon that is probably packed away somewhere. I remember that the test at my high school was mostly multiple choice and at least one essay question.

Susan Marks said...

Duke, thanks for sharing more details about going to the national competition. If you have any photos you feel like sharing, I would love to see them!

Duke said...

Sorry Susan, I don't have any photos at all. Nothing other than maybe that big red plastic spoon if it ever turns up again.

Carol said...

My story of the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow award spans nearly 50 years. I received this honor at
Glasgow High School, Montana in 1966. For whatever reason I never actually received my pin. But between going off to college, getting married, and starting my career in education, I never really gave it much thought. Then we moved to the Twin Cities and visited the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, where I saw the beautiful gold pin on display. It was then that I began to feel bereft of tangible proof to back up my years of boasting about my title. Every time we visited the museum I showed my kids the pin and told them the story once again.

This Christmas I received a mysterious gift hidden in a box of Betty Crocker cookie mix. When I unwrapped the unusual package, I realized my children had done their research, identified the BCHT pin awarded in 1966, and found it for me on eBay! 47 years later, I still can't sew, am not much of a cook, and stink at housekeeping. But I will proudly tell anyone I am a Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow, and now I have the pin to prove it. My biggest accomplishment as a homemaker has been raising three wonderful children, the kind who would go to this trouble to help make one of their mom's dreams come true!

Susan Marks said...

Carol, wow! You are truly loved! What a great story. I'm so glad you got your pin. I've gone to events to do speaking engagement about the Betty Crocker book I wrote and many people will show up wearing their Betty Crocker scholarship pins. It's really quite lovely.

Max Reese said...

My name is Randall price and live in Idaho and won the Betty Crocker award in1975 at my school in Nampa Idaho.took the test to get out of taking an English test I was not prepaed for. got 100% and broke the girls hearts who were serious about taking the test.Found out by surprize in a school assembly.was kind of embarassing at the time,the comment de jour was that I would make a good wife for somebody somedaY.I taught my daughters to sew and cook and my wife has never minded having a wife for a husband.

Susan Marks said...

Max, great story! Thanks for sharing it. I love the "make someone a good wife" razzing. Funny how much that has changed.

Mike Hart said...

My mom won on a national level and went on the "tour" i'm sure she'd love to talk to you about it. The scholarship enabled her college education and she has had an interesting career path.
Shoot me a message if you are still in need of interviewees.

6f24f6b0-7acf-11e2-8966-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Hi all. I won in 1972 for my high school. I was no home maker of the year, everybody still laughs about that. I got a cute charm for my bracelet, which I still have, a letter from the governor and had it all announced at a school assembly. I don't do much cooking since retiring as a nurse, but do lots of crafts, needlework and gardening

Susan Marks said...

Hi Mike! Thanks for your post about mom going on the tour! I will be in touch about interviewing her. Also, for the next poster, I'm not surprised at all to hear that you won without being the "homemaker type". That seems to be a popular theme. If you could take a photo of your charm, we would love to see it!

Carol said...

Hi, I'm glad you are collecting info on Betty Crocker Winners - I want to read the book or article you make of it all someday.
I won the state of Wisconsin BC award in 1967. I went to Washington DC (my first plane ride) and met with Senators and Congressmen, went to the White House and then toured Williamsburg Virginia. I know the 50 of us had a great time that year. I met some wonderful people and kept in touch with a few for several years. I especially remember Utah, Vermont and West Virginia - we were always organized alphabetically by state for rooming and functions.
That scholarship - $5000 was HUGE in 1967- paid a couple of years of college expenses. I have always loved "homemaking" but I have always had another career as well. This year I will retire but always appreciate the vote of confidence the BC award gave me early on.

Susan Marks said...

Hi Carol! Thank you so much for sharing your story! I love the details. And if you remember anymore details, but share them here. Truly wonderful memories. Thank you again.

Peggy said...

I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow award for my school in 1970. I, too, was a good test-taker, but I was also Salutatorian of my class, so I knew a thing or two about writing a convincing essay. I had been sewing since I was about 9 or 10 and also knitted and did a little baking, so I took the test on a lark. Never expected to win the cute little charm and recognition. And friends who know still like to rib me once in a while.

Sara H. said...

I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow award for my high school in 1970. I had never taken Home Economics, but took the test to avoid class (that seems to be a recurring theme). I remember the Home Ec teachers being frosty about me winning, and taking a lot of teasing from the other math/science students (I am a chemist). However, I won a scholarship, and college money was in short supply. I remember being embarassed about the picture in my high school year book, but in retrospect it's pretty funny. And yes, I still have my silver charm.

Joan Lillard said...

I'm not a winner (the contest ended in 1977 and I graduated high school in 1981), however I have a state winner's pin from the first year of the contest(1955). I read about the contest on the General Mills history site and knew I just had to have one of the pins. I found mine immediately on Ebay. It's marked as the state winner's pin from 1955 and differs from the local winner's pins in that it's rhinestone covered. I'm assuming it's the state pin from Delaware since that is where it came from, but can't be certain.

Anyway, I LOVE it and will cherish it always, so it's in good hands. I would have loved to have had a chance to enter the contest.

N Beener said...

I was the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow for my high school in 1970. The test was mandatory for all the girls in my class. When some of the girls were laughing about it the guidance counselor said, "Someone is going to get a nice little pin out of this." As with many others, I was the least likely person to win the award. I was brought down to the main office and the announcement was made over the PA system. I could actually hear the roars of laughter from the classrooms when they heard. After that, I would open my locker to find wooden spoons hanging inside. One day a small license plate with the name Betty was hanging there. To this day anyone who knows me gets a kick out of knowing I got that nice little pin.

Susan Marks said...

N Beener, Sarah H and Peggy! You all won in 1970! Homemaking was falling out of favor at the time, and I'm not surprised to hear about the "roars of laughter." Isn't it interesting that so many people who took the test were not the "homemaking type" at all, but just excellent at taking test. I should really post some more test questions. Not an easy test and some years, there was a lot of math word problems. Not what people usually think of when they think Betty Crocker.

And Joan, eBay is where I got the charms too!

nobooksnolife said...

My story is similar to many--good at taking tests; didn't take a home-ec class--but my mom was a retired high school home-ec teacher and she taught me a lot of useful things (none of them were on the test, as I recall). I was the winner for Valley HS in Las Vegas, NV, and for the State of Nevada. I was trying to find scholarship money by taking every possible test available, and this was one of them. The trip to Washington, D.C., tour of its landmarks, Congress (meet your Congressmen), and Williamsburg, VA., plus the special dinner events, made it truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. I remember we had turtle soup and a pink Betty Crocker cake... If I recall correctly, the national winner was a young woman from Louisiana. The guys (first year for guys) were great--handsome and funny!

Susan Marks said...

Nobooksnolife! Great story! Wow, a state winner and young men in the competition! Love it. What year was that?

nobooksnolife said...

Oops--I left out the year--1973.

Susan Marks said...

Thanks for adding the year. And again, thanks for sharing your story.

Susan Marks said...

Keep those stories coming! And if you have related-photos I would love to see them and repost if that's ok with you. Cheers!

Kathy said...

I was the Indiana 1969 state Homemaker of Tomorrow winner and my charm from being my high school's winner. My school received a set of encyclopedia as part of my state award.

What great memories! I had not traveled beyond one-day school extracurricular conferences and visiting relatives 50 miles away. Breakfast with First Lady Pat Nixon at the White House, sightseeing in Washington and Williamsburg, attending the formal dinner, and flying on a plane were incredible experiences at the time.

I remember receiving the telegram that I was a state semifinalist and needed to submit a photo. We each received a check for $25 to use toward a formal dress for the final banquet. General Mills then made arrangements for each of us to mail our dresses and they had them pressed and waiting in our rooms on our arrival in Williamsburg.

My $1500 scholarship covered room and board for 2 years, supplementing the full-tuition academic scholarship and allowing me to attend Butler University. My homeroom teacher taught home economics and tried to discourage me from taking the test because I was in the advanced placement programs, not home ec. I am a good test taker but, more so, had learned a great deal about household activities as the oldest child.

nobooksnolife said...

Susan Marks, I'm so glad you are doing this research--I stumbled upon your blog completely by accident. Isn't it odd that there's no page for this history on the Betty Crocker website? Have you asked them? I'm sure they'd have photos and records.

Susan Marks said...

Kathy, thanks so much for sharing your story! It's fantastic! If you ever stumble upon some old photos - I would love to post them. I especially love the dress part of the story. Really quite lovely. If memory serves, I've seen footage from the 1969 ceremony.

Susan Marks said...

Nobooksnolife, to answer your question - I've had 20 or so meeting with General Mills over the years and I have worked extensively in their archives. And they do have a history blog that pretty buried on their site. I think they are much more interested in selling Betty Crocker brand products than they are in embracing Betty's history. And that's why I wrote a book on Betty. :-)

nobooksnolife said...

I should say my name is Julia and I certainly intend to find and read your book! I had already found the blog on the BC Homemakers site, but it's just not as "inviting" as yours. Thanks for doing this. Have you ever thought of making a page for BC Homemaker alumni on Facebook? Or for your book on Facebook? (I'm just wondering.)

Susan Marks said...

Hi Julia! Thank you for that! I appreciate it. I'm so busy on my various projects that I don't have time to create/manage anymore facebook groups. I'm already managing 3! At least for now, but who knows in the future?

If you are interested, you can read about my other projects here:

http://ourwildestdreams.blogspot.com/2013/08/want-to-know-more-about-susan-marks-of.html

Sharon said...

I won for my high school in 1967. In 1973, our house was robbed, and one of the items taken was my jewelry box containing my charm bracelet with my BC charm, my band charms, and charms from family vacations. Sigh.

Susan Marks said...

https://www.facebook.com/findingbettycrocker

Due to popular demand I've added a Finding Betty Crocker (that's the name of my book) to Facebook.

Helen said...

I don't know if I wrote the comment you listed of a 1968 winner whose classmates (to this day refer to her every now and then as Betty Crocker) have never her let her forget it, but that is what happened to me. I was somewhat embarrassed to have won but I put the charm on my watch and when I lost the watch, I felt bad about the charm. I wish I could get one to replace the one I lost 43 years ago.

Chiefmare said...

After reading the posts I discovered many stories similar to mine regarding test taking. I won the Betty Crocker Future Homemaker of Tomorrow / Family Leader for Tomorrow for my high school (Susquehanna, PA) in 1976. Everyone chuckled, as compared to my friends, I did not fit the description. My future held a Congressional appointment to the US Merchant Marine Academy, shipping out as a Chief Engineer, and an over 30 year career in the maritime industry. However, when time permitted I baked onboard the ships; and, designed a gourmet galley for my home. In my current friends and family circles I'm considered to be a "good cook." Thanks, Betty Crocker!

Wabi Sabi Woo said...

In 1977, my school counselor signed me up for what we called "The Betty Crocker Test" - I had no sense of what this it was about, other than that it gave me a chance for scholarship money. At the time, I hardly thought of myself as a "homemaker," given that I wanted more than anything to leave my family home to get away from my father's alcoholism and my parents impending divorce. The test itself was kind of surreal - a roomful of academic high achievers all ready to answer questions about the square root of pi, only to find questions about what is the poisonous part of the rhubarb plant. My thought was, "This is just about common sense!" I had fun taking the test, and enjoyed the way it valued what I saw as "down to earth" knowledge. Months later, I got a letter from my school principal congratulating me on being the top female scorer, though I never heard anything more about it. I went on in life to drop out of school because I was frustrated with the overly academic experience - I became a carpenter and, later, a community organizer who is reclaiming my innate attraction to a Radical Homemaker existence. Looks like I'm still living up to those Betty Crocker values!

Kev Mitchell said...

Like many others have said, I took the test as a way to get out of class. Seems a little odd now, to intentionally take a test over a class, but I must have hated that class. My mother taught 4H Home Ec, I grew up on a dairy and knew meat cuts, the rest was chemistry and biology ... my real strong suits. So ... in 1974, the Homemaker of Tomorrow was a guy, a letterman in sports, never took a home ec class. The high school Home Ec teacher refused to give me the award at graduation and just handed it to me in the hall one day. She still resents it. Oh, and I'm going to work for General Mills in a couple weeks.

mary said...

Love your story. It is so funny that the common thread is we didn't take a lot of home ec classes, we learned the basics and common sense growing up. I still enjoy learning about food and may be a little more confident knowing I was the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow at one time.

Susan Marks said...

Wabi Sabi Woo, Kev Mitchell and Mary,

Thanks for sharing your stories here! All these layers, details, and different perspectives make for a better understanding of what it was like for everyone back in the day. I'm also struck by the similarities in your stories. Sounds like Betty found all of you too!

frank101 said...

During my senior year at FHUHS in Fair Haven, VT a few macho friends and I took 2 semesters of Home Ec - sewing and cooking. In 1973, when the Betty Crocker Homemaker test became available to boys, we joked about taking the test. None of my friends showed up for the test, but I took it. Some time later Home Ec teacher Mrs. Gilbert asked me privately how I would feel if I were to have won for my high school. I replied that would be fine.(I later learned some of the girls had hoped for scholarship money, so felt a bit bad, but I never thought I'd win.) Thanks to AP Wire Service, I made national news. True Grit posted a picture of me with full beard, holding an egg in one hand, and a roller pin in the other. I still have my silver-colored metal BC fireplace pin. It's about 1/2" square. I keep it next to my Boys State and National Honor Society pins. Good memories, going back more than 40 years!

Susan Marks said...

Can we see a photo? Great story. Thanks for sharing.

Leslie Burke said...

I won the Betty Crocker Award in 1977 at a little high school in the U P of Michigan. It was announced at my graduation. No one ever told me anything about it. I still have the plaque. I never received a charm that others have mentioned - kind of of sad about that. Wish someone would have explained the whole situation to me. Maybe there was more available to me I'll never know now. I do remember taking the test. It seemed like all common sense things to me. I have always been secretly proud of winning My sister still tells everyone about it. Pretty cool to find this blog. We just renovated our kitchen, the plaque is going to get a new frame and be hung proudly next to our cookbook rack!

Susan Marks said...

Leslie, love how your plaque will be in the kitchen. Fabulous.

Mark Nowotarski said...

Mark Nowotarski here. As indicated above, yes, I won for my high school in 1973. It was kind of a big deal since it was the first year they opened the contest up to boys. I had my picture in the local paper (Farmingdale Observer) posing in a chef's hat with a soup spoon in my mouth.

People would come up to me and sing "Can you bake me a cherry pie Marky Boy Marky Boy..." To which I replied "Yes I can".

And I still do.

Teresa Sullivan said...

I was the state winner for Mississippi in 1967. I took the test by mistake, because I thought the message on the intercom said that all senior girls were to report to the library for a test. The message was actually intended for all senior girls in Home Ec. I was not in home ec but my aunt was a home ec teacher and for years had been sending me copies of her lessons, recipes, etc. The scholarship paid for much of my freshman year in college, and the trips to Washington and to Williamsburg were very special. I had never been to Virginia before. Today I am the President of the University of Virginia.

Teresa A. Sullivan

Anne Milewski said...

I won the General Mills Future Family Leader of Tomorrow in 1977 for my school and region. I had never heard of it before and my boyfriend at the time, told me about the possibility of scholarship money and encouraged me to take the test. We both did (among many others) and I was surprised that I had won (especially since my boyfriend graduated 10th in our class). I received my picture in the School District newsletter and recognition at my school. I don't recall a charm (which I would have kept as I have a charm bracelet of all my momentos) or a certificate or any money for that matter. I do remember that it was a surprise and a good experience. I have often wondered about it!

Srebrnik said...
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Srebrnik said...
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Dinah Gant said...

I won the Betty Crocker Homemaking Award in 1970 as a Junior while attending a segregated high school in Woodruff County, AR. I received a six piece sterling silver place setting. Though not out-of the norm for African American females during that time, I never quite fit the homemaker role. I went off to college, obtained a degree in civil engineering and retired last year after close to 40 years of professional practice.

Susan Marks said...

Dinah Gant, Anne Milewski, Mark Nowotarski, thank you so much for posting your stories. I would love to see any photos! Also, if any of your scholarship winners would like to guest blog your Betty Crocker story, please just let me know. I would love to hear more and I know others would too. This page gets 100s of hits each week.

Susan Marks said...

Dinah Gant, Anne Milewski, Mark Nowotarski, thank you so much for posting your stories. I would love to see any photos! Also, if any of your scholarship winners would like to guest blog your Betty Crocker story, please just let me know. I would love to hear more and I know others would too. This page gets 100s of hits each week.

Susan Marks said...

Teresa Sullivan, wow! Thanks for sharing your story. Love it!