Remembering Betty Crocker Homemakers of Tomorrow
“I would like to have you join me on a trip down memory lane that involves General Mills, in particular the Betty Crocker company…”
So begins a letter we recently received from Barbara in Danvers, Mass.
Barbara wrote about her experience receiving the Homemaker of Tomorrow award at her high school in New Jersey back in 1958.
The Betty Crocker Search for the All-American Homemaker of Tomorrow, as it was officially known, was a one-of-a-kind scholarship program that ran from 1955 to 1977. When it began, organizers said the purpose of the program was “to focus national attention on the so-called ‘forgotten career’ of homemaking, and on the untiring job being done by America’s high schools to develop citizens and homemakers of the future.”
Scholarship money was awarded at the state and national level. The top winner from each state was flown to Washington D.C., where the national winners were chosen, following a week of competition. Local high school winners received a heart-shaped pin – something many of the recipients covet today.
“When I wear the pin on a jacket or blazer, someone invariably asks me about the symbolism of the design, as it is truly unique. I enjoy recounting the history of this pin and how Betty Crocker was once a great influence on young girls.”
Contestants were required to take a 50-minute exam. The test, consisting of 150 questions, covered a variety of topics: family relationships, spiritual and moral values, child development and care, health and safety, utilization and conservation, money management, recreation and use of leisure time, home care and beautification, community participation, and continuing education.
Barbara recalled that the test was several pages long.
She wrote that she was stunned when it was announced at a school assembly that she’d won. “Winning this award made me even more conscious of the importance of hearth and home,” she added.
The year Barbara was named her school’s Homemaker of Tomorrow, more than 327,000 girls from 11,800 schools took the exam. (Originally, the program was only open to high school senior girls, but senior boys were allowed to participate starting in 1973.)
Dozens of Homemakers of Tomorrow responded to a blog post by Susan Marks, author of the book “Finding Betty Crocker.” Many of them claim they weren’t good homemakers – just good test-takers. Some confess they only took the exam to get out of class. Some say they were a little embarrassed by the whole thing.
One winner wrote that when her name was announced over the school intercom all the jocks started ribbing her about making them a sandwich.
Still, nobody’s joking about the $2.1 million in scholarships the program provided.
“My award paid for my whole first year’s tuition at Stanford,” wrote one winner.
“It paid my dorm fees for two years, so it was a great help,” wrote another.
Following school, this rather exclusive group of Homemakers of Tomorrow went on to fill many roles, including U.S. senator. Elizabeth Warren, a first-term senator from Massachusetts, won the award at her high school in 1966.
Thank you, Barbara, for your letter and for prompting this post on the Homemaker of Tomorrow program. We’d like to hear from other Homemakers of Tomorrow.
Editor’s note: The General Mills Archives provided information and images for this post. You can learn more about our past on GeneralMills.com. Have a question about General Mills’ history? Send our Archives team an email.