Try Your Best to Pass This Home Ec Quiz From the Fifties

By: Elisabeth Henderson

Try Your Best to Pass This Home Ec Quiz From the Fifties
Image: John Eder/Royalty-free/GettyImages

About This Quiz

The study of home economics has a rich and complex history, beyond just teaching kids in high school how to cook. While home economics classes certainly have taught generations of students — mostly women — to cook and clean and sew, the formal study of the management of the home created research opportunities and careers for many women outside the home. The formalization of the domestic arts as a vocation also gave dignity to the work of women in the home and gave an air of professionalism to the domestic sphere. 

The term “home economics” didn’t become common until the early 20th century, but the study of homemaking skills and strategies can be traced to the mid-19th century. Catherine Beecher, the half-sister of famous novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote a “Treatise on Domestic Economy for the Use of Young Ladies at Home.” This treatise, like so many that would follow it, took a scientific approach to cooking, raising children, cleaning and keeping a budget. The focus on domestic work rose out of a sense that the work of the home had a central role in the development of a good citizen, crucial for a working democracy. 

Do you have a clear understanding of how vital the work of the home is to the health of the country? Are you confident in entertaining large groups of people and serving them healthy food in a celebratory environment? Do you understand the complex reasons behind the rules of table manners? Read on to find out if you could keep house in the '50s! 

Table Setting What is a good rule of thumb for remembering which utensil to use first when dining at a traditionally set table?
Use the biggest first.
Use the smallest first.
Work from the outside in.
A proper table setting will have different utensils available for each course of the meal. The person who sets the table will have planned the arrangement of the silverware so that diners can easily work through the meal. Generally, work from the outside in to use the utensils in the correct order.
Work from the inside out.

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Newspaper What is a handy use for old newspapers in vegetable preparation?
Read through them for recipes.
Try boiling them with vegetables for added flavor.
Cut vegetables on top of them as a cutting board.
Peel vegetables on top of them to gather scraps and juices
One trick for gathering the peels and juices from vegetables is to peel them over an old newspaper. Afterwards the newspaper can just be tossed out, taking the peels and stray juices with it.

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Silverware What is a formal reason why you would not place silverware on top of a napkin?
It just doesn’t look classy.
There’s no good reason.
The fork and knife need to be kept on separate sides of the plate at all times.
Diners should only touch something when they are going to use it, so they shouldn’t have to touch silverware to get to the napkin.
In a formal table setting, guests should not have to handle anything until the moment that they need it in the course of the meal. For this reason, the utensils should not be placed on the napkin. The napkin can rest on the side or in some artful design over or above the utensils.

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Telephone How might a homemaker amplify the sound of a phone ringing if they don’t have the time to sit around waiting for a call?
Put it in their pocket so they can feel it vibrate.
Ask a child to scream when they hear it ring.
Put it in a dust pan.
A life hack for busy homemakers, noted by Country Living, was to place the telephone in a dust pan so that the sound of it ringing would be amplified and heard by the busy homemaker, as she flitted about the house getting work done.
Take it off the hook.

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Homecoming Housewives learned plenty of useful advice for keeping their husband happy upon his return from work. Which of these is something the housewife should not greet the husband with?
His slippers
His favorite drink
Complaints about the day
Any 1950s housewife educated in home economics would know this cardinal rule: Do not greet your husband, whose head is full of his own stresses and struggles, with complaints about your day at home.
Questions about his day

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Donuts What is one trick to salvage the donuts that have dried out from the day before?
Dip them in your coffee.
Warm them in the broiler and dab on butter.
A 1950s homemaking trick for salvaging day-old donuts suggests briefly warming the donuts in the broiler. Then dab on some butter to help them rehydrate and give them an appetizing and fresh look.
Just eat ‘em.
Put them out for the birds.

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Laundry On what day of the week should the efficient homemaker wash clothes?
Monday
Mondays make the most common sense as the day to wash laundry for the household each week. If the laundry is completed on Monday, the ironing can be finished on Tuesday, and everyone will have clean clothes to wear for the week.
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday

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Aim What should be the aim of every homemaker?
To have a successful career
Perfect health
In order to be able to guide and center a home, a perfect homemaker must be healthy in body and mind and spirit. Part of the study of home economics is personal physiology and how to attain optimum health.
To have a home that others envy
Personal beauty

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Selection Which of the following is a crucial consideration when selecting a house in which to make a home?
Air flow
Fresh flow of air dramatically affects the health of a structure, generating ample oxygen to keep the body functioning properly. Each room must be capable of drawing fresh air and expelling the stale air.
Updated interior
Modern design
Multi-story structure

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Buttermilk Why is buttermilk easier to digest than regular cow’s milk?
Because it’s already sour
Because the curd is already separated
The human body digests milk by first clotting the milk with the rennin in the digestive fluids. Buttermilk is easier to digest because it has already been clotted and so begins the digestive process past the first stage.
Because you don’t drink it
Because it slides easily through digestive passages

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Milk Is milk worth the high cost in a family budget? If so, why?
No, because it does not have valuable nutrients
No, because the nutrients in milk can be easily acquired elsewhere
Yes, because it is not expensive
Yes, because it has high amounts of protein and is not as expensive as other proteins
While it may feel like a large cost at the surface level, milk is well worth the cost of a gallon. It costs much more than bread, but it has high amounts of protein, which bread does not have. Compared to meat and other sources of protein, milk is a relatively inexpensive way to meet the body’s needs.

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Party Is it possible to have fun with your friends if your home is untidy?
Yes
No
No, you can’t have fun with your friends if your home is untidy. A tidy home sets the stage for the well-being of everyone in the environment. If the home is cluttered and unkempt, the moods of the people visiting will reflect that.
Depends on the friends
Depends what you mean by fun

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Clock In the 1950s, how many hours would a homemaker expect to spend on housekeeping tasks each week?
Five hours
10 hours
20 hours
40+ hours
In the 1950s, the average homemaker would expect to spend at least 40 hours a week on housekeeping tasks, maintaining a sparkling clean house and preparing delicious food. No wonder the advent of new appliances was greeted with such welcome.

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Eggs Milk What ratio of eggs to milk would you use for a custard?
One to two eggs per quart of milk
Three eggs per quart of milk
Four to six eggs per quart of milk
To make a custard, you’ll need a ratio of a four to six eggs per quart of milk. Custard is a versatile choice for entertaining and can be made without too much expense. Custard can be made soft or hard depending on whether you cook it on the stove top while stirring or cook it in the oven.
Seven eggs per quart of milk

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Subject Which of the following was not a subject of home economics in the 1950s?
Cooking
Cleaning a home
Budget and finance
Language study
Home economics, as a field, is composed of much more than the areas of cleaning and cooking that people generally associate with it. Health, cooking, education, budgeting and finance, home management and sewing all fell under the umbrella of home economics. Language study stood outside the umbrella in the rain.

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Rice Which of the following is not a good option for dealing with the conundrum of leftover rice?
Use it to make a border around other dishes.
Use it as stuffing for tomatoes or other vegetables.
Use it in a pudding.
Throw it away
A good homemaker would never just throw away perfectly good rice, bland as it may be. Leftover rice provides an excellent backdrop or filling for many other foods, or can be used as a sprightly decorative border.

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Cracked Egg What percentage of an egg does the egg white compose?
11%
32%
57%
In home economics, students would learn about the nutritional and biological elements of the food that would be served at home. Egg whites compose 57% of the total egg. The rest is composed of 11% shell and 32% yolk.
63%

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Gelatin Which substance in meat yields gelatin when it is boiled?
Collagen
Collagen holds together the muscle fiber, which is composed of tubes flowing with muscle juices made up of minerals and proteins. When the meat is boiled, collagen breaks down into gelatin.
Myglobin
Ligaments
Aluminum

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Boy What should a housewife do to prepare the children for the husband’s return from work at the end of the day?
Just keep them alive.
Put a show on for them to be quiet.
Bathe them and dress them properly.
When the husband returns from work at the end of the day, he is likely to be tired and looking for refuge from the chaos of the world. The housewife should prepare the children to be clean and properly dressed, so that their father can see them as the treasures that they are.
Let them run wild outside.

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Soup Why does soup meat become tasteless if it is taken out of the soup?
Because it was boiled
Because the soup is not good
Because the extractives have been leeched out into the liquid
Animal meat juice is filled with substances that give it flavor, known as extractives. When the meat is cooked in liquid, these extractives are drawn out of the meat and into the liquid, giving the soup a full flavor and leaving the meat relatively flavorless.
Because the gelatin has dissolved

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Meat Preserve Which of the following is not a healthy way to preserve meat?
Drying
Freezing
Canning
Chemical treatment
Meat can spoil easily, as it provides a productive environment for bacteria to grow. In order to preserve the meat, the bacteria growth must be slowed or stopped. This can be done by any of the above methods, but chemical treatments add another element to the meat that makes it unhealthy.

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Meat What gives meat the tough texture that makes guests chew and cringe?
The animal has been very active.
Tough meat has the potential to ruin a dinner party. Selecting a cut of meat from a muscle that the animal uses less can help assure the cook that they are preparing meat that will melt in the mouths of dinner guests.
The animal has been sedentary.
The animal has been fed mainly grains.
The animal has been fed mainly meat.

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Bread Why does bread need to be leavened in order to be palatable?
It must be leavened to extend the gluten strands.
It must have flavoring added so that it tastes delicious.
It must have protein added to it for nutritional content.
It must be lightened in texture so that it is less dense.
The leavening of bread refers to the lightening of bread’s texture that occurs when yeast in the bread ferments and produces bubbles. The bubbles give a lightness to the bread that makes it less dense and easier to chew.

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Quick Bread What is one reason that a health-minded homemaker may avoid baking quick breads over traditional yeast breads?
They have a lot of time on their hands.
They hate hurrying.
They want to avoid the potentially damaging residue left by baking sodas.
Quick breads, such as banana bread and coffee bread, can be baked using baking soda or baking powder to create the leavening effect without the hours necessary for bread to rise. These chemicals, however, may leave behind a harmful residue that the careful homemaker wants to avoid.
They know that the bread will be less dense and less satisfying.

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Hospital Which of the following should be done as a precaution to prevent bed sores?
Tell the patient to move around.
Check for crumbs in the bed sheets after each meal
Homemakers are often responsible for the care of people confined to beds in the home, so the care of the sick is foundational in home economics. One way to prevent bed sores is to remove any objects from the bed that will cause rubbing of the skin, such as crumbs.
Wipe down the patient with alcohol wipes each evening
Move the patient's legs regularly

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Forks Which is the only fork that would be placed on the right side of a table setting?
Meat fork
Oyster fork
It’s a well-known rule that forks go on the left side of a table setting, and knives and spoons go on the right. The oyster fork, however, breaks all the norms in the table setting world, as it will show up on the right side.
Soup fork
Salad fork

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Table Manners Which of the following is not a generally accepted rule in table manners?
Chew with your mouth closed.
Cut only one bite at a time.
Place your hands on the table when you are not using them to eat.
While in France it is polite to set your hands on the table when you are not actively using them, in the United States, people more commonly place them in their lap. Cutting only one bite at a time may not be observed as often as these other manners, but it is the well-mannered way to eat.
Ask for things to be passed to you instead of reaching.

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Marriage How can a homemaker prepare for the breadwinner to come home at the end of the day?
Have a drink and get ready to relax.
Touch up make-up to be fresh when he arrives.
The homemaker needs to be fresh when the breadwinner arrives. They have many options for how to freshen up, from taking a little rest so as not to seem dry and boring, touching up make-up and brightening up their attitude.
Think of everything you would like to talk about.
Make a list of things for him to do when he arrives.

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Homemaker Which of these tasks would a homemaker not expect to do in order to keep the home running?
Keep a vegetable garden
Make most of the food from scratch
Mend torn clothing
Refrain from using appliances
The able homemaker in the 1950s would be perfectly comfortable with keeping a vegetable garden, mending torn items and making food from scratch. However, she would be equally content to use the new appliances coming on the market promising to save time.

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Dryer If a family did not yet a have a drying machine, what would a good washing day look like?
A day when they had nothing else to do
Sunny and dry
If a family did not own a dryer — which many families still did not own in the 1950s — they would naturally air dry their clothes. The best day to do this would be a sunny and dry day, so that the clothes would dry quickly.
Rainy and cold
A day when they had a lot to mull over

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Dinner Ready When should dinner be ready on a typical weeknight?
Whenever the breadwinner and homemaker finish preparing it together
Right when the breadwinner gets home
Many home economics guides in the 1950s advised that the homemaker should be sure to have dinner ready and waiting, though still piping hot, when the breadwinner came home. Breadwinning is hard work, and the homemaker should recognize that by providing delicious food to sustain the work.
About a half-hour after the breadwinner gets home
The breadwinner can pick it up on the way home.

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Rug Why might a savvy homemaker select a rug instead of a carpet to adorn a room?
Rugs are more attractive.
Rugs can be rolled up each evening
In case they want to switch it out
Rugs can easily be removed to be cleaned.
Especially if a family did not have a vacuum cleaner, a homemaker would select a rug over a permanent carpet because it could easily be removed to be cleaned. One cleaning method would be to hang the rug over a fence and beating it with a broom until all the dust fell to the earth.

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Living Room Why is the living room considered the center of the home?
It’s where the TV is stationed.
It’s where people pass through on their way to their rooms.
It’s the place people gather throughout the day.
The living room acts as the center of the home, that space that members of the family and visitors gather in and come together to connect. It’s a social center, as crucial for maintaining a healthy home as is the heart in a healthy body.
It’s the place where people live most of their lives.

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Glasses How can you remember which glass belongs to you at a table where the glasses seem close in proximity?
Bring together your finger and thumb on each hand. The one that forms a “d” shape is the side where your drink sits.
If you’re not sure which drink is yours at the table, you can always ask your neighbor. But if you want to know the right answer for yourself, see which hand makes a “d” when you bring your index finger and thumb together. “D” is for drink; the other side makes a “b” for your bread plate.
Make an “L” shape with both hands. The hand that has the “L” facing the right direction is the drink side.
Ask your neighbor, “Is this mine?”
Take a guess and start drinking.

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Knife Why is it considered impolite to place a knife with the edge facing outward instead of in towards your plate?
It shows that you don’t care for manners.
It means that you do not like the food you’re being served.
It doesn’t matter.
It’s an act of aggression toward your neighbor at the table.
The reason that knives always point in goes back to an old code in table setting. If a person harbored aggression against someone at the table, they would signify that by pointing the knife edge in the enemy’s direction. Watch where you’re pointing that knife!

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