Quiz: How Impressive Is Your Baby Boomer Knowledge?: HowStuffWorks
How Impressive Is Your Baby Boomer Knowledge?
7 Min Quiz
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When was the baby boomer generation born?
Most official reports and research will tell you that baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. One specific grouping of baby boomers is known as the "leading-edge boomers"; they were born between 1946 and 1955 and had some awareness of world affairs during the Vietnam War. For those of us who are part of the younger generations, these people are likely our grandparents or even great-grandparents.
What might a baby boomer get a mouth full of if they cursed in front of their mom?
Think back to "A Christmas Story," when Ralphie gets soap put in his mouth after dropping a bad word. While it was a funny joke in the movie, this was a very real threat — an actual punishment some parents would inflict on their kids who misspoke or cursed in front of them.
Tom Hubbard via WikiCommons
Baby boomers remember wearing these hip pants through the 1960s and 1970s. What are they?
Bell bottoms gained major popularity during the 1960s, especially after Sonny and Cher started wearing them on their TV show. Bell bottoms and flares get wider from the knee down, with some of the pants having leg openings of up to 26 inches.
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration via WikiCommons
During what years did the Vietnam War take place?
Those who grew up during this era will never forget the effects the Vietnam War had on the U.S. and the rest of the world. America was primarily involved in the war from 1965 to 1973, but the war itself lasted from 1955 to 1975, when North Vietnam forces captured the city of Saigon in the south, renaming it Ho Chi Minh City.
What classic shoe promised those who wore them that they would "Run faster, jump higher"?
We all remember Benny the Jet outrunning The Beast in "The Sandlot" because of his PF Flyers. These were first designed in 1935, but they became more popular by 1944, with the release of the first kids' sizes. Soon just about every kid was running around their neighborhood in them.
Tomas Rodriguez / Corbis / Getty Images
What famous beverage did astronauts drink for breakfast, to start their day in orbit?
Astronauts are responsible for making Tang a hip drink. This breakfast beverage was used in early NASA space flights; in 1962 John Glenn conducted eating experiments in orbit, and Tang was selected for the menu. In a way, it became the "meal" of choice for astronauts, and let's face it — at the time, who was cooler than someone who had been to space?
Caltrop via WikiCommons
What tool was used to open the newly popular flat-topped beer cans?
The church key gets its name from the shape and design of the top of this tool, resembling that of a large, ornate key once used to open church doors. In 1935, with the onset of flat top beer cans, the original design gained a pointy tip so it could pierce the can. Today it can take different forms and is more commonly known as a "bottle opener."
H. Armstrong Roberts / Retrofile RF / Getty Images
Let's go dancing! What move was made famous by Chubby Checker on "American Bandstand"?
Even those who didn't grow up during this time know the Twist. In the early 1960s, this move became a worldwide dance craze, even though for some it was likely too provocative. This move gained unprecedented popularity, and it set the stage for other dance moves to gain similar recognition later.
ML5 via WikiCommons
What unexpected purchase were comic book readers able to make back in the day?
These novelty aquarium pets were often purchased through ads seen in comic books. Because sea monkeys were super popular with boomer kids, science teachers would even buy them to use as part of their curriculum.
Nels P Olsen via WikiCommons
Baby boomers used to be seen cruising neighborhoods on what type of bike?
The Schwinn Stingray introduced the world to the famous banana seat. These bikes were first introduced in 1963 and soon were seen in every neighborhood. You knew it was a Stringray because of its high handlebars and long banana-like seat. It was an instant hit for Schwinn.
James M Shelley via WikiCommons
The forever famous Woodstock festival took place in which mountains?
From August 15–18 of 1969, more than 400,000 people converged on the town of Bethel, New York, located in the Catskills, for Woodstock. The event was billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music." It was held on a 600-acre dairy farm. Bethel is actually about 60 miles southwest of Woodstock, but let's be real — Woodstock sounds way cooler as a festival name than Bethel.
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Who was Mr. Ed?
Mr. Ed was indeed a "talking horse," voiced by the actor Allan Lane. The horse was a highly trained palomino who played opposite actor Alan Young as architect Wilbur Post. Trainers made Mr. Ed appear to be talking by placing a piece of thread in his mouth, but eventually the horse learned to move his mouth like he was talking without the thread.
Eric Stephen Jacobs via YouTube
Baby boomers remember having to do what at their schools during the Cold War?
An unfortunate reality of the Cold War was the constant fear of living under the threat of nuclear war. Preparing for the worst, schools across America held drills where students and teachers had to "duck and cover" under their desks. While this wouldn't help if the blast was near, the idea was that desks could help shield people from debris if the explosion was far enough away. This practice lost popularity by the 1970s.
Jamey Coles Photography / Moment / Getty Images
This groovy lamp was made popular by baby boomers. Some of you younger generations may even have one! What is it?
Whether you're a baby boomer or Gen X-er, there's a good chance you had one of these in your bedroom growing up. Edward Craven Walker invented the lava lamp in the 1960s. The light bulb underneath the liquid-filled lamp creates just enough heat to keep the goo moving and flowing.
Walt Cisco, Dallas Morning News via WikiCommons
Ask older baby boomers, and they'll tell you they remember where they were when this president was assassinated. Who is he?
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, while he was riding in a presidential motorcade in a Lincoln Continental. Many Americans watched the motorcade on their televisions, and they actually witnessed the assassination in their homes. Today, experts still debate what happened that day and how many gunmen were involved.
Ollie Atkins via WikiCommons
Which U.S. president left the White House as a result of the Watergate scandal?
The Watergate scandal that brought down a president began with the break-in at the DNC headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., in 1972. The Nixon administration had been involved with the break-in, but the bigger crime was the attempted cover-up of their participation. After investigation, impeachment charges were brought against Nixon, but he resigned before a real conclusion could be reached in the courts.
John Smith / Corbis / Getty Images
Before streaming services, iPods, CDs and cassette tapes, baby boomers listened to what?
Before the development of transistors, radios were not portable. With the introduction of the transistor radio, people were able to carry small, cordless radios with them wherever they went. They totally transformed the listening experience and were a huge hit.
A/V Geeks via YouTube
Baby boomers were some of the first to enjoy TV dinners. Which was the most popular brand?
While all of these brands have had their moment, during the 1950s Swanson dominated the TV dinner market. The very first entree they ever offered consumers was a simple turkey dinner. Eating dinner in front of the television became a thing, and by 1956 Swanson was selling 13 million TV dinners a year.
U.S. Army Operations in Vietnam via WikiCommons
What chemical was used during the Vietnam War and never used again?
This chemical is truly horrifying. Its effects are so terrible that after seeing what it would do to people and the environment in Vietnam, officials immediately banned it in the U.S. The remaining stocks were taken from Vietnam and destroyed by 1978. There is no agent orange anywhere in the world today.
Thanks in big part to Nancy Sinatra, these white, just-below-the-knee boots gained major popularity in the '60s. What are they?
"These boots are made for walkin, and that's just what they'll do!" Thanks to Nancy Sinatra, these space-agey boots were popular among hippies and high-end fashionistas alike through the 1960s and 1970s. Go-go boots have become an iconic symbol of that time.
HistoryPod via YouTube
What was unique about the original Mr. Potato Head?
That's right — the very first Mr. Potato Head didn't actually have the plastic potato head and body we know today. When purchased, only the nose, eyes, mouth and accessories came in the box. Kids inserted the pieces into actual potatoes, or even other veggies they could find.
NBC Television via WikiCommons
Who was known on television for saying, "Live long and prosper"?
"Live long and prosper" is the Vulcan greeting made famous by Spock. Even if you're not a huge "Star Trek" fan, you still know the accompanying hand gesture that he would show as he said it. The phrase and famous gesture were suggested by the actor who played Spock, Leonard Nimoy, inspired by his Jewish faith.
Jimberg13 via WikiCommons
Which NFL team won the first ever Super Bowl in 1967?
Crazy to think that the very first Super Bowl happened in 1967, right? The very first championship featured the Green Bay Packers (NFL) going up against the Kansas City Chiefs (AFL) in Los Angeles. The Packers crushed the Chiefs with a final score of 35–10.
Unknown via WikiCommons
The "Red Scare" was the wide-spread fear of what growing in America?
During the Cold War, Americans didn't just have a fear of nuclear war, they also feared the spread of communism, which prevailed in the Soviet Union at the time. The term "Red Scare" came from the fact that communists often pledged their allegiance to the red Soviet flag.
BRANDONJ74 / E+ / Getty Images
Baby boomers remember when there wasn't 24-hour TV programming. What song would play to signal the end of the programming day?
Television programming used to end around midnight every day. Footage of a waving American flag was shown while "The Star-Spangled Banner" played. After that, an image of a test pattern appeared.
Greg Gjerdingen via WikiCommons
The station wagon was a popular car for young baby boomers to ride around in with their parents. What was the paneling made of?
The "woody" station wagon was seen everywhere during the 1950s and 1960s. The famous paneling on its sides was made from actual wood back then, but nowadays fake wood paneling is available on a few vehicles.
20th Century Fox via WikiCommons
What movie featured the film debut of the King, Elvis Presley?
"Heartbreak Hotel" was one of Elvis' first hits to reach the No. 1 spot in the U.S. in 1956. "Love Me Tender" catapulted him into movie stardom that very same year. Just two years later Presley was drafted into the military service; then he resumed his singing and acting career upon his return.
Nobel Prize via YouTube
Who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964?
Civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in America. Dr. King always practiced nonviolence when he was protesting, and he inspired many to do the same after him. At the age of 35, King was the youngest person ever to receive the award.
Petey21 via WikiCommons
Who first introduced the Hula Hoop, the Frisbee and the Super Ball?
What a fun business name! Wham-O has been responsible for the creation, distribution and marketing of many popular toys for about 70 years now. Along with the toys listed above, they are also responsible for the Hacky Sack, Boogie Board, Slip 'N Slide and even Silly String.
NASA via WikiCommons
Who said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," as he took his first steps on the moon?
Neil Armstrong spoke these words; he was the first man to walk on the moon's surface. In 1969 Apollo 11 landed on the moon with Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. They were not the first men in space — Russia sent a man first, then the Russians and the U.S. sent many others as well — but Armstrong and Aldrin were the first to make it to the moon, land successfully and return home. Michael Collins was their pilot.
George Marks / Retrofile RF / Getty Images
This was a favorite Sunday pastime for many baby boomer families — what is it?
This is something you don't see much of anymore. Baby boomers will surely recall a time when they and their families would pile into the car and take a leisurely drive around town. We're willing to bet they couldn't have imagined the traffic we deal with today.
Olympic via YouTube
Who dominated the 1972 Olympics in Munich by winning seven gold medals?
Mark Spitz held the record for most golds won in a Summer Olympics for decades, until fellow American Michael Phelps surpassed him by winning eight golds at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Still, on top of those golds Spitz took home, he also set world records for all seven events he participated in.
Unknown via WikiCommons
Other than mail or the newspaper, what was regularly delivered to the doorstep of a baby boomer's home?
Gone are the days when the milkman would deliver milk straight to your front door. Today we have meal delivery services and the ability to order groceries through Amazon and other services, but a service dedicated to milk delivery only exists in very select areas of the country. The milkmen of yore dropped off glass bottles full of milk, then picked up the empties during the next delivery.
83d40m via WikiCommons
School dances had a special name back then — what was it?
The first sock hops in 1944 were actually WWII fundraisers held by the American Junior Red Cross. They later morphed into generic school dances. The term "sock hop" came from dancers removing their shoes to protect varnished wood floors in gymnasiums.
Kurt Baty via WikiCommons
Crayola dropped a number of new colors in the late 1950s — a major upgrade at the time. How many did the new boxes hold?
Upon its introduction in 1903, a Crayola box contained eight colors. Over the years more colors were added, but the 1958 selection of 64 was a bonanza! With the new colors, this was a considerable upgrade for Crayola, offering colors like aquamarine, copper and mulberry. Since then Crayola has reached 120 in its arsenal of colors, including pig pink and fuzzy wuzzy brown.
The Mirisch Company
Which actor who starred in "The Blob" captured the adoration of both women and men alike?
Steve McQueen was the quintessential man who most guys imagined themselves being and women daydreamed about. He was Hollywood's hottest leading man, a race car driver and a father. Some of his most memorable films were "The Great Escape," "The Thomas Crown Affair" and "Papillon."
CBS Television via WikiCommons
Which classic variety show host brought the Beatles to American TV in 1964?
Before their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show," the Beatles were already a sensation in the U.K. Sullivan saw that they were something special and made sure that their first televised performance in America was on his show. Needless to say, the rest is history.
Anne Helmenstine via YouTube
This jewelry was worn by many baby boomers in the 1970s. What is it?
Most of us have worn a mood ring — heck, you may even be wearing one right now — but these babies go way back. They were created in 1975 and became popular very quickly. People were intrigued by the idea that a ring could indicate your mood based on color. We do of course know that the jewelry is just responding to the wearer's body temperature.
Boys who grew up during this time remember playing this classic game every summer.
Baby boomers grew up during the golden age of baseball; athletes were making gigantic names for themselves and becoming heroes in the minds of Americans everywhere. Meanwhile, young boys were taking to the diamonds in their neighborhoods and doing their best to throw and hit like the baseball stars they looked up to.
Rowland Scherman via WikiCommons
Who famously sang, "The times they are a-changin'"?
Bob Dylan sang many quotable lyrics, but this line has stood the test of time. He first sang it in the early 1960s during the hippie and civil rights movements, calling for unity and understanding.
Image: H. Armstrong Roberts / Retrofile RF / Getty Images
About This Quiz
No matter what generation you belong to, there is no arguing that the baby boomers are a breed of their own. While we can look back on this era as a simpler time, those who grew up in these decades experienced major economic growth, social booms and the total upheaval of life as they knew it. This era is packed full of rich history and is a reminder of how far America has come. We can learn a lot from what the baby boomers accomplished over those years, but we can also take away the fact that we still have a lot of growing to do.
We want to know if you remember the technology and games of back then and if certain music lyrics or actors spark a little nostalgia for you. If you're younger, let's see if you can flex your history muscles and drop some knowledge on the Vietnam and Cold Wars. So much happened during this time, we honestly could have compiled a much longer quiz to fit it all in!
So, whether you lived through the booming years or you want to test your knowledge of the good ol' days, let's see how much you know about the baby boomers.
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