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Starting from Scratch

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Carol in Williamsburg, Virginia, wonders why if you bake something and don’t rely on pre-mixed ingredients, you’re said to bake it from scratch. This expression originally referred to a line scratched into the ground to mark the starting point of a race. If the runners all start from scratch, then no one has an advantage over the other; they’re all starting from the most basic point. The expression up to scratch meaning “ready” or “up to the task” originally involved a line marked on the ground running diagonally across a boxing ring. When a competitor was ready to meet an opponent, that person was said to come up to the scratch or come up to scratch. This is part of a complete episode.

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