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You Know Why America Loves Ranch Dressing? Because It’s Delicious

By Kate Hudson | Food Porn | September 20, 2018 |

By Kate Hudson | Food Porn | September 20, 2018 |


Ranch is America’s favorite salad dressing. I mean, you could click that link and verify the source, but we both know you don’t have to because ranch dressing is objectively delicious and basically goes with everything. Ranch is the superior dipping sauce for hot wings, vegetables, and yes, the occasional pizza.

Earlier this week, The New York Times decided to profile the unassuming spice blend, because even the Gray Lady knows what’s up when it comes to ranch and its many wonders. While most of us cannot imagine a world without ranch dressing (and if you can, you’re a monster), it’s hard to believe it’s only been in America for fewer than 70 years, and that you can thank Alaska, of all places, for its existence:

Steve Henson, a plumber from the tiny village of Thayer, Neb., came up with the dressing mix around 1950, during a stint in Anchorage as a construction worker, where he also served as an occasional cook for the crew. In that part of the world, perishable ingredients like fresh herbs, garlic and onions, and dairy products were not easy to come by.

By 1954, he and his wife, Gayle, had moved to California and bought a ramshackle property called Sweetwater Ranch, in the San Marcos Pass above Santa Barbara, Calif. They renamed it Hidden Valley, and opened it as a guest ranch. But according to their son, Nolan Henson, the place became even more popular as a steakhouse, with Steve’s dressing a favorite souvenir.

The most important takeaway from the article is that Hidden Valley Ranch is the OG of ranch dressings, which makes sense, because it is by far the best of them. Screw you, Kraft, Wishbone, and Ken’s!

As someone who loves ranch and missed it dearly when living overseas (fun fact: it’s pretty hard to find in the UK, or at least it was when I was there) there is basically nothing I won’t try with a drip of ranch, at least once. Even something sweet, because you never know where your next amazing flavor combination can come from. In high school, my friend Martha and I discovered that dried mangoes were delicious when paired with Wheat Thins. You’re welcome. Relatedly, Wheat Thins and ranch is a good combo.

There’s always that person who says they hate ranch, or finds it “trashy” and who cares if it is? Revel in its trashy goodness, and slather it on your carrot sticks, because this is America, baby! If it tastes good, who cares about anything else?

*Note, I am 95% sure Michelle Obama did not let those children put ranch dressing on the vegetables they were cutting. She is basically the only person who gets to disparage ranch dressing, because she is practically perfect.

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Kate is a staff contributor. You can follow her on Twitter.

Header Image Source: Getty