Hidden Valley Ranch

"Ranch" Dressing

It’s Super Bowl time! Okay, I’ll fess up and admit that I don’t really give a rip about the game itself, but I loves me some o’ that finger lickin’ football food! This has led me to consider how I could tie together the Super Bowl game this weekend, and my love of munchies while somehow turning it into a winning Western topic. By golly, I think I’ve got it! Brace yourself . . . RANCH DRESSING! Yes, Ranch dressing is the common denominator among football parties, food and the West! I mean, after all, “ranch” is in the name, right?

Hidden Valley Ranch

Gayle and Steve HensonDid you know that Hidden Valley Ranch is a real place? Seriously. It wasn’t just a crafty marketing idea some advertising executive dreamed up. And, did you know that ranch dressing was the remarkable creation of the owner of Hidden Valley Ranch? (Excuse me if I seem giddy, but I’m hopped up on Ranch dressing.)

Hidden Valley Ranch PicnicIn 1954, Gayle and Steve Henson opened up a dude ranch outside of Santa Barbara, California. Guess what they named their ranch? Of course, they named it Hidden Valley Ranch! In the early days, guests came to enjoy horseback riding and other “dude ranch-y” activities. What a delightful surprise to also discover that Hidden Valley Ranch was also an enchanted land that flowed with buttermilk, mayonnaise, herbs and spices! Well, the land didn’t actually flow with it, but Steve Henson regularly mixed up his special salad dressing and delighted guests devoured it every day.

Ranch Expansion

Woman Enjoying Ranch DressingGuests were thrilled! I imagine them shoveling in their salads and grinning with ear-to-ear ranch dressing moustaches. Guests liked it so much that one guest requested to buy a large batch of dressing to take home to Hawaii, for a party he was hosting. Steve Henson obliged, and before he knew it the whole world had a hankerin’ for ranch dressing.

Ranch Dressing PackageBefore long, the Hensons hired extra help to churn out the dressing in bulk. Steve Henson then had a brainstorm: sell Ranch dressing mix. In my mind, there was an angel involved in that brainstorm. The angel probably said, “Steve Henson, gather herbs and spices and send them to the four corners of the earth so that people everywhere can know this creamy goodness!” But I could be wrong about that.

In 1972, Steve Henson sold the Hidden Valley Ranch brand to the Clorox Corporation and the angel’s message was fulfilled. In case you’re wondering, that sale netted a cool $8 million. Hidden Valley Ranch dressing is now sold in more than thirty countries. There are now many companies who offer their own versions of ranch dressing, but it’s important to remember that it all began with one man and some buttermilk.

Ranch Dressing

It’s Not Just for Lettuce Anymore!

My love of ranch dressing is borderline obsessive. For me, it’s one of the six main food groups, and at the pinnacle of the balanced diet pyramid! I come close to considering ranch dressing to be a perfectly acceptable beverage. But, in an effort to blend in with society at large, I am willing to eat my ranch dressing rather than drink it. But in order to do that, I need food that will serve as my ranch dressing delivery system.

Here are a few football party favorites that can be used to deliver a steady stream of ranch dressing to all you aficionados:

  • Potatoes served in any fashion—Ranch dressing is great on baked potatoes, French fries, potato skins or chips. You can also make a cute little mashed potato bar and serve scoops of potatoes in martini glasses. That makes it oh so sophisticated, right?
  • Chicken wings—Oh, yeah. Then you can also dip the celery sticks that, for whatever reason, always accompany chicken wings.
  • Crudités—By dipping veggies in ranch dressing, you counteract all of the fat and calories found in the dressing and it becomes health food. Hey, I don’t make up these food rules, but I’m pretty sure that it’s scientific fact.
  • Sandwich wraps—As with the crudités, you can add some veggies to the wraps and it’s considered a health food.
  • Jalapeno poppers—The cool ranch dressing cuts the spice. Num-num!
  • Pizza—This one actually strikes me as rather odd, but ranch dressing with pizza does seem to be a favorite for some people!
  • Chicken strips—This will be a big hit if you have kids at your party.
  • Fried mushrooms—What’s a party without fungi?
  • Fried zucchini—Your guests will feel so good about all of the vegetables they’re eating!
  • Sliders—Sliders are like the donut holes of hamburgers. Their calories don’t count because they are miniature.

So, Happy Super Bowl to all y’all!! Or, maybe I should say, Happy Super Bowl of Ranch Dressing! At some point, I may go to the trouble of learning what teams are actually playing in the game this year. But, until then, I’ll be planning my menu. Hey, it’s important to have your priorities in order!

And just to get you “warmed up” for Super Bowl weekend, here’s a little video:


Happy Trails, y’all!

Anita Lequoia

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