You too, Greg? You people.... It's got to be a white thing.
You too, Greg? You people.... It's got to be a white thing.
Why do Americans love it so much?
By Brendan Koerner|Posted Friday, Aug. 5, 2005, at 7:28 AM ET
There is a great Simpsons episode in which Homer, overcome by carbon-monoxide fumes, hallucinates that he is an Ottoman sultan. Though he is surrounded by gyrating concubines, the Simpson family patriarch is not satisfied. "I grow weary of your sexually suggestive dancing," he says. "Bring me my ranch-dressing hose!" Within seconds, the women are blasting him with a geyser of gooey ranch.
Homer's tastes are meant to reflect those of the American everyman, and in this case the Simpsons writers nailed it: Ranch dressing has been the nation's best-selling salad topper since 1992, when it overtook Italian. How did this simple mixture of mayonnaise, buttermilk, and herbs become America's favorite way to liven up lettuce?
In the early days, ranch dressing didn't seem likely to take Italian's crown. It was a strictly local delicacy—the pride of Steve and Gayle Henson, a couple who'd opened a dude ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1954. Visitors to the Henson spread, known as Hidden Valley Ranch, came for the horseback riding, but they frequently left with fonder memories of Steve's special dressing. The Hensons began to give their guests to-go bottles, and eventually they started a small plant where they manufactured packets of ranch seasoning for the retail market.
The packets were problematic: You had to blend the herbs with both mayonnaise and buttermilk to create the dressing, and very few households kept a spare carton of buttermilk in the fridge. But the Hensons' product sold reasonably well, and in 1972, the Clorox Company bought the Hidden Valley Ranch brand for $8 million.
Before ranch could become a national favorite, however, the scientists at Clorox had to reformulate the original recipe and make it easier to use. First, the great minds behind Pine-Sol and Liquid-Plumr added butter flavoring to the seasoning so home chefs could make the dressing with plain milk. But the real breakthrough came in 1983, with the debut of bottled—or, in the lingo of the dressing industry, "shelf stable"—Hidden Valley Ranch. At that time, more and more dressings were being sold in nonrefrigerated bottles; today, according to the market-research firm Mintel, shelf-stable dressings account for 82 percent of sales in the $1.7 billion industry. Ranch presented a serious challenge, because its high dairy content makes it susceptible to quick spoilage. But Clorox managed to add the right blend of preservatives to give the dressing a shelf life of approximately 150 days. (The science behind Clorox's innovation is secret, though it's a safe bet that Steve Henson's original recipe didn't call for calcium disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate.)
Once ranch was available in a bottle, Americans fell in love with its rich-yet-inoffensive taste. It is devoid of potentially objectionable ingredients, such as chili sauce (a key component in Thousand Island) or anchovies (found in Caesar and Green Goddess). And perhaps more important, ranch is fattier than humdrum Italian, which is basically a gussied-up vinaigrette. Ranch dressing, which arrived at a time when mayo had gained a reputation as a diet-buster, was essentially a socially acceptable form of the gloopy condiment. It quickly became the preferred way to infuse otherwise healthy dishes with a palatable amount of fat. The salads offered by chains such as Little Caesars or McDonald's were soon accompanied by packets of ranch, to the chagrin of nutritionists.
Ranch became increasingly popular in the mid-to-late '80s, when executive chefs at casual-dining and fast-food companies began to use it as a moistening agent for their processed grub. Ranch worked well on burgers and sandwiches because it's thinner than mayonnaise, which skeeves out some consumers with its texture, but thicker than oil and vinegar, which can seep into bread and turn it soggy. During the wrap craze of the 1990s, ranch became a key condiment on such products as KFC's Twisters, and it also turned up in a wide range of dishes at chains like Applebee's (where the Tequila Lime Chicken is smothered in "Mexi-ranch") and Chili's (which pioneered chipotle-flavored ranch). And as a flavoring, ranch got another boost from chipmaker Frito-Lay, which created the wildly successful Cool Ranch Doritos in 1987. Recipes cannot be patented, so Clorox could not prevent Kraft or Unilever (which owns the Wish-Bone brand) from creating their own ranch dressings, to say nothing of preventing snack-makers from inventing ranch-flavored chips. Clorox made the best of this situation, though, by partnering with Frito-Lay in 1994; the duo then released Hidden Valley Ranch Wavy Lay's.
Will ranch forever dominate the dressings realm? At the moment, there are no obvious contenders for the top slot (although honey Dijon, the seventh most popular dressing, has been making impressive strides). But recent instances of ranch-based decadence suggest that perhaps a backlash is in order. In the last few years, restaurateurs—inspired in large part by the rising popularity of Buffalo wings, which are traditionally accompanied by a bowl of blue cheese dressing—have begun to offer ranch as a dipping sauce. Chili's, for example, created a wasabi-ranch dressing to accompany its boneless Shanghai wings. And numerous Pizza Hut franchises in the South began offering cups of ranch alongside their pies, after a few franchisees discovered that teenagers were dipping their slices in the dressing. Although dunking one's pizza in ranch dressing is a culinary act best described as arterial suicide, the company took the concept nationwide earlier this year with the debut of the Dippin' Strips Pizza, which is precut into easily dippable ribbons and served with ranch "sauce." Short of being blasted in the face with a ranch-dressing hose, that's about as intense a fat rush as the human body can handle.
Ranch Dressing Is America’s Only Condiment
Unwrap your lips from your processed Cheez-Delivery Snack'm Tube-Brand Corn Snaxxx and pay attention, America. This is important. Sure, you've been doing your best to consume your annual 137-gallon allotment of high fructose corn syrup, and your 92 pounds of Cheez annually. But do your standard condiments contain a sufficient amount of saturated fat and artificial flavors? Or could you be doing more?
Here's one easy, patriotic thing you can do to contribute to America's War on Health: instead of using plain old ketchup (zero fat) on your burgers, hot dogs, fries, popcorn, ice cream, and waffles, why not use Ranch dressing instead? There's no easier way to add thousands of calories of pure fat to your diet every day, with no added vitamins, while successfully causing the rest of the world to wretch in disgust at our collective resignation to a life of riding motorized scooters through the grocery store. The WSJ's Sarah Nassauer, who should be nominated for the a Pulitzer in the "Investigative Coverage of Our Gaping Maws" category, reports:
A new thicker, creamier version of its famous Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing has arrived in a bid to get people to use ranch like they do ketchup.
The company isn't making subtle comparisons. "The New 'Ketchup'" proclaims the label. It is affixed to a "retro-style" ketchup bottle to signal, "hey, this is ketchup," says Jon Balousek, vice president and general manager for the food, charcoal and cat-litter businesses at Clorox Co., which owns Hidden Valley.
"The idea hit when an executive watched his college-age daughter 'bath her entire salmon in ranch dressing,'" continues the story, creating the sort of noble creation myth that will doubtless be passed down for generations to come in our elementary school condiment classes. That college-age daughter's name: The Statue of Liberty.
WHEATON -- A senior at Wheaton North High School last week ejaculated into a bottle of ranch salad dressing and left it on a condiments cart in the upperclassmen's cafeteria, school officials said Thursday.
The student returned the bottle to the cafeteria's condiments cart.
Sodexho, the school's food service provider, requires that condiment containers be emptied and washed every other day.
However, Principal Jill Bullo said company officials are unsure whether the container was washed Wednesday after lunch. If it was not, students would have been exposed to its contents during the last two lunch periods Dec. 6 and all five on Dec. 7, after which the container definitely would have been cleaned, Bullo said. At the very least, students would have been using the bottle's contents during fourth- and fifth-period lunch on Dec. 6.
The student confessed to contaminating the bottle Tuesday, school officials said, adding it is unknown whether anyone ate the salad dressing or has become sick from it, school officials said.
Apparently the student bragged to friends about what he had done during his lunch period Dec. 6, and one of them told school leaders Tuesday, said Gary T. Catalani, Wheaton Warrenville School District 200 superintendent.
"I don't believe that they thought it to be true, but students were talking about this rumor," Bullo said.
In a letter mailed Wheaton North parents Thursday, District 200 outlined what course of action the school will take regarding the incident.
Catalani said the district is working with Wheaton police, who said an attempted aggravated battery arrest is imminent.
"An act occurred that could have physically harmed someone at the school, but no one was physically harmed," police Cmdr. Joseph Eversole said.
The school's punishment for the student was not disclosed.
"We've taken very severe measures against this student," Catalani said.
Sodexho has discontinued its use of smaller bottles for condiments and has started using larger containers that would make it difficult for a student to steal.
Most students' reactions on Thursday were of dismay and anger.
Senior Brian Corcoran learned about the incident Wednesday.
"I was very surprised and appalled and embarrassed that this could happen," he said.
Freshman Andrea Daun said she would never eat cafeteria food again.
"You're supposed to feel safe enough to eat at school, but this makes you feel disgusted," she said.
Senior Jon Kinsey said although he did not know the student very well, he did attend classes with him.
"He was kind of a crazy kid and never complied with school rules," Kinsey said.
And you still eat that shit?!Before ranch could become a national favorite, however, the scientists at Clorox had to reformulate the original recipe and make it easier to use.
Last edited by marooko; 11-14-2012 at 09:48 AM.
I don't understand the blatant hate for ranch, one of the only condiment that you either love or hate... SAD
I put some ranch on Kraft Mac and Cheese last night and it was nasty.
I really like ranch on pizza tho.
what's an organic farmhouse?
I still haven't worked up to putting it on pizza and chicken when you guys aren't around.