Ranch dressing was invented to make a crew happy, but how did it start?

Vanessa Calys-Tagoe November 14, 2022
Cobb salad with avocado ranch dressing. Image via Wikimedia Commons/ flippinyank

Keeping employees happy is the core mandate of every employer. At every turn, the comfort and happiness of the employee are of utmost importance to the employer and are ensured in numerous ways. Whether it’s increasing salary, organizing periodic office parties or in the case of Steve Henson, manufacturing a personalized ranch dressing to keep employees happy. 

Henson felt the need to keep his work crew happy and as such decided to invent a new salad dressing. The crew loved it, but he did not move into production and sales right there. Henson was a plumber and his business thrived so much that at age 35, he could afford to retire. However, what was left of his youthfulness could not afford to retire and once again he was itching to find something to do.  

He did not have to wait long. After a year, together with his wife, he purchased the Sweetwater Ranch in 1956 and renamed it Hidden Valley ranch. In creating the menu for the ranch, he decided to include the ranch dressing he had created for his work crew and the guests loved it. Over the years, Henson refined his tangy concoction of buttermilk, savory herbs, and spices into his signature salad dressing. Because the visitors to his ranch couldn’t get enough of it, Hidden Valley Ranch dressing was created, but it was still not commercialized, that is until a friend of his requested a batch and he delivered. He realized the commercial value and by 1957 a packaged mix was being sent out for retail purposes and was being sold at 75 cents apiece. 

By the 1960s, the ranch had closed down and had been turned into the headquarters of “The Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing.” The ranch was incorporated and Hidden Valley Ranch Foods Inc. was born. 

The ranch dressing invented by Henson included mayonnaise, sour cream parsley and spices, but after selling to Clorox for $8 million the ingredients were changed to suit consumer taste and preference and so buttermilk was included as a replacement for regular milk, which was more expensive and a non-refrigerated variety was included in the line. 

Today, there are a plethora of YouTube videos with a variety of recipes for making your ranch dressings and it’s all credited to the man who only wanted to make his crew happy, Henson. 

In addition to being integrated into American favorites like macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, potato salad, and everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving turkey stuffing, the customary dip for chicken wings, baby carrots, French fries, tortilla chips, and mozzarella sticks also appears in these dishes. What is more, it is poured over pizza, Tater Tots, casseroles, tacos, and maybe most contentiously, Tater Tots. Hidden Valley is now more than just the nation’s preferred ranch dressing. It has spread over the world and left a legacy on practically every continent. 

Conversations

Must Read

Connect with us

Join our Mailing List to Receive Updates