Ranch dressing is a condiment made of some combination of
buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, minced green onion,
garlic powder, and other seasonings mixed into a sauce. Ranch
dressing has been the best-selling salad dressing in the United
States since 1992, when it overtook Italian dressing. It is also
popular as a dipping sauce.
In 1954, Steve and Gayle Henson opened Hidden Valley Ranch, a
dude ranch near Santa Barbara, California. They served guests a
dressing that Steve had developed in Alaska.
The dressing was
popular, and they began selling bottles that guests could take
home, and later opened a factory to sell packets of ranch
seasoning that had to be mixed with mayonnaise and buttermilk
(packets that are still available to this day). In 1972, the
brand was bought by Clorox for $8 million.
Clorox reformulated the dressing several times to try to make it
more convenient. The first change was to include buttermilk
flavoring in the seasoning so that at home one added milk rather
than buttermilk. In 1983, Clorox developed a more popular
non-refrigerated bottled formulation. At the current time,
Clorox subsidiary Hidden Valley Ranch Manufacturing LLC produces
ranch packets and bottled dressings at two large factories, in
Reno, Nevada and Wheeling, Illinois.
During the 1980s, ranch also became a common snack food flavor,
starting with Cool Ranch Doritos in 1987, and Hidden Valley
Ranch Wavy Lay's in 1994.
Ranch dressing is a common
dipping sauce for vegetables such as broccoli and carrots, as
well as for chips and "bar foods" such as french fries and
chicken wings. It is also a common dipping sauce for fried foods
such as fried mushrooms, fried zucchini, jalapeno poppers, onion
rings, chicken fingers, and hush puppies. In addition, ranch
dressing is used on pizza, pickles, baked potatoes, wrap
sandwiches, tacos, pretzels, and hamburgers.
In addition to Hidden Valley, ranch dressing is produced by many
manufacturers including Ken's, Kraft, Marie's, Newman's Own, and
Ranch dressing is notable for its high fat content. A typical
2-tablespoon serving contains 145 kcal (608 kJ) and 15 g of fat.
Ninety-four percent of those calories come from fat.