“So, why am I eating this salad if I’m ‘technically can’ chug this stuff by itself?”
~That’s actually a really good question, Jimmy
You’re a typical American. You weigh over 200 pounds, get winded when you go up a flight of stairs, and you’re probably sitting on a coach watching TV debating the physical attractiveness of the professional models that they hired for that Miller Lite commercial. It’s entirely possible that you just dropped a can of beer and have spent the last five minutes straining yourself trying to reach down and grab it. Don’t give up! If you don’t drink that soon you won’t be able to crumble the can and hide it in the potted plant before your spouse gets home. Yes this is a gender-neutral assessment of you, the typical American AFFotD reader.
“We’re flattered, AFFotD, now get to the point…dammit beer, GET IN MY HAND,” you might say at this point.
Fair enough, enterprising American. One of the most paradoxical statistics in America is the sheer amount of lettuce and pre-packaged salads that are sold in this nation every year. We’re talking four billion pounds of lettuce a year. Using simple math, that means that each American individually, on average, eats somewhere between one ounce and four billion pounds of lettuce a year. Four billion pounds of lettuce. That’s four one billions. And that’s terrible.
Thankfully, one of the most American inventions helps account for a vast majority of salad consumption in America, turning terrifying “wholesome” vegetables into something palpable and, hopefully, unhealthy.
Your friend reading this over your shoulder no doubt is shouting, “Oh, I know! Salad dressing! They’re talking about salad dressing! I like putting a vinaigrette on my salads because it tastes good and it’s low calorie!” Hey, you. Yes you, the friend that just said that. Go stand in the corner and hang your head in shame. No, you’re on time out for the rest of this article. Do you think we’re kidding? We’ll wait.
Okay good. Anyway, obviously the answer is Ranch Dressing. Right? We mean…obviously.
Ranch Dressing: A Delicious American Salad Treat
Ranch Dressing was, we shit you not, invented on a Ranch. In 1954, Steve and Gayle Henson founded a dude ranch in Santa Barbara, California called Hidden Valley Ranch. Steve invented a dressing (hint it’s Ranch) made out of a combination of buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, mayonnaise, minced green onions, garlic powder, additional seasonings, and the life force of three milk cows. This dressing became incredibly popular, and they began selling it to guests, until demand caused them to open a factory that made packets that, when mixed with buttermilk and mayo, would allow you to make your very own Ranch dressing.
Just to recap, at this early point in the history of Ranch Dressing, the Hensons already understood enough about America to ensure that their dressing had the following traits.
- “Hey, what should we put in this to make it taste good?” “Uh…mayonnaise?” “Good call, that’s pretty unhealthy, what else?” “Uh, what’s the unhealthiest type of milk?” “Buttermilk?” “Yeah let’s go with that.” We’ve read ingredients for Crisco that sounded healthier, and we love that about Ranch Dressing.
- They discovered right away that dressing that comes “naturally in liquid form” is not nearly as American as “processed packet of seasoning you add to fattening creams.”
- It never occurred to them to mass-produce a bottled version of Ranch Dressing. It’s like they sold a dozen bottles in a week, threw up their hands, and said, “Fuck it, let’s build a factory and sell a powdered version of this shit!”
- The secret ingredient in Ranch Dressing is love. And by “love” we mean to say “Saturated Fats and Barbituates.”
In 1972, Clorox bought the Hidden Valley brand for $8 million, because if there’s anything more American than Ranch Dressing, it’s Ranch Dressing being produced by a cleaning supplies manufacturing company. Clorox decided to add buttermilk flavoring to the powdered dressing, so that you’d only need regular milk and mayonnaise to make Ranch Dressing, because honestly who just has buttermilk lying around for emergency salad dressing situations? Finally, in 1983, they came out with the non-refrigerated bottle formulation, which is the kind that most true Americans ensure they have in their cupboard at all times.
Yes, that IS a fountain of Ranch, why do you ask?
While Ranch Dressing itself is a great way to render the phrase “nice, healthy salad” oxymoronic, it has also evolved into much more than just a simple fatty dressing. Not content to just be a part of salads, the Wikipedia listing of foods that are dipped in Ranch reads like the Fatty-American-Food equivalent of the Fortune 500. French Fries (though we question that one a little bit), Buffalo Wings, Fried Mushrooms, Fried Zucchini, Jalepeno Poppers, Onion Rings, Chicken Fingers, Tacos, Pretzels, Pizza, Hamburgers, even the foods that Wikipedia lists as being “Ranch-Suitable” don’t sound Ranch-Suitable, but we’d absolutely try it not that it’s been mentioned. Ranch is also a flavor for goddamn Doritos. It’s everywhere, it’s on your food, it’s in your veins, it’s haunting your dreams.
Ranch Dressing further emphasizes its American ways by being manufactured primarily (the Hidden Valley version, anyway) in two factories. One in Reno, Nevada and one in Wheeling, Illinois. That’s right, if you’re eating Ranch Dressing it’s been made in either a town that has legalized prostitution and gambling or a town that is so…uh..Wheeling-like that they call it Wheeling. So either way you’re getting some pretty good stuff.
There are even enterprising Americans who host Ranch Dressing chugging competitions! Goddamn it America, every time we think we run out of nice things to say about you, you go and do something like that. So remember, America- if you ever get tricked into eating something that once “grew in the Earth,” make sure you get the last laugh by dousing the ever-loving shit out of it in Ranch Dressing. Your HMO Provider thanks you.
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