116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
If you love putting ranch dressing on some of your food, you’re not alone.
Hidden Valley Ranch dressing is one of the absolute most popular condiments in Iowa, according to a 2019 report from the Des Moines Register.
But where did this delicious topping come from, anyway?
The popular condiment was invented in 1949 by Kenneth Henson, a plumber from Nebraska. He came up with the idea while he was working as a plumber in faraway Alaska, where he had to help cook for his fellow workers, according to the Omaha World Herald.
A few years later, Henson and his wife Gayle started operating a ranch near Santa Barbara, California, and called it Hidden Valley. There, they served the condiment Henson had invented in Alaska — and it was a huge hit.
Soon, he and his wife started selling packets of Hidden Valley Ranch. The mix included salt, pepper, dried garlic, dried parsley, dried onions and other preservatives. Customers would simply add their own buttermilk to make the dressing.
Before long, Hidden Valley turned from a dude ranch into a salad dressing center to keep up with orders. In 1973, Henson sold his dressing recipe to Clorox, the company that also makes cleaning supplies.
Clorox decided to make it even easier to make ranch dressing. They started adding buttermilk flavoring to the dry mix so that customers could use regular milk to make their ranch dressing instead of buttermilk.
It wasn’t until 1983 that people could buy a premixed bottle of ranch at the grocery store. In 1992, it became the most popular dressing in America.
Iowans drizzle ranch on lots of foods. Here are just a few of the delicious things to eat with ranch — try a few!
- Cheese curds
- Jalapeno peppers
- Vegetables like carrots and broccoli
- French fries and roasted potatoes
- Chicken wings, nuggets or tenders
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