California Bear

The California Connection to a Favorite Salad Dressing

It’s a favorite dip for chicken wings, carrots, broccoli, fries … and of course on top of your choice of leafy greens. Invented in the ’50s, ranch dressing is considered the most popular by consumers, according to a 2017 study by the Association for Dressings and Sauces, an industry group. But did you know that it all started here in the Golden State?

According to the New York Times, the dressing was first created by Gayle and Steve Henson, who moved to California in 1954 and bought a “ramshackle property” called Sweetwater Ranch, in the San Marcos Pass above Santa Barbara. The name they gave their new property might ring more of a bell: Hidden Ranch.

When they welcomed guests to the ranch, the dressing became quite a hit, often being carried home by visitors in mayonnaise jars.

“In the late 1950s the Hensons began packaging the dry ingredients in an envelope that could be presented or mailed to customers, who would add their own buttermilk and mayonnaise at home—much like a boxed cake mix, which was introduced to the mass market by Pillsbury in 1948.”

The product was a runaway success. “The dressing pretty much took over the ranch,” said Mr. Henson, who spent hours as a child filling seasoning packets.

You can read more about the incredible rise of ranch here.

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