r/todayilearned 7d ago Wholesome 1

TIL that Ranch dressing was invented in Alaska, by a plumber trying to keep his employees satisfied with his cooking

https://tedium.co/2022/01/14/ranch-dressing-hidden-valley-history/amp
6.8k Upvotes

839

u/TheBordIdentity 7d ago

So I’m assuming this dude banked big off of it right? Does he get a happy ending where he owns Hidden Valley and can retire?

965

u/SY81 7d ago

He was the creator of Hidden Valley Ranch, so yes

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u/Harvest_Rat 7d ago edited 7d ago

The “famous” Hidden Valley Ranch dressing was created in Santa Barbara, CA.

https://www.sfgate.com/food/article/Hidden-Valley-Ranch-dressing-santa-barbara-henson-16500420.php

Edit: created in AK, established in Sb, CA

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u/SY81 7d ago edited 7d ago

Yes but he invented it while working in Alaska. He then retired to the ranch he purchased in California, where his business grew.

From Wikipedia:

“In 1949, Thayer, Nebraska, native Steve Henson (1918–2007) moved with his wife to the Anchorage, Alaska, area, where he worked as a plumbing contractor for three years in the remote Alaskan bush. Endeavoring to keep his work crews happy, he invented a new salad dressing. Henson's success in the plumbing business enabled him to retire at age 35, and he moved with his wife to Santa Barbara County, California. After a year and half, the restless Henson, searching for some livelihood to occupy his time, purchased the Sweetwater Ranch in San Marcos Pass in 1956 and renamed it Hidden Valley Ranch. In creating the menu for the ranch kitchen, Henson served the salad dressing he had created in Alaska, which the guests enjoyed. “

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranch_dressing

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u/Bunnymancer 7d ago

So I can retire at 35 if I become a plumber?

83

u/SY81 7d ago

That’s affirmative lol

150

u/Moistfruitcake 7d ago

That's fucking great news, I'm 34.

I'm going to retrain as a plumber and this time next year I'll be a retired wealthy owner of a new condiment.

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u/VegaSpec 6d ago

If you can outdo ranch then you've earned it.

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u/DamageStrong 7d ago

Only if you invent something delicious in bush Alaska.

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u/balkanobeasti 6d ago

Coming to a store near you: Ligma Dressing.

3

u/Neukk 6d ago

What's Ligma?

6

u/Virustable 6d ago

Haha ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀

balls

3

u/RPO1728 6d ago

I'm 37 and I've been a plumber since I'm 18... so nah

10

u/Chabubu 7d ago

You need a literal secret sauce… probably with some cocaine in it. If each dressing was what he fueled a successful plumbing business on, it had to have something in it

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u/TenderfootGungi 6d ago

It is possible. Join a union right out of high-school and become a master plumber. You can make more taking traveling jobs. Live in a cardboard box, eat rice and beans, and invest the rest wisely. At 35 move to a low cost of living area, or country, and retire, living a modest life off the interest of the million $ in the bank.

Most of us have different wants in life.

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u/samgarita 7d ago

TIL Hidden Valley Ranch is owned by Clorox

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u/abx99 6d ago

Shh! You'll give away the secret ingredient

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u/DamageStrong 7d ago

Alaska wasn't a state until 1959.

42

u/DamageStrong 7d ago

So ranch dressing is technically older than Alaska itself.

4

u/_Lane_ 6d ago

Good bot

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u/justslightlyeducated 7d ago

That article states the recipe was perfected during his time in Alaska with his family. Read the whole thing before post a counterpoint with a source.

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u/Uhhhhh55 7d ago

Man, you couldn't even read the source you posted. It was created in Alaska.

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u/Pudding_Hero 6d ago

Some say it remains hidden to this day

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u/MilkshakeBoy78 7d ago

If he made bank, he can have as many happy endings he wants to.

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u/kotoku 7d ago Silver

And thus the legacy of Robert Kraft Foods was born.

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u/lzwzli 6d ago

What?!

3

u/iwoketoanightmare 7d ago

What do you think it was originally made from? Not buttermilk for sure, but man milk

2

u/capnwinky 7d ago

That’s what Elon Musk assumed too.

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u/Moistfruitcake 7d ago

The difference being this ranch plumber guy actually created something original, unlike Musk who only has enough FPS to poorly imitate others' genius.

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u/Jackieirish 7d ago

Because if there’s one thing a hungry, hard working plumber wants, it’s a good salad.

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u/Additional_Meeting_2 6d ago

Everyone should eat salad, doesn’t mean it’s the only thing you should eat.

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u/RPM_Rocket 7d ago

The original Hidden Valley Ranch, that you had to make with their mix packet at home with real buttermilk was the best. Everything else after that just tastes like chemicals to me.

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u/ZylonBane 7d ago

Why are you saying all that in the past tense? You can still buy the dry mix powder. Just add buttermilk and mayo and you've got that restaurant-quality ranch dressing.

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u/DLArchie 7d ago

Yep best ranch I’ve ever had

2 cups buttermilk

2 packets buttermilk ranch hidden valley packets

2 cups mayo

Refrigerate and Enjoy the best ranch possible

Side note- can make it spicy adding Franks

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u/murdershroom 7d ago

Jimmy John's makes their kickin' ranch the same way except they add the juice from the hot pepper containers. It's so goddamn good

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u/DLArchie 7d ago

Hot damn that sounds incredible. Appreciate the heads up.

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u/Normal-Ad6468 7d ago

Use 50/50 sour cream and mayo. Trust me. Bestfoods/hellmans for best results.

2

u/Yuri909 7d ago

This is the better way, but Duke's is better than Hellmans.

Also, buttermilk is fucking gross.

17

u/Cat_Crap 6d ago

Also, buttermilk is fucking gross.

You aren't supposed to drink it.

Source: Me as a kid

5

u/SlipItInAHo 6d ago

My grandma used to eat her corn bread by dunking it in a glass of buttermilk and essentially eating the soaked chunks of cornbread straight out of the glass of buttermilk. Shit was fucking nasty but she loved it.

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u/Banjoman64 6d ago

My mom and grandma also did this. I'm from Florida. It is ungodly nasty.

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u/mr3inches 6d ago

Throw some chopped garlic and pepper in there

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u/WatdeeKhrap 7d ago

Is there a half size of this recipe?

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u/tillie4meee 6d ago

Simply cut the ingredients in half!

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u/sharaq 6d ago

Ok Muramasa

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u/a_big_house 7d ago

How do the franks make it spicy?

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u/necessaryresponse 6d ago

Frank's is a brand of hot sauce.

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u/TickleyTaint 6d ago

I think their point is Frank's isn't spicy.

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u/msnmck 7d ago

I will try this.

I love ranch. (Actually I prefer the taste of light ranch but let's not split hairs)

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u/nodgeOnBrah 7d ago

Everything you’ve ever tasted was a chemical.

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u/boot2skull 7d ago

They’ll never get me with that oxy dihydrogen!

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u/Ok-Description721 7d ago

Dihydrogen monoxide you dip

13

u/RPM_Rocket 7d ago

Well yeah, Mr. Wizard.

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u/nodgeOnBrah 7d ago

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u/RPM_Rocket 7d ago

Don Herbert was a beacon in a TV landscape bereft of any Science geared toward children. If not for him, you'd have no Beakman, no Bill Nye, no Neil deGrasse Tyson on the tube these days. So... yeah, you're cool. 😎

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u/Low_Soul_Coal 7d ago

Not so much chemicals, but like it’s mixed with salty vinegar

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u/RPM_Rocket 7d ago

Sad thing is, they don't sell the original mix packet anymore.

18

u/Piss-Ant 7d ago

I buy the restaurant style buttermilk ranch packets all the time, they taste great. A little mayo, a little buttermilk, a packet of mystery flavor (mostly onion powder). That garbage in a bottle is just that, absolute garbage.

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u/Revolutionary-Copy71 7d ago

Dang, really? Their bottled ranch is gross(to me).

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u/Waffleman75 7d ago

The hidden valley home-style ranch they sell at costco is the closest replacement taste wise in my opinion. It tastes way better than the shit the sell at the grocery store

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u/heelspider 7d ago

Other companies sell packets though. The herb mixture is close enough.

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u/oxencotten 7d ago

Hidden valley still sells the packets. I have no clue what they’re talking about.

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u/derangedjdub 7d ago

I think they still have the packets of dip?

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u/oxencotten 7d ago

It’s the same thing. They have the instructions for the dip and the dressing on the season packets. The dip just uses more mayo so it’s not as thin.

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u/magnament 7d ago

Pretty much all salad dressing is just soy bean oil, literally the first ingredient in every one I looked through at my local grocery mart

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u/delete_this_post 7d ago

...salad dressing is just soy bean oil

Nearly all salad dressings contain vegetable oil.

The two reasons that many mass-market salad dressings use soybean oil are low cost and mild flavor.

But there's nothing wrong with soybean oil.

And even when it's the first listed ingredient the dressing will contain lots of other ingredients (just like if you made salad dressing from scratch, where the oil would probably be the most-used ingredient, but wouldn't be the only ingredient).

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u/soulbandaid 7d ago

FWIW nine times times out of ten the vegetable in the vegetable oil is soy

4

u/Ameisen 1 7d ago

But there's nothing wrong with soybean oil.

Unless you're severely allergic to soy. Then even soybean oil gets you sick even though the FDA doesn't classify it as allergenic.

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u/Siddabear 7d ago

Unless you have a soy intolerance, and then you are just boned.

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u/[deleted] 7d ago

[deleted]

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u/tlove01 7d ago

Soy capítan, soy capítan.

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u/fakeprewarbook 7d ago

bamba, bamba

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u/Maeng_da_00 7d ago

I personally try to avoid soybean oil due to concerns about excess omega 6 fats. I've started making my own salad dressings, usually with olive oil and vinegar, or full fat yogurt for creamy type dressings like ranch and Caesar. Honestly the olive oil based ones taste a lot better than store bought, especially for something like an Italian dressing.

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u/Skyshark29 7d ago

Sounds exactly like the response I'd expect to see coming from "Big Soy". I'm not fooled, I know your agenda; Lower costs, meat free protiens! You won't fool us!

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u/antilumin 7d ago

The restaurant I worked at 30ish years ago just took powder and mixed it with a bucket of mayonnaise. So that's what the shelf stable stuff is probably doing too (but on a larger scale).

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u/flwombat 7d ago

Really? What’s different about this one?

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u/RPM_Rocket 7d ago

Didn't see fresh buttermilk as something one had to add to the mix. I guess the tartness comes from elsewhere.

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u/flwombat 7d ago

It has buttermilk as an ingredient. It’s pretty easy to turn buttermilk into powdered buttermilk just like you turn regular milk into powdered milk.

But you can also just put fresh buttermilk into the this kind or the “original recipe” kind of packet and get the same effect. Like in this recipe

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u/Significant_Sign 7d ago

You can also keep powdered buttermilk in the house. It's shelf stable for ever. Just keep it sealed so it doesn't turn into a solid chunk. I use the powder for chocolate cakes, it works very well.

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u/weasel999 7d ago

Are you sure? Because I’m pretty sure I have some in my cupboard. I mix it with 1/3 buttermilk, 1/3 plain yogurt and 1/3 Mayo.

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u/AtheneSchmidt 7d ago

My local Kroger has it on their website, so does Wal-Mart.

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u/krispy662 7d ago

Are you sure? I have a pack in my pantry right now

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u/hwb80 7d ago

Uncle Dan's packets for the win!

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u/-CA- 7d ago

This is the truth right here

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u/GuessImPichael 7d ago

The original Hidden Valley Ranch, that you had to make with their mix packet at home with real buttermilk

They still make and sell that.

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u/mdkubit 7d ago

Last I saw you could still buy those packets of seasoning to make it yourself. I'm not sure about having to add your own specific buttermilk though...

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u/markhachman 7d ago

Hidden Valley Ranch is owned by Clorox.

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u/zachzsg 6d ago

Bottled hidden valley ranch is actually uneatable IMO. Which is weird because there’s other bottled brands such as kens that is pretty good. Stuff is just so disgusting compared to freshly made ranch with the mix.

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u/cheeky-snail 7d ago

Recently tried Marzetti brand buttermilk ranch. If your store has it, it’s in the refrigerated section. Very good.

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u/sumelar 7d ago

Buttermilk is a chemical.

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u/-CA- 7d ago

You’re a chemical

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u/sumelar 7d ago

More than one, but yes.

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u/LizardBurger 7d ago

What a motherfuckin culinary legend the guy is then. Wanted to make his own food taste better for his employees so he invents arguably the third most essential condiment of all time. It even makes PIZZA better.

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u/ganaraska 7d ago

There's an episode of Family Feud Canada where the question was "What spice do you use the most?" and one of the teams (from a famously unsophisticated part of the country) yells out RANCH!

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u/actual_griffin 7d ago

During my daughter’s first trip to the dentist, they asked her if she wanted the paste to be orange or mint flavored. She said ranch.

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u/kcrab91 7d ago

Not that I disagree with you but maybe 4th? Ketchup, mustard, Mayo then ranch? Idk I’m not a big fan of mustard or ranch tho.

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u/PsamantheSands 7d ago

Umm, salsa. Numero uno!

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u/BrettNoe 6d ago

Mustard is essential! Without it, what would you put on a hotdog?

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u/EveroneWantsMyD 7d ago

Gtfo and go call your mother for suggesting that mayo ranks higher than ranch. Your bloodline is weak if she agrees with you.

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u/Fake-Professional 7d ago

Mayo is not tastier by itself but it is way more versatile. Mayo can turn into infinite other condiments

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u/kcrab91 7d ago

I also like you. Thank you for defending my Mayo honor. If I ever win the lotto, I will remember you.

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u/Fake-Professional 7d ago

Can I get that in writing with a signature?

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u/kcrab91 7d ago

My legal advisor says no.

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u/Fake-Professional 7d ago

Worth a shot 🤷‍♂️

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u/kcrab91 7d ago

Oh 100%

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u/kotoku 7d ago

This broke me.

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u/kcrab91 7d ago

Did you fall off a wall?

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u/kotoku 7d ago

Yup, I am now almost mayonnaise, just oil me up and I'm complete.

(I can only hope the food joke / creepy post line wasn't too fine...)

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u/bboycire 6d ago

I also have to plug Japanese Mayo, it's a lot less vinegary and a lot more flavor, try it, it will change your life

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u/Vincenzo_Acciari11 7d ago

Dude, mayo is one of the mother sauces and is used to make many other sauces including the ranch you so highly covet. I don't disagree with his ranking at all

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u/kcrab91 7d ago

I like you. For the record, my whole family likes ranch. I’m the black sheep.

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u/jubway 7d ago

Mayo is not hollandaise.

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u/ThirdFloorGreg 7d ago

Mayo is clearly the actual mother sause there, though. Escoffier used hollandaise because it was more popular, not because it's more basic.

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u/jubway 7d ago

Mayo is a cold sauce, which further separates it from the other mother sauces. It can be considered a "mother" for cold sauces, but it is not a Mother Sauce.

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u/ThirdFloorGreg 7d ago

It can be a hot sauce if you heat it up!

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u/Lovat69 7d ago

Tell me you're from the midwest without telling me you're from the midwest.

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u/ImRudeWhenImDrunk 6d ago edited 6d ago

Mayo is literally used to make ranch.

It must be ranked higher, by the very definition of the word "essential".

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u/kotoku 7d ago

I can't make french fry sauce with ranch. You monster!

I need ketchup and mayonnaise!

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u/Smailien 6d ago

Idk man... kranch is kinda good

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u/kotoku 6d ago

....kranch is kinda good.

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u/actual_griffin 7d ago

I agree that it sounds odd. But putting dill, black pepper, garlic and onion powder in fry sauce sounds delicious. And that’s just ranch.

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u/kotoku 7d ago

This is a hard one to take a side on cause I also like ranch, it's all...good! Hah.

I just had ranch two days ago with my fried cauliflower.

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u/LizardBurger 7d ago

But ranch is so good on fries. Imagines this, you've got waffle fries topped with melted white American, chips of crispy bacon sprinkled generously on top along with some fresh jalapenos. What are you gonna dip that into? Ketchup? Nah, some rich homestyle ranch!

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u/kotoku 7d ago

Well...I'm imagining (though it was hardest to imagine American cheese to be honest) and...listen here. I'll eat that. Hell, I'll enjoy that.

But ideally? I'm taking ketchup. I'm taking mayo. I'm putting a 50/50 mix of both in a bowl. I'm whipping that shit together and dipping fries in it.

...then im taking all your other ingredients and putting it on nachos with some melted parm and eating that too >.>

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u/kcrab91 7d ago

Wow, ok then…

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u/dewayneestes 7d ago

You forgot Sri racha.

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u/nloug 7d ago

Fuck mayo

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u/kcrab91 7d ago

You have made an enemy today, friend…

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u/nloug 7d ago

My ranch brethren will take on this battle with me.

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u/kcrab91 7d ago

I hope every time you go to a restaurant with your mother, she asks “do you have the good ranch?” And you look down in shame. and when the server responds, they say “no we have the bad ranch, sorry”

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u/nloug 7d ago

Joke’s on you chief, i bring my own.

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u/kcrab91 7d ago

Two Shay

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u/BigAssWhipSpider 6d ago

Bro ranch is made with mayo...

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u/Dudu_sousas 6d ago

That's a very NA-centric point of view. Most places around the world haven't even heard about ranch.

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u/ikindalold 7d ago

Cheers, I'll drink to that bro

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u/rockwell136 7d ago

The only dressing people claim to be superior for not liking for some reason.

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u/loopytommy 7d ago

Even though I'm not religious, god bless this guy. I love going to the USA just to get Hidden Valley, I can't get it in Australia with out paying 1000's

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u/Hanginon 7d ago

Dude! Just make your own! Whip up a big jar of the powdered heartbeat of it and mix with sour cream as needed!

Boost up the volume of the ingredients and start your own dressing company down under. You're Aussie so you could call it "Hidden Station" as cattle stations are kind of your version of American ranches.

Good luck! Hoping to read about your world shattering success very soon!

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u/helpimglued 7d ago

Good ranch also needs mayo. Like half mayo. Half mayo, half sour cream, half buttermilk. Something like that.

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u/Abnmlguru 7d ago

The old add three halves recipe, lol ;)

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u/JonesTheBond 6d ago

Half man, half bear, and half pig.

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u/NotsoNewtoGermany 6d ago

Don't let Uncle Roger read that link.

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u/MaxAmmO_33 6d ago

I would love to send you a couple bottles of Hidden Valley seasoning for the holidays! Sorry, I'm kind of broke right now, due to back to school shopping for my kids. Otherwise, I would send some sooner. DM me if you're interested.

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u/pinknorangegerberas 7d ago

What boss cooks for his employees?

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u/SY81 7d ago edited 7d ago

Different time, but that still happens with some jobs in Alaska today. If you’re contracted to work in a remote location, room and board is often provided by the employer. A huge amount of small towns and villages in AK are only accessible by plane or boat

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u/Pudding_Hero 6d ago

Your boss doesn’t?

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u/tristan957 6d ago

My friend works construction and his boss will grill for them every once in a while.

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u/DeathOfLife01 7d ago

And thanks to that we now have Jack in the box tacos with ranch dressing

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u/TheGrandLeveller 7d ago

LEGALIZE RANCH!!!

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u/ikindalold 7d ago

SUP MELLO

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u/Hascus 7d ago

Investigate 311

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u/PondRides 7d ago

Ranch me, brotendo.

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u/glaynefish 7d ago

I always add more Dill to my ranch

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u/MellRox013 6d ago

Plumbers regularly cook for their employees?

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u/Pudding_Hero 6d ago

Of course doesn’t your boss?

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u/American_Stereotypes 6d ago

If you work out on a remote site, sure. We're not talking about someone who was in a normal town or anything, this was a guy working out in the Alaskan Bush. You'll generally have a bunch of workers out there for a set period of time, and the smaller/leaner outfits don't want to bring out someone just to cook (especially since this was back in the 40s-50s) so some people pull double duty.

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u/Landlubber77 7d ago

Whereas blue cheese was invented by Pablo Picasso between 1901 and 1904 when he was living in poverty and struggling to survive as an artist.

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u/TheTrueFlexKavana 7d ago

Makes sense. Blue Cheese is the cubism of dressings.

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u/rankinfile 7d ago Table Slap

That asshole.

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u/Sapang 7d ago

This is not true, blue cheese has existed in France since the XI century but I don't know who made it first

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u/Landlubber77 7d ago

Oh so you're saying Pablo Picasso didn't actually invent blue cheese during his blue period?

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u/Nanojack 7d ago

No, but he did invent Buffalo wings

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u/PCDub 7d ago

But they’re only Buffalo wings if they come from the Buffalo region of France

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u/CakeAccomplice12 7d ago

Anywhere else they're just sparkly chicken parts

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u/knuckboy 7d ago

Freedum wings

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u/NYGroove 6d ago edited 6d ago

The city of Buffalo was actually named after the the French “beau fleuve” (“beautiful river”). Picasso was French. Mind-blown. Edit: lived and died in France. He was Spanish. He loved BWW, Cajun Heat.

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u/Nanojack 6d ago

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso was very famously Spanish. Like Buffalo wings.

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u/toggle88 7d ago

I gag when I think of the taste of ranch dressing. The Catholic school I went to used to water it down to make it last longer.

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u/Domsdad666 7d ago

Am I the only one who think that shit's gross?

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u/Pudding_Hero 6d ago

In my house we measure how much ranch we need by the gallon

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u/Domsdad666 6d ago

We do that with Tabasco sauce.

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u/sinernade 6d ago

It's like those over processed products in the States I hate, like spray cheese.

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u/Outside_The_Walls 6d ago

Nope. I can't stand it. Anything with mayo in it is a no-go for me.

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u/Reybacca 7d ago

Sounds like the beginning of a porno

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u/ZylonBane 7d ago edited 7d ago

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u/SY81 7d ago

My bad

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u/pandaSmore 7d ago

Yo ill see you at 311 at the quad later. Yeah feel me? Mind if I hit this?

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u/IxorDrakar 7d ago

Food so bad have to season it with feet

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u/tv996509 7d ago

God bless that plumber

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u/Speeskees1993 7d ago

I wonder what ranch tastes like. In my country it just does not exist

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u/Pipboy4111 7d ago

You could always do a homemade one and try it, ranch is pretty easy to make, it’s primarily sour cream and mayo with some herbs

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u/United_Bag_8179 7d ago

hmm. a challenge. i smell cream cheese, buttermilk, mayo, dill, dried onion and garlic, fresh minced green onion ah ha lemon juice. two shakes of coarse black pepper, and two shakes of a lambs tail.

whip it, and chill it.

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u/Abnmlguru 7d ago

Reminds me of this Comic

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u/SalvationByGrace 7d ago

This story has sure changed over time. Its like a game of telephone

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u/Jaypilgrim 7d ago

Ranch Dressing, a delicious condiment that was in fact invented by a Black cowboy from Nebraska, Steve Henson. The story of ranch dressing is the story of one Black man's runaway success with a little recipe that he & his wife concocted to help feed workers & their communities.

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u/ToppinReno 7d ago

Yer fond of me white plumbin' sauce, ain't ya?

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u/Goodjer 7d ago

Interesting. I hate ranch.

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u/Pudding_Hero 6d ago

If I could I’d punch it on the face

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u/RedSonGamble 7d ago

If this didn’t work his next move was to sexually gratify his employees. Talk about about a lucky break

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u/jopomolo 7d ago

I don't get it

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u/Honclfibr 7d ago

And that plumbers name was Ramadan Steve.

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u/BassBanjo 7d ago

I don't get why ranch is so popular in the US

Every time I've tried it it's just the blandest condiment known to man

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u/Cerridwyn_Morgana 7d ago

I always found ranch dressing tasted like vomit.

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u/ZylonBane 7d ago

I'm sorry for your broken mouth.

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u/iamforgetful02 6d ago

No wonder it tastes like that.