Green River Star -

By David Martin

Searching the origin of ranch dressing


It started innocently enough.

A bottle of Hidden Valley ranch dressing (yes, the brand name is important here) sat on the dinner table and immediately threw a spark into my curiosity.

“When was ranch dressing invented,” I asked myself.

I immediately consulted Google and find the dressing’s history to be much shorter than I would have imagined. In fact, there are people a lot older than the recipe is.

According to the Hidden Valley website, the dressing was developed in the 1950s by Steve and Gayle Henson. Steve experimented with a recipe while working in Alaska and when he and his wife became ranchers, operating the Hidden Valley Guest Ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif., they would serve the dressing to their guests. Popularity for the concoction grew, resulting in the Hensons selling packets of the herb mixture, which would be mixed with buttermilk and mayonnaise.

This nugget of information led to other questions, and before I knew it, I was falling down the rabbit hole of Google searches regarding the most trivial questions revolving around ranch dressing. I now know more about ranch dressing than I ever thought I’d care to know about the stuff. For example, certain ranch-flavored snacks sold in other countries are sold as having “American flavor.” Also, did you know the Clorox Company owns Hidden Valley? You do now.

Ranch dressing isn’t remotely near anything I like having on a salad. Many people swear by the cool creamy taste it gives. I swear at it. I used to like it, but in elementary school a friend told me how great it was to dip pizza into a cup of ranch. I tried it and the horrifying flavor clash that occurred on my young tastebuds was enough for me to swear off ranch dressing for the rest of my life. Yet, more than 20 years after that event, I read a small volume of information about ranch dressing on my phone.

One of my favorite books is the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. The book details the adventures of Arthur Dent and his friend Ford Prefect as the two travel around the galaxy after narrowly avoiding the destruction of Earth. The two utilize an electronic book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” for information about different alien species and worlds they encounter.

While space travel is still a long way off in terms of people being able to travel to planets within our solar system, we carry around devices that functions as our personal guides, serving us in similar ways the fictional book served Dent, Prefect and the reader. They function as our maps, messagers, cameras, music players, reference guides and phones. We have the largest collection of information ever available to anyone at any point in human history within arms reach most of the time. For a few glorious, wasted moments, I learned about a salad dressing I dislike.

What a wonderful time it is to be alive.


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