Get ready to Live Más with our Dantastic take on Taco Bell’s spicy ranch sauce! This is really close to that classic sauce we can’t get enough of but can’t find at the store. You’ll get all the creamy goodness of classic ranch with just a gentle kick of heat to round the experience out. If you wanna a little more heat, use Dan-O’s Spicy Seasoning instead of Original. You could even use Dan-O’s Chipotle Seasoning if you want it to be a little smoky. Serve this a dip for our famous buffalo chicken flatbread, or chicken nuggets for a dinner full of that Yum Yum Get Ya Sum!
Our story begins in 1949 with a man named Steve Henson. Henson was a plumbing contractor and had just relocated him and his wife to Anchorage, Alaska to work for 3 years in the remote Alaskan bush. The work was hard, and it could be isolating, so Henson was always trying to think of ways to keep his workers happy. One day, he came up with a new salad dressing to spice up their meals, and it was generally well received. Henson ended up having a very lucrative career, and was soon able to retire at the ripe old age of 35. Relocating to Santa Barbara County, California, Henson quickly grew restless in his early retirement. Looking for something to occupy his time, he purchased the Sweetwater Ranch in San Marcos Pass in 56, and renamed it Hidden Valley Ranch.
When creating the menu for the ranch’s kitchen, Henson decided to serve that salad dressing he’d made in Alaska. Once again, it was well received, and this eventually led Henson to make a batch for his friend, Audrey Ovington. Ovington was the owner of the Cold Spring Tavern, who loved it so much they asked Henson to make enough for them to use at their restaurant. Thus began Henson's commercial ranch dressing business. Alongside serving Cold Spring Tavern, Henson began to sell packets of his dressing for 75 cents via mail order. As more and more orders came in, he eventually devoted every room in his house to his growing operation,
By the mid-60s, the guest ranch had closed but Henson’s ranch dressing mail-order business was thriving. By the early 70s, Henson came to the realization that his operation had grown too big to keep running it at the ranch. Henson would incorporate Hidden Valley Ranch Food Products INC, and open a factory to manufacture ranch dressing in larger volumes. The actual ranch would continue to serve as Hidden Valley’s corporate headquarters as Henson worked to expand his dressing empire. At the start, Hidden Valley was only distributed to supermarkets in the American Southwest, but it quickly spread nationwide and by 1972, Henson’s Hidden Valley Ranch brand was bought by Clorox for $8 million. Which is about $57,770,706 in 2023. With the sale, Henson would slip into retirement once again.
With Clorox in control of the brand, they began to work reformulating Hidden Valley ranch to be more cost effective, and convenient for consumers. Among the changes was the introduction of buttermilk flavoring in the mix, which would soon be a trademark signature of the salad dressing. By 1983, Clorox had developed the infinitely popular non-refrigerated bottled formulation for consumers leading to another boom in sales. Another introduction in the 80s was Ranch dressing snack food items with the introduction of chips like Cool Ranch Doritos in '76, and Hidden Valley Ranch Wavy Lay’s in 1994.
To this day, 40% of Americans named Ranch as their favorite Salad dressing with its nearest competitor being Italian dressing at 10%. From salads to pizza, America can’t get enough of Henson’s legacy. So next time you toss your salad in some of that signature ranch dressing, remember the plumber turned cowboy who made it all possible.