Ranch dressing in a blue bowl
Ranch Dressing Was Actually Invented By A Cowboy On A Dude Ranch
In 1950, Steve Henson, a plumbing contractor in Alaska, mixed buttermilk, herbs, and mayonnaise to pep up the food he cooked for his crew, and in doing so, invented ranch dressing.
Retiring at 35, Henson purchased a California ranch, named it "Hidden Valley," and turned it into a dude ranch where his dressing grew in popularity as its reputation spread.
As demand soared, Henson developed dry mix packets to prepare at home. His innovation made his dressing available nationwide and set the stage for its place in American hearts.
Hidden Valley Ranch was acquired by Clorox in 1972 for $8 million, and bottled ranch dressing appeared in stores in 1983.
The launch of Cool Ranch Doritos in 1986 revolutionized the perception of ranch as not just a dressing but as a versatile seasoning, further increasing its popularity and application.
Because Henson only trademarked the term "Hidden Valley Ranch" and not "ranch dressing," other companies were able to use the term to describe their own similar products.