When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip. But is it Blue Cheese or Ranch?
Is it politically incorrect of me to think that if you are the type of person who does not dip your Buffalo Chicken Wings, there is a good chance you used to start small fires as a child? I joke, but seriously, what kind of psycho doesn’t dip their wings. If that seems harsh, allow me to apologize to all you non-dippers reading this. I am just deflecting my embarrassment. While researching regional “Big Game” appetizers, I stumbled upon a basic food fact that shocked my world, I’m talking Bruce Willis finding out he is dead at the end of The Sixth Sense type of astonishment. Blue cheese dressing IS NOT the most served condiment with chicken wings—Ranch dressing is.
I am someone who prides myself with staying up-to-date on trends. Over the past decade I have planked, flossed and Tik Tok’d. I have even let my nephew DJ his favorite YouTube influencers on a family road trip (brutal). Pop culture is my thing so finding out that I have been out of touch with a pretty well-known reality is hard to accept. It is obvious I have been living in a blue cheese bubble all my life and I chalk it up to my years living in Western New York from 1982 to 1985.
BUFFALO WINGS & BLUE CHEESE ORIGIN
Buffalo Wings were invented in 1964 when Teressa Bellissimo, the owner of the Anchor Bar, whipped up a late-night snack for her son and his friends; deep-fried wings tossed with cayenne sauce. She served them with celery, carrot sticks and a bowl of homemade blue cheese salad dressing. The wings were a hit and were added to the menu. Other neighborhood bars like Duff's added them to their culinary arsenal and by the time I moved to Buffalo in 1982, wings and blue cheese were ubiquitous. During the four years that I lived in Western New York, there were a few things you could count on every year. I was going to walk to school in a foot of lake-effect snow, the Bills were going to be a disappointment and wings were always accompanied with a thick, chunky blue cheese dressing.
Despite the growth in local popularity, wings were still just a regional food, but poised for a nationwide explosion. Coincidentally, the same year I moved to the area, Buffalo Wild Wings opened their first restaurant in Columbus Ohio and a year later, six friends opened the first ever Hooters chain restaurant in Florida. And like that, Buffalo Wings with blue cheese was no longer just a foodigenous.
THE RANCH REVOLUTION
It wasn’t until 1986 that Ranch Dressing came into prominence. Around the same time Dr. Huxtable was busy fooling America into thinking that he was a great guy, Dorito’s introduced their Cool Ranch flavor to the world. Believe it or not, Hidden Valley Ranch was an actual ranch. It was there that Steve and Gayle Hensen invented their DIY salad dressing of dried herbs and seasoning. They gave away packets of the mix as parting gifts to guests visiting their California dude ranch. For decades, the dehydrated ingredients continued to be sold via mail-order to be mixed with buttermilk and mayonnaise. Premade bottles of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing only became available shortly before the Doritos craze of the 80s. It didn’t take long to resonate with the public. According to the consumer data company Statista, by 1992 Ranch had become the country’s preferred salad dressing.
Popularity of ranch as a wing accoutrement skyrocketed when the pizza chain Dominos added wings to their menu. They provided ranch as the default dip encouraging customers to dunk their wings, as well as their slices. That same year the first Wing Stop opened, pairing their own addictive version of the dressing. As demand for wings continued to grow, blue cheese slowly got the squeeze. According to the National Chicken Council, ranch dip will be consumed by nearly 2 to 1 over blue cheese this football weekend. Now this ratio may change next year if the Buffalo Bills make it to the big game, as Buffalonians still prefer their bird appendages dipped in chunky blue cheese. #AnchorBar #Duffs
Call me old fashioned cause I still intend on being knuckle deep in blue cheese this weekend, but what about you? What will you be dipping your wings into?