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Picture of Steve and Gayle Henson

Steve Henson (1918-2007) created ranch dressing to compliment the dishes he was serving to his work crews while working as a plumber in Alaska. Upon retirement, Henson and his wife Gayle bought the large 120-acre Sweet Water Ranch in Santa Barbara, California, in 1954. They soon changed the name to Hidden Valley Ranch. Henson brought his recipe, now called “ranch dressing,” to California.

He would serve the tangy blend for guests visiting his ranch. They loved it and often requested bottles to take home. He introduced the recipe to some local businesses near his farm, and it literally flew off the shelves. Soon, Henson sent packets of the dressing around the country, launching a thriving mail-order business. Thus, Hidden Valley Ranch dressing was born! The original seasoning packet required customers to add buttermilk and mayonnaise. 

In a way, it’s amazing that ranch dressing even took off in the first place. Steve Henson’s mail-order seasoning packet business required customers to have buttermilk and mayonnaise in the fridge ready to go. The popularity of ranch dressing has continued to rise over the years! In 1972 Henson sold the business to Clorox for 8 million dollars. Clorox expanded the recipe into several new flavors. The dressing is used in many ways, from fast food to fine dining. Henson died in 2007 in Reno, Nevada. He was 89.

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