Think of a condiment. What’s the first one that comes to mind? It’s probably ketchup, the versatile, tomato-based sauce that’s at home on hot dogs, French fries, and all manner of tasty food items. But in a surprising sign of the times, it looks like ranch is somehow poised to catapult itself to the forefront of our collective condiment imagination.
That’s because Hidden Valley Ranch’s parent company Clorox Co. (good luck not thinking of bleach every time you eat ranch now) asserts that ranch is no longer just a dressing, but a full-fledged condiment supplanting other options. Specifically, Clorox claims that a whopping 70 percent of ranch use takes place somewhere outside of a salad bowl. Ranch is now replacing bleu cheese as a partner for buffalo wings, pushing ketchup off of plates of french fries, and finding a role as a dipping sauce for odder eats like popcorn and even pizza(!).
“Ranch is a rising iconic flavor in food and culture today,” claims Jacquie Klein, who heads up the brand studio in charge of Hidden Valley’s marketing efforts. “It’s found on more than half of restaurant menus and in 75 percent of homes in the U.S. It’s really embedded in our culture.”
Watch: How to Make King Ranch Casserole
It feels like the primary purveyor of ranch dressing is taking a victory lap, but data backs up Klein’s point. Analytics group IRI notes that ketchup is about an $833 million industry. But data from Bernstein research shows that Ranch as a category is much closer to the $1 billion mark. Just about $550 million of that belongs to Hidden Valley by itself.
Even anecdotally it feels like ranch has taken over the culture. Look no further than the existence of a ranch-centric cookbook and ranch kegs for proof. I don’t see anyone stanning ketchup like that. Hell, even Heinz has tried to trick people into buying more ketchup by fusing it with ranch.
So are millennials (and Gen Z’ers) killing ketchup? Based on that revenue figure, it’s far from dead. But perhaps at some point in the distant future, we’ll remember 2019 as the year that ranch usurped ketchup’s crown to become king of the condiments.