Call me old fashioned, but I vastly prefer to make my own salad dressing over using something from a bottle. I was raised on my parents’ classic balsamic vinaigrette, and it’s still my go-to; it takes 30 seconds to make, and it keeps the salad light, unlike other popular dressings like ranch or blue cheese, which can weigh down the salad and keep you from tasting the vegetables beneath. But as usual, my opinion doesn’t matter, because according to new data shared with The Takeout by Kraft, these heavier, creamier dressings are exactly what most of America prefers.
Unsurprisingly, Ranch dressing reigned supreme in the rankings, dominating 13 states primarily in the South and Midwest regions (where local palates demand the stuff with seemingly every meal). Ranch dressing on a salad is not something I personally abide. I understand it as a dip for vegetables, but it’s so rich that dumping it over a bed of lettuce is just too much. Even Ranch-flavored ice cream makes more sense to me.
Surprisingly, though, Ranch didn’t run away with a clear victory. In fact, it actually tied with Catalina, which was the most popular Kraft bottled dressing in the Northeast and a chunk of the Midwest. If you, like me, are wondering what the hell this Catalina is (I’ve legit never heard of it), it’s a cousin of the more widely known French dressing, but it’s thinner and contains what is essentially ketchup. “Try this dressing on salads and sandwiches or as a dipping sauce or marinade for chicken and veggies,” Kraft suggests. “Catalina taco salad is a great dinner option, or try making pasta salad with Catalina dressing for a refreshing side dish.”
Thousand Island dressing and Zesty Italian dressing were other popular choices, with Thousand Island dominating the Northwest and Zesty Italian taking a more scattered array of states. Understandably, Zesty Italian was the most popular dressing in Louisiana, the zestiest state in the union. Raspberry Vinaigrette took the title in Arizona and Texas. Maybe raspberries are considered more exotic in those arid desert climates?
This map has two strange outliers, though. South Dakota is torn between two options for its most popular dressing—and neither of these favorites are found anywhere else on the map. Apparently, South Dakotans just can’t decide between Coleslaw dressing and Creamy Poppyseed dressing. They must be eating a lot of slaw up there, because it doesn’t sound like the former dressing is good for much else: “Top all your favorite summer slaw recipes with this creamy dressing,” Kraft says, “or use it for great dishes like broccoli slaw.” Creamy Poppyseed, on the other hand, is a more versatile product that, in addition to salads, can be used as “a decadent dipping sauce or chicken marinade.”
The other outlier involves a guilty pleasure of mine: blue cheese dressing. While I think it’s overkill to put this dressing on a salad, I love it as a dip. Despite its pretty mainstream popularity, though, it only ranked number one in one state: Iowa. What the hell? Are people not eating enough chicken wings or something? Or are they dipping those in Ranch now, too?