Elena Alvarez

Students Grant Clampitt and Kate Holstrum share a heart-shaped pizza for Valentine’s Day at The Airliner Bar-Iowa City on Thursday. Every year The Airliner serves their famous pizza in the shape of a heart for the holiday.

Point/Counterpoint: Does ranch belong on pizza?

Two DI editors write on whether the quintessential Midwestern condiment compliments or detracts from pizza.

August 28, 2019

Ranch absolutely improves pizza

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who put ranch on their pizza, and those who are wrong.

Let’s take it back to the 1950s where we meet a young Steve Henson, and his wife, Gayle at their Sweetwater Ranch in California. Later naming the ranch Hidden Valley — one of the most popular ranch brands — their famous homemade dressing mix soon became a delightful treat for all to share. Ranch has a meaningful history — and it continues to prove it to everyone.

Before I tell you why I believe ranch, the beautiful, creamy, and delicious salad dressing, deserves to be in a place of honor ­— my slice of pepperoni pizza — I’d like everyone to understand where I’m coming from.

For the last two years, I have worked at a pizza restaurant as a waitress. I’ve seen pizzas with sardines, pineapples, barbeque sauce, and the list goes on. Where the game changes is in adding a dip of a buttermilk-y, everything topping to your ‘za for the ultimate flavor. To those guests that I would wait on and ordered ranch with a side of a large pizza — yeah, you’re all right with me.

The best thing about ranch is its versatility. Talk about a great topping on pizza — it can also be used for a sauce to dip your fries in. Or if you’re feeling like a carrot, that too.

There really is only one way to eat pizza, and it is most definitely with a good ol’ side of ranch.

Not all pizza needs ranch

Let’s make one thing clear: I love pizza. I eat pizza multiple times a week. I’ve worked in pizza kitchens for years. When I decided to go vegan last year, I let myself consume a single animal product: cheese — when it’s on pizza.

Another thing to clarify is that ranch — that quintessentially Midwestern condiment — is not always wrong to have on pizza. There are some less conventional toppings and combinations that are supremely complimented by the thick, buttermilk dressing, such as chicken and bacon or spicy buffalo sauce. 

What I don’t understand is the need to dunk every slice of pie in the stuff.

The standard cheese pizza, with a regular crust and traditional tomato sauce, doesn’t need the help. The extra dairy is unneeded in the face of such simple, balanced perfection. The same thing could be said about other basic one-toppings or veggie-based recipes.

Again, if you really need to add that über-creamy sauce to your pizza, this is America, you’re free to do what you want (especially with food). But just because it’s physically possible, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Instead of simply dumping ranch on absolutely everything (something the internet tells me every Midwesterner does), we should show restraint as to which dishes we add the sauce. Perhaps that a mark against my Midwesternness, but I’d rather have a good pizza than one unnecessarily ruined by being slathered in ranch.

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