The golden age of dips was the mid 20th century, when casual dip-your-own service appeared to be a more democratic way of offering hors d’oeuvre than providing ready-made canapes. This was a time when many previously ordinary folks began toying with the idea of being gourmets, making it essential that pre-prandial snacks be more sophisticated than salted nuts or potato chips. Of course, potato chips were fine if they were accompanied by California Dip (sour cream and Lipton’s onion soup mix), all the better if they were presented in a chip & dip bowl uniquely suited for the occasion. To offer hot dip was to make hors d’oeuvre even more sophisticated, especially if the dip featured seafood, reminding its eaters of such upscale dishes as lobster Newburg or thermidor. Dips quickly lost their soigne cache, but they never went away, and they still are popular at parties, especially if the gathering happens to be focusing on a TV set. An experienced dip eater scarcely has to look away from the tube to grab a chip and dip it. It’s debatable if the guacamole that is ubiquitous in Mexican restaurants should be classified as a dip, but there’s no question about the presentation of tortilla chips and salsa. Ranch dressing has become a favorite dip for just about any fried munchie or crudite; and garlic aioli, if not used as a condiment, often is offered as a dip for freshly made potato chips. In and around Utah, chips and fries are offered with a dip known as fry sauce – basically a mix of ketchup and mayonnaise. By the way, in western Kentucky, dip means something else altogether: it is the flourless gravy that is used on smoke-cooked meat the way other regions use BBQ sauce.

Restaurants With This Dish

Ed Walker’s Drive In


Village Cafe


Shin Ramen


Stockman Bar


Musso & Frank


Thomason’s Barbecue



What do you think of Dips?

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