The National Chip and Dip Day survey: Is spinach really our favourite? Plus, the truth about double dipping

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For salty snack lovers, March 23 is a day you may not want to miss — it’s National Chip and Dip Day. There’s much to celebrate about this perfect pairing. Not only are the two snack items delicious when served together; chips and dip are also an easy-to-prepare appetizer, snack and even a meal when no one else is around. (It’s OK; we’ve all done it.)

In the early days, chips usually referred to potato chips, but these days chips can be made of tortillas, beans, corn, pita or any number of vegetables. Their partner in caloric crime — the dip — originally focused on a cream cheese or sour cream based recipe, but now dips can be everything from a cheese-, shrimp- or vegetable-based dip to a hummus, salsa, guacamole, tzatziki or chutney. And who can forget the now famous seven-, nine- and even 11-layer dip?

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So, what are people’s favourite dips in 2024? Well, the folks at casivo.ca decided to do a little research. Using Google trends, they looked at which “dip” searches popped up most often over the last 12 months in Canada and the United States. In Alberta, New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories, spinach was the dip most often searched.  B.C. registered the most searches for  “5 layer Mexican” dip, while Manitoba most often searched “queso” and Saskatchewan went for “buffalo chicken.” Ontario, along with Newfoundland/Labrador, registered the most searches for “crab”; Quebec went for “ranch”; Nova Scotia was looking for dip recipes with “cottage cheese”; and Prince Edward Island most often looked for bean dip recipes.

Some food experts believe the chip and dip duo began its rise to popularity in the 1950s when Lipton began advertising a recipe that encouraged people to combine its dehydrated onion soup mix with cream cheese or sour cream and serve it with potato chips. Since then, chips and dip have even taken their place in pop culture. In a 1993 Seinfeld episode, George is accused of double dipping at a funeral reception. (Hilarity ensues.) And in the drama Mad Men, one character exchanges a chip and dip serving set — received as a wedding gift — for a gun.

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Chip and dip companies, of course, love that this snack pairing now has a special day. Tostitos even went so far as to say it would give every person named Chip in the United States some free dip on March 23, a few years back.

Tostitos also did a survey about a decade ago to get to the bottom of double dipping. It found that almost half of men will double dip at a party, while only about a third of women will do the same. BTW, while the practice is unsanitary, the TV show MythBusters tested if bacteria is actually transferred during a double dip. It is, but the amount is negligible.

With culinary history showing that chips and dip have been a popular pairing for more than six decades I looked into the archives to see when those two words first began appearing together as “chip and dip.” The first reference in Calgary appears to have been published 68 years ago, in a 1956 recipe column that offers suggestions to amateur chefs. It was recommended that cream cheese could be mixed with liverwurst to create a spread for party guests and that a potato chip dip of sour cream and onion soup be served. The most surprising thing about this recipe? It was written in an advice column for men, at a time when 99 per cent of recipe advice was published for women. Another neat fact about this column: It was written by Bert Bacharach, a long-time syndicated newspaper columnist out of New York City, who was the father of Grammy-winning composer Burt Bacharach (Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, Close to You, etc. etc.) The two men’s first names were indeed spelled differently.

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Calgary Herald; Feb. 11, 1956.
Calgary Herald; Feb. 11, 1956.

The following December 1958 recipe column in the Calgary Herald discussed how dips were increasing in popularity at Calgary Christmas parties. The chef from the Palliser Hotel offered a few more exotic twists on home dips: a tangy Thousand Island type of dip; a green pepper and olive concoction; and, a clam dip, ham dip and shrimp dip.

Calgary Herald; Dec. 27, 1958.
Calgary Herald; Dec. 27, 1958.

This January 1959 Calgary Herald recipe showed dips getting even more exotic, with coconut being a suggested ingredient.

Calgary Herald; Jan. 2, 1959.
Calgary Herald; Jan. 2, 1959.

This 1959 Herald story marked the arrival of shrimp chips into Calgary, and offered a few new dip recipes, too.

Calgary Herald; Dec. 18, 1959.
Calgary Herald; Dec. 18, 1959.

As this culinary combo grew in popularity, the chip and dip bowl became a staple in many North American homes. For around $5, the bowls became a popular gift for showers and weddings. Every host and hostess of a party in the 1950s (and well into the 1970s) had a special chip and dip serving set they’d pull out when guests were coming over. A look at houseware ads from the Herald in the 1950s showed the sets sold anywhere from $4.99 to $8.59 in 1958 and 1959.

This 1958 ad for Simpsons-Sears shows an “Attractive Pyrex Chip ‘n Dip Set” being sold for $5.95; it’s right beside the ad for the now-nearly-obsolete carpet sweeper. The ad also shows that Simpsons-Sears was on the edge of the trend in extending shopping hours; the store was open until 9 pm on several days leading up to Christmas that year.

Calgary Herald; Dec. 16, 1958.
Calgary Herald; Dec. 16, 1958.

Another sample ad: The Bay had a chip and dip (and salad set) on sale for $4.99 on Nov. 26, 1958:

Calgary Herald; Nov. 26, 1958.
Calgary Herald; Nov. 26, 1958.

The cost of chips and dip themselves 65 or so years ago? Well, this Dec. 29, 1958 ad from Jenkins — Your Hometown Food Store — shows a twin pack of Old Dutch chips was selling for 79 cents and dip for 29 cents.

Calgary Herald; Dec. 29, 1958.
Calgary Herald; Dec. 29, 1958.

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