Junk food confessions: Why dip is the perfect food

Jun 8, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. ET
Image: Nata_vkusidey/Getty Images

I'm a chef, cookbook author and mom of two. I should be eating well all the time. I don't.

Dips are the perfect food when you want to put the absolute minimal amount of work into eating. There are few to no dishes. No utensils. You can eat it lying flat on your back on the couch with little risk of choking, which I’m guessing is at least subconsciously encouraged, as a container of dip can be perfectly bolstered in this position by my boobs. You can serve it at a party with a platter of vegetables to make people think you have your life together, then completely bypass those and eat the dip with ruffled potato chips in its stead.

You can legitimately purchase dip in the adult sense only if you’re entertaining. Any purchase outside of that, you’re looking to have a good time. Once you crack it open, things are going to get real — and fast. You know that 30 minutes later you’ll be looking at an almost empty container, horrified at what you’ve done. But the truth is, you knew exactly what you were getting into. Otherwise you would have bought something sensible, like Swiss chard.

I’ve done some intense research and complied a list of the top three — and bottom three — types of dip. Points were deducted for healthiness.

Top 3 dips

Spinach-artichoke dip

Why would anyone take two incredibly healthy vegetables and mix them with cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise and cheese? Because they’re a goddamn dip savant, that’s why. I don’t even understand how that person didn’t drop dead from deliciousness the minute they first tasted it. So additional kudos to you, Ms. Spinach-Artichoke Lady, for being strong enough to live another day and writing this recipe down for humanity.

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You can spend a week cooking from scratch for a party. You can cure your own ham, mill flour for homemade bread and forage for mushrooms in a forest filled with murderous bears. The one dish on the menu that all your guests will go the most batcrap crazy for will be a hunk of Velveeta and a can of chili that you threw into a slow cooker right before you showered. Next time you’ll learn to only prepare several gallons of it. You’ll still be able impress your friends with the amount of effort you’ve put in, since the bears ripped your arms off and ate them. That’ll teach you to try.

Onion dip

Onion dip may not be flashy, but it’s reliable. It was at your 5th birthday party and at your best friend's bat mitzvah. Your boyfriend’s mom put out a bowl of it before prom. It was always in stock at the campus convenience store, sustenance for all those all-nighters when you were poring over textbooks or were really, really baked. It’s still there now, on a shelf at Walgreens, right next to the potato chips, ready for you when you don’t get the job, don’t get the girl, don’t have much money to treat yourself good. Onion dip will make you feel like a movie star for $3 a jar. Who cares if that movie star is Tara Reid? Take what you can get.

3 worst dips


Know what the suggested serving size is for hummus? Two freaking tablespoons. What sort of crap is that? It’s like when you started snacking on nuts because you read they’re a healthy alternative to an entire sleeve of Oreos and then found out, after you gained 3 pounds, that a portion is eight walnuts. Screw you, Dr. Oz.

I’m smart enough to know that a tub of nacho cheese is bad for me and to not even bother looking at the serving size, because I don’t need to be reminded of whatever sadness I’m subconsciously harboring that’s forcing me to eat it. But hummus? Hummus? You were supposed to be healthy! You were supposed to make me feel good about myself! And you were lying to me! Or at least preying on my laziness!

I still eat the crap out of it, though, because it’s delicious. It still ends up on the bad side of the list for the lies.

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Not a dip. It’s a poorly made sauce that doesn’t stick to chips and drips all over your pants. The Spanish word "salsa" literally translates to "sauce" in English, but for some reason we refuse to understand this. This one is really our fault, but it’s in the bottom three because it’s exploiting our idiocy.

Mango salsa

This is fruit salad with onions, and everybody knows it. Do not serve this to me ever — leave it in 2003 where it belongs. I will not respect you, even if bears ripped off your hands so you could forage the onions.