Remember roughly four years ago when the biggest thing on the internet was the Elf on the Shelf meme? The meme read: “You’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf, now get ready for…” followed by an image of two things that rhyme with each other. The picture of the two things together is the punchline. It could be anything from “a sock on the Rock” to “Themyscira on the Shakira” to “Shrek on the Deck” to “miniature schnauzer on the Huell Howser” (a niche reference if you lived in California and watched public TV stations growing up).
Well, Hidden Valley has brought that meme back from the dead this year, because you’ve heard of Elf on the Shelf but have you heard of Ranch on a Branch? Congrats, you have now. And not only have you now heard about it, but you can also buy it from Hidden Valley Ranch’s website for just $30.
Okay, but what does Ranch on a Branch do? Is it just a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch that I’m supposed to leave out in my tree for Santa to drink?
As someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas, I had no clue. Apparently, Elf on the Shelf is based on a book by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, and has evolved into a yearly ritual in which you place a little elf on a shelf (or other places) in your house to make your kids think Santa is watching their every move…spoooooky. So is this product just ranch that watches you and reports back to Santa? Yes and no. Thankfully, the press release cleared up a few of my questions. Yes, the ranch does monitor your every move (albeit only in your imagination), and, yes, it is incredibly cute, but there are some important additional things to note: The Ranch on a Branch comes as a “limited-offer box set that includes a picture book and a plush character,” and that character, whose name is Ranchie, mind you, “dreams of becoming a real bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing one day,” sort of like Pinocchio. Okay, that’s adorable.
Why on earth has Hidden valley decided to bring us Ranch on a Branch?
It’s actually a great cause. Firstly, they want to use this plushy lil ranch guy to “spread joy throughout the holiday season” and motivate kids to treat others with respect. But also, in honor of our buddy Ranchie, Hidden Valley Ranch will donate $30,000 to the charity Feeding America. They’re also selling a Ranch on a Branch-themed lounge set ($45) and a fleece holiday blanket ($60).
I’ll be honest, I never did the Elf on the Shelf or Mensch on a Bench thing, but Ranch on a Branch? I may have to cave. In fact, I, a person who does not celebrate Christmas, may have to go get a tree just so I can justify buying this plushy lil’ ranch dude and have him be my only seasonal decoration. Plus, I would get to watch the story unfold in real time. Will Ranchie find a way to turn himself into a real bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch? If he does, I hope he’s shelf stable, because he will not be residing in the refrigerator…because he’ll be on a branch.