WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) — There are many winning combinations here in Western New York: Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, wings and blue cheese and – of course – potato chips and Bison Dip.
Since 1931, Bison has been making some of your favorite condiments. Locally, the most popular is their famous French onion dip.
“The loyal following that we see here with Bison Dip is amazing,” said Eva Balazs, Director of Marketing for Upstate Niagara Cooperative. “For some reason, in this region, we tend to consume more than two and a half times the national average for dip. We just love our dip! Obviously, it helps when tailgate season rolls around, or even when we are happily grilling outside in the summer.”
Originally, the dip was made in a plant on Scott Street. Its former location sits where Hofbrauhaus is now located. In 2005, the company made the move to their current plant in West Seneca.
Bison is under the umbrella of Upstate Niagara Cooperative, which purchased the brand back in 1983. This 270 family-owned cooperative means from the farm to your table, these products are brought to you by your neighbors.
“Our farmers always brag about the products, of course. They raise the cows, they care for them and it’s such a neat thing to see the end result of what they work so hard for in the stores and [on] peoples’ tables,” Balazs said.
You can thank the cows for the quality of Bison Dip. The plant’s workers have early mornings to make sure everything is fresh.
“We receive milk from 4:30 in the morning until probably three o’clock in the afternoon,” said plant manager Philip Massey. “The milk is then put into our raw milk silos, then we process it.”
From there, the milk is separated between skim and cream before culture is added and it incubates for 12 hours.
Bison’s sour cream is combined with seasonings to create the French onion dip; each bag of the dried flavor mix weighs more than 20 pounds.
A single batch of dip calls for five of those bags to be mixed with 500 gallons of sour cream.
“We make about three million pounds a year, so that’s quite a bit of dip,” Balazs said.
Production ebbs and flows, with the busy seasons spiking during summer, the holidays and the Big Game in February.
“No day here is ever the same,” Massey said. “We are 24/7, 365, regardless if it’s busy season of not. The cows do not know that there’s a holiday. They don’t know that there’s a pandemic. They don’t know that the Bills are playing – they don’t know. They keep producing their milk no matter what.”
Massey said there’s one word to describe how those who work at the plant feel about making such a beloved product: pride.
“I think that’s what we all have here, is pride in this building, pride for each other and pride for the business,” he said.
Western New York’s loyalty also helps keep them going.
“It’s such a great feeling to know that we can contribute to our community with such a delicious product that is enjoyed by so many,” Balazs said. “It puts smiles on peoples’ faces, it brings friends together and to connect and share the food that we take such great pride in producing.”
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