For generations of WNYers, a potato chip is merely a vessel for Bison chip dip

       By Steve Cichon

Whether you destroyed a tub while you were snowed in last week or you had to eat your way through another New England Super Bowl, chances are that most Buffalonians had some kind of exposure to one of our region’s ultimate comfort foods, Bison French Onion Dip.

Bison chip dip ad, 1963.

It’s been a Western New York guilty pleasure since it was introduced in 1958, when it was more often paired with Buffalo’s own Dan-Dee potato chips, which came in a metal tin or with two bags inside a cardboard box.

Dan Dee ad, 1975

The heavy, greasy, but entirely delicious taste of Dan-Dee chips are just a memory – The Grider Street Buffalo operations were bought out by Troyer Farms in 1983 – but we Buffalonians make up for it by ladling the dip on whatever chip happens to be handy.

There are other French onion chip dips, but there’s something special about Bison’s 60-year-old entry in the market.

Right there with Sahlen’s hot dogs, Weber’s mustard, and Chiavetta’s marinade, Buffalo expats rush to the grocery store as soon as the plane lands to get their fix – but also to grab a few extras to take home.

The packaging has changed through the years, but the taste – and our love for that taste – has remained consistent. Bison has done relatively little advertising over the last six decades, especially since Bison Foods was purchased by Upstate Farms in 1983.

There was discussion about moving the production of Bison dips to a Central New York facility, but the iconic Western New York party food has been made in West Seneca since 2005.

One 1986 ad, however, seems to have captured the feeling of the product in a way that ads rarely do. It shows a woman about to bite into a freshly dipped chip, while a man – his tie flapping in the breeze – dives headfirst into a tub of Bison dip.

Seems about right.


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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon writes about Buffalo’s pop culture history. His stories of Buffalo's past have appeared more than 1600 times in The Buffalo News. He's a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. Since the earliest days of the internet, Cichon's been creating content celebrating the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The 25-year veteran of Buffalo radio and television has written five books and curates The Buffalo Stories Archives-- hundreds of thousands of books, images, and audio/visual media which tell the stories of who we are in Western New York.