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The World Famous Madson Taco Dip

You’re going to a graduation party in Wisconsin. In which place will it be held?


A.  The school cafeteria

B.   The church fellowship hall

C.   The family room

D.  The basement

E.   The garage


DING! DING! DING! Correct answer?


 E. The garage!


Confirmation party? Garage. Baptism party? Garage. Saturday night random, neighborhood get-together? Garage. Baby shower? Okay, you got me there. That one might be moved inside to the living room on account of the pregnant mother-to-be. If the expectant mother is of a hearty disposition and doesn’t mind her gift opening circle of chairs sitting on a cold, concrete floor? Garage.

During the years we lived in Wisconsin, we hosted a few parties at our home. And by a few, I mean a lot. Even though we had a big enough home to welcome most people inside, when it was a confirmation party, graduation party or some other warm-weather celebration, we would park the cars in the street, put everything away, sweep the floor and set up tables and chairs in the garage. Along one side we would place two tables for food and beverages. What follows is a partial list of appetizers you might find at a typical Wisconsin garage party:


1.    A veggie tray with baby carrots and cut up celery, cucumber, green/red/yellow bell peppers, cauliflower and broccoli

2.    Dill dip for the veggies

3.    Potato chips

4.    French onion dip and/or cucumber dip for the chips

5.    A variety of Merkts cheese spreads

6.    Ritz crackers

7.    Venison summer sausage (As a special bonus, the hunter who shot Bambi  will regale you with his tale of the hunt and maybe even explain how to gut a deer.)

8.    A tray with chunks of sharp cheddar, smoked gouda, Swiss and bleu cheese

9.    Cream cheese, ham and pickle roll ups

10. Crock pot mini-wieners

If we were hosting the party or if we had been invited to a party at someone else’s home, there’s one other item you could always find. It’s the multi-colored center piece of any appetizer table. It’s the king of dips. Tostito chips beg to be dragged through it. When the aluminum foil is peeled back, people jostle for position to be first in line, elbows a-flyin’. They stand in front of the dip and rake their chips through the delectable cream cheese mix. They double dip. They fill their plates and come back for more. There is never any left over. It’s a first ballot shoe-in for the Chip Dip Hall of Fame. The C.E.O. of Kraft sends me a Christmas card each year for adding some zip to his beloved but boring Philadelphia Cream Cheese. You know what I’m talking about, people. I'm talking about THE WORLD FAMOUS MADSON TACO DIP!

The first iteration of TWFMTD was concocted by my wife. We had been to a graduation party at a friend’s house. In their garage, of course. One of the appetizers was a run-of-the mill, every day ordinary taco dip. The base consisted of cream cheese and sour cream mixed with some Ortega taco seasoning. On top were tomatoes, onions, black olives, lettuce and cheese. It was edible but hardly exciting. Less than half the pan had been eaten by the time we left.


A few weeks later we were hosting a party at our house. My wife decided to make a taco dip with a few changes. She mixed medium Pace picante sauce with a couple bricks of cream cheese and then covered that base with cut up pieces of green pepper, red onion and tomato. On top went some shredded iceberg lettuce and cheddar cheese. As Emeril would say, “Bam!” A star was born! People loved it. From that day forward, any time we hosted or attended a family gathering, she made taco dip.

At first, Lisa used to strain all the chunks out of the picante sauce before mixing it with the cream cheese. That’s when I got involved. I had watched her make taco dip a few times so I knew the ropes. One day she asked me to do the honors because she was busy. I went to the store and bought the ingredients. Because I like spicy food, I bought the hot Pace picante sauce with the red cover instead of the medium. I unwrapped the seven bricks of cream cheese. I didn’t want to waste time straining the chunks out, so I just dumped both jars of Pace into the bowl, chunks and all. I went heavy on the chopped green peppers, lighter on the red onion and tomato. I finished it off with lettuce and cheese and covered it with aluminum foil.

At the party, when people stopped by the dip table, I heard comments like, “Wow! This is really good!” Or, “Holy cow, this has some zing to it!” Or, “Mi boca es en fuego!” I stood by proudly like some 4-diamond Michelin chef watching people enjoy his food. My wife abdicated her taco dip making from that day forward and I took over. Now I’m about to do something that I’ve never done before. I’m going to share the recipe with the public and give you some tips on how to make the world’s best taco dip.












1.    To make the base, put the seven bricks of cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Dump both jars of the hot Pace into the bowl. Using a hand mixer, combine the two ingredients until smooth and creamy. It should be similar to the consistency of a Culvers concrete mixer, another famous Wisconsin delicacy. Do not, and I repeat, do not substitute another type of salsa or picante sauce for the hot Pace. This is the key ingredient! If you do, you may be sanctioned by the Taco Dip Board of Directors, of which I am president.

2.    Spread about half of the base across a large 12” x 18 baking sheet. Put the rest of the base in a bowl to be used for later. Just the base can also be used for dip. Seven cream cheeses makes enough for two 12” x 18” dips.

3.    Cut up 2-3 green peppers into small pieces and spread evenly across the base.

4.    Cut up half a red onion and spread evenly across the base.

5.    Cut up a small box of sweet tomatoes and spread evenly across the base.

6.    Cut up a third of a head of iceberg lettuce and spread over everything.

7.    Shred a brick of sharp cheddar cheese and spread evenly over everything.  

I’ve tried several brands of cheddar cheese. The best is the Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar. Not the extra sharp...the seriously sharp. You are allowed to buy cheese in a bag that’s already been shredded. My wife says it’s 100 times better when you shred the cheese yourself. I concur.


As far as the corn chips go, we’ve tried them all. The best, in my humble opinion are the Simply Organic Tostitos. Trust me on this one. That’s it! Bring this dip to a party and you will be the most popular person in attendance! You’re welcome.

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Once again - a winner! Not sure about Garage Parties - but it looks and sounds like fun! I have experienced the famous “Taco Dip”, and am so happy to have the recipe! I have no doubt that people have added all the mentioned ingredients to their grocery list, and will be in dip heaven this weekend! Yay for Taco Dip by the Madson’s !!!!!

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