In late 2021, Melissa Ben-Ishay sparked a social media explosion with her Green Goddess Salad. Though she was known as the co-founder & CEO of the bite-size dessert company Baked by Melissa, the TikTok, and subsequent virality, gave her a new reputation as the salad queen. The original Green Goddess swept the Internet, becoming the #6 top searched recipe in the U.S. on Google with 1.6 million searches in 2022, landing Melissa on the TODAY Show, and was recreated by celebrities like Lizzo and Cardi B. Following the success of the Green Goddess, Melissa sought to make new recipes her audience loved, inspiring them to create delicious, nourishing meals. She landed on another viral hit in November 2022, the Green Goddess Ranch. To date, this salad has 1.8 million more views on TikTok than the original Green Goddess salad.
It’s no surprise the two salads went viral. The bright green, creamy, vegan dressing is packed with nutrients, including a hearty dose of spinach undetectable on the palate. The color is intriguing, the veggies make it refreshing, and eating a salad with a tortilla chip encouraged viewers to enjoy a healthy salad while indulging in the snack-friendly crunch of a chip. Even though Melissa’s first claim to fame was dessert, these recipes demonstrate the food philosophy she lives by: If you get your nourishment from mealtime, you can indulge in dessert every day, just like she does.
Thanks to the continued popularity of the original Green Goddess salad, Melissa and the team decided the best approach was to create something that called back the original recipe everyone knew and loved, while giving her followers a fresh, new recipe. She worked to incorporate elements she knew the audience would love based on key learnings from previous social media posts.
But one of the first challenges was finding the right Green Goddess spin off recipe that would catch her community’s attention. Other attempts, like the Green Goddess pasta and Green Goddess toast, proved to be less successful, eliciting lower engagement on social media. Meanwhile, Melissa’s other chopped salads performed well, so the team adjusted accordingly.
For the Green Goddess Ranch’s video’s structure, creating a clear “hook” at the beginning to catch the audience's attention was paramount: “If you like the Green Goddess, and you like ranch, you will love this.” We’ve found that it is important to incorporate auditory and visual elements throughout the video for an ASMR effect. The video begins with Melissa stabbing a metal salad bowl with a fork to gather the perfect bite of the salad base before taking a big bite. By showing the finished salad at the start, it piques the audience's curiosity so they stick around to see what Melissa’s eating. Chopping the iceberg was a must, as Melissa’s audience always loves to watch her chopping videos.
Melissa intentionally chose iceberg lettuce as the salad base for a few reasons. The green is a highly accessible and inexpensive option perfect for salad newbies, and a somewhat controversial choice among salad lovers who tend to choose dark, leafy greens. This sparked conversation and ultimately led to higher engagement with nearly 8,500 comments. The recipe was saved over 885,000 times, which also boosted the video’s presence in the TikTok algorithm.
Another challenge was broaching a twist on a beloved ingredient found in most homes: Ranch dressing. The team knew that ranch was a flavor that resonated with their followers—on Instagram, a Ranch Dip recipe got more than 1.2 million views, far more than most other recipes on the platform. Ranch has diehard fans, so claiming a creamy, green, vegan dressing as ranch was bound to be controversial. But Melissa’s response was simple: she took the fresh herbs that make ranch, like parsley, dill, and chives, and added them to her classic Green Goddess recipe in place of basil. By pairing it with iceberg, it harkened back to the iceberg salad with ranch that Melissa used to make with her grandmother as a toddler, a nod to the nostalgic flavors found in her bite-size cupcakes.
Finally, the Green Goddess Ranch video was strategically posted the day after Thanksgiving, when people were exhausted from hosting, burnt out from overeating, and craving something healthy. The lightened-up recipe with refreshing, crunchy iceberg was exactly what TikTok users were looking for.
The Green Goddess Ranch (Mother Earth’s Ranch) video received over 25.3 million views on TikTok and 3.3 million views on Instagram, 1.8 million views higher than the original Green Goddess Salad. The recipe has been saved over 885,000 times, more than any other post in Baked by Melissa history and has led to the strongest social followers growth the brand has seen. Over the past few months, Baked by Melissa has gained over 300k new TikTok followers and 60k Instagram followers.
A link to the Green Goddess Ranch recipe on the Baked by Melissa blog was shared in Baked by Melissa’s Instagram bio, where it was clicked over 7,300 times, a rate 20x higher than the brand’s other recipes. Following the post, Baked by Melissa's blog traffic has increased 132%, compared to the previous 90 days.
Thousands of people within the Baked by Melissa community have recreated the recipe on TikTok and Instagram, tagging the brand in their posts. It has since been referred to as ‘Tiktok’s new favorite salad’ in the media.
Melissa's growth on Tiktok has led to extensive growth for the Baked by Melissa brand, through brand partnerships, sponsored content deals and more.
Now, with over 2.1 million TikTok followers and 600k+ Instagram followers, Melissa has cemented her role in the ever-evolving food landscape on social media as a trusted source of nourishing, delicious recipes that inspire her community to eat delicious foods that make them feel great—and still enjoy dessert.