Somehow I made it to age 49 without learning about “Man Dip.” Which could be the name of a toxic concoction used to kill lice, or could be a delicious, artery-clogging goop served with taco chips.

“What is Man Dip?” you ask? Unless, of course, you know what Man Dip is. The answer, it seems, is multifarious.

I had Man Dip at a holiday party. The recipe was simple:

1 pound Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sausage, cooked
2 8oz package Cream Cheese
1 Jar (of indeterminate size) Salsa

Mix and heat, serve warm with aforementioned taco chips.

At the party when I experienced Man Dip, the goop was served in a mini Crock Pot, a perfect vessel for such a wonder. (What is cooler than a Crock Pot? Nothing, I submit. Okay, possibly something, but still.) I learned quickly that I have no power to resist Man Dip. Immediately I wanted it in my home. In fact, right now I want a warm pot of it on my desk.

How did I live so long without it? How? … How?

The day after the party, I decided to do a little interwebbing, and of course I learned Man Dip has a long, notorious history (or, maybe not, since I didn’t actually research its “history”). Of note is the fact the term “Man Dip” can mean almost anything. (Lice killer!)

As a rule, most recipes follow the basic formulation: a meat of some kind, cheese of some kind, and zesty spicy saucy thing of some kind. For example:

2 Cans Meat Chili (zesty sauce AND meat)
Cream Cheese Again
Shredded Cheddar (double cheese! OMG!)

Or…

Can of Refried Beans
Taco Seasoning Packet
Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream
Cream Cheese
(Wait, where’s the meat?)

Or (getting a little fancy pants) …

1 lb bulk sausage
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Ground pepper to taste
2 lbs shredded Velveeta cheese (an industrial petroleum derivative)
2 (10 1/2 ounce) cans cream of mushroom soup
1 -2 jalapeno pepper, chopped (optional)

That last one sounds like a lot of work. I mean, think about it. Part of the power of Man Dip must be in its simplicity: Mix stuff … Heat … Gorge self.

There are also a whole host of so-called Man Dips which are nothing like the zesty cheese glop with meat variations listed above. Sweet whipped cream, pumpkin pie spice, and peanut butter. Or mixed vegetables, garlic, black olives, and olive oil. Perhaps tasty, but both a very different thing from warm, spicy meat-‘n-cheese goop.

The first batch I made at home stuck with the simple approach of the original. I served it on New Year’s Eve, the experience made more sublime by the fact I was able to acquire a mini Crock Pot on sale for $11. We consumed the Man Dip while watching bad movies and listening to our neighbors set off military ordinance in celebration of the holiday. The Spawn, a true connoisseur, announced between mouthfuls, “So for the Super Bowl, we definitely need to have Man Dip …”

He’s already thinking ahead. Good boy.