Vegemite, it puts a rose in every cheek

In every culture there are foods adored by locals that outsiders back away from.  Just as the French love their escargot or Scots’ their Haggis, we Aussies have an obsession with Vegemite. A passion not shared by many who are not from the land down under.

Vegemite  033I’m an Aussie and I can’t deny I love Vegemite. After all, I was bought up on it. This is a food as Australian as you can get. Vegemite is one of our most popular foods, with more than 22 million jars sold each year. Us “Happy Little Vegemites” enjoy it breakfast, lunch and tea, or so the song goes.  The Vegemite jingle, written in 1954 for promotion of Australia’s favourite spread, is said to be better known lyrically than our National Anthem.

Instructions are simple; spread on hot buttered toast Vegemite  036as soon as possible, apply a very thin, even spread.  Another serving suggestion is to spread onto hot buttered crumpets or Sao biscuits.  Saos, are light and crumbly in texture, best eaten as a light snack, topped with butter and Vegemite.  For generations, the Sao sandwich has been squeezed to create “worms” that wriggle through the holes in the biscuit and eaten as an after school snack.  And of course packed in every Aussie kid’s lunchbox is a Vegemite Sanger!  For some added variety Mum would whack in some cheese.

So that’s breakfast and lunch, (even a snack) taken care of, but doesn’t the song mention dinner too?  Yes, our Mother’s ensured we were dished up a tasty dinner by improving the flavour of our soups, stews and gravies with the addition of Vegemite.

toast n vegemiteThis dark brown paste with its salty, bitter taste is quintessentially part of every Australian diet and no doubt an important victory for patriotic taste buds throughout the world, is best described as “an acquired taste”.

Just what is this spread and how did it come to be?  It was developed by Dr Cyril P Callister in 1920 for the Fred Walker Company and made from the richest known natural source of Vitamin B, brewer’s yeast. Ninety years later this recipe remains unchanged.  Despite the efforts of Fred Walker Company (which later became Kraft Food Company), it took 14 years of perseverance for this product to gain popularity, due to the reputation of Marmite.

Finally, a breakthrough in 1937, a national competition with the major prize being a Pontiac car lead to sales nationwide and an endorsement from the British Medical Association recommending Vegemite as a source rich in Vitamin B.  National recognition and acceptance to become a staple food in every Australian home took 20 years from its development.  It’s a good thing Aussie’s are battlers and not scared to fight for what they believe in.

Thanks to the hard work and persistence of the Fred Walker Company and the catchy little advertising jingle this amazing dark spread is now part of Australian history and taken abroad by our troops and Aussie travellers as a keepsake of a great taste and memories from home.

Which side of the fence do you sit? Does Vegemite put a rose in your cheeks?



28 Responses

  1. Pat Vegenot says:

    did you know that for 3 months, feels like 3 years, we that are in Siem Reap have run out of vegemite. I resorted to ….marmite but even that ran out 2 months ago. nothing left, nothing…..what to do

  2. I had Vegemite for the first time this year. I went on a tour of the Great Ocean Road and it we had it on one of our stops. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.
    Reginia Cordell recently posted…Top Five Tech Items For Pro BloggersMy Profile

  3. Julia says:

    Great post Lyn! Love the uses for Vegemite! What restaurant have you had the best crumpets? Remember to add it to your Besty List!

  4. Dale says:

    I’m long been a fan of Vegemite thanks to it being so readily available in the UK, but it’ll never be champion over my beloved Marmite 😀
    Dale recently posted…With A Bigger Budget, Would Our Travel Be Richer?My Profile

    • Lyn says:

      I wondered how readily available it was overseas, we have had Marmite here prior to Vegemite being introduced but I am not a fan. There is a similar product called Promite too. Thanks for commenting Dale.

  5. Jane says:

    Vegemite… love it or leave it! When I was running backpacker mini bus tours along the Great Ocean Road (last century now!!) I had a box of Vegemite samples and would hand them out as prizes, to the disgust of many travellers! Very amusing though. Even had the Vegemite jingle to play and teach the backpackers… they would end up with it stuck in their heads… Also had Skippy the Bush Kangaroo song for when we visited loads on Roos on a local golf course!!
    Jane recently posted…Hammock Bliss – Sky Bed Bug FreeMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Thanks for the comment Jane, sounds like a lot of fun. I wouldn’t imagine many would have liked the Vegemite as much as they would have learning the songs.

  6. Lauren says:

    I’ve actually never tasted Vegemite before! I’m intrigued though. I either hear that people love it or hate it!
    Lauren recently posted…Discover Ile d’Orleans, Quebec City’s CornucopiaMy Profile

  7. Nina Travels says:

    I am going to visit Australia next week and everyone already told me, if I want to try a typical Aussie food, Imust definitely try the Vegemite. I do wonder how will I like it – will let you know 😉
    Nina Travels recently posted…Brezelina bakery – when traditional food becomes successful fast foodMy Profile

  8. Jenn says:

    Im Jenn- I am dating an Aussie. He LOVES vegemite and I CANT stand it! I think it has to be something you have grown with. He compares it to cream cheese (which I find crazy to not enjoy… its growing on him) but because I was raised eating cream cheese I am used to it. He loves his vegemite and Aussies will eat it with almost anything… peanut butter or tomato…. no thanks!
    Jenn recently posted…Fitness While TravelingMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      You are right Jenn, most adults do not enjoy Vegemite unless they were raised eating it. Though I have never heard of eating it with Peanut Butter (which we call Peanut Paste) or with tomato. I just like it plain on toast or maybe with cheese. But I don’t like cream cheese very much. Thank so much for your comments.

  9. Fairlie says:

    Found you via the WeekendWanderlust linkup.. Vegemite on hot buttered toast…definitely part of my regular diet! As a kid, I loved vegemite and butter on Saladas…you’d squish two Saladas together until the vegemite started squeezing out the holes.
    Fairlie recently posted…Novels and memoirs set in VietnamMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Yay a lover! I love Vegemite on Salada too… and as a kid loved the ‘worms’. Thanks for hooking up via WeekendWanderlust, I’m on my way to check for your link.

  10. Natasha Amar says:

    I did try Vegemite in Australia and it left me wondering why anyone would like that on their toast?!
    An acquired taste, perhaps?
    Natasha Amar recently posted…24 Hours in Rotorua: Geothermal Wonders & Maori CultureMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      There is no other answer than it is yummy… but yes, for those not bought up on it, it is an acquired taste, if the sight of spreading this black paste on your toast doesn’t put you off.

  11. what an interesting history. I too have not tried Vegemite and now that I am an adult it appears I may not take a liking to it!
    Brittany @ Paws for Beer recently posted…Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site, Newport OregonMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Brittany, you can always go against the odds, I’d love to hear how you found it if you ever get the chance to try. Thank you for your comment.

  12. Anda says:

    I never tried Vegemite and you made me very curious to know how it tastes. Too bad we can’t share food samples in our posts…
    Anda recently posted…The Ultimate Guide to the Bucharest Village MuseumMy Profile

    • Lyn says:

      Oh Anda too bad you have never tasted Vegemite. Stats show if you try as a child you will enjoy, but if you don’t get to try until you are an adult your chances of enjoying this strong flavoured paste is slim!

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