Monday, March 21, 2011

Vegemite: A National Food Icon

"He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich",
Down Under, Men at Work

Well, I finally did it.  I tried Vegemite.  I've been in Australia nearly 7 months without trying this national food icon.  On our first trip to the grocery store (which happened to be an IGA), a jar of this black smooth-like peanut butter spread was added to the shopping cart by my husband.  He immediately tried it when we got home and had horrible heartburn for the rest of the night.  He wouldn't give up though.  He has now found the right recipe:  white toast with butter and the thinnest layer of Vegemite.  This is something he enjoys for breakfast or an afternoon snack (or tea as they say here).  And, since I was the one preparing this little indulgence, the smell of Vegemite repulsed me so bad that I could not bring myself to try it. 

But, then I was pressured to try it by my kids.  I, like most Moms, encourage their children to try new foods and say, "Well, how do you know you don't like it if you won't try it?".  And, that is where the kids got me.  I had to live by my words... BLECK!  Vegemite is NOT for me.  It is salty and otherwise taste-less, if that makes sense. I have to say, though, it smells worse than it tastes. 

One might ask: What is Vegemite? It's a black, smooth-like peanut butter paste that is made from yeast extract.  There is an interesting story behind Vegemite.  It was made accidently (go figure!).  Back in 1923, at a cheese factory in Melbourne, someone thought it might be interesting to see if the spent brewers' yeast could be used for something rather than discarded.  After mixing in some spice additives and vegetables, a "tasty" nutritious spread was produced.  Another interesting fact is that the cheese factory, then called the Fred Walker Cheese Company later became the Kraft Walker Cheese Company, which is now known as Kraft Foods.  Although, Kraft Foods is now American-owned Vegemite is still made only in Melbourne.


  1. I believe it's only made in Melbourne because only Aussies eat the stuff. Tried it and just couldn't stomach it!!!

    The Brits have something similar in texture and taste (in my opinion) and it's called Marmite. It's not flying off the shelves either . . .

  2. I've tried Vegemite and Bovril, and for both, it's got to be a super thin spread, otherwise it's wretched. The smell is nasty, but done right, it's a weird savory pleasure.