Vegemite has a history of being an incredibly divisive product. Some people really love it and think it's delicious, while others really hate it and think it's absolutely disgusting. Made from leftover brewer's yeast, the spread is has unique flavor that is usually described as bitter and salty. It may not sound pleasing, but Australians love it!
The Vegemite brand itself has been around for over 90 years. It all started in Australia when the Fred Walker Company (which is now Kraft Food Company) wanted to develop a spread that was rich in B vitamins and could substitute Marmite during World War I.
After many lab tests, chemist Dr. Cyrill P. Callister invented the paste and called it "Pure Vegetable Extract." Of course, that name wasn't catchy enough for brand purposes, so the Fred Walker Company launched a national competition to name the new product. Hundreds of people submitted their entires in hopes of being named the grand prize winner, who would win a whopping £50 and the pride of naming the country's new favorite spread.
In the end, Fred Walker's own daughter chose the winning entry, "Vegemite," out of a hat. Fred Walker would later change the name to Parwill, but after that failed to gain momentum, the original name was restored and the rest is history.
The main ingredient in Vegemite comes from brewers yeast, which is the yeast that's leftover after a batch of beer has been brewed. The exact recipe, however, has been a tightly kept secret since it was first introduced to the public in 1923.
Despite the mystery surrounding Vegemite's exact ingredients, it is fairly healthy for you. Vegemite is rich in B vitamins, has less than 1 gram of fat and carbs per serving, and is low in calories. The B vitamins in Vegemite help with brain function, support your nervous system, fight fatigue, and energy release. No wonder it's a staple breakfast item down under!
Like we mentioned earlier, Vegemite was originally created as a substitute for Marmite. Though the two products are both made from yeast extract, they have quite different tastes and textures.
Marmite has a rich dark, brown color and a smooth and sticky consistency similar to molasses. Vegemite has a similar color, but it's consistency is more concentrated and smooth than Marmite's. When it comes to taste, Marmite is salty, savory, and slightly meaty. Vegemite is also salty and savory, but has bitter undertones. When doing blind taste tests, people generally say that Marmite is a little more mild than Vegemite.
Both Vegemite and Marmite are rich in B vitamins, however, Marmite has a high quantity of B vitamins and sodium than Vegemite.
It might sound silly, but yes, there is a correct way to eat Vegemite. The most common way to eat Vegemite is to spread it on a piece of buttered toast for a light breakfast. It's important to note that a little Vegemite goes a long way. Most people who claim they hated Vegemite when they tried it made the rookie mistake of huge gob of it at once. Vegemite isn't Nutella or peanut butter; you don't need to smother your toast in it. Just a light coating of the spread will do.
Aussies also commonly put Vegemite on eggs, avocado toast, and cheese crackers. If you're feeling really adventurous, here's some additional recipes that incorporate Vegemite into the ingredients:
Whether you love it or hate it, Vegemite is a staple in Australian homes. Aussie children grow up with it in their pantries and continue to eat it well into adulthood. The brand claims it's Australia's most popular spread with more than 22 million jars of Vegemite being made each year.